Friday, September 21, 2018

From The Bookshelves: Melting Pot or Civil War?

Reihan Salam, photo by Larry D. Moore

Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders is a forthcoming book (Sept. 25 release date) by National Review executive editor Reihan Salam.

The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt from the book and it's quite the read.

Salam is a member of the second-generation, the child of immigrants from Bangladesh. Salam confronts the "ways that rapid demographic change has affected America’s political psyche."

Here is the first eye-popping paragraph: "we need to recognize that the immigration debate isn’t really about immigrants. In truth, it’s about the children of immigrants."

Salam notes that if the U.S. implemented a guest worker program for single individuals with high skill levels, something akin to programs in Singapore or Qatar, immigration wouldn't be a hot button issue. "But that’s not how America works," Salam writes. "If we welcome you in as part of the flock, we also welcome your offspring." 

So, if the immigration debate is about the children of immigrants, and fears that those children will outnumber the children of "natives," what should be done? Salam argues that "The key to averting a civil war over immigration is for the U.S. to do everything in its power to make sure that the children of natives and the children of immigrants alike are incorporated into a common national identity and, just as importantly, that they’re in a position to lead healthy and productive lives as adults. We need, in short, to make America a middle-class melting pot."

How does he propose doing this? He has three steps. First, "the key policy priority has to be integration, as opposed to opening our borders. This would mean, in the first place, an amnesty for the long-settled unauthorized immigrant population."

Second, "This amnesty must be contingent, however, on the adoption of a more selective, skills-based immigration system. The U.S. needs to give priority to the earning potential of applicants over their family ties, thus breaking with our current approach. Doing so will help to ensure that new arrivals are in a position to thrive in a changing U.S. labor market and that they can provide for their children without relying on programs meant to help the poorest of the American poor, not those who have chosen to make their homes here."

"Finally, and most important, we must invest the time and money it will take to ensure that all of America’s youth can grow up to lead decent lives. If that means higher taxes on the high-income professionals who have profited so mightily from immigrant labor, so be it."



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