Bret Stephens, JUNE 16, 2017, New York Times [original article contains links & comments]
[JB comment: This "jesting" article (as its author describes it) -- in using the absurd to underscore "positive" points about immigrants -- doesn't quite work; indeed, it smacks of bad taste, simply because deportation (of anyone) is no laughing matter. NB: The article evoked quite a number of negative reactions, for a variety of reasons.]
Image from article, with caption: Immigrants cheering at the start of a naturalization ceremony in Atlanta last fall.
In the matter of immigration, mark this conservative columnist down as strongly
pro-deportation. The United States has too many people who don’t work hard, don’t
believe in God, don’t contribute much to society and don’t appreciate the greatness
of the American system.
They need to return whence they came.
I speak of Americans whose families have been in this country for a few
generations. Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of
American law and history, they are the stagnant pool in which our national prospects
On point after point, America’s nonimmigrants are failing our country. Crime?
A study by the Cato Institute notes that nonimmigrants are incarcerated at nearly
twice the rate of illegal immigrants, and at more than three times the rate of legal
Educational achievement? Just 17 percent of the finalists in the 2016 Intel
Science Talent Search — often called the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of
United States-born parents. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, just 9.5
percent of graduate students in electrical engineering were nonimmigrants.
Religious piety — especially of the Christian variety? More illegal immigrants
identify as Christian (83 percent) than do Americans (70.6 percent), a fact right-
wing immigration restrictionists might ponder as they bemoan declines in church
Business creation? Non-immigrants start businesses at half the rate of
immigrants, and accounted for fewer than half the companies started in Silicon
Valley between 1995 and 2005. Overall, the share of nonimmigrant entrepreneurs
fell by more than 10 percentage points between 1995 and 2008, according to a
Harvard Business Review study.
Nor does the case against non-immigrants end there. The rate of out-of-wedlock
births for United States-born mothers exceeds the rate for foreign-born moms, 42
percent to 33 percent. The rate of delinquency and criminality among non-immigrant
teens considerably exceeds that of their immigrant peers. A recent report by the
Sentencing Project also finds evidence that the fewer immigrants there are in a
neighborhood, the likelier it is to be unsafe.
And then there’s the all-important issue of demographics. The race for the
future is ultimately a race for people — healthy, working-age, fertile people — and
our nonimmigrants fail us here, too. “The increase in the overall number of U.S.
births, from 3.74 million in 1970 to 4.0 million in 2014, is due entirely to births to
foreign-born mothers,” reports the Pew Research Center. Without these immigrant
moms, the United States would be faced with the same demographic death spiral
that now confronts Japan.
Bottom line: So-called real Americans are screwing up America. Maybe they
should leave, so that we can replace them with new and better ones: newcomers who
are more appreciative of what the United States has to offer, more ambitious for
themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future. In other
words, just the kind of people we used to be — when “we” had just come off the boat.
O.K., so I’m jesting about deporting “real Americans” en masse. (Who would
take them in, anyway?) But then the threat of mass deportations has been no joke
with this administration.
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security seemed prepared to extend
an Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals, or DACA, which allows the children of illegal immigrants — some 800,000
people in all — to continue to study and work in the United States. The decision
would have reversed one of Donald Trump’s ugly campaign threats to deport these
kids, whose only crime was to have been brought to the United States by their
Yet the administration is still committed to deporting their parents, and on
Friday the D.H.S. announced that even DACA remains under review — another cruel
twist for young immigrants wondering if they’ll be sent back to “home” countries
they hardly ever knew, and whose language they might barely even speak.
Beyond the inhumanity of toying with people’s lives this way, there’s also the
shortsightedness of it. We do not usually find happiness by driving away those who
would love us. Businesses do not often prosper by firing their better employees and
discouraging job applications. So how does America become great again by berating
and evicting its most energetic, enterprising, law-abiding, job-creating, idea-generating,
self-multiplying and God-fearing people?
Because I’m the child of immigrants and grew up abroad, I have always thought
of the United States as a country that belongs first to its newcomers — the people
who strain hardest to become a part of it because they realize that it’s precious; and
who do the most to remake it so that our ideas, and our appeal, may stay fresh.
That used to be a cliché, but in the Age of Trump it needs to be explained all
over again. We’re a country of immigrants — by and for them, too. Americans who
don’t get it should get out.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@BretStephensNYT) and Facebook.