Perspective on Immigration

The protests today in California is bringing the subject of immigration to a head - quickly.

Yet it's also bringing out a certain "ugliness".

Witness the following from Michelle Malkin - a person I respect, but on this issue she is simply dead wrong. Today she writes:

"And if the open borders advocates would actually read American history instead of revising it, they would see that the founding fathers were emphatically insistent on protecting the country against indiscriminate mass immigration.

· George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, stated that immigrants should be absorbed into American life so that "by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people."

· In a 1790 speech to Congress on the naturalization of immigrants, James Madison stated that America should welcome the immigrant who could assimilate, but exclude the immigrant who could not readily "incorporate himself into our society."

· Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1802: “The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.”

· Hamilton further warned that "The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.”

Well, our immigration history - especially in the beginning, was less than something "sensible" and more protectionist and exclusionary, and yes in many ways and especially towards Asians, bigoted. Since we are quoting Washington and Hamilton, let's see what law became of their thinking.

From Wikipedia:

"The first naturalization law in the United States was the 1795 Naturalization Act which restricted citizenship to "free white persons" who had resided in the country for five years. The next significant change in the law came in 1870, when the law was broadened to allow both whites and African-Americans, though Asians were still excluded from citizenship. Immigration was otherwise unlimited.

In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act specifically forbade Chinese immigration, overturning the 1868 Burlingame Treaty that had encouraged it. The "temporary" ban was extended repeatedly and made permanent in 1904. It was the culmination of decades of agitation, particularly by Californians, who had passed their own Anti-Coolie Act in 1862. The ban was deeply resented in Asia, but was not repealed until 1943, and only then to reward a World War II wartime ally."

So in essence, out of their words, the law of the land was "Whites only need come in".

But that wasn't the only excusion, nor the longest lasting one. For instance, my wife being Korean (and a Naturalized Citizen for the last 21 years), I was especially surprised to find that "her kind" - "Asian" have been excluded from citizenship for most of our history.

The fact is that our immigration laws in the US have almost exclusively excluded Asians. This for really no other reason than racism.

I realize that Michelle wrote a book defending the internment of Japenese Americans during WWII, including the confiscation of their property which explains a lot of her reasoning on this issue, to wit: Guilt by race.

The basis of locking up Japenese simply because Tojo was Japenese or Muslims because of the September 11th terrorists were too, is simply so ridiculous as to not even be a matter of intelligent discussion. Quite frankly I found her book to be an insult not only to many of my Japenese friends (as well as those of my father who served in Japan after the war), but to asians everywhere. Simply unacceptable.

Nonetheless, that aside, I do agree that the the issue of the security of our borders is valid and we do need to tighten things up. Yet not in the "lock 'em up" way of Michelle, or "Shoot the Mexicans" way of Bill O'Reilly, but by enforcement of existing laws. As here, I'm not an advocate of guest worker program - per-se, but the fact remains that we are NOT going to ship millions of illegals back to their own countries - it's simply not possible. The fact is that they're here, we now have to find a humane and fair way to deal with them.

So in essence whatever the sins of the past that allowed people to enter this country, we have essentially two things to solve. 1) Plug up of the holes in the system to stem the flow, and 2) Find a way to permanently assimulate those aready here. There is really no other tenable solution to the problem.

UPDATE: Must Read Glenn Reynolds