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immigration nation
The Terms of the Immigration Debate Are Outdated

Walter Russell Mead once described “the conventional picture” of U.S. immigration as “an unstoppable wave of unskilled, mostly Spanish-speaking workers—many illegal—coming across the Mexican border.” Adherents to this view (such as Donald Trump and his supporters) tend to fear that, “instead of assimilating the immigrants, the immigrants will assimilate us.” But more and more evidence is surfacing to show that this understanding of U.S immigration is out of date. USA Today reports on striking new data from the Pew Research Center:

For the first time in more than four decades, more Mexican immigrants are returning to their home country than coming to the United States, according to a report released Thursday.

From 2009 to 2014, an estimated 870,000 Mexicans came to the United States while 1 million returned home, a net loss for the United States of 130,000, according to the report from the Pew Research Center. That historic shift comes at a time when immigration has become a contentious focal point in the 2016 presidential race, as Republicans and Democrats argue over how best to modernize the nation’s immigration system.

There are some qualifications: Mexican in-migration still exceeded out-migration (by a hair) if you exclude deportations of illegal immigrants. Also, migration from across the Mexican border remains high, even if Mexican immigration is trending downward; as the now-forgotten crisis from the summer shows, thousands of Central American migrants, many of whom had to enter Mexico illegally to begin with, try to cross America’s Southwestern border every year. Finally, Pew studied the five-year period immediately following the worst recession America experienced in 80 years. Immigration numbers will likely tick upward as the economy recovers.

Still, the number of Mexican immigrants living in the United States peaked in 2007, before the U.S. economy soured. It seems likely that the “Great Wave” of Mexican immigration to the United States, which has carried more than 16 million Mexican immigrants across the border since 1965, is coming to a close. This is typical in U.S. immigration experience. The country has historically experienced temporary waves of immigration from one region of the world or another that reshape America’s demographic landscape but then gradually run their course.

Next up, if current projections are to be trusted, is a wave of Asian immigration. Within 50 years, according to Pew, immigrants from Asian countries will solidly outnumber those from Latin America.

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  • qet

    Why would so many non-white people voluntarily relocate to a country whose face is still being stamped on by a white supremacist boot of structural racism? Are they receiving the correct information about us or are the Koch Brothers intercepting all outbound communications and replacing them with rosy pictures of picket fences (naturally they wouldn’t be white picket fences) and equal protection under the law in order to lure them into below-minimum wage menial service jobs where they can be denied health care because the Republicans keep cutting taxes on the rich? Why would a single Asian, South or Central American, or African emigrate here and not to the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Holland, where women are guaranteed paid child leave and government-provided day care and everyone is guaranteed free health care?

    I just don’t get it. What about this place could possibly appeal to anyone except straight cis white men of the 1%?

    • Dale Fayda

      The mind reels, doesn’t it? Maybe Friendly Goat can enlighten us?

      • ljgude

        I’ve got the answer comrades – these people are acting against their own best interests so it follows as the night the day that they are deluded by that enemy of La Revolution – false consciousness! Forward my brothers!

    • Anthony

      Before I attempt to parry question “why would….” permit me to stipulate that I don’t see “white people” (social construct). So we either exchange viewpoints along that continuum of thought (Human to Human) or query has some other unspoken motive – please understand now that my stipulation does not imply ignorance to how important it is for some to see through lens of “whiteness”.

      • qet

        Well, if that is truly how you perceive life, if you have truly managed to abstract away from all concreteness and perceive and reason solely on the universal plane, then I don’t know whether to commend you for your achievement or to mourn for your loss. I do not believe there is any actual being that is merely a “human.” That would require the stripping away of all difference, and difference is what makes culture and history. What makes us different is far more interesting and significant than what we all have in common. Nietzsche referred to a “drive for distinction,” and such a drive will always in the end preclude the full realization of a universal human identity or consciousness, at least unless and until we ever actually encounter intelligent life from other planets.

        And while I can’t go into it at length here, I think you have your understanding exactly reversed. The necessity of believing in an idea of “whiteness” belongs precisely to non-whites, some of whom grow positively indignant when they realize that in the US of 2015, white people no longer, in any significant numbers, constitute their social or political identities as “white.”

        • Anthony

          No, It’s not how I perceive life. It’s a recognition of scientific reality. But obviously your initial question has another motive. So, you don’t require a proper response to such (as question prompted response). But “whiteness” is your concern not mine my friend. It’s organizational intent and purpose has always been clear to those not freighted by delusion (but I [with you] am only interested in your initial query other than that I’m clear on you. Hopefully (3 days later) , this ends here as you were not really serious as to your emigration query. Thanks.

          • qet

            Yes, I was serious. Sarcasm does not negate seriousness. Since you’re a scientist I will frame it for you in scientific terms: the continued large influx of non-Caucasians into the US is evidence that the statements by other non-Caucasians–that life for non-Caucasians here is wretched owing to the persistence of structural racism and a white supremacy milieu–are not true. Not conclusive proof, but evidence. People of the Left, which you may or may not be, routinely present themselves as being given to evidence-based reasoning, and so I am curious why this evidence is routinely overlooked in the debates on racism in this country. If you have any thoughts to offer other than insisting that you have me and my motivations all figured out, I would be interested to hear them.

          • Anthony

            Let’s cut to the chase and end this foolishness (and then I’m done here): Immigrants have come to America (when allowed) for opportunity perceived, to start anew in country where Creed (whether rightly adhered to or not) promises a fresh start not limited by class, background, caste, religion, sex, etc. Your rhetorical (sarcastic – your words) query answers itself sans gratutious racial undertone. That is, America to many immigrants currently as to those in 18th, 19th, and 20th century represents a beacon of hope for their families, descendants, and themselves.

            On the other hand, whether that hope is realized is another question but the idea still has global resonance especially in regions of both strife and political disorder – but not restrictively. In particular from afar, America still represents The underlying creed “Unity of Ideals and Diversity of Culture”(America compared to every other country in Western civilization has the most explicitly expressed system of general ideals in reference to human interrelations) remains a significant magnet qet. As an aside, we are three (3) days into this and I’ve since moved on as so much else has occurred – no disrespect intended.

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