Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Immigration Again

Alvaro Varga Llosa writes a sensible piece: Immigration—The Wages of Fear

WASHINGTON—I have been called a “Spanish conquistador” in Peru, a “sudaca” (South American scum) in Spain, and a “wog” in Britain—and I am profiled as a Hispanic in the U.S. (which actually means “ancient Roman” since Hispania was the Iberian province of Rome). The first time I went to London, I was asked if there were any cars in Peru. I explained that they prefer flying saucers to avoid rush-hour congestion.

I may be forgiven for drawing attention to the abyss that separates perception from reality in today’s debate on immigration in the U.S. The fact that President Bush should feel compelled to send the National Guard to the border with Mexico in order to win support for his proposal to legalize millions of Hispanics is an indication of where perceptions stand.

Whenever there is a major disconnect between the law and reality, trying to force reality to fit the law only brings more misery. Forcing millions of real people to adjust to fiction—as the bill approved by the House of Representatives that triggered the recent protests by immigrants intends to do—is the stuff of totalitarianism.

Much of the Hispanic contribution has little connection to low-skilled jobs. According to Geoscape International, a third of Hispanic households earn over $50,000 a year. The Pew Hispanic Center puts the net worth of Hispanic households at more than $700 billion. HispanTelligence, a research division of Hispanic Business magazine, says the rate of growth of the purchasing power of Hispanics in the last 10 years is three times the national average. In 2010, Hispanics will own 3.2 million businesses. Clearly, these immigrants are expanding the national pie.

I expect Mr. Llosa has picked positive indicators and some terms are a bit vague -- what precisely does it mean to "speak English" -- but a short article can't be comprehensive and filled with footnotes. I found the optimistic view put forth a bracing corrective to the gnashers of teeth and criers of doom. As we say around here, read the whole thing. HT: NoLeftTurns.


Chennaul said...

The Weimar Republic created a failed state -Germany. The Balkans and Eastern Europe were failed states. Ireland during the dispora was most certainly economically a failed state.

In fact I would hazard more so....

As for Mexico being overpopulated are you speaking in terms of density or generationally. Just as we had our baby boomers so does Mexico but with a now greater use of birth control that is expected to curb down the road.

I think we are also seeing a new variant of the Lace Curtain Irish and that might explain Lopez et al.

Some things that seem consistent; if the immigrant group is Catholic the fear of being "overproduced' is latent. They said it about the Irish, the Italians and the Croatians.

Also there is the phrase "uneducated socialists....who will vote democratic" or some such pre-amble.

Well uneducated does not always correlate to stupid. There is a phrase in history and it is called "voting with your feet". Most people that fall into this category have learned the hard way that the country they just left they do not want to vote for any semblage of that. Eastern Europeans who escaped socialist regimes they knew from firsthand experience what some professors with multiple degrees from Boulder, Berkeley or Princeton fail to comprehend and that is that socialism because it gives power to a few who decide how the many can serve the good of the whole it is inherently a corrupt system.

That is something that the best education did not bestow upon the likes of Juan Cole, Chomsky and Ward Churchill. I've probably left out plenty more.

Unknown said...

I also do not think that the importance of the academic elite is as great as some people think. I have a friend who works as an executive assistant to a University President and she says enrollment is beginning to fall off. I suppose this depends on where you are but it just might be that as tuition goes up more and more parents are thinking they do not want to pay for their children to learn to despise them.

It is sad that a hispanic feels the need to reassure people that hispanics can and do contribute to the country and the economy.

I think that if Irish and Italian Catholics and Chinese laborers could assimilate in this country [back in the day of overt hostility the likes of which most of us can not even imagine] then so can hispanics today. They have been doing it for centuries.

I have a client whose husband and brother fought on opposite sides in WW2, one for the US and one for Italy. This is our past.

Unknown said...


I undertand what you are saying but I think the American people would not support a Marshall Plan. They have no more faith in the Mexicans getting it together than they do in the Palestinians seeing the light or fundamentalist Muslims becomin open minded. Once these prejudices become this deep seated, they do not change. I can hear it now, "They have oil why do they need our money and help? They will just screw things up again."

Maybe we should annex Mexico.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

the rate of growth of the purchasing power of Hispanics in the last 10 years is three times the national average. In 2010, Hispanics will own 3.2 million businesses. Clearly, these immigrants are expanding the national pie.

Exactly why we're the greatest country in the world. This is the country I love living in. Unlike, er, um, France.

chuck said...


And while the strong Hispanic work ethic is unquestionable, the cultural commitment to education is often less strong

I rented an apartment in Salt Lake from a Hispanic who had worked in the fields with his family as a boy. He went on to college, got a business degree, and at the time I met him was buying up apartment buildings around Salt Lake. Even so, he said he was the exception and the rest of his family had no particular ambition or desire for education. I have no idea what the statistics are, but this is anecdotal evidence that supports what you wrote.

Barry Dauphin said...

My quibble with the article is that word Hispanic is not the same as illegal Hispanic immigrant. I wonder if that's where the statistics cited might be questionable. That is not clear in the article. I respect the sentiments expressed and certainly believe that the Hispanic immigrants and those who are US citizens by birth contribute great things to the country. But the debate is about handling the borders as well as the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, not about race per se. Yes, those boundaries can get blurred amidst the vitriol, but we want to acknowledge the difference for many reasons.

Unknown said...


Those bastards.

My Grandmother had a man named Raoul come and help her out after my uncle died. He did a little bit of everything, but mostly he took care of the yard and garden. She was very picky. He often brought his wife and kids. My mother said he was so proud the day he told them that his son would be going to college. He himself did not go to school past the age of 10 when he went to work in a sawmill where he lost his arm while still a boy.

And he was happy, happy to be here.

Unknown said...


I agree the debate should be about just about illegal immigration, but I have also heard people say that hispanics want to take over the country by 2050 and all manner of crazy stuff. And of course people respond to that. I think that is the danger here, that the debate becomes more about race and culture than securing borders.

Barry Dauphin said...


Yes, I agree. That's why I thought the writer should have been more careful. He was inadvertently blurring the distinction.

Luther said...

Terrye and Chuck

"the debate becomes more about race and culture" and as to the topic, "economic contributions."

Being the husband of a Hispanic two generations removed from Mexico, I am not concerned about race.

I am also not so concerned about economic contributions, though living in a border city which suffers the brunt of this situation I may be a tad biased in the information cited. I don't see it here.

I am concerned about culture. In ways so small you would laugh at them. But, to me at least, they matter.

All I want is a secure border and "controlled" immigration. Should we do the same on our "Northern" border, so as to assuage the racist charges, fine.

I just want to know who comes into this country, and how many at a time. Is that so unreasonable?

Luther said...


Your first comment was well said, and pretty well sums up the situation. I harbor no ill will toward anyone seeking a better life. But I would say everyone here recognizes that there are limits to the grandest generosity. Can we put our foot down before those limits are reached? It would behoove all were we able to do so.

"We had better get used to it."

Do we have the will and/or gumption to do this anymore. I wonder.

J... said...

5 or 10 years from now we all be overwhelmed by Mexicans immigration. Who said that there are jobs that American people won’t do? Pay them and they will do it. Anyway How a President of United States can even say that. “There are jobs that American people won’t do”. It must be something wrong with him then. I just can’t swallow that part.

If we are talking about amnesty for illegal immigration, then what will happen if they all get it? Is that mean, that college grads will have to do masters in order to support them self? My friend is a Collage grad and has trouble finding a job. And here is comes, amnesty for illegal immigrant? Where she will find a good job? Harvesting corps, so illegal immigrant can do here job? What is going on?