The Atlantic's Jack Beatty convenes a panel of experts on immigration and asks if this fear is justified.
On the economics of immigration: Is it a mistaken impression that California gets more from even its illegal immigrants than they in turn cost the state in welfare and schools? Aren't illegals the main prop of the California agricultural economy? And if there were not illegals available to do the work, wouldn't the growers have to raise wages to attract legals and perhaps even native-born workers, and wouldn't that raise prices on the fruit and produce we consume? In a real sense, if the above is so, aren't illegal migrant workers the American consumer's best friend? Aren't low prices a considerable benefit of immigration?
California Governor Pete Wilson wants to practice ethnic cleansing in the California public schools. Does he have a rendezvous with infamy? Isn't he apt in history's perspective to be compared with Earl Warren, who so zealously rooted Japanese-Americans out of California in the early years of the Second World War? Is what Wilson is doing anything more than the demagogic incitement of Anglo resentment?
Writing at the time of the old immigration, the sociologist Florian Zanicki defined America as "the euthanasia of memories," meaning by that haunting phrase that in the great melting pot ancestral identities were dissolved. But surely the major institution of assimilation -- the public schools -- has lost its former assimilative confidence if not its assimilative mission as well. Was Zanicki right? Are the new immigrants following in the wistful footsteps of the old -- killing off their memories? Or are they holding on to them longer or more tenaciously?
-- Jack Beatty
Introduction and opening questions by Jack Beatty
Round One -- Posted November 6, 1996
- David Kennedy: Opening Remarks
- Peter Brimelow: Opening Remarks
- George Borjas: Opening Remarks
Round Two -- Posted November 20, 1996
- Selected Reader Responses
- George Borjas: Concluding Remarks
- Peter Brimelow: Concluding Remarks
- David Kennedy: Concluding Remarks
- Jack Beatty: A Political Coda