WHY was the old immigration -- the white European diaspora of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries -- "what made this country great," as sententious orators still insist, whereas the new immigration gives polarizing politicians an irresistible target? To think through this question, to help inform the coming debate on immigration, The Atlantic offers the following two articles. [In "Can We Still Afford to Be a Nation of Immigrants?"] David M. Kennedy, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of American History at Stanford University, sets the two great immigrations, then and now, against each other, finds potentially worrisome patterns in the Southwest that are unprecedented in our history, and yet comes to conclusions that should shame nativism. [In "The New Economics of Immigration"] George J. Borjas, a professor of public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government (and a Cuban émigré), who has done pioneering work on the economics of immigration, shows what economic research can contribute to immigration policy. Borjas, whose numbers reveal that while affluent Americans and the economy as a whole gain from immigration, poorer Americans suffer a multibillion-dollar reduction in wages, argues for fundamental change in the country's immigration laws -- but rational change in the name of justice to the least-advantaged among us, not a xenophobic, demagogue-led retreat from decency, compassion, and memory.
Atlantic Monthly senior editor Jack Beatty, in which the authors of this month's cover articles are joined by Peter Brimelow, author of Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster.
Atlantic articles from the beginning of the century and from the 1990s.
The Atlantic Monthly; November 1996; The Price of Immigration; Volume 278, No. 5; page 51.