In 2006 I offered $200 reward for the best report on immigration that supports policies of sealing the border, rejecting amnesty for illegal aliens, and limiting immigration afterwards. Mr. Tom Narum an Executive Director of CitizensForASecureBorder.org, one of many grass root anti-illegal immigration organizations, submitted a video “Immigration by the Numbers” by Roy Beck. Below is my reply top this submission. After the death of Mr. Narum in 2007, Citizens for Secure Borders ceased to exists.
My comments to Mr. Beck’s video
Mr. Beck can easily sell sand to Bedouins. The video is a masterpiece of propaganda. As with every propaganda material, the purpose of it is not to find the facts and understand the circumstances. The purpose is to arm wrestle the facts to show that a number of immigrants need to be cut.
As I write in “Migration to the future”, “The Immigration Act of 1924 was structured to limit immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, and in the view of many was intended to prevent the immigration of three million Polish Jews. Until 1965, essentially all immigration of Asians was banned. Plainly, racism was the undertone of all of the immigration laws until 1965.” For Mr. Beck, this was the golden era of immigration. During those years, with some fluctuations, for every one thousand Americans, an average of one immigrant was admitted to the country every year. If we can imagine a community with a population of 1000, that would be the equivalent of one person moving in per year. Would it even be noticed in the life of the community? Could we even call it immigration? In the years 1925-65, immigration was in such low numbers that it did not affect this nation nor the outside world. For practical reasons, we may say that during those four decades, there was no immigration at all.
Mr. Beck clearly stated that he wants to return immigration to the level before 1965. Mr. Beck’s twisted argument is that he claims that he is pro-immigration but with limited numbers. On his website he asks to be called an “immigration-reduction organization.” He does not dot the “i” and he does not tell us that he wants to reduce the immigration to zero, as it practically was before 1965.
In my writings about immigration, I intentionally state that some people are for immigration, some against it. Tom Narum corrected me in his e-mail that: “It is over ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION or ILLEGAL ALIENS and not a fight of immigration that is legal.” After making this statement, Mr. Narum submitted the video by Mr. Beck, which calls for legal immigration to be practically nonexistent. Like most of opponents of immigration in general, Mr. Narum purposely avoids acknowledgment that the simplest way to eliminate illegal immigration is by allowing more people to come here legally. From my e-mail exchange with immigration opponents, I concluded that most of them – similar to Mr. Narum – honestly believe that they are for legal immigration and against illegal immigration. With the video submission, Mr. Narum was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, lying to himself.
Could it be that Mr. Beck is right? Maybe we really need to cut immigration to almost zero, as it was in 1965. Arguing against immigration, Mr. Beck complains that to accommodate a population increase, we needed to build new roads, new schools, and new sewer plants. He sees it as a burden; I see it as an asset. Thanks to the work of immigrants, our infrastructure is more developed than it would be without them. We have more roads, more schools, and more sewer plants. More people live here, but the country is richer too.
Telling us that with a larger population we would have more polluted lakes and rivers is demagogy big time. Most Western European countries have a population density much higher than here in the U.S. – do they have an environmental catastrophe?
With a sweet smile, Mr. Beck is poisoning the minds of his listeners with the thought that a tight labor market is the best friend any worker ever had. What he does not say is that this is not sustainable. For Mr. Beck, the world has not changed since 1925. At that time the economy was mostly a local affair; most goods were consumed within the same country in which they were manufactured. At about that time, the first airplanes took off for commercial flights. The first radio transatlantic telephone service was established in 1927 and it cost $16 for a three-minute conversation. People who invented computers were just born.
In 1965, the first transatlantic telephone cables were already in service, as were the first transoceanic airline flights. Television was still mostly local; however, the first satellite transmissions were taking place which evolved into commercial applications in the early 1970’s. The year 1965 can be seen as marking the end of the world’s rebuilding after the WWII. Western Europe was in full swing with economic prosperity, followed closely by Japan. “Global village” was the term of the season. People around the world realized that the economy was getting global. The leaders of the U.S. recognized that the era of splendid isolation was over. Those were the circumstances behind the changing of the immigration law that allowed more people in. Mr. Beck even today cannot comprehend the importance of the changes that took place between 1925 and 1965.
It is not surprising that it is beyond Mr. Beck’s intellectual capabilities to understand the technological changes that happened in the world since 1965. He did not notice mass transportation systems that can affordably move people and goods around the globe. He posts his views on the internet but he has not gotten it yet that thanks to the internet, employees of a company in Iowa can have their desks in India. I had in mind people like Mr. Beck when I wrote in “Will desperation prevail?”: “They do not want to recognize that today an American worker already competes directly with workers in China or Mexico, and this cannot be changed. We can only decide if this foreign worker works, spending his money and paying taxes, here or abroad. “ People like Mr. Beck “turn around and walk away when facing this dilemma. It is meaningful that none of my critics even touched this pivotal aspect of the immigration issue.” In other words, Mr. Beck is pulling the wool over people’s eyes when he says that with fewer immigrants there will be more better paid jobs for Americans. Immigrants give the U.S. economy a momentum that benefits both immigrants and Americans. If the immigrants go, prosperity would follow. It would not take long before Silicon Valley would be somewhere in Malaysia and Wall Street in Shanghai.
Mr. Beck reached the peak of arrogance when stating that the purpose behind immigration to the U.S. is in “rescuing people from the Third World poverty”. Some people sometimes may act out of compassion and against their basic economic interest. However, it is human that most people most of the time follow their basic economic interest. It is particularly true in the case of illegal immigration. In this case, Mr. Beck states – falsely – that the anger for this situation should be put “on public officials who have set immigration numbers without regards to the effect on American people”. The falsehood of this statement is two-fold. First, public officials set legal immigration numbers far below actual immigration, which partially is illegal. Second, for every illegal immigrant working here there is one American business giving employment. In other words, the truth is quite opposite to what Mr. Beck is saying – American people have regarded immigration as beneficial to them and have given employment to foreigners. They acted in their best economical interest, and did it in opposition to what public officials told them to do. We have so many immigrants, many of them undocumented not because of the actions of public officials but due to decisions that millions of Americans have made out of their free will, and in their best economic interest. Fortunately, the government has not had enough police power to circumvent the freedom of Americans that hire foreigners.
Playing with colorful gumballs, Mr. Beck is trying to scare Americans that with a pro-immigration policy, billions of poor people would come and “destroy the social fabric of this country.” It is a straight lie, as nobody ever suggested that we should open the borders and let everybody in. The question is very simple. If John Smith, an American, wants to hire Juan Gonzales from Mexico, should Mr. Beck have a right to stop him from doing so? Some public officials believe that yes, and as a result, we have immigration laws not adhering to reality, and not respected by most parties concerned.
Mr. Beck points out that in some communities, Americans are suffering due to the negative side effects of increased immigration. This is a dirty propaganda trick as Mr. Beck is taking the negative effects of present laws ridiculously limiting legal immigration and turning them around in order to advocate for even more bizarre laws practically eliminating immigration. Due to the current faulty laws, we have about 12 million people living outside our legal structure or, using Mr. Beck term, outside “the social fabric of this country”. We know very little about who they are and what they are doing. Traditionally, many Mexicans were coming back and forth to the U.S. taking some seasonal jobs, as they were available, and were staying with their families in Mexico when there was less work here. With increased difficulty in crossing the border, many of these migrant workers brought their families here. Now they stay here, regardless of whether there is work or not, adding to the burden that some communities have. The solution that Mr. Beck advocates is in making currently ridiculous laws even more ridiculous and believing that in some magic way problems would disappear.
As I write in the “Migration to the future”, if an American wants to hire a foreigner, he or she should be able to do it legally without bureaucratic hassles. However, such a foreigner from Day One should be woven into “the social fabric of this country”. If such a person would break our laws, we should send that person back home, knowing that a replacement would be easy to find. With such simple rules, any criminal activity related to immigration would be marginal, no bigger that in any other areas of the economy, as only individuals of clearly criminal intentions would be benefiting from breaking the law.
Chicago is doing well now and is a very prosperous city. Detroit is not doing equally well, neither is St. Louis. There are no borders between Chicago and Detroit, or many other places of poverty in our country. Nevertheless, not all the poor from the whole country come to Chicago, only those who can find a job here and are willing to bear all the risks and inconveniences of relocating.
Similar market mechanisms will work on a global scale if we would relax immigration laws and let in those foreigners that can find work here. This is obvious for someone who understands how the economy works. Unfortunately, Mr. Beck does not; any more than many other supporters of restricted immigration. In solving the immigration issue, one more time we have to bow to Ronald Reagan, who said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”.
Immigrants accelerated America’s economic growth and through this, some of the problems of our society became more visible and bothersome. In particular, about 47 million Americans do not have health insurance and about 16 million more are underinsured. Every day more and more Americans lose their health insurance. Immigrants add to this problem. However, even if all of them would leave, the crisis of the American health care system would stay. In the same way, American children learn less in school than children in most other developed countries do. No doubt, immigrants add to this problem. However, even if all of them would leave, would our schools suddenly teach math as well as in Germany or Japan? The viciousness of Mr. Beck’s video is in sneaking the message that by cutting the number of immigrants we would have all our problems solved.
Statistics show that the middle class is being squeezed within the last two decades. As expected, Mr. Beck has only one explanation – too many immigrants. The truth is that the government has too much control over the economy and only big business has enough money to lobby for favorable regulations. That would not change even if all immigrants would leave.
Our country has many problems. Increased immigration did not cause these problems. Mexicans and all other illegal immigrants are as much a cause of the problems of our nation as Jews were the cause of the problems in Germany in 1930’s. The issue is in what kind of nation we want to be; ergo, what kind of government we want. Throwing immigrants out of the country or blocking new ones from coming in will not mend our political system.
In response to my posting about immigration, my opponents sent me many messages full of anger and frustration. Most of my opponents feel offended when told that racism motivates them. Only very few would identify themselves with Mr. B who wrote to me: “If we are termed “Racist” to be pro American, then so be it; we will wear it proudly.” The perfidy of Mr. Beck video is in fact that under the illusion of an academic lecture he plays on hidden racist emotions and tries to justify and rationalize them. Mr. Beck gives to a xenophobe an illusion of rational argument. This is exactly how Nazism poisoned the minds of Germans.
In the light of the above deliberation, obviously the video by Mr. Beck does not qualify as presenting arguments effectively contradicting my views, and Mr. Narum cannot get the $200.00 award for proving me wrong. Mr. Beck is getting the title of the Master of Deception and nothing else.