Messianic Immigrationism

One of the most annoying qualities of the immigration debate is that enthusiasts for immigration often seem to detest their own countrymen and impute to foreigners character traits that we natives are obviously lacking. Here is an extended quote from a recent column by NY Times columnist and Neocon-at-large, David Brooks, that I hope makes my point. Brooks writes:

My first argument is that the exclusionists are wrong when they say the current wave of immigration is tearing our social fabric. The facts show that the recent rise in immigration hasn't been accompanied by social breakdown, but by social repair. As immigration has surged, violent crime has fallen by 57 percent. Teen pregnancies and abortion rates have declined by a third. Teenagers are having fewer sexual partners and losing their virginity later. Teen suicide rates have dropped. The divorce rate for young people is on the way down.

Over the past decade we've seen the beginnings of a moral revival, and some of the most important work has been done by Catholic and evangelical immigrant churches, by faith-based organizations like the Rev. Luis Cortas's Nueva Esperanza, by Hispanic mothers and fathers monitoring their kids. The anti-immigration crowd says this country is under assault. But if that's so, we're under assault by people who love their children.

My second argument is that the immigrants themselves are like a booster shot of traditional morality injected into the body politic. Immigrants work hard. They build community groups. They have traditional ideas about family structure, and they work heroically to make them a reality.

This is evident in everything from divorce rates (which are low, given immigrants' socioeconomic status) to their fertility rates (which are high) and even the way they shop.

Hispanics and Hispanic immigrants have less money than average Americans, but they spend what they have on their families, usually in wholesome ways. According to Simmons Research, Hispanics are 57 percent more likely than average Americans to have purchased children's furniture in the past year. Mexican-Americans spend 93 percent more on children's music.

According to the government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, Hispanics spend more on gifts, on average, than other Americans. They're more likely to support their parents financially. They're more likely to have big family dinners at home.

This isn't alien behavior. It's admirable behavior, the antidote to the excessive individualism that social conservatives decry...

My fourth argument is that government should be at least as virtuous as the immigrants themselves. Right now (as under Bill Frist's legislation), government pushes immigrants into a chaotic underground world. The Judiciary Committee's bill, which Senator Brownback supports, would tighten the borders, but it would also reward virtue. Immigrants who worked hard, paid fines, paid their taxes, stayed out of trouble and waited their turn would have a chance to become citizens. This isn't government enabling vice; it's government at its best, encouraging middle-class morality.

Social conservatives, let me ask you to consider one final thing. Women who have recently arrived from Mexico have bigger, healthier babies than more affluent non-Hispanic white natives. That's because strong family and social networks support these pregnant women, reminding them what to eat and do. But the longer they stay, and the more assimilated they become, the more bad habits they acquire and the more problems their subsequent babies have.

So if Brooks is to be believed, mass immigration from Mexico will produce the following:

1) Less violent crime
2) Increased chastity
3) Fewer teen suicides
4) Patriarchal families
5) Less divorce
6) Higher fertility rates
7) More gift giving
8) More family dinners
9) Healthier children
10) The end of rapacious individualism.

I'm sure I've missed something, but doesn't that sound great? I had no idea that there was a causation between immigration and all those social benefits.


samrocha said…
Hi I found your Blog on a search, I think the dialogue on immigration is very good and important, feel free to read what I have posted lately at my Blog:
Kerwin said…
Mexicans as a whole are good Catholics so he has a point. The flaw with his argument is that the Mexicans that we want to come to America because of those qualities are not coming because it is against the law. What we get instead are the anarchist, socialist, and communist whom we can do without.

If you check out their web site you will find that The Communist Party of the United States urges us to grant them amnesty. I on the other hand support lifting the quotas for legal immigration and reducing the backlog of those who sincerely want to become Americans.
Darrell said…
I've visited Samrocha over at

His views are tad misguided, but he engages in civil discussion at the very least.

Kerwin, I think there simply have to be limits on the amount of immigration. The lifeboat can only handle so many folks before the culture changes dramatically.

Sam Huntington pointed out the manner in which contemporary immigration is very different from previous flows. Huntington notes:

"Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the American Southwest], persistence, and historical presence... Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway."
Kerwin said…
Yes I understand the need for quotas. We can most likely lift the quotas and bring in a more diverse group than is invading us. The diverse group should allow us to more easily assimilate them. If we place certain criteria on them before the enter the U.S. then the assimilation process will started already. This will decrease the demand for employees.

We should also consider humanitarian immigration from places where people are desperate to leave such as Darfur.

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