|All Americans, not only in the States most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public services they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.—President Bill Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 24, 1995
President Clinton received a hearty round of applause for these words from both sides of the aisle and I wonder what has changed since then and whether or not the recommendations of the Jordan commission he references could be adopted today. I don’t remember all the details of the recommendations, but they did include an end to “chain migration” favoring family reunification, increased restriction of legal immigration, and increased penalties on employers who violated immigration rules. They weren’t adopted then, and I would bet that they couldn’t get anywhere near a majority in the House today, even much less with Democrats. Jordan wrote, “For immigration to continue to serve our national interest, it must be lawful. There are people who argue that some illegal aliens contribute to our community because they may work, pay taxes, send their children to our schools, and in all respects except one, obey the law. Let me be clear: that is not enough”.
These and President Clinton’s remarks would be considered “right wing” by the immigration left today, which has moved drastically further left since 1995. This shift, more than any other factor, has been the most significant change over the past 20 years or so. Sure, President Trump’s extreme rhetoric on the issue and related matters such as “the wall” and “s__hole countries” during his campaign and since has been a problem in inflaming the issue, but his actual policy proposals aren’t in the extreme. The real culprit has been the fruit of the ideology of multiculturalism and its derivative in the identity politics of the extreme left.
Jonah Goldberg writes that there is a growing body of evidence that even if diversity once made America stronger, it no longer does so, primarily because of the rising stigma of immigrant assimilation. In a lot of places like our universities what is more favored is to “celebrate our differences” as the essence of our identity. I think he’s right and, if so, we can say goodbye to the assimilation of new citizens, to America as a creedal nation, and to “e pluribus unum” as a key element of American exceptionalism.