Their stories so sad, their hearts so pure… There really isn't any arguing going on about illegal immigration or immigration in general. It's now just down to the repetition of the same intellectually impoverished open borders rhetoric. Like abortion or gun control, illegal immigration is a subject that, once you know how you feel about it, your views need never change -- when other people talk you just block out their voices until it's your turn to speak.
This weepy New York Times account is typical. Julia Preston's tear-jerking piece is written in that thoughtful, wavering voice which mixes condescension and emotional appeal -- the practiced pseudo-compassion of the NPR liberal.
Fortunately for Mancía, Julia Preston is not the only well-meaning white liberal around. No, he will not have to worry so much, now that the advocacy groups and Kennedy family degenerates have heard about his plight. Of course Mancía has been chosen -- one might almost say groomed -- by the Prestons of the media to exactly fit the downtrodden yet deserving face of the illegal alien (trapped in a world he never made!) and future Democratic Party voter (carefully zoned away from Julia Preston's bobo digs).
Oh, it's so delightful the diversity that Mancía and his colorful ethnic brethren will bring to our staid, upper middle class world! Don't you love Mexican food?* And inexpensive servants? Don't you love those things? My heart is filled to bursting with pride that I have the breadth of soul to welcome this servant class into the country, to work off the books.
For Preston, there is nothing better than a warm personal anecdote. For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the lives of peasants! Flood the zone!
Back in the real world, this new servant class of ours seems to pose a long term social problem. In this 2002 report from the Public Policy Institute of California ("Falling Behind or Moving Up? The Intergenerational Progress of Mexican Americans"**), the authors hint at the outlines of the problem:
(Emphasis added.) Could there be a happy answer to these disturbing facts, which seem to tell us that Mexican Americans do not follow the traditional upward-and-onward path of American immigrants? Yes, there could be a happy answer -- but don't you think the Julia Prestons of the world should at least admit these facts exist? Go ahead and peruse her archives, where the only story she is able to write about immigration is how put-upon these deserving men and women are by our heartless immigration bureaucracy. They work harder than you and I, Preston seems to say (it is as if she has just discovered that some working class people work very hard). And no one gets my living room cleaner than Mexican immigrants.
Let us look at one of the report's ominous conclusions: "Intergenerational progress for Mexican Americans appears to stall after the second generation." One theory of course is that Mexican Americans quickly hit a ceiling comprised of native talent, cultural values, and peer influence. And pay attention, Julia: they hit this ceiling despite their superhuman master race work ethic. The report's authors try to tease a hopeful message out of their findings, but what they come up with is rather weak: "Finding a way to somehow eliminate the educational disadvantage of Mexican Americans would go a long way toward bringing this group into the economic mainstream."
Of course one part of the solution might be to halt the flow of illegal immigrants who will be competing with these third- and higher generation Americans for their livelihood. Even that difficult task is only one part of a solution to the long term problem of a prospective Hispanic underclass -- in the words of the report authors, "the educational attainment of third- and higher-generation Mexican Americans trails that of non-Hispanics by an alarming amount." The real problem is not the illegal alien who comes to America today and does the work that Americans won't do -- although that is certainly a matter of concern when it leads to labor displacement or stagnant wages. The real problem is that immigration rates have accelerated far beyond our ability to comfortably assimilate them, and that the vast majority of these immigrants form a group that remains stuck at the bottom after being assimilated.
When you have pseudo-compassion, you don't need to care about the social costs of welcoming millions of immigrants with open arms. You know that it's not about the larger statistical picture and its tedious, upsetting reality, it's about celebrating diversity heroes like Lilo Mancía. What a lovable alternative he is to the working class Americans whom Julia Preston lives far away from. Those people are completely lacking in ethnic charm and are not suitably impressed by Lilo Mancía's story -- they even rudely take exception to the slur that they are much lazier than he is!
* Beans, rice, meat…beans, rice, meat…beans, rice, meat…EVERY DAMN MEAL. These are not people who welcome variety in their lives, ironically enough.
** This 2005 report from the same group tells exactly the same story, noting that Mexicans -- and Central Americans -- follow a very different pattern from other immigrant groups. PPIC, it should be noted, is not "anti-immigration" and therefore is not an easy target for the usual "nativist" ad hominem (see also my postscript below). These two reports' different authors cannot avoid the troubling data, data that people like Julia Preston and Tyler Cowen (who doesn't love a good taco?) pretend they've never heard of.
Postscript: Readers may wonder why I cite two reports by the Public Policy Institute of California, of all groups. Because Julia Preston herself cites them as a source for a news brief on the positive effects of immigration on California wages (she does not identify which report). In a short browse of PPIC's website I could not find the report Preston alludes to, if indeed PPIC ever made it publicly available as they have done their other reports. By the way in one short news brief Preston commits three gross assumptions about that conclusion, but without seeing the actual report it's difficult to say whether the many questions her one useless news brief raises are in fact answered in PPIC's report -- or whether they have been challenged elsewhere.
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