If there is anything that liberals and Big Business can seemingly agree upon, it’s that we don’t need an approach to immigration that benefits Main Street. It remains to be seen whether anyone running for president will seize this opening and buck the liberal-corporate consensus, but in the meantime Sen. Jeff Sessions has been ably holding down the fort against Democrats and Republicans alike. As his partial reward, he just received the wrath of the New York Times editorial board.
Sessions had written an op-ed last week for the Washington Post, and the Times editorial took exception to his views. It’s worth reading both pieces and deciding for oneself who offers the better — and better-defended — arguments, but here is a representative sample:
Sessions writes, “What we need now is immigration moderation.” He explains that this means “slowing the pace of new arrivals so that wages can rise, welfare rolls can shrink and the forces of assimilation can knit us all more closely together.” Surely this reflects the views of many if not most Americans. The Times, however, replies that Sessions is denying immigrants a “tolerant welcome,” is taking us back to “an uglier time in our history,” and “now seems willing to admit” that he “never wanted the immigrants here in the first place.”
The Times adds that immigrants “do not strain the welfare safety net.” As proof of this assertion, it merely states that it is “so obvious — or it used to be.” Indeed, the Times does seem to be addressing something that’s rather obvious — just not in the way the Times thinks.
While Mark Zuckerberg and others lobby for increased levels of immigration while living in communities that are already essentially devoid of a middle class, Jay Cost, David Frum, and Byron York (among others) have sensibly argued that granting the wishes of Zuckerberg and Co. isn’t particularly consistent with focusing on the economic well-being of everyday Americans.
Moreover, it’s not as if America is at risk of no longer being a nation of immigrants. The United States’s foreign-born population more than doubled during the “Great Wave” of immigration from 1880 to 1930, from about 6.7 million to 14.2 million people. From 1970 to 2015 — so, in slightly less time — it has more than quadrupled, from 9.6 million to more than 40 million.
At the same time, the percentage of Americans who are immigrants has risen to levels not witnessed in nearly a century. Elizabeth Grieco writes in a blog for the Census Bureau that “the country is approaching a percentage of foreign-born not seen since the late 1800s and early 1900s.” Indeed, the Census Bureau projects that, within a decade, the percentage of Americans who are foreign-born will break the all-time record set in the 1890s — and will keep rising from there.
Yet the Gang of Eight, cheered on by the Times, wanted to increase the number of green cards issued over the next decade in dramatic fashion — from 10 million to about 30 million (according to the Senate Immigration Subcommittee).