My colleague Steve Kilar has an article in today’s Sun about the likelihood that encouraging immigration is the only means by which Baltimore can hope to replenish its diminishing population. The arguments put forth in the article seem plausible enough, but I want to focus a little on the sadly predictable comments.
It is apparently an article of faith for many people that immigrants come to this country to live luxuriously off welfare, supported by the native white working class, whose jobs they are taking away.*
Of course, anyone whose last name is German, Irish, Italian, Eastern European, or Asian in origin is very likely descended from immigrants who were widely despised as trash—lazy, improvident, dirty, and unable to speak or write proper English.
Assimilation over a couple of generations is well attested. But this fantasy of a horde living large off the rest of us makes it difficult for people to cope with the realities. Assimilation is only one of them.
Another is that many of these illegal immigrants are working, are in fact performing tasks that are too unpleasant or ill-paid to attract the native-born. Many of them are also paying part of their wages into Social Security, buoying up that system.
But the most difficult reality to cope with is the number. If the estimate of about 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States is correct, there is no way that a population of that size can be excised without enormous ill consequences. It would require establishment of a police state beyond anything ever seen in this country, and the economic dislocation of the removal of that labor force would be immense.
George W. Bushrecognized this, and his attempt to deal forthrightly with the issue was thwarted by his own party. Any sensible effort by anyone else is immediately shouted down by xenophobic, racist demagogy, of the sort supplied by the commenters on Mr. Kilar’s article.
It will take people with courage to address the issue effectively, but courage has not been on abundant display in the recent political scene.
*That people are able to hold these two ideas simultaneously says something about their mental processes, but we go on. This article also gives the commenters an opportunity to scorn the impoverished, dangerous, crime-ridden, black/Hispanic city, but we’ll give the racism a pass this time as well. Although, the readers who bash Baltimore might want to take note that the level of immigration in Baltimore Country is greater than that in the city. The white fastness may not be as secure as they think.