One of the most tired arguments of the illegal immigration debate, which has been played out everywhere from the White House to The Maroon-News, is that America is a “nation of immigrants.” While this notion is true in the literal sense, it is misleading to cite a history of immigration in the context of the current illegal immigration policy.
Nevertheless, I believe this phrase inadvertently touches the heart of the current crisis of illegal immigration. In the illegal immigration public dialogue, the fundamental concept that is danced around, hinted at and eluded to – but never explicitly engaged – is the distinctiveness and importance of an American Core Culture.
Rather than a nation of immigrants, America is more accurately defined as a nation of settlers, of peoples who traveled here to form a society rooted in specific principles. Despite the challenges of modernity, our settler origins have given rise to a country with collective traits and a strong collective identity – tireless work ethic, the English language, belief in the basics of Protestant morality, self-reliance, Enlightenment reason and liberty, just to name a few.
These traits form a salient Core Culture in America, which has been the driving force behind our rise to be the most dominant, prosperous nation in history. It is why immigrants come to this country from around the world – not to remain displaced foreign nationals, but to become American.
Returning to the issue of illegal immigration, it is helpful to frame the current debate around the importance of the Core Culture. As with any other group of immigrants, the current waves of Mexican and Latino immigrants (legal and illegal) have a tremendous amount to contribute to America. I believe the vast majority of immigrants want to assimilate; they already exhibit many traits of the Core Culture. However, like any immigrant group in our history, these groups can prosper individually and strengthen America only as fast as they can assimilate into the American Core Culture.
In my view, assimilation in 2006 is inhibited by two main factors: uncontrolled borders and the multicultural movement. Uncontrolled and unmonitored illegal immigration minimizes the positive potential of immigrants by holding them outside of society. As well, the multiculturalism movement seeks, through its warped sense of guilt, to diminish the Core Culture and create a society of segregated cultural identities and ethnicities. Because of these forces, at present, illegal immigrants are an overall fiscal and social burden to America.
Despite the fighting about fence lengths and quotas in Washington, the goal of immigration policy should be efficient and rapid assimilation for those who enter America in a documented fashion. This is not an endorsement for amnesty; I believe the system must be repaired from the borders inwards and those who willfully break our laws must be held accountable.
Ruben Navarette made one of the only intelligent points in the debate last month when he said that assimilation is inevitable. Immigrants recognize that assimilation into the Core Culture is necessary for increased prosperity. Now, more than ever, Americans need to realize that the Core Culture is essential to the continued prosperity of America.