Immigration and the Failure of Democracy

June 7, 2020

The Winter 2020 Claremont Review of Books contains an elucidating essay by Christopher Caldwell titled The Price of the 1980s - Debt, decline, and immigration. This is one of the better explanations of how America lost its way with the passage of the 1965 Hart-Celler immigration act.

Caldwell reports that "It overturned the 'national origins' system, passed under the Immigration Act of 1924 and reaffirmed in 1952, that had aimed to keep the ethnic composition of the United States roughly what it was." This bill overturned established American immigration law while sponsors of the bill claimed that immigration changes would not have a significant impact. In actuality, the bill opened immigration floodgates that we are still unable to close. 

Caldwell writes that "In policy terms IRCA is usually described as a mix of successes and failures. In constitutional terms it was a calamity. Presented as a means of getting immigration under control, IRCA wound up mixing explicit incentives to immigrate (via amnesty) with implicit ones (via anti-discrimination law)."

This well-written and comprehensive article is worth digesting. It well explaines America's immigration disaster. If you are not inclined to read the entire article, skip to the sections "Immigration, Inequality, and Debt," and "Immigration and the Failure of Democracy." Bookmark the article for future reference.