Does Diversity Really Unite Us? Citizenship and Immigration

Article author: 
Edward J. Erler
Article publisher: 
Imprimis - Hillsdale College
Article date: 
July 31, 2018
Article category: 
Our American Future
High
Article Body: 

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 11, 2018, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Colorado Springs.

 

President Trump’s preferred solution for ending the influx of illegal immigrants and providing border security is a wall; it is also the preferred solution of the American people. ...

More than a century ago, the Supreme Court announced what was considered the settled sense of the matter when it remarked: “It is an accepted maxim of international law . . . and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within [a sovereign nation’s] dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe.” ...

 

Historically, constitutional government has been found only in the nation-state, where the people share a common good and are dedicated to the same principles and purposes. The homogeneous world-state—the European Union on a global scale—will not be a constitutional democracy; it will be the administration of “universal personhood” without the inconvenience of having to rely on the consent of the governed. It will be government by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, much like the burgeoning administrative state that is today expanding its reach and magnifying its power in the United States. “Universal persons” will not be citizens; they will be clients or subjects. Rights will be superfluous because the collective welfare of the community—determined by the bureaucrats—will have superseded the rights of individuals.

Progressive liberalism no longer views self-preservation as a rational goal of the nation-state. Rather, it insists that self-preservation and national security must be subordinate to openness and diversity. America’s immigration policies, we are told, should demonstrate our commitment to diversity because an important part of the American character is openness, and our commitment to diversity is an affirmation of “who we are as Americans.” If this carries a risk to our security, it is a small price to pay. Indeed, the willing assumption of risk adds authenticity to our commitment.

In support of all this, we are asked to believe something incredible: that the American character is defined only by its unlimited acceptance of diversity. A defined American character—devotion to republican principles, republican virtue, the habits and manners of free citizens, self-reliance—would in that case be impermissibly exclusive, and thus impermissibly American. The homogeneous world-state recognizes only openness, devotion to diversity, and acceptance as virtues. It must therefore condemn exclusivity as its greatest vice. It is the nation-state that insists on exclusive citizenship and immigration policies that impose various kinds of restrictions....

Any honest and clear-sighted observer should be able to see that diversity is a solvent that dissolves the unity and cohesiveness of a nation—and we should not be deceived into believing that its proponents do not understand the full impact of their advocacy!...

The Immigration Act of 1965 was a kind of affirmative action plan to provide remedies for those races or ethnic groups that had been discriminated against in the past. Caucasian immigrants from European nations had been given preference in past years; now it was time to diversify the immigrant population by changing the focus to Third World nations, primarily nations in Latin America and Asia. The goal, as some scholars have slowly come to realize, was to diversify the demographic composition of the American population from majority white to a majority of people of color. There was also some anticipation that those coming from these Third World countries were more likely to need the ministrations of the welfare state and therefore more likely to be captured by the Democratic Party, the party promoting the welfare state....