Sin of Omission

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on October 23, 2011

Mass immigration enthusiasts Roberto Suro and Marcelo Suarez-Orozco give Washington Post readers their take on how to deal with immigration today. Their recommendation: Break out of the intransigent positions that are based on unreal story lines about America's immigration, past and present.

Not to say these writers don't make any good points. They rightfully criticize the "false choices" politicians and the press often present, for instance. But they do tend to sin by omission.

Here's how they close their Post essay:

Making a success of immigration a century ago involved both newcomers and hosts learning to manage the unfamiliar. It was a slow and sometimes painful process, and success today requires nothing less.

Suro and Suarez-Orozco neglect the beneficial, even crucial, role played by a 40-year immigration time-out. From the 1920s until the 1960s, the United States had immigration policies that reduced legal immigration to very low levels. It was that sustained period of very low immigration that enabled the nation to Americanize immigrants and allowed immigrants to assimilate to this nation. Kudos to NumbersUSA for bringing up the need to reduce legal immigration through TV ads aired during presidential debates.

As we know, legal immigration and illegal immigration are two sides of the same coin. More legal immigration leads to more illegal immigration. Chain migration that occurs because of visas for distant relatives pumps up the immigration ranks, creates irresponsible expectations of eventual immigration to America, and floods the pool of cheap foreign labor that hurts the most vulnerable Americans' job prospects and serves as a narcotic to hook U.S. employers on an ever-ready supply of low-wage workers.

Rather than focusing narrowly on changing the narrative, it would be more productive to base the national narrative about immigration on the facts as a whole, not anecdotes and false notions about Ellis Island.