Michael Lind's Story of Arthur Sulzberger and Immigration Policy at the New York Times

By Jerry Kammer on May 27, 2015

In 1995, when Michael Lind was a senior editor at the New Republic, he was contacted by an editor at the New York Times who was aware of his contrarian-liberal views of immigration. The editor asked Lind to write about them in an op-ed column for the Times.

Published under the headline "Liberals Duck Immigration Debate", Lind's essay made the case that "ignoring the rising costs of mass immigration, legal as well as illegal, is anything but courageous — or liberal." It went on to argue that, among Democrats, discussion of immigration is "still governed by taboos" and "rests on two articles of faith."

Lind explained the liberal articles of faith this way:

First, while illegal immigration may cost the jobs of low-skilled American workers, no legal immigrant has ever displaced an American worker. Second, any suggestion that the arrival of almost a million legal immigrants a year has any effect on job opportunities and wages in the United States is said to be sinister, racist "scapegoating."

Last week, at a CIS panel discussion at the National Press Club, Lind said his column was not well received by the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (See the video and transcript of the panel discussion here.)

That information wasn't surprising. We explored Sulzberger's rejection of concerns about immigration in a CIS Backgrounder titled "Sulzberger’s Voice: How Arthur Sulzberger Radicalized the New York Times Editorial Page on Immigration".

What was surprising was Lind's explanation of Sulzberger's reaction to Lind's op-ed. According to Lind, Sulzberger registered his displeasure with the editor who had solicited the piece. "She got a phone call from the publisher, complaining, why is she running all these anti-immigration op-eds," Lind said.

Lind described Sulzberger's alarm as an overreaction that ignored a simple fact of life at the Times, where immigration enthusiasts get far more access than do immigration skeptics. Lind provided this informal metric: "It turns out the ratio was like three to one pro and con."