Those of us who want to limit immigration tend to think of ourselves as pragmatists. We believe that immigration can be a force for good if it is held within prescribed limits. We believe that those who think immigration is a basic human right are espousing a utopian fantasy.
One interesting subset of open borders advocates comprises those who see the fight for unrestricted immigration as part of the fight for equality and freedom that in recent years has been successfully waged by advocates of same-sex marriage, who say they are seeking "marriage equality".
The sensibility that unites the advocates for open immigration and "marriage equality" is illustrated by Jonathan Capehart, the Washington Post editorial writer and MSNBC contributor. Capehart, who last month became engaged to State Department protocol chief Nick Schmit, spoke negatively about immigration skeptics as he discussed last week's Brexit vote with "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough on Monday. Capehart spoke up in response to Scarborough's observation that "immigration, for most western countries now is becoming a defining issue."
Said Capehart: "Yeah, it's becoming a defining issue, but we have to talk about how the issue of immigration is being used in these campaigns. A lot of people in Great Britain are talking about how immigration was used in a negative way, a pejorative way — fearmongering a lot in the same way that people accuse Donald Trump of doing." Capehart acknowledged no legitimacy in concerns of Brexit advocates that the European Union's coupling of free trade with free immigration was allowing more immigration than the UK could successfully absorb.
Capehart's disdain for working class anxieties has become commonplace among post-national cosmopolitan liberals in places like Washington and New York who want the world to embrace the fantasyland of open borders for everyone and everything. As if an immigrant competing for a service-industry job could have no more disruptive effect on a society than a television competing for a spot in the living room. Compare Capehart's contempt with the compassionate observations of David Brooks and Mark Shields on last Friday's "PBS News Hour".
There was built into the European unification project an anti-democratic, a condescending, and a snobbish attitude about popular democracy. ... I'm as pro-immigration as the day is long, but we have asked a lot of people who are suffering in this economy to accept extremely, radically high immigration levels. And we have probably over flooded the system. And so while it's easy — and I do condemn the vote to leave, get out — a little humility is in order on the part of the establishment, frankly, that we have flooded the system with more than it can handle. And, secondly, we have not provided a good nationalism, a good patriotism that is cosmopolitan, that is outward-spanning, and that is confident. And, therefore, a bad form of parochial, inward-looking Trumpian nationalism has had free rein.
I think there is no question; part of Donald Trump's appeal is to people who have been dislocated. This week, Peter Hart for the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a focus group of really struggling middle-class workers, blue-collar, and service industry workers, most of whom were sympathetic. There were some Clinton supporters ... who were understanding. They felt that Trump at least was acknowledging them, that the two parties had been indifferent to their plight. It is no accident, Judy, that the median household income in the United States is lower today than it was 20 years ago. And that has a political cost to it. And as the top 1 percent and the top two-tenths of 1 percent have flourished and prevailed, the rising tide has lifted all yachts, but an awful a lot of boats have been washed up on the shore.