Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Walter and Betsy Stern Conference Center
John Fonte, Hudson Institute
That is partly because the event is built around a work published by them but written by our senior fellow, John Fonte, on my immediate left here, who is, in addition to being a senior fellow, a director of the Center for American Common Culture here at the Institute. John is a distinguished man who has worked and advanced knowledge in several important fields, in particular those of education and history. He was in fact one of those who forced a reconsideration of the rewriting of American history about five or six years ago. But in recent years he's become well known in both scholarly circles and on the Internet these days for his discovery and anatomizing of something called trans-national progressivism, which, if you read his paper on it, you probably did read on the Internet because it's been widely reproduced all over the world and translated by the London-Lloyd David Carr (ph) into the term "transies."
But in recent weeks--recent months rather--his work on dual citizenship is the topic which has attracted great attention. Now dual citizenship is something which as a problem, if it is a problem-- there may be some dispute about that--is a very recent one. A hundred years ago when immigrants came to this country or other countries, almost all of them stayed. About a third went home, but the rest who stayed essentially had cut their links with their former countries.
Today of course the Internet and cheaper travel, even the official policies of multiculturalism in this country and other countries, mean that immigrants often retain links with the countries from which they came and cease to assimilate in quite the way they did 100 years ago. That's particularly true in this country, though of course it's also not unknown in the European countries as well. And the recent development is that the governments of the immigrants' former countries often encourage them to retain not simply their citizenship but a sense of political association with their former countries.
So dual citizenship has in recent months, thanks very largely to the work of John, become a subject of concern in this country. Congress has held hearings on it, and his new backgrounder, "Dual Allegiance: A challenge to immigration reform and patriotic assimilation," to which former Congressman Gingrich has written the foreword, which also has an introduction by Thomas Bok (ph) of the American Legion, his new work is likely to attract a great deal of attention.
What I'd like him to do is speak to us for about 20 minutes and after he has spoken I'm going to ask the three distinguished commentators, whom I will then introduce, to respond to him. John Fonte.
JOHN FONTE: Thank you, John. More than any other country in the world, America has successfully assimilated immigrants from all over the world. Why have we been so successfulhistorically? Because of patriotic assimilation. Immigrants and their children did not simply assimilate linguistically, learning English, and they did not simply assimilate economically, becoming homeowners or joining the middle class. Most importantly they assimilated patriotically. They transferred their political loyalty from the old country to the United States. This transfer of political allegiance, which is at the heart of political assimilation and the key to America's great immigration success. The transfer of allegiance is central to America because of the kind of country we are. American citizenship is not based on belonging to a particular ethnicity, but on political loyalty to American democracy. We are a civic nation, not an ethnic nation.
Ethnic nations support the doctrine of perpetual allegiance, where one is always a member of the ethnic nation. In 1812 Americans went to war against the concept of the ethnic nation and the doctrine of perpetual allegiance. At that time Great Britain, under the slogan "Once an Englishman, always an Englishman," refused to recognize the renunciation clause in our citizenship oath and seized Britishborn , naturalized American citizens to impress them in the Royal navy.
I'm sorry, John. I know for many this was necessary to fight the good fight against Napoleon at that time.
We are also a nation based on equality of citizenship. Our immigration ethic, our proud boast that we are a nation of immigrants is built on the concepts of a civic nation based on political loyalty and on equality of individual citizenship. We are not, however, simply a nation of immigrants. We are more accurately a nation of assimilated immigrants who are loyal to the American constitutional regime. So you have political loyalty, patriotic assimilation. This is not about cuisine or customs or culture, but about political loyalty.
Now let's look at the concept of dual allegiance. A little later I'll explain why I'm talking about dual allegiance rather than dual citizenship. Dual allegiance--immigrant dual allegiance in particular-- directly challenges America's immigration effort. It means there is no transfer of political allegiance. One keeps the allegiance. It means that the oath of allegiance has been violated. That is, the oath in which new citizens promise to absolutely and entirely renounce all allegiance to their birth nation. It means that no real patriotic assimilation to the American constitutional order has occurred because dual allegiance citizens exist in an extra-constitutional or post-constitutional political space. That is to say, dual allegiance citizens inhabit a supra-national political space which is by definition beyond the full range of responsibilities and rights inherent in the American constitutional community. Dual allegiance citizens, as members of another, foreign political community, have different and in some cases competing and conflicting interests and commitments, that of objective practical necessity as well as moral obligation, dilute their commitment, attachment and allegiance to the United States of America.
Immigrant dual allegiance reinforces the concept of the ethnic nation over the civic nation. It tells us, once an Englishman--or Pakistani or a Guatemalan or Mexican--always an Englishman or a Pakistani, or a Guatemalan or a Mexican. It also in some cases violates the principle of equality of citizenship. It means that some citizens are more equal than others. They have special privileges, such as voting in more than one nation. It could be called neo-medievalism. Dual citizens in this sense are like pre-modern medieval aristocrats. They have voting power in more than one government and are supposedly loyal to more than one regime. Of course the 18th century American Founders rejected the medieval and feudal political order of princes and aristocrats in favor of the modern version, of ordered liberty and equality of citizenship. The new science of politics, as the Federalist papers put it.
It's ironic that some 21st century American law professors seem to prefer the pre-modern, pre-Enlightenment, illiberal concept of dual allegiance to the modern, democratic, republican views of the Founders of single allegiance, as made explicit by Congress in 1795 by insisting that naturalized citizens renounce all prior allegiances. Well, it's sometimes argued that even if the principle is wrong, it's a good idea to have people voting in foreign countries because they spread American values--Latin America, Eastern Europe, and so on. Sounds reasonable but not necessarily true. Let's look at the case of Manuel de la Cruz. July the 4th, 2004, Manuel de la Cruz, a naturalized American citizen from Los Angeles, was elected to the state legislature of the Mexican state of Zacatecas. Thirty-three years earlier he came as an illegal immigrant, actually had an amnesty, became an American citizen. He took an oath to absolutely and entirely renounce all allegiance to his previous state. Of course on becoming a state legislator in Zacatecas he took a new oath of loyalty, of allegiance to the Mexican republic.
Mr. de la Cruz is not promoting pro-American values in Zacatecas. He was elected as a member of the traditionally anti-American Democratic Revolutionary Party, the PRD. Look at the web site of the California PRD, which is the political home of many naturalized American citizens. It contains lies about the United States, including the charge that, quote, "the Mexican migrant who lives in the United States is without human rights." Not true. In 2003 the California PRD web site contained pictures not only of Che Guevara but of Lenin as well. So much for the promotion of American values.
Another argument, that dual allegiance really doesn't matter among democracies. I recently talked at a dinner to a British immigrant who'd become an American citizen, while at the same time retaining British citizenship. This immigrant voted in 2004, double-voted. Voted in the Bush-Kerry election and in the Blair-Howard election within five months of each other. In this case, did this dual citizen do anything morally wrong in the sense of violating American constitutional morality? Yes. He violated the oath of citizenship in which he promised to absolutely and entirely renounce all allegiance. He had a moral obligation to take this oath seriously, regardless of any legal loopholes that currently exist.
The fact that Britain is a liberal democracy and perhaps our closest ally does not alter the moral principle or practical consequences involved in this situation. America is a different nation than Britain, Canada, India or Chile, or any other democratic nation. Our Constitution, interests, principles, history and culture, while similar to that of Britain and other democracies, are not identical and they're not interchangeable.
Immigrants, in becoming Americans, as well as native-born Americans, are supposed to be loyal to the American Constitution and American liberal democratic regime, not simply to a generic form of democracy that is detached from the American nation. The argument is also made that dual political allegiance is no different than a variety of other allegiances that people hold in the modern world. It's argued one is a member of the Yale Club and the Harvard Club, one's Catholic or Jewish, New York or California, and American, Canadian, and so on. And in today's complex, interdependent world it's possible to hold a series of loyalties at the same time without a great deal of difficulty. But of course some identities are not compatible with others.
It's not possible to be Jewish and Muslim at the same time. It's not possible to be Catholic and Jewish at the same time. Nor is it possible to seriously be a loyal citizen of the American republic and the French republic, or even British and Canada at the same time. Even the closest of democratic allies do not have identical interests and principles.
Now I use the term dual allegiance rather than the term dual citizenship for a specific purpose. We can make a clear distinction between the explicit exercise of dual allegiance on the one hand--that would be voting in a foreign election, running for office in a foreign country, and so on--versus the status of holding dual citizenship. That might happen because one parent is American, the other is not, they have property in the birth nation, some technical reason. The active exercise of dual allegiance is a problem. The status of simply holding dual citizenship is not, as I see it. So there's a distinction there.
Now prior to 1967 American citizens who committed certain what were then called expatriating acts, voting in foreign elections, serving in foreign governments, swearing allegiance to foreign governments, could through the commission of these acts involuntarily lose their citizenship. The Warren court in 1967 in Afroyim v. Rusk, in a 5-4 decision written by Hugo Black, overturned Felix Frankfurter's majority opinion nine years earlier. The Afroyim ruling concerned a naturalized citizen who voted in a foreign election. The Court ruled that Congress did not have the power under the 14th Amendment to strip citizenship from anyone. One could only lose their citizenship if they voluntarily intended to lose it.
A stinging dissent was written by Justice Harlan, supported by Justices Tom Clark, Potter Stewart and Whizzer White. The dissent adhered to the original Frankfurter position nine years earlier and pointed out that the chief Senate sponsor of the 14th Amendment, Senator Howard of Michigan at the time, specifically noted that citizenship could be forfeited involuntarily and that the very Congress that enacted the 14th Amendment stripped citizenship from some Americans, former Confederates at that time.
Well, let's look at the context of today's immigration debate. Our panelist Michael Barone's fine 2001 book The New Americans, makes some interesting comparisons between Italian immigrants from the past, and Latino, particularly Mexican, immigrants today. Both groups of immigrants were, are characterized by family, religion and hard work. And Michael notes the great Italian-American immigration success story in patriotic assimilation.
Now the successful patriotic assimilation of Mexican-Americans prior to the post-1960 immigration era is described by classics scholar Victor Davis Hanson in his 2003 memoir, Mexifornia. Hanson describes the success of the assimilation policies of the 1950s in Selma, California. Quote, "If the purpose of the assimilation policy was to turn out true Americans of every hue and instill in them a love of their country and a sense of personal responsibility, then the evidence 40 years later would say it is an unquestioned success," unquote. Professor Hanson's Mexican-American classmates are the true heroes of his book. They prove that successful assimilation is not based on race or ethnicity but on embracing the American way of life.
Now in examining Italian and Mexican comparisons when I was doing research for this paper I was very fascinated. One of the things that struck me was the actions of the Mexican government today and the Italian government at the time were very similar. The Italian government would be both the liberal government of the early 20th century and the later Mussolini government. I'll give you two examples. In 2001 Juan Hernandez--he's President Fox's cabinet member, minister for Mexicans abroad--told ABC Nightline, quote, "We are betting Mexican-Americans will think Mexico first, even to the seventh generation." In 1929 Benito Mussolini said, "My order is that an Italian citizen must remain an Italian citizen, no matter in what land he lives, even to the seventh generation."
In 2001, Juan Hernandez again stated that Mexico is one nation, 123 million people; 120 million live in Mexico and 23 million live in the United States. In 1997 a Mexican senate committee declared, quote, "Mexicans abroad are equal to those of us who inhabit Mexican national territory. Belonging in Mexico is fixed in bonds of culture and spiritual order, in customs, aspirations and convictions," unquote. In 1929, Hernaldo Mussolini, the Duce's brother, wrote in the official Poblo d'Italia (ph), "10 million Italians live in foreign lands. This is another national community which is a sacred duty to accomplish--that of preserving the soul and the national character of coming generations. The sons of Italians abroad should be brought up to feel, to think, to act, to love, to hope as do the sons of Italians at home."
Like the Mexican politicians today, Italian politicians in the past promoted the concept of dual allegiance. But unlike the Mexican government today, they were unsuccessful because of opposition from the United States, of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and yes, Franklin D. Roosevelt. It's important to note that in addition to the politicians at home, many Italian immigrants in the United States at that time in the past, just like Mexican immigrants today, favored dual allegiance. The Instituto Correali (ph), the Congress of Italian Immigrants, in 1907-1911, urged the home government to promote dual allegiance for Italians in America. Today many leaders of the Mexican immigrant community are doing the same thing.
All of this reminds us that assimilation is difficult. It doesn't just happen naturally. Human nature remains. Italian immigrants in the past, Mexican immigrants today act in a similar fashion. And moreover, the Italian government of the past and the Mexican government of today act in a similar manner. They're doing what governments do. They maximize their national interest in relations to other governments. What is different now than what was different in the past is that in the past the American government actively promoted our national interest in patriotic assimilation and actively rejected dual allegiance. Today our government and our elites are essentially mute on these critical issues.
Now it's important to remember also the immigration debate is not occurring in a vacuum. It is occurring within the context of the promotion for more than 30 years of multiculturalism, bilingual education, multi-lingual voting, ethnic group consciousness and group preferences over individual rights. So the question is, considering all of the above, do we continue to permit the rapid increase in dual allegiance which will happen by default if no congressional action is taken, or do we begin to limit dual allegiance? Current immigration legislation will exacerbate the dual allegiance problem. If the proposed McCain-Kennedy bill becomes a law, 11 million eventual new American citizens will be eligible for citizenship in their birth nations as well as the United States.
The leading expert on dual allegiance, City University of New York political psychologist Stanley Renshon, has noted that today almost 90 percent of all immigrants come from countries that encourage a multiple allegiance. Never has there been such a potential challenge to the principle of patriotic assimilation.
What is to be done? Well, significantly even Chief Justice Earl Warren himself said that Congress can prohibit certain acts. He said this in Peres, in writing the dissent in Peres, which was before Afroyim.
Within the boundaries of the current Supreme Court interpretation, many acts that were formerly expropriating, such as voting in a foreign election, serving in high office in a foreign government and so on, could be proscribed, punishable by sanctions. Now exceptions could be made for those serving the national security interests of the United States.
The purpose of such legislation is to affirm our nation's deepest moral principles, to promote patriotic assimilation. It's not to punish people who may be well-meaning and are simply following current practice. The legislation obviously would not be retroactive. It simply informs citizens, from now on these are the new rules. We don't want you voting in foreign countries, serving in foreign governments and so on. Now legislation has been introduced to this effect by Congressman J. D. Hayworth. It's within his broad enforcement-first law. There's a section on enforcing the oath of allegiance. There are certain acts that would be against the law and would be subject to sanctions. Again, the purpose of this legislation is not punitive but informative and normative, expressing America's national interest in patriotic assimilation.
So in conclusion, opposition to dual allegiance and support for patriotic assimilation is consistent with the position of the Founding Fathers, including both Hamilton and Jefferson. With Republican President Theodore Roosevelt and Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, with Justice Louis Brandeis, who wrote about Americanization, and with his protege, Justice Felix Frankfurter, and with the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which stated, quote, "Taking an active part in the political affairs of a foreign state by voting in a political election involves a political attachment and practical attachment to that foreign state which is inconsistent with allegiance to the United States."
For FDR yesterday, and for most Americans today, this is simply common sense. Now is the time, during our current immigration debate, for Congress to reject dual allegiance in principle and restrict and narrow its application in practice. Thank you.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: John, thank you very much indeed. Now I'd like now to invite Michael Barone to address us. As Dr. Fonte has pointed out, Mr. Barone is the author of an important book, The New Americans, which was published two years ago. I think it is fair to characterize his position, though he will do so himself, as support for relatively open immigration, accompanied by measures to encourage assimilation. He speaks with authority not simply on that range of questions but across the whole range of American political history.
He is the author of the Almanac of American Politics, which comes out annually, and which reveals his extraordinary encyclopedic knowledge of the American political scene down to every district in the nation. And of course he is the author of a widely read syndicated column published first in the U.S. News & World Report. So with great pleasure I ask Mr. Barone to address us.
MICHAEL BARONE: Well, thank you very much, John. It's a pleasure to be here this morning at what is usually characterized as a conservative think tank, to listen to a call to return to the principles of Franklin Roosevelt. Thank you for your generous words.
I think John Fonte has put the spotlight on an interesting and important issue. It's one which I had not given very much thought to, and I think he has put forward an ingenious instructive solution, and at a very timely moment, since next month the House of Representatives is expected to take up immigration and border security legislation.
I share his aversion for dual citizenship, but I don't take quite the same view of it. I don't think it poses as great a danger to our country as he does. I would nonetheless tend to favor the measures he advocates because I do share his view that our elites--university, media, corporate, even governmental elites--do not believe as strongly, in some cases do not believe at all, the assimilationist ethic which has done so much to make America the great nation it is.
First, on my aversion to dual citizenship. It's not total. I have to say I'm not very much troubled when I read that American citizens have served in the military in Israel or have accepted political office in the government in Lithuania, for example. I'm not even too troubled by our PRD friend serving in the Zacatecas state government in Mexico. In effect, we're re-exporting some of our human capital to places where it's needed and where it is often put to good use. I do tend to agree that Americans who do these things should be giving up their U.S. citizenship, and I understand in some cases, like I think the Lithuanian head of government, they in fact do. But this is not really what I think John's troubled by.
What he's troubled by is this. He sees the leaders of Mexico, and perhaps some other countries, engaged in what he says in his paper, and I quote, "a sophisticated and long-term strategy similar to the approach promoted by leaders of the European Union"--and I think we're all supposed to hiss here--"and other global"--I'm perfectly happy to--"and other global and transnational elites of slowly and steadily building a series of institutions and structures that would lead to a greater and greater political integration in North America, and thus by definition a weakening of American constitutional sovereignty." And some of the evidence he presents is convincing. Certainly Presidents Zedillo and Fox of Mexico and many of their leading appointees have been engaged in such a strategy. I have some perspective on this from having been in Mexico for the recent elections, 1994, 2000. I'm looking forward to the Mexican election of July 2006.
But I tend to doubt as a practical matter whether this strategy, which I agree is pretty nefarious, can gain significant success in practical life. I note that despite the drive for dual citizenship by both the Zedillo and Fox governments, the government of Mexico did not provide for absentee voting in its 2000 presidential election, with the exception of, I believe it was 10 voting stations in the border towns, which have strictly limited numbers of ballots. I think that was due to internal political reasons in Mexico. The PRI government, which had controlled both houses of legislature up through 1997, evidently feared that most Mexicans in the United States would vote for Fox's PAN party. Indeed, and I believe Fox did, in fact, go to California and campaign there for votes. But Mexicans who wanted to vote had to return to Mexico. When I was there for the 2000 presidential election, I actually encountered some who flew in from Austin and Atlanta to Mexico City at their old residences to cast their ballots for Fox.
I'm not sure, and I'd be interested if others on the panel have more information on this, whether Mexico is providing for absentee balloting in July 2006. But until they do, I think their project of trying to interweave the 23 million Mexicans they claim to be living in the United States with 100 million in Mexico is not likely to have major political impact. Not all those Mexicans can afford a quick plane trip back home. Some of them of course who are of illegal status here, would not want to cross the border and take the chance of not being able to get back across again. So I'm less concerned about that.
I also noticed that many immigrants--Latino immigrants in particular, who are not yet citizens--have volunteered to serve in the United States military forces. Some have been killed, larger numbers have been wounded. Some may see this as a cynical attempt to qualify more easily for U.S. citizenship, but I think that in these circumstances, when members of the military are subjected to the rigors and risks of combat, that service in the U.S. military has to be taken as a pretty serious commitment to the United States and a serious commitment to our historic assimilationist ethic. These people are voting with more than just their feet.
As for greater and greater political integration in North America, I question how many Mexicans of whatever citizenship really want that. I remember one day I was interviewing people in Huntington Park, California, southeast of downtown Los Angeles, census population 96 percent Hispanic. I asked a Mexican man whether he wanted to see the Mexican system of politics and government in the United States. I've seldom seen anybody laugh so hard. The idea just strikes them as palpably ridiculous.
Mexicans recognize that in many ways their system of government and politics is dysfunctional. In fact, they've been oscillating from one political party to the other out of discontent with the alternatives that they have.
Juan Hernandez, whom I have interviewed and talked to, who as John points out in his paper was born in Ft. Worth and holds dual citizenship--I don't know if we should go look at the Tarrant County register of voters and see if he's showed up there. We do have these problems; the man who assassinated the presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio in 1994, was a registered Democrat in Long Beach, although he was a Mexican citizen. We have a good Democratic get-out-the-vote drive there. Although I guess he'd have to vote absentee, but we allow that. (Laughter) He's talking about the seventh generation. I'm not sure it even works very well for the first or second generation. Another political tidbit from Santa Ana, California, which is a city of Orange County of 380,000 people, not inconsiderable place, about 78 percent Hispanic in the census, voted by a two-to-one margin to recall and oust from office a man named Nativo Lopez, a U.S.-born person who had promoted teaching Spanish and suppressed teaching in English in schools. The parents in Santa Ana--and I went out and interviewed some of them--understood that their kids, if they wanted to have a chance to get ahead, need to be taught in English and they gave Nativo Lopez the old American heaveho.
So I'm not quite as concerned about the practical effects.
John brings back the attempts of the Italian governments of the early 20th century to maintain the Italian loyalties of immigrants to America, and I suppose they were also looking at immigrants to Argentina and other countries where there was substantial Italian immigration. I was not familiar with those but I note, as he noted, those attempts basically failed and instead we had Italian-Americans distinguishing themselves by fighting in other places, among other places in Italy, in World War II.
I tend to think that Mexican-Americans are not so very different. Yes, they're a larger percentage of current immigrants. Yes, we have a border with Mexico. But you know, Mexico is not actually geographically in many ways right next door. Zacatecas, where we had Mr. de la Cruz running for the council from California, is some 1,500 to 2,000 miles from Los Angeles. You can't just walk over the bridge and get there. And if you go back in history, Italian-Americans traveled regularly back and forth to Italy, and as John noted, a substantial percentage of them returned to Italy to Italian citizenship, or kept their American citizenship and gave the Social Security administration Italian addresses for their checks.
So I'm kind of dubious that the fears that John has about dual citizenship are likely in practice to be a major problem in the United States. Some problem, yes. Nevertheless, I do tend to support his proposed legislation, and I do so because I share his sense that American elites today are not sufficiently committed, as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt were, to the assimilationist ethic which has been so successful in our history. It's one of the reasons I wrote my book, The New Americans, to try to point out, to be at least one voice pointing out that that assimilationist ethic was successful and that we should continue in that tradition today.
Too many of our university, media, corporate, governmental elites have what Professor Samuel Huntington has called trans-national attitudes. They think allegiance to any country, but particularly this one, is a sort of noxious, childish prejudice and outmoded attachment to an unenlightened bunch of rubes, primitive and unsophisticated assertion of chauvinism. One could go on and on. I think that's a lot of--well, it's not correct.
I would therefore tend to welcome Congress passing some legislation which would make the point that we disfavor dual citizenship, that the oath that new citizens take is one that we take seriously and don't believe should be violated by our new citizens. We wish well our citizens who want to assert dual citizenship and run for president of Lithuania. We wish them well in their new country. We may wish them well even on the Zacatecas state government. But we don't think that they should continue to be Americans if they make those decisions.
I would even relish seeing Congress pass some legislation that confronted the Afroyim 1967 decision head-on. I see Judge Bork in the audience, one of my teachers in law school, and made the point then of the absurdity of the current Warren court decisions. I remember him saying at one point in the coffee lounge that that decision is so crazy, they could use it to outlaw the National Football League.
It's an anti-trust decision. But I think that I would like to see a challenge to that kind of jurisprudence, and I wonder whether that would stand up in the Supreme Court today, or as it may soon come to be with the confirmation of the next justice. Thank you.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Michael, thank you very much. Obviously the debate over dual allegiance and dual citizenship as it develops is not taking place in a vacuum. It's taking place against the background of the renewed and refreshed debate over immigration. It's only two days since the president made a major speech advancing his proposals, immigration reform, but I think it's widely acknowledged by people on both sides of that argument that the president is divided from a significant section of his own supporters in his own party, and in the conservative movement. So our next speaker is particularly well fitted to address this topic against that background. He is David Keene, who for many years has been the head of the American Conservative Union and thus one of the most important figures in the American conservative movement, representing the opinions of people outside the beltway to people inside the beltway.
David, I invite you to respond to John's remarks.
DAVID KEENE: Thank you, John. I'm in the position of agreeing largely with both speakers. I think that John Fonte's work in this area has been important, and I think that it goes beyond the question of whether or not America is in any way in reality threatened by someone serving in the Mexican legislature or serving in the Lithuanian government, whether or not that person renounces their citizenship.
The question of dual citizenship is one of the things that has undermined the American civic culture. Not the only thing, but one of the signs that we have. I think as we look at the immigration debate, and there are a great many differences as to how the United States should deal with the problem of our borders. Congress before the end of the year has indicated on the House side at least that we will be considering legislation to, quote, "secure" the southern border or make it more secure, or to make it more difficult for people to cross over at will, both for national security reasons and because of thepolitical response to the popular concern about the numbers of illegal immigrants that are crossing that border. That's one aspect of the debate.
The president has talked both about border security and a possible, quote, "guest worker program," unquote, that would allow foreign workers into the United States to meet up, as he puts it, with willing employers to fill jobs that might not otherwise be filled because of regional or national labor shortages.
That's part of the immigration debate.
And there is much more to it. The question of employer sanctions for companies that employ illegal immigrants, the question of how you deal with criminal elements that are already here. What do you do about the immigrants that have come to this country illegally and wish to stay and are not going to leave--or leave voluntarily. Do you give them some sort of amnesty? Do you round them up and ship them out, or do you do something in between? There have been dozens of proposals on all sides, and the divisions that take place in this debate are not purely partisan divisions. They are divisions within the conservative movement certainly because conservatives have been of two minds. On the one hand there has been the sort of traditional free market view that any more power you give to the government to limit labor movement and the rest is potentially dislocating and potentially dangerous. And on the other hand there's the very real concern about the American culture that John Fonte has addressed.
I think, though, that all of these questions--border security, employer sanctions, guest worker programs--miss the real underlying reason for the American nervousness about the levels of immigration that we face today, and I think John comes closer to connecting with those real problems than does anyone else, though perhaps the question of dual citizenship by itself is not the answer, but it can be part of the answer.
It seems to me that the real political problem, or the underlying attitudes that are making this a political problem is the American concern--widespread, bipartisan and national--that there's something wrong, that in some ways the nation is changing in ways that people don't want to see it change, and that the American culture is being undermined and changing. It's not simply that people think that foreigners are coming over and taking their jobs. I don't know anybody, and I don't know if you do, who really thinks that their job is being threatened by a low-wage Mexican worker, whether he comes here legally or illegally. And it's not simply the fear of crime or the fear of terrorists. That has heightened the problem because there are legitimate national security interests at the border.
Nor is it a dislike of Hispanics generally or Mexicans in particular. Many of the folks that have come here--legally and illegally--have moved into neighborhoods and have friends and have jobs and are raising families and doing all the things that earlier waves of immigrants have done. But when John and Michael refer back to the Italian experience--and Michael makes the point that while trying to do some of the same things that the Mexican government is doing today, that effort failed--we have to realize that that was a different world, and the problem today is not just the elites.
It's not just the failure of American law and the failure of American will, or the political incorrectness of standing up and saying that the nation state is something worth defending, and something that's worth being in favor of. Or that the American culture is somehow not just unique but is something that Americans ought to protect and should be proud of. It's not just that.
True, Italians went back to Italy. Many of them retired there. Foreigners from many countries who come here, become citizens, live successfully, earn a living, go back to their motherland or fatherland to retire, as many of us go back to our hometowns to retire after a working life. That doesn't make the difference. But they don't go back all the time, they're not as close as they were. The Internet, all the things that we have today have made a difference, particularly when combined with the elite attitude that's anti-nation-state, and more specifically in many cases, anti-American.
It's interesting that immigrants come here--and most of the Mexican immigrants, whether they come here legally or illegally, come for the same reason that others came here in the past: economic freedom and political freedom. Perhaps in the current wave there's more seeking of economic freedom than the other because it's closer and easier to get here and they know that's what they hear about, and particularly if they come here illegally, the political freedom that they thought they might enjoy is not as readily available as perhaps it would have been for someone who came here legally in decades past.
But immigrants in the first and second generation, regardless of the fact that they've held their heritage, have traditionally and historically in this country not just adopted their new country but they've adopted it in ways that surpass the dedication to American ideals and the American republic that their native-born compatriots have. I haven't done any survey of the actual numbers, but I'd be willing to bet that if you go back to World War II and before and look at the Medal of Honor winners and other people in the military, that you find, given the percentage of first and second generation people here, a higher percentage of those distinguishing themselves militarily, fighting on behalf of their adopted country than you would among a similar sample of native-born Americans. These are people who made a choice. These are people who knew what they were trading. These are people who gave up something for something better and were willing to fight for it, and were proud of becoming Americans. Didn't mean they gave up their heritage. Didn't mean they abandoned their traditions. It didn't mean any of those things. It didn't mean that they ceased loving where they came from, or the art of their homeland or the music that they had left. But it meant they were Americans in a political, and indeed in a cultural sense.
I think the disquiet today stems largely from the fact that we have a sense as a people that the country that John described, which is not an ethnic nation and not a religious nation and not a racial nation, is somehow changing and is becoming balkanized as people who come here don't buy in, or aren't required to buy into, or don't adapt the values and the culture of their new nation.
I think that, as I've said earlier, a lot goes into that. But the real problem is not the level of immigrants in an absolute sense, whether they're legal or illegal. The real problem's the question of whether the new people coming here are in fact new Americans, or whether they're just people that happened to live here for a while so they can work, who aren't interested in our culture, who aren't interested in our language, who live only with people who come from where they came from and who send their money out and then go home and are not really ever going to become part of America. That's not true of all of them, but it is a problem and I think the American people sense it as a problem.
I think the problem we have with our political elites is that on the one hand many of them reject the very idea that it would be a good thing to become American. And on the other, people don't know how to deal with it, so it's not discussed. And what we have is a refusal to engage in a conversation with the American public about the immigration problem, the immigration question, or the kinds of policies that would make it acceptable to a broad majority of Americans. I think that's a conversation that's very badly needed because one cannot in this kind of a country ignore issues that are perceived by vast majorities of the people as serious and legitimate and be successful politically over time.
I think that our politicians have been toying with the same kind of thing that happened in Europe, where immigration became a problem some years ago for different reasons, where the establishment parties all sort of dismissed the concerns, and the result was the election of people that might not otherwise ever have been elected anyway because the public tends to marginalize people who don't take their concerns seriously. And the American people are a people who, if their leaders have a conversation with them, are neither irrational nor outrageous in what they want, and I think that a policy can be developed.
But a part of that policy has to be what John has talked about, and that is what he terms as patriotic assimilation. There needs to be assimilation of new populations so that America is a melting pot, as we used to call it, comes back rather than what they call it these days, America as a mosaic of groups and communities of different kinds of people who may or may not relate to each other or may or may not like each other. America as a melting pot was never a perfect image because countries in reality tend not to be perfect. But it was a better goal than what we have today, and I think that most Americans perceive that it was a better goal than the way that we're approaching these things today.
These aren't new problems. I'll conclude by saying there are many other things besides the legislation that John Fonte has suggested, though I think that legislation would be a very, very good first step, and commend it to you. But these are problems that are not new to us, nor unique to America.
I just want to close with what the historian Will Durant wrote many years ago about ancient Rome. He said, quote, "If Rome had not engulfed so many men of alien blood in so brief a time, if she had pressed all those newcomers to her schools instead of her slums, if she'd occasionally closed her gates to let assimilation catch up with infiltration, she might have gained new racial and literary vitality from the infusion, and might indeed have remained a Roman Rome."
I think the problem that Americans have is the question of whether or not America is going to remain an American America. And I think that goes to the heart of the question that John has addressed, which is the need for assimilation of new citizens and new immigrants.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: David, thank you very much. Our final commentator this morning is Mark Krikorian, who heads the Center for Immigration Studies. The Center has established itself in the immigration debate as a body which, while being restrictionist in its general outlook, nonetheless produces economic research on immigration that is valuable to all sides in the debate.
He has also staked out, I think, in the debate we're having this morning on dual allegiance an early leading position because in addition to publishing John's paper, he also has published the paper of Dr. Stanley Renshon to which John preferred.
So Mark, it gives me great pleasure to ask you to sum up the debate so far and then we'll throw open the debate to questions.
MARK KRIKORIAN: Thank you, John, and thanks to Hudson for working together with us to
sponsor this event.
I actually wanted to--I won't say defend FDR and Earl Warren and the rest of them--but the point that's important about John's citations of Woodrow Wilson and FDR--people that I'm not naming my kids after and I can imagine are not big heroes for a lot of people here--is that in the past the intense no-holds-barred debates of the past--Hamilton versus Jefferson, Wilson versus TR, FDR versus his Republican opponents--all took place within the context of complete agreement about the exclusivity of American citizenship. In other words, it was something that was not contested. That basic question is now contested and that represents a fundamental change, a quantum change in our politics in a way that the existence of one state legislator who swore allegiance to the Mexican republic doesn't really hint at, doesn't really suggest what kind of political, ideological earthquake this dual citizenship represents.
Let me also point out that John's paper is on our web site at www.cis.org in its entirety, along with all of our other publications.
But I wanted to address not so much the theory of it but answer legitimate questions that some people might have. So what? What does this have to do with the next five or six months worth of debate over immigration that we're going to hear? Is it just that it's the same topic, dual citizenship relates to immigration, Congress is going to be talking about immigration so it's a convenient time to piggyback on that discussion? The answer is no. This dual citizenship question is directly, inextricably tied to the debates that are going to be taking place over the next few months in the House and the Senate.
In the past dual citizenship existed. John referred to the War of 1812, and there are other instances where it cropped up as an important issue, but it was a relatively minor phenomenon. Because of difficulties in transportation and communication, what-have-you, it could never grow legs, as my grad school advisor would say. It just wasn't all that salient. So mistakes were tolerable. The Afroyim decision probably didn't cause a lot of comment or concern because, well, you know, the era of mass immigration was over. It was never going to come up again. This was a minor issue. Well, it isn't any more.
A mass immigration already has made dual citizenship an important issue. Almost all countries that send immigrants to the United States, other than Red China, now have some form of dual citizenship or dual nationality, and Red China is already looking at India's policy with regard to what they call non-resident Indians, to see whether there's something they can learn and implement. Something like--based on the work of Professor Renshon, who, along with John, is the only other person who's written on this from an American perspective--something like 15 percent of our entire population is probably eligible for dual citizenship at this point. This is no longer a boutique issue that was of no consequence to national policymakers. But the current "reform" proposals--and I can't put reform in quotes when I say it, but it's in quotes--the current "reform" proposals would result in a quantum increase in dual citizenship in our society, even if those proposals worked as advertised.
Which I'll get to in a minute.
Senator Specter's compromise draft version of an immigration bill that he's been floating around includes in it a doubling of legal immigration, an amnesty for the illegal aliens who are here, and vehicles for increasing so-called temporary workers in the future. The McCain-Kennedy bill, which you've heard a lot of talk of, would result in at least 50 percent increase, if not more, of regular permanent immigration, in addition to perhaps half a million a year importation of new foreign workers.
President Bush's plan would admit an unlimited number of foreign workers. There is an absolute unlimited number. Any number of foreign workers from any country doing any job, anywhere in the United States, at any wage above the minimum wage. This is as advertised. This is not something I'm imputing to it. In addition, as the president suggested several times, including his recent speech in Tucson, he supports an increase in green cards, and that increase in green cards is essentially a vehicle for amnesty without calling it that because the illegal aliens who are here would then qualify for it and manage to get green cards without being identified as receiving amnesty.
And finally again, even if these programs work as advertised, they would import huge numbers of so-called temporary workers. Even if they were expected to go home, those people would have children, and those children would automatically be U.S. citizens. Our research suggests that almost 400,000 babies a year are born to current illegal immigrants. Almost 10 percent of all children born in the United States are born to illegal alien mothers. And the importation of large numbers of future foreign workers can only help but increase that number quite significantly.
But of course these proposals will not work as advertised. It is literally impossible for the proposals that the president and McCain and Kennedy and others have outlined, and Kyl-Cornyn, it is literally impossible for those to work as they are being advertised. They will result in massive permanent settlement of these so-called temporary workers. Every temporary worker program in human history has worked that way, and there's no reason to believe that the laws of human nature have been suspended here in Washington, as Congressman Cunningham's experience suggests to us.
And these programs are also going to super-charge illegal immigration. Rather than simply replacing the existing legal flow and re-labeling it as it's presented, these programs will result in very significant increases in illegal immigration, as we saw with the last big guest worker program with Mexico, the bracero program. For some reason the proponents of temporary worker programs, at least the libertarians among them, are now advertising the bracero program as an experience we should follow.
From the 40s to the 60s we had this guest worker program from Mexico, and it was actually responsible for the illegal immigration wave we've been dealing with for the past 40 years, or 30 years.
And then the question is: Will any of the legislative or other fixes--solutions that are suggested in various areas, immigration or other areas--succeed in minimizing the dual citizenship fallout, the dual citizenship impact of these proposals that import foreign workers and increase legal immigration? Let me touch on several possible ways you could try to limit the dual citizenship impact and address why they can't work, or they won't happen.
One that's been popular is ending birthright citizenship. The current interpretation of the 14th Amendment is that anybody born in the United States, with several small exceptions, is automatically a U.S. citizen. In other words, anybody born to an illegal alien or to a temporary worker is automatically an American citizen. It's a whole other discussion, a whole other panel discussion to talk about that, but that rule's not going to be changed any time soon. There's discussion of it, maybe it should be changed. Again, I'm happy to talk about that in another forum. It's not going to happen. When the president made his immigration speech last year I spoke with the White House and asked them: Are they proposing to include an end to birthright citizenship, at least for these so-called temporary workers? And the answer was no, of course not, they would never even consider such a thing.
Another way you could try to limit the impact, limit both the permanent settlement of the guest workers, which will then have its dual citizenship impact, and also limit the number of children that they have here, is to allow only men as guest workers. After all, that's the way the bracero program worked. Only Mexican men were permitted. The point was, their families had to stay home so that they wouldn't put down roots here, and obviously the men aren't having kids.
Now it was a complete flop because the Mexican-born population in the United States went from less than 800,000 in 1970 to 11 million today. So this temporary worker program has created permanent settlement, just like every other one did, but limiting it to men is a possibility. Or at least a possible way of limiting the dual citizenship impact. Does anybody think that we're going to have a guest worker program that is limited only to men and prohibits women from participating? No one's ever even suggested it, and yet that would be one of the most effective ways of containing the effects.
Another way you could limit the dual citizenship effort, or the dual citizenship impact of these reforms -- and again, both to limit the permanent settlement of these temporary workers and also limit births, would be to regiment the foreign workers. Confine them to barracks, march them to work in the morning, march them back to the barracks at night. Isolate them in every way from contact with the host society. Number one, it ain't going to happen. Number two, it's morally repugnant. This is not part of America's immigration tradition. That's how Saudi Arabia works, and even Saudi Arabia hasn't done all that good a job at limiting the permanent settlement of people.
In fact, the indications are, it's almost certain that any new guest worker program would be much looser than the bracero program we had in the past, which limited people to particular jobs, particular industries, and resulted in a lot of abuses because of that. And so the point that we have a new guest worker program, guest workers are going to be able to move from job to job, industry to industry, there would be no way to contain their interaction with the rest of society.
And then the legislative provisions that Congressman Hayworth has included in his immigration bill. Those I'm actually all for. They are urgent. Making actions that would be appropriate only for dual citizens, prohibiting those actions is long overdue, but that doesn't address the issue of the American-born children of these so-called temporary workers or illegal aliens. In fact, it has no effect on that at all because they're automatically U.S. citizens.
And finally, the final possible way you could insulate, limit the dual citizenship impact of the current so-called reform proposals would be to limit participation in this temporary worker program to citizens of countries that don't have dual citizenship. Well, now that almost every country in the world except Red China has dual citizenship, that kind of narrows the field of people that could participate, and to somehow expect that Mexico or India or the Dominican Republic is going to say, no, we're going to change our own laws to make sure that you can get cheap labor from our country, we're going to comply with your wishes, is completely unrealistic. What you'd end up with, and this is my final point, if you try to limit participation in guest worker programs to people from countries that don't permit dual citizenship, Congress and the president would be faced with a choice. Either mass foreign worker programs, or defending the Constitution. You have to choose one way or the other.
If you want large foreign worker programs, you've got to essentially sacrifice the integrity of the Constitution. I hope Congress doesn't have to make that choice because I'm not really confident what choice they would make. But the fact remains that you cannot have a regime, a coherent regime of exclusive U.S. citizenship in the modern world with the importation of massive numbers of foreign workers from overseas. It is simply not possible, and so the solution, along with legislative changes to citizenship, in my opinion, is addressing immigration policy itself. Thank you.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Thank you very much. And now we're going to throw open the debate to questions from the floor. I might just say three things. The first is, when you get the microphone, please say who you are, which organization you represent, if that's relevant, and thirdly, do not start asking your question until the microphone is in your hand. Otherwise a lot of people will not hear what you're saying.
The lady right at the back.
Q: My names Jill Freeman. I'm with the National Writers Union. I've lived in Brooklyn for the last 25 years, since 1979, and I've been trying to figure out how what you're talking about would apply to our rather ethnically mixed population, and perhaps you could help me explain that. You've been talking mostly about Latinos and Mexicans, but in Brooklyn we have large groups of our population who are registered voters, and therefore presumably American citizens, for whom any candidate for local office has to have a pro-Israel foreign policy, and that is the primary concern in how these voters vote. No, these voters were not born in Israel. Some of them were born in other countries. Many of them were born in Brooklyn, but Israel is still their primary concern in deciding who to vote for.
We have other segments of our population who come from the Ukraine, West Indies, Bangladesh, Pakistan, some of whom still have a primary allegiance to their home countries and some of whom do not. Some of whom intend to return and some of whom do not. It's a little hard to tell. There's no simple way of doing it.
How would your proposals apply to this rather diverse ethnic group which has multiple allegiances, not multiple citizenships, and multiple ideas about what their concerns are in voting for candidates for American elections?
MR. O'SULLIVAN: I take it your question is addressed mainly to Dr. Fonte?
DR. FONTE: That's an interesting question. You're talking about Brooklyn 2005. Let's look at Brooklyn 1905. You had a lot of ethnic politics going on right before the first World War, particularly German and Irish questions. Opposition of Great Britain greatly influenced ethnic politics. It's always been part of American tradition.
What's different now and different then, it wasn't a question of dual allegiance. German citizens in Yorkville on the East Side in New York were not voting in Prussian regional elections in 1907, 1908.
And the most important difference, as I said in the paper, was that the attitudes of American elites were totally different. One hundred years ago Theodore Roosevelt was president, later Woodrow Wilson basically said that you have a choice. If you're here in the United States, become an American citizen, you have to be loyal to the United States. As you know, in some cases they went too far in suppressing German culture and ethnicity. This was a problem in World War I.
The whole point of it was that the American elites at that time made a clear distinction. At this point that's not happening. So there's a difference between 1905 and 2005. In some ways the immigrants were acting similarly. The elites were acting differently.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Would anyone else on the platform like to respond?
MR BARONE: Well, I'm uncomfortable with the argument that is often used with respect to American Jews is there's a dual loyalty or a greater loyalty to Israel than the United States. My own view is that many of my fellow citizens are very mistaken on the public policies they support and the candidates they support, but I take them at face value as Americans trying to do the best for their country.
MR. KEENE: I'd like to say something. I think John tried to point this out to some degree. There's a distinction between allegiance to the United States and giving up your sympathies for your home country or from wherever you came. Many years ago then-Senator Bob Dole called me up and said he'd like my opinion as to what he should do on a bill to provide aid to Turkey. He was running for president. I said, do you want my view as to what you should do in our national interest? He said, I can figure this national interest stuff out all by myself. He said, I need your political read on it. I said, well, I'm not going to take a position on the bill. I can only tell you that the second largest ethnic group in New Hampshire is Greek-Americans. He said, that's what I wanted to know.
Now that doesn't mean that the Greek government was running these people, or that they had allegiance to Greece over America. What it did mean was they had sympathy. Irish-Americans have sympathies, Italian-Americans have sympathies, Mexican-Americans have sympathies. That's different from being either led by or having allegiance to a foreign government and a foreign power.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Thank you. Next question. Marc Platner, then Diana Furchtgott-Roth, then the gentleman there.
Q: Thank you. Marc Platner, Journal of Democracy.
I'm sympathetic in principle to John Fonte's analysis, but I have some questions about how this would work in practice, particularly given the American tradition of posting exiles, political exiles in dictatorial countries. I haven't examined the issue of citizenship, but I presume that some of these people stay and things remain dictatorial in their home countries, put down roots. But then if there's a change in the situation in their home country, or country of origin, some of them will want to return, perhaps in the case of becoming president of Lithuania, one'd need to renounce U.S. citizenship. But I'm thinking in particular of cases like Afghanistan and Iraq where there are many people who become American citizens who I think the United States would regard as (inaudible). If they do back to a very uncertain situation, do we really want to force them to renounce their American citizenship?
MR. O'SULLIVAN: John, and then I know Mark wants to come in as well.
DR. FONTE: Well, actually in the Hayworth legislation there is a provision that there's exception for national security interest of the United States. This would be determined by the State Department. So there actually is a particular case if there's some person. This would be on an individual, case-by-case basis. If there were some person, and this applies to the State Department could waive the sanctions.
It may apply to a few people. But in most cases I think we would want people to give up their American citizenship and involve themselves in the political affairs of the other country at that point. In certain cases there is a provision in there that makes exceptions for the national security interest of the US to be made.
One interesting case of someone who went back was Eamon De Valera. Remember him? President of Ireland, born in New York, American citizen. Went to Ireland, gave up his US citizenship, and De Valera of course wasn't very helpful in World War II. He put all the lights on so the German submarines could sink allied shipping.
MR. KIRKORIAN: I just had a couple of comments. First of all, this idea of a waiver isn't new. In the past, I believe it was the Attorney General who was able to give waivers to, for instance, Americans who served in the RAF before we got in the war. So this idea of a national security, national interest waiver is long-standing. But my answer to your basic question of should we expect these people to give up their citizenship is, yes.
When Cory Aquino went back to the Philippines and a whole bunch of other people came with her at various other levels, ran for senate, congressional offices in the Philippines and gubernatorial offices, large number of those people had U.S. citizenship. Cory Aquino herself, I believe, was a green card holder. She was a legal permanent resident and the locals demanded that these people give up their American citizenship because as long as they had their American citizenship or legal residency, they could always leave went things went bad.
I come at this with the experience of having lived in Soviet Armenia for two years. I'm of Armenian origin. And there always, with diasporas versus the home population, there's always a certain amount of resentment because the diasporas aren't invested. When things go bad, the locals die, the diaspora people get to hop on the plane and go back to Scarsdale. And that's not something that I think we ought to be encouraging. It's a kind of political tourism that if I were a citizen of one of these diaspora-sending countries I would resent quite intensely, quite frankly.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: As VS Nipaul once described people who went to places like Nicaragua as revolutionaries who have return air tickets.
DIANA FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: My name is Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at Hudson Institute, director of the Center for Employment Policy here at Hudson. Thanks for a most interesting panel.
Anecdotes about people voting in other countries are interesting but they don't show a major problem. I was wondering if the panelists knew how many people fit in this category. We have millions of immigrants and few vote in other countries. Leaders of foreign countries can ask people, ask their citizens to stay loyal to their country of origin, but they have no authority. That's one reason these people are trying to leave these countries. They leave because they have a better life here. They're voting with their feet, they're showing a preference for life here.
American elites are far more likely to look down on our institutions than are immigrants. In terms of economics, we have very low unemployment right now and we need more immigrants, both skilled and unskilled. Unemployment rates for those with a BA and above are 2.3 percent, and for those with a high school diploma, it's 4.8 percent. Employers can't find the workers we need. At the same time we're spending taxpayer money training foreign students and then sending them back to their countries to compete against us. Our birth rate needs to be high as we need more younger workers to pay our Social Security and pension obligations. Europe, China and Japan have incredible problems because of birth rates way below replacement rates of the population.
I agree with the panelists that multiculturalism and bilingual education is a real problem. We need to make sure all our children are taught in English and learn American history, and real American history.
David is right. Our history is being undermined. Even history taught in English to our American children have major flaws. It's derogatory toward the ideals of our Founding Fathers. By requiring the inclusion of a minority or a woman on each page of a children's history textbook, it gives undue importance to trivia and neglects vital happenings.
American children aren't taught the pledge of allegiance. American children aren't taught the national anthem. Why are we surprised that immigrant children don't know them either? Thank you very much.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: John, and I think Mark, too.
DR. FONTE: Well, I'm glad that my colleague Diana supports the Hayworth legislation to enforce the oath of allegiance. I'll stop at that.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Well, then I'll do the heavy lifting. In one respect it is true because in fact there was a recent report just this week or last week on the number of people registering abroad to vote absentee in Mexico's election. Michael had said he wasn't sure if Mexico's election, presidentialelection was going to include absentee voters. It is. But the number hasn't been that high. Not thatmany people have registered. And that would suggest, okay, well, what's the big deal. It is a big deal, and the big deal is that it has -- permitting dual citizenship, and the flip side, prohibiting dual citizenship has a normative effect as a teaching function of the law. And what the law is now teaching is that belonging to the American national community is not something that is exclusive. It isnot something equivalent to entering into a marriage contract. It's more like shacking up with yourgirlfriend. If we want to support that kind of transnationalism, that kind of post-Americanism, then this is the way to do it, regardless of how many Mexicans vote in Mexico's election in July.
And let me just touch on two other points. I'm not going to debate the immigration issue here, but our birth rates are actually not low. Our birth rate is now higher -- we have a higher birth rate than any industrialized country, and even without a single immigrant our birth rate is right at replacement.
So we are in a completely different demographic situation from any other developed country in the world. What you are pointing to, talking about the sort of economic imperatives underlines what I'm trying to say, is that the choice here is between foreign labor and the integrity of the Constitution, and I choose the Constitution.
MR. BARONE: I gather from what Mark's saying and from my own knowledge of this that as a practical matter the number of people who live in this country and might be eligible to vote in other countries seems to be low as a practical matter. I take that as some evidence that an assimilationist impulse is relatively strong in our immigrant population. As Diana Furchtgott-Roth said, it's probably stronger than it is at Harvard. So as a practical matter I do think that the principle that John Fonte is asserting is worth giving some serious consideration and perhaps legislation.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: John, you want to comment?
DR. FONTE: One quick point. I think we're getting off target a little bit here. In the McCain-Kennedy bill, 11 million legal immigrants would be eligible for citizenship. All of them could vote. I mean, all of them are from countries that, except for maybe a few from China and a few from Cuba, would be eligible for dual allegiance and could be voting in foreign countries. So the numbers could increase tremendously.
I think at this point I saw something like 35,000 people had signed up for Mexican citizenship, and that means taking an oath of loyalty to Mexico and they re-sign up people who had previously been Mexican citizens. So the 11 million, all of them. So we're not actually talking about small numbers.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: The gentleman in the middle.
Q: [Portion inaudible.] What if they don't want to assimilate? Why should they assimilate if they can be among their own people close to home (unintelligible) in Arizona and it literally looks like Mexico in every conceivable way. So regardless of whether or not these people are voting in a foreign election, or if they are technically American citizens, how do we expect them to act like (unintelligible)?
MR. O'SULLIVAN: I think that's really addressed to Michael.
MR. BARONE: Can you summarize the question for me? I couldn't really hear it.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: If I could just briefly summarize it, because I think Michael couldn't hear you, and correct me if I'm wrong. But I think you were saying it wasn't legal technicalities that necessarily counted here, but if you could live an entirely Mexican life in the United States--and with millions of immigrants you might be able to do so--would you really be culturally assimilated into this country?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think that's one thing many people are worried about, and you can go to Huntington Park, California or, one time I was taking a short cut when I was in San Francisco Bay area going to Atherton off the Bay Shore freeway. Atherton is a community that is very high income, with these walled houses on 4 to 10 acres. You can get a nice house there. Google has raised the prices of the houses up to about the $10 million level, the median. But if you go down the Bay Shore and get off an exit early and go down a street called Middlefield Row, the eastern side of Redwood City, it does look a lot like Mexico. You see the stores there and things like that. It looks like some place in Mexico City metro area. So people do live these kind of lives.
Does that mean the assimilationist impulse is dead, lacking, absent? Not necessarily. If you could go back to New York in 1905 you could go to a lot of neighborhoods that looked very foreign to American eyes, and of course as we all know, the percentage of foreign-born in the population circa 1910 was higher by some significant magnitude than it is today. So these are problems that we've faced before. The assimilationist impulse has mostly succeeded.
I think the greatest barrier to it is not so much among the immigrant populations. We don't have the problems that Europe has there. I think the greatest barriers and problems to it are among American elites.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Thank you. The gentlemen --
MR. KRIKORIAN: Could I just have a quick -- ?
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Oh, yes, very quickly.
MR.KRIKORIAN: My quick point is that I basically agree that we are the problem and not the immigrants. The immigrants aren't that different. But Mexico is a unique situation. Huntington wrote about this. Mexico's proximity, the enormous domination of the immigration flow by Mexicans, the lack of diversity in other words in the immigration flow because Mexico dominates it so much. It's concentration geographically. The historical baggage that Mexico has with the United States that no other immigrant-sending country does or ever has had makes Mexican immigration a fundamentally different phenomenon than anything we've ever faced in the past, however superficially similar it may seem to Italians or others.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: The gentleman here, and then if we have time I'm going to ask the lady there.
Q: I'm Paul Donnelly. I write and consult about this. I don't like the word assimilation, and I know you like the term patriotic assimilation. Dr. Fonte likes to use it. The late Barbara Jordan liked to call this process Americanization, a process by which they become us, and who we are changes and expands to include them.
As Mark has pointed out, there has never been a guest worker program that has ever worked in the entire history of the planet. We've got Turks in Germany, you have Filipinos in Kuwait, you've got Chinese and Koreans in Japan, you have our own bracero program. In every case a very high percentage stay, which makes me wonder if somebody ought to take issue with Dr. Fonte's contention that assimilation does not happen naturally. It certainly doesn't happen naturally in most of the places I've mentioned. But in the United States of America, an illegal alien who had been a guest worker, has a child in the United States, that child is an American. It does happen naturally here, but it doesn't happen without government policy. It's conditioned by our laws.
The issue I think we're talking about here is whether or not we're going to Americanize newcomers, or literally alienate them. I like that Mark pointed out that this is a choice between foreign labor or the U.S. Constitution. I like what David Keene pointed out, that employer sanctions play a role in this.
What we're talking about with the guest worker program is a highly regulated legal market for certain employers that is going to be competing with an utterly unregulated illegal market.
Last time I looked, it paid less to work on a lawn or picking strawberries than working construction on the roof. Now unless you're going to have a foreign labor market for all of them, people are going to get temporary visas to pick strawberries and then they're going to take higher paying jobs working on the roof and the kids are going to be U.S. citizens. So I'd just like to ask all the panelists a straightforward yes or no and then elaborate: is Americanization compatible with the guest worker program or not?
MR. O'SULLIVAN: I'm going to ask David first and then we'll just go along the line.
MR. KEENE: I haven't studied guest worker programs in all the countries, and I'm not an expert on this, but I'm willing to offer my opinion on anything. The one thing that we can do--we may not like it, and certainly the workers might not like it--is we have the technological ability that if we let somebody in for a specific purpose in today's world, we can monitor that and make sure that they--you can never do it perfectly, but I think that the likelihood that it will leak, if you will, as much as it did in past programs is probably limitable.
If somebody comes in to work, that's different from somebody coming in to become an American. If it's somebody coming in temporarily to go home, the question is, can you make a workable program that allows people in for that purpose and then they go home? Someone who comes in to become a citizen are the people that we should be worried about Americanizing, and I don't care whether you call it patriotic assimilation or Americanization or whatever. But those people, it seems to me, we should be concerned about. Your point about Americans not knowing much is perfectly valid. A friend of mine complained a few years ago about some textbook being liberal. I said what does it matter. The kids can't read it anyway. So we need to worry about more than immigrants. But they are a population that we can actually require to become Americanized as a condition of citizenship and historically of course they buy into it because they're making the choice. Those people we want to Americanize.
The guest worker program is really a question of whether you can do it, and people will differ on that and I don't set myself up as an expert.
MR. BARONE: My answer is yes.
DR. FONTE: Well, patriotic assimilation--I like the term Americanization as well, and I use them synonymously, as you know. I think historically you're probably accurate, that American tradition has been that you come here and you become a citizen. You don't have guest workers, except for the bracero program. So I don't know if it's going to work. It hasn't worked before. This would be the first time that it would work, so it would be difficult.
MR. KEENE: My answer is no, that temporary worker programs are fundamentally incompatible with Americanization, and the reason for that is that immigrants are people too. They're not just labor inputs. They're human beings. Peter Drucker said something to that effect, not in the immigration context, but he said the art of management requires the manager to understand that his subordinates aren't just workers. They're citizens, they're human beings, they're fathers and mothers and bowling club members. I forget the whole quote, but the point was that workers aren't simply labor inputs.
They're human beings, and that's why Americanization and guest worker programs can never be compatible.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: The lady at the back.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Who would like to begin?
MR. KEENE: Well, we weren't addressing ourselves to immigration policy generally, and most of the illegal immigrants that we have coming across the southern borders are by definition low-wage workers because they're not educated, or at least most of them aren't at this point. An immigration policy, a rational immigration policy has, one, how many people do you want to let in and what kinds of people do you want to let in. A visa program or an immigration policy would, in the interests of what we need, a rational one would allow more of those kinds of folks in than people who mow lawns and work at McDonald's.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Michael?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think high skill immigrants, as I see it, don't present much problem about Americanization at all, you know. San Marino, California, which used to be a hyper-Republican, high income suburb of Los Angeles, is now 50 percent Asian. I don't think it presents an Americanization problem. They want their kids to go to Stanford and MIT. Maybe there's an Americanization problem there. (Laughter) They've got to resist. The Chicano studies professor that comes over here is maybe a problem on Americanization, but fortunately most of the students don't seem to pay much attention to these jerks.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: John?
DR. FONTE: Well, my interests in the paper are in political loyalty, so there is an interesting issue with growing transnational clash of people who have been collecting passports and citizenships and whose loyalty is not to any particular nation-state but maybe to whatever they would -- international business or some particular idea of cosmopolitanism. So it's sort of an interesting thing. I don't know if it's a direct issue, but this is a growing issue of the 21st century. Huntington wrote about this, the growth of sort of a post-national class, which is now going between country to country and is not particularly tied to the American nation-state or any nation-state, so that is an interesting intellectual problem, and it's also a moral problem.
MR. KRIKORIAN: I think there's two points to be made here about the Americanization of high skilled workers. Michael's right that higher skilled workers are not going to become a drain on the public treasury. They already know how to read, they're going to learn English even if they don't know it. But there are two problems. One John talked about was transnationalism. Transnationalism, post-Americanism or post-national developments are a function of high skilled migration.
And the other thing is something I don't really see people talk about very much, is that educated urbanized people for the most part have already acquired a national identity, whereas people from premodern agrarian backgrounds often really don't conceive of themselves yet in national terms. For instance, when somebody came here from Calabria 100 years ago, often those people weren't Italian.
They were Calabraes and they become Italian-American, completely skipping over becoming Italian. They never were Italian. Their identity was confined to a narrow parochial background, and then they became Americans, they became national in the United States. High skilled immigrants have already undergone that process for the most part in their home countries. They're cooked, if you will, as far as their national identity is concerned in a way that agrarian background immigrants aren't, so to actually makes their Americanization potentially more problematic than lower skilled immigrants.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: I'm afraid that that will have to be last question. We're over time. If you want further questions, I'm sure the speakers will stay behind.
Before we end, however, I'm going to ask John if he wants to add anything to everything that has been said.
DR. FONTE: No, that's fine.
MR. O'SULLIVAN: Well, in that case I want on your behalf to thank everybody.