WATCH: New York Times Writer Explains Why a ‘Nation of Immigrants’ Needs Open Borders

Supporters of immigrants' rights march in downtown Washington during an immigration protest Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Washington. Immigrants around the U.S. stayed home from work and school Thursday to demonstrate how important they are to America's economy, and many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called A …
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Farhad Manjoo, the New York Times columnist who is urging Democrats to formally adopt an open borders policy, tried to justify his nation-changing proposals via a Twitter video.

Manjoo’s basic argument for open borders is that his family gained from migrating into the United States, so there will be no economic, cultural, political, or criminal problems for 330 million Americans when hundreds of millions of foreigners arrive in the United States.

“I came here as a kid with my family,” he said. “I had no skills. I was let in, and I turned out fine.”

Manjoo’s parochial views provide a useful window into the blithely confident and carelessly aggressive ideology of the clever people who have prospered in the Diversity Economy which has been created by the Internet, Silicon Valley, international trade, and the United States.

The worldview has emerged from that Diversity Economy, and it is a close match for the participants’ self-interest. The ideology combines a corporatist hostility to any economic, political, and cultural barriers that hinder their ambitions — for example, individuals’ rational desire for a shared, supportive national culture — as well as a casual dismissal of the risks and costs inflicted by the removal of those barriers:

Those attitudes are fully reflected in Manjoo’s response to comments on his call for open borders.

America is a land for immigrants, so let all immigrants into America.

For Manjoo, America is a country that exists for migrants — such as himself — and is not a country for the population of 290 million U.S-born Americans and their American children.

“The fact this is a country of immigrants is important, and it should be stressed,” he said.

This view echoes the elite’s 1960s policy of rewriting Americans’ creation history of pilgrims, settlers, and explorers into an invented history of noble immigrants, inspiring statues, and vibrant diversity:

In practice, this “nation of immigrants” claim demotes 290 million U.S.-born Americans to a status lower than the 40 million immigrants in the United States — and also below the status of several billion possible immigrants overseas if open border becomes law.

So when Americans highlight the impact of mass immigration — lower salaries, additional crimes, higher rents, a wider wealth gap, and civic conflict — progressives calmly smear them as bigots and racists. 

Manjoo argues that immigration is so fundamental to the United States that he opposes tests to ensure that migrants can integrate and earn a living in the United States. I think we don’t have any good way to judge what skills people [should] have in the future, what benefit they will have to the country. …  The idea of … letting them in because of that [test] seems fundamentally unfair to me.”

His January 16 column made the claim in moral terms: 

When you see the immigration system up close, you’re confronted with its bottomless unfairness. The system assumes that people born outside our borders are less deserving of basic rights than those inside. My native-born American friends did not seem to me to warrant any more dignity than my South African ones; according to this nation’s founding documents, we were all created equal. Yet by mere accident of geography, some were given freedom, and others were denied it.

Americans have no unique culture except support for immigration.

Manjoo’s opposition to immigration curbs also rests on his view that America has no unique culture worth preserving, except its openness to endless immigration. Without any unique culture, nothing is lost if America is transformed by immigration. 

At 9:02 in the Twitter video, Manjoo says: 

As an immigrant, as a person who feels extremely fortunate to be in the United States, I feel sort of no fundamental difference between me and the people who are outside the United States, and I think it is just fundamentally wrong that we should have some very restrictive way of deciding who becomes an American and who doesn’t.

For Manjoo, the many political and cultural differences between Americans and Chinese, South Africans, Argentinians, or Europeans are minimal. “We should think about people coming from other countries [into the United States] in a similar manner,” as if they are Americans moving from Massachusetts to Maine, he said. 

In fact, Manjoo argues that migrants are better Americans than actual Americans. Manjoo approvingly quoted one comment on his article: “Those who choose to become American are the most American people of all, and I want them, I want them all.’” In response, Manjoo said, “That’s what I think!”

Immigrants “actually make [America] better, and that is the basis of much of what we enjoy in the country,” he said.

So Manjoo just dismissed the risk of fundamental cultural change and the resulting diversity and civic turmoil:

A lot of people point out that if we open the borders, we will completely, instantly change American culture because hundreds of millions of people will move in. But you don’t have to think about this as some instant, immediate change to American culture. You can think about it as a long-term goal or just a long-term prospect. If we just expand immigration over time, it is not just like the culture would change immediately.

For Manjoo and his extended network of peer professionals, virtue signaling is more important than facts or recognizing open border risks to Americans. 

“You don’t know how the country will change with people from outside,” he admitted.

But “it is important to have moral clarity on this issue,” he said, adding, “I think American history has shown that when you let people in, they don’t ruin the country; they actually make it better, and that is the basis of much of what we enjoy in the country.”

For Manjoo, the mountain of evidence showing how migration hurts Americans employees, students, renters, and homebuyers is just piled-up paranoia. “People have these nightmare scenarios if we open the borders. … There is not at all much evidence for being harmed. It is just that we are looking at immigrants outside the country through a prism of fear.”

But Manjoo is careful to argue that open borders are good for his allies in the governing elites and in business, regardless of their impact on ordinary Americans.

“We face competitors on the global stage … with a lot more working-age people than we do,” he said. 

His column said: 

Economically and strategically, open borders isn’t just a good plan — it’s the only chance we’ve got. America is an aging nation with a stagnant population. We have ample land to house lots more people, but we are increasingly short of workers. And on the global stage, we face two colossi — India and China — which, with their billions, are projected to outstrip American economic hegemony within two decades.

Advocates for greater immigration routinely claim that immigration will empower elites. In contrast, most Americans are focused on their wages, jobs, families, homes, neighborhoods, and pastimes — not on the great game between rival elites in rival governments.

The easiest way to solve illegal immigration is to legalize all migrants.

On this point, Manjoo is logically correct: “If you just expand the definition of legal, then they’re legal, and you have no problem” with illegal immigration, he says. 

But this rhetorical trick hides the real political problem: How many immigrants and what types of immigrants will help Americans build a better homeland for themselves and their children? 

Manjoo’s answer is simple: any and all risks are subordinate to the elite’s claim that America is a land of, by, and for immigrants.

Democrats’ opposition to Trump’s border wall exposes their underlying sympathy for immigrants and mass immigration.

Democrats’ support for massive immigration logically leads to a policy of open borders, Manjoo says:

It is important to have moral clarity on this issue. … One of the difficulties Democrats especially have is that they are arguing now against a very cruel, unfair, inhumane immigration system, and they are arguing in some ways about the benefit of immigrants and what is good about immigration in the country. …  But they don’t answer the obvious question: If immigrants are good, and the immigration border security system is bad, what do [Democrats] want? What is the goal? … Why shouldn’t we have more immigrants?

Manjoo’s call for open borders is too unpopular for politicians to openly embrace — but most GOP and Democrat elites in D.C. are quietly united by the claim that immigration is good for the economy and that more immigration is even better for the economy.

Yet this establishment’s economic policy of using legal and illegal migration to boost economic growth shifts enormous wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the market with cheap white-collar and blue-collar foreign labor. That annual flood of roughly one million legal immigrants — as well as visa-workers and illegal immigrants — spike profits and Wall Street values by shrinking salaries for 150 million blue-collar and white-collar employees and especially wages for the four million young Americans who join the labor force each year.

The cheap labor policy widens wealth gaps, reduces high tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high tech careers, and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

Immigration also steers investment and wealth away from towns in Heartland states because coastal investors can more easily hire and supervise the large immigrant populations who prefer to live in coastal cities. In turn, that coastal investment flow drives up coastal real estate prices, pushing poor U.S. Americans, including Latinos and blacks, out of prosperous cities, such as Berkeley and Oakland.


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