Peter Morici: Our cultural wars offer no value to newcomers | TribLIVE.com
Featured Commentary

Peter Morici: Our cultural wars offer no value to newcomers

1503084_web1_1327308-09325edc6b8645dab6a8c1bc7b6f3717
AP
An immigrant couple embrace in Allen, Texas, April 3.

Mass immigration, low birth rates and China’s rise pose challenges our political and economic institutions appear ill-equipped to address. Rising to these challenges, however, will prove critical to sustaining our economy in the near term and ultimately the viability of our democracy.

Some 750 million people would like to migrate — mostly from the Third World to Western Europe and America. Close to home, millions from Latin America could easily overwhelm our capacity to culturally assimilate new arrivals and create destabilizing tensions within working-class communities — especially in smaller cities and rural communities where the availability of good paying jobs significantly lags metropolitan centers of finance and high tech.

Casting an undisciplined eye at failing economies, state entropy and rampant violence, immigration maximalists advocate policies that would effectively create an open border. Many preach limiting the human tsunami by aiding economic development, promoting democracy, and weeding out corruption in places like Colombia and El Salvador.

Unfortunately, globalization and modern technology make those prescriptions nearly impossible. Unlike 100 years ago, these societies must build export industries to buy tractors, industrial machinery, computers and technology from the North — long gone is it tenable to rely on draught animals, plows, and artisan workbenches to create prosperity.

Trade tensions among America, Europe and China clearly demonstrate there are hardly enough manufacturing jobs to go around. President Donald Trump and populist movements in Europe owe their electoral success in some measure to the shortage of good-paying industrial employment.

Building universities and technical programs to train enough workers across the broad range of skills necessary to compete with the likes of America’s finance and high-tech businesses is no more plausible in El Salvador or Colombia than it is in poorer counties of Mississippi or West Virginia.

For the same reason that rural Americans must migrate to more prosperous medium-sized cities, Latin Americans must move to the same places to escape poverty.

The bottom line is that no matter how effective American border enforcement may be — no matter how easily the courts might permit an American president to send illegal migrants and asylum seekers back — they are going to keep coming. If they can’t cross the Rio Grande, they will risk ocean travel in the Gulf of Mexico just as Africans risk the Mediterranean to get to Europe.

America’s declining birth rate is an obstacle to accomplishing the economic growth needed to support our aging population without bankrupting the federal government. Consequently, we need immigrants but immigrants with skills and reasonable fluency in English.

Acculturating new arrivals to American values to preserve our society is critical. We must recognize that some immigrants are not very assimilable — and this is tough juxtaposed against freedom of religion, thought and speech.

Seeking new citizens that embrace American values — tolerance, race and gender equality, self-reliance and respect for free markets — and not establish insular communities hostile to those values — should take precedence over allocating visas merely on the basis of economic expediency or personal distress.

After all, what are the American values we offer newcomers when we are engaged in a self-destructive cultural civil war?

It’s time to address the world as it is — messy in upheaval and riddled with injustice as it always has been. But to welcome the afflicted and for newcomers and Americans of established lineage to prosper together, we must put aside our hateful obsessions with sins past and fight less among ourselves.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.