Immigration – Is There A Sane Solution?

Immigration is a hot button issue to be sure.

Some believe, (myself among them) that perhaps it’s time to align our immigration policy closer to that which other nations employ.

Denmark is one of the most developed countries in the world. Because of their good educational, political and healthcare systems, all which are underwritten by the United States’ military, many people want to move there. Denmark has an exam that test prospective immigrants on their knowledge of Danish history and culture. This exam has a pass rate of less than 33%.

Libya, yes Libya. The current basket case of North Africa has strict rules about immigration, if you can believe it. What passes for their government even suspended tourist visas for a time.

Iran, astonishingly ranks in the top 10 for difficulty if you want to emigrate. Wait, what? Yes, just in case their human rights record isn’t enough.

North Korea? The penalty for immigrating illegally ranges from 2 years to death. You know, just in case you thought moving there would be a good idea.


Let’s not kid ourselves. These are not the immigrants of today.

Japan requires a 5-year residency in order to apply for citizenship, and the vetting process is exhausting. On the surface, their declining population makes this seem counter-intuitive, but their strides in robotics may make this a wash. Japan is one of those nations that have smoothed the marriage between Eastern Culture and Western Values. Good for them.

Switzerland requires a 12-year residency and complete cultural immersion. You have to acquire citizenship of a municipality before gaining national citizenship.

Austria requires anywhere between 15 and 30 years of residency before applying for citizenship.

Learning From History…

Nations, I have often repeated are Borders, Language, and Culture. Migration and Demographics are what tell the Story of Human History. Any nation that cannot control its borders has no borders, and therefore is not a nation.

The Winter of 406 A.D. saw the Rhine freeze. This ever-important barrier had served to separate the declining Roman Empire from the aggression of the migrating Germanic peoples. Increases in the population of the Central Asian peoples, created enormous pressure, pushing the tribes of the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi westward.

On New Year’s eve, the tribes crossed over the solid ice into what is modern-day France.

Most of the Roman towns on the migration route had been stripped of their garrisons to                    address the more direct threat of the Visigoths who had invaded Italy. Meeting with very little resistance, the ancestors of the modern day French settled into Gaul, displacing or inter-marrying with the Roman and Celtic inhabitants.

Fifty years later, in 476 A.D., the last Roman Emperor Romulus-Augustus abdicated, thus officially leaving Roman Hegemony in the hands of the Byzantines to the East.

The end of Rome as a world power did not signal the end of Western Civilization. Constantinople, would carry Rome’s mantle for centuries to come. The West would cede Rome’s North African Colonies to the encroaching Islamic tyranny, but the forming European states would grow and thrive as the barbaric tribes assimilated and adopted Western Values.

Men like Charles Martel and his descendent Charles The Great would stand firm. The values embodied in the triumvirate of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome would flourish and grow giving birth to the Enlightenment, the Post-modern era, and that outrageously useful i-Phone you’re carrying around.

Who Adapts To Whom?

This can last if, and only if the newcomers adopt Western Values. This requires some hard questions. Do recent immigrants have any experience with or knowledge of western style democracies? Do they believe in human rights? Or to put it another way: Are they making us better or worse? Are they a net benefit?

Political thinker Ben Shapiro takes a libertarian view on immigration, advocating the free flow of labor with one caveat – no welfare state. I can find a lot of merit in this stance. Of course, Shapiro concedes that the welfare state is a reality, and here to stay. I wish it weren’t, but it is. And since it is here to presumably stay, then you need a secure border. There’s no sane argument against this.

We need to be careful if newcomers hail from regions where equality of the sexes and freedom of speech are unfamiliar concepts. The idea is for newcomers to assimilate into the greater American Culture. Not for the newcomers to insist that American Culture adapts to them. The culture clash occurring in Europe is exactly what we want to avoid.

Demographics & Values

Rome as a nation did not survive the Germanic Migrations of the early first millennium. But  they shared enough cultural values to enable a degree of assimilation. The Frenchman today relates to the Republican values of the Roman who lived 2,500 years ago. It’s safe to say that the German building his homestead in Alsace shared similar principles with the Gaul farming next to him.  Both no doubt frowned upon “honor killings,” sanctioned incest, and welcomed the good habits of sanitation, hygiene, and the rule of law.

Not all was rainbows and unicorns, of course. In fact, during the Middle Ages, it should be noted that some nation states flirted with big-government feudalism. This was a system that created unnatural restraints. Trade, art, and the sciences did not flourish as much as they would during the coming Renaissance.  But this is a subject for another article.

Demographics are everything. It is what makes the language and the culture within the borders. Culture is simply that which we value. Bill Maher of all people asked that if Germany was 51% Muslim, would it still be Germany? We need to ask the same question for the United States. If we were 51% fascist, would this still be the United States of America? If 51% of the people votes via referendum for a complete and immediate re-distribution of wealth, would we be the same country?


About Phil Christensen

The trail behind me is littered with failure. The trail before me remains to be seen.
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2 Responses to Immigration – Is There A Sane Solution?

  1. David Penchansky says:

    Read with interest your post on immigration. It has been much on my mind lately.
    1) As I understand you, you advocate that we strictly adhere to a skills determination to decide whom we let in as immigrants. If they can contribute to society in some way that we need, then we let them in on a path to citizenship. Have I correctly represented your position?
    2) Is that the ONLY reason you would favor letting people in. Consider the following: Should we let people in who are seeking political asylum from oppressive regimes, if they can demonstrate that their lives were in danger? Should we let in people who are family members of people who are American citizens? Wives? Children? Parents? Should we let in farm workers since it appears that native-born Americans are not interested in those kinds of jobs?
    3) Further, in my own family, my grandparents (and in one case, my great-grandparent) came here with no skills, but a determination to work hard and make a place for their family. My paternal grandfather didn’t assimilate very well. He spoke little English. Were we wrong to let in immigrants from places where for economic or political reasons (often both) they could not thrive where they lived?
    4) There is a significant difference between foreigners who come to our country, when compared to people going to countries in Europe or Asia. The countries that you mentioned are defined ethnically. (I am describing, not prescribing.) Our country, from its beginning, has not been defined ethnically. This is where the white supremacists get it so egregiously wrong. We have always been an amalgam of cultures and ethnicities. People come here, sometimes for economic advantage, sometimes for political freedom. Their children go to our schools, and they (hopefully) take on our values as a society. This has been our strength.
    5) In your review of history, you described the Islamic expansion in the following way: “The West would cede Rome’s North African Colonies to the encroaching Islamic tyranny.” There are a few problems with this statement. First, European civilization at this point was no bastion of freedom and democracy (divine right of kings and all that). You also conveniently leave out Muslim Spain, which in the middle ages was indeed known for its tolerance and the explosion of knowledge and discovery. This contrasted dramatically with conditions in Europe at the time.
    6) That brings me to my discomfort with your broad sweeping treatment of “Western Civilization.” If one defines “Western Civilization” as commitment to democracy, self-determination, the rights of women, a serious commitment to justice and fairness – I agree with all those things but I am not sure we can characterize it as Western Civilization – our civilization has done a lot of things that do not accord with those values. If you want to say that those values began in Western Europe during the Enlightenment, you have a case to make – but to then characterize it as uniquely a description of the West, you lose me there.

  2. 1. Best interest must supersede misguided altruism for a nation to survive.
    2. I am in favor of granting political asylum, at a trickle. If we grant it to all claimants, than we will be overwhelmed. A nation that cares about it’s identity can not allow its heart strings to be tugged too much. Should Israel grant the Right of Return to the over 5,000,000 “Palestinians?”
    3. Your grand parents, as well as mine came here when the United States was still relatively empty.
    4. The unification of the United States depends on values, not ethnicity. (Do we agree on something here?) “Diversity is our strength” seems to ring hollow in light of Abraham Lincoln’s statue getting torched in Chicago, among a book full of anecdotes I could list. In fact history has shown that diversity plus proximity equals conflict more often than not. To use a metaphor, cultural diversity should be a seasoning, not our main course.
    5. “Explosion of Knowledge?” That’s somewhat hyperbolic. Plenty of governments, including ours have managed to get the trains and/or stage coaches running on time after ruthlessly dealing with dissent. Let’s not credit these people with establishing Mayo Clinics and Carnegie Libraries in every hamlet. I’ve read accounts from both points of view, and I’m not convinced either way. Putting Islamic Tyranny inside quotation marks – as if the Islamists didn’t rape and burn their way across North Africa – is your prerogative. I did refer to Europe’s middle ages, something you “conveniently” chose to ignore. (ha, ha – see what I did there?)
    6. Well then I’ve lost you.

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