John Leo

The large-scale movement of populations is often seen as an indicator of the coming world society. To transnationalists, it is a positive development that reveals the weakness of the nation-state and adds to that weakness. Loyalties and commitments are diffused. One transnational scholar writes, "Traditional notions like citizenship, political activity, entrepreneurship and culture are de-linked from specific places and spaces."

This theme hums through some of the immigration debate, but transnationalists have hardly been frank in discussing their views. What appears to be primarily a problem of labor, border control and one particular failed economy -- Mexico's -- is to some people an inevitable and welcome stage in the decline of the nation-state. Besides, large-scale immigration helps to deconstruct the traditional historical narrative of the target nation, a traditional item on the multicultural agenda.

Partly because of immigration, the British government appointed a commission on the future of multiethnic Britain. It concluded that "Britishness" had "has systematic, largely unspoken, racial connotations." The report said Britain should be formally "recognized as a multicultural society" whose history must be "revised, rethought, or jettisoned."

John Fonte, of the Hudson Institute, notes that "transnationalism," like "global governance" and "multiculturalism," are presented by advocates as irresistible forces of history. Not so, he says. They are "ideological tools, championed by activist elites."

The astonishing aspect of the immigration debate is that the elites think they can override the clear and huge resistance of the American people. As columnist Tony Blankley wrote last week, the Senate was prepared to "legislate into the teeth of the will of the American public."

Lopsided majorities, which normally stay the hand of Congress, want the federal government to take charge and get tougher on illegal immigration. In last month's Quinnipiac University poll, 88 percent of all respondents said illegal immigration is a serious problem (57 percent "very serious," 31 percent "somewhat serious"). Among immigrants or their children and grandchildren, the figure was 83 percent. "Red state, blue state and purple state. Illegal immigration is a serious problem," said Maurice Carroll, the director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. If the majority really wants to win on this, all it has to do is raise the heat on Congress and defeat the amnesty-light non-reforms.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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