John Leo

Around 67 percent of Americans have been telling pollsters for years that they want illegal immigration curtailed. Soon the media will notice the populist appeal of this huge constituency facing off against two sets of entrenched elites, the corporate elites of the right, supported by Republican politicians, and the academic elites of the left, supported by Democratic politicians.

Editorialists seem to discuss the illegals mostly in terms of compassion and the impossibility of deporting the 11 million already here. But the core of the problem is that illegal entry is a never-ending process. An amnesty-light compromise in Washington is unlikely to do much more about this than the allegedly tough amnesty-light program of 1986. In a poll last August, about 40 percent of adults surveyed in Mexico said they would like to move to the United States. If so, there would be another 28 million people. Mexico has a high birthrate, a broken political culture and a government determined to dump its poor on the United States. It even publishes a comic book showing illegals how to avoid the U.S. border patrol.

High and continuous immigration is occurring under conditions of bilingualism and multiculturalism, rather than assimilation. In the name of diversity, the academic elites have encouraged immigrants to maintain their birth-country cultures and to adopt a stance of separatism and pugnacious victimization. Political scientist Samuel Huntington argues that this amounts to a deconstruction of American identity that has been "gradually created over three centuries." In his book "Mexifornia," Victor Davis Hanson says California is not quite Mexico, but not quite the United States either.

The political culture of Washington, focused on cheap labor and Latino votes, is nowhere near recognizing what is happening.

John Leo

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

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