Thomas Sowell

Immigrants in past centuries came here to become Americans, not to remain foreigners, much less to proclaim the rights of their homelands to reclaim American soil, as some of the Mexican activist groups have done.

In the wars that this country fought, immigrant groups were among the most patriotic volunteers, earning the respect of American citizens on the battlefield with their blood and their lives.

Today, immigrant spokesmen promote grievances, not gratitude, much less patriotism. Moreover, many native-born Americans also promote a sense of separatism and grievance and, through "multi-culturalism," strive to keep immigrants foreign and disaffected.

This is not to say that all or most of the illegal immigrants themselves share this anti-establishment or anti-American bias of many of their spokesmen or supporters. Most are probably here to make a buck and have little time for ideology.

Hispanic activists themselves recognize that many of the immigrants from Mexico -- legal or illegal -- would assimilate into American society in the absence of these activists' efforts to keep them a separate constituency. But these efforts are widespread and unrelenting, a fact that cannot be ignored.

Whatever is said or done in the immigration debate, no one should insult the American people's intelligence by talking or acting as if this is a question about the movement of abstract people across an abstract line.

What is likely to be done? A pretense of reducing illegal immigration and a reality of amnesty under some other name.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate



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