Because the United States is increasingly less a majority of whites of European ancestry and more a mixture of dozens of races and ethnicities, the need for a common unifying language and culture has never been more important. When Americans look abroad at the violent messes in the Balkans, Rwanda, Darfur and Iraq, the notion of emphasizing separation here at home by race, tribe, language or religion makes absolutely no sense. But the idea of letting only enough legal immigrants in who can be easily assimilated surely does.
So how does this new popular worry over illegal immigration play out among a variety of working-class groups and minorities?
While there remains controversy over amnesty and a guest-worker program, there is now little disagreement over first enforcing the law and closing the borders — whether through periodic fortification, more Border Patrol officers, tough employer sanctions or viable identification cards.
In the last three years, while I haven't changed my views about the need for an earned-citizenship program or the impracticality of deporting 11 million illegal residents, an angry public has passed "Mexifornia" by. Once caricatured as illiberal for calling for an end to illegal immigration, the book now reads as middle of the road, if not passe.
Indeed, if extremists continue to demonstrate for open borders, blare out ethnic and linguistic chauvinism, and flaunt the law, then this current public anger against illegal immigration will unfortunately appear mild in comparison to what is on the horizon.