See the hidden history of immigration into America (it ruins the narrative)

by Fabius Maximus 

Summary: Trump proposed a drastic reduction in immigration, one of his most important and populist policy proposals. But open borders is a core policy of the 1% and hence supported by both parties and the news media. Here is a look at the lost history of immigration in the US, information they diligently work to conceal from you. Because the myths are more politically useful. America’s borders were opened once before – and were closed after 50 years of pressure from the public. They can be closed again, to whatever degree we choose. This is a slight revision of a post from a year ago, because the lies it refutes continue to be told.

“{excess workers form} a disposable industrial reserve army …a mass of human material always ready for exploitation.”
— Marx’s Das Capital, expanding upon Friedrich Engels’ insight. They got some things right. It’s Economics 101.

Immigration

The lost history about immigration into the US

America absorbed high rates of immigration during the rapid growth of the 19th Century, with grow fueled by expansion on the frontier (mostly conquests from Mexico and Native Americans). Growth slowed for many reasons after the “closing of the frontier” around 1890. Per capita real US GDP has grown at roughly 2%/year since 1870. But in the 17 years before the 1924 growth was only 1.2%/yr.

The American people understood this, with US elites using immigration to depress wages — and using immigrants as strike-breakers. Irresistible pressure grew to restrict immigration. As a result we got the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the Gentlemen’s Agreement in 1907 to limit immigration from Japan, the Immigration Act of 1917, the Emergency Quota Act in 1921, and the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924. The Great Depression brought even sterner measures by administrative decree: FDR closed the door to immigrants and forced the repatriation of Mexican workers.

After WWII, the shelter on wages produced by low rates of immigration helped created the middle class in America (or re-created it, after the deflation and frequent depressions of the late 19th century crushed America’s craftsman and small farmers). Unions grew and wages began the long rise. But the 1% worked to reverse these gains. By 1970 their efforts began to bear fruit as we forgot that the middle class existed behind the shelter of a wall around America, and we allowed our elites to slowly open the borders.

Now that some people see the threat, the news media floods America with pro-immigrant propaganda (e.g., adopting the term “dreamers” for illegal immigrants).

Obama on Immigration

The results of open borders

Now we live with the result. By 1990 unions were crushed, immigrants flooded in with few limitations, and real wages for the unskilled plummeted. Even wages of high-tech workers are affected (see this and this about H1b visas). This is Economics 101: supply rising faster than demand, with the wages (the price of labor) adjusting.

Since 1999 per capita real GDP growth slowed to roughly 1%/year. Real per capita personal income has fallen every decade since the 1960s (see the sad story here). Much of the southwest is regressing back to a client-patron political system).

There is another dimension, untouchable in the news media, of little concern to the 1% (and hence to our leaders), but instinctively understood by most Americans: immigration is one of the great forces reshaping nations. People bring their culture with them. In small amounts this stimulates and strengthens societies able to absorb them — as the US has done better than almost anybody since Rome. At some point, however, our ability to cope becomes overwhelmed. Social cohesion diminishes; social conflict often rises.

Just as we’re repeating the Gilded Age (wealth and power concentrating in the 1%), we’re repeating the slow growth in social tensions that massive immigration produced in the early 20th C.

Lessons learned

Lessons learned: we see how America works

Immigration (like war) shows the bipartisan nature of US politics, the pride and joy of centrist political gurus. Republicans love immigrants as cheap labor (social conservatives stay at the back of the policy bus). Democrats love immigrants as potential voters (those concerned about wages of the working poor stay at the back of the bus). Both respond to America’s real stakeholders, the 1%, for whom open borders are a core policy priority.

When it comes to the interests of the 1%, American politics often becomes an echo, not a choice.

A look at our future if we keep the borders open

Immigrants as fraction of US population

Using data from US Census reports, the Center for Immigration Studies reveals some powerful trends . See their report for sources and methodology. Also see the Census graphs here.

  • Total net immigration (the difference between the number coming and going) will increase steadily over the next 45 years, totaling 64 million.
  • Absent a change in current policy, the Census Bureau projects that in 2023 the nation’s immigrant population (legal and illegal) will reach 14.8% (51 million) of the total U.S. population — the highest share ever recorded in American history.
  • The bureau also projects that the immigrant population will grow nearly four times faster than the native-born population, reaching 15.8% (57 million) of the nation’s population in 2030, 17.1% (65 million) in 2040, and 18.8% (78 million) in 2060.
  • To place these numbers into historical context, as recently as 1990, immigrants were 7.9% (20 million) of the total U.S. population.
  • The nation’s total population will grow to 417 million by 2060 — 108 million more than in 2010This increase is roughly equivalent to adding the combined populations of California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Massachusetts to the country.
  • The new projections indicate that, absent a change in immigration policy, immigrants who will arrive in the future plus their descendants will account for roughly three-fourths of future U.S. population increase.

A four-fold increase in immigrants as a fraction of the total population would create a severe shock to America, even when occurring over 90 years. That would take us beyond the point at which popular opposition forced “closing the door” in the early 20th century.

As the recovery accelerated, immigration to the US surged in 2016. I have not seen updated numbers, but the number of migrants probably has continued to increase in 2017 and 2018.

The revolt against immigration begins again

From Donald Trump’s campaign platform.

Trump platform: immigrationUntil the 2008 crash and the great recession, the bipartisan consensus on open borders pushed debate about this out to the political fringes. Economic stress brought it to the mainstream. In the election Trump has brought it into the center ring of public debate. Now Trump begins to implement his promises: “Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half“. The widespread response of journalists is automatic: they lie. The long struggle of America to manage immigration must be hidden and replaced with myths. This is why the public’s confidence in newspapers and the news media has been dropping since the 1970s (see Gallup).

During the election I asked how much support will immigration restrictions get from other politicians and the public? And how strongly will our elites resist? Now we know. Restricting immigration got almost no support from our ruling elites (even Republicans, and then only under severe pressure from their constituents) – as our elites put massive resources into their resistance.

It is essential that our Army fight to defend the borders and integrity of Afghanistan. But it is inappropriate that they fight to defend the borders of America. That’s logic!

Immigration is the key political battle of our time. The Democrats will open the borders & make a New America. Much depends on how we choose in November.

Which of the world’s large nations have the most immigrants?

From the UN database of information about international migration.  Saudi Arabia is a special case, with its “guest” workers. Canada and Australia encourage immigration. Germany and America are the the next tier, with levels of immigrants quickly dropping among the other large nations. Click to enlarge the graph.

Immigration by nation

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