My paternal grandmother Masha was a Russian serf. Her happiest moment in the old country was a spell in prison after she was arrested by the Tsar’s police for a religious crime. She had bathed one of her kids (three boys and a girl) upstream in a creek where the Tsarevich was being baptized. She loved the jail. Food twice a day, and a roof. When told that she had served out her sentence, she protested. Wasn’t there some way she could stay longer?
Yet, she had to go back to her shanty, her husband, and the four offspring. But she was determined to get out, and in 1906 she somehow managed to book a passage to New York, passed the Ellis Island exams, and, with virtually no money, and not a word of English, found lodging in Harlem.
Not the sort of immigrants we seem to be recruiting nowadays. After a few years in Harlem, where my father was born, Masha moved them to Toledo, Ohio, where she opened a little store that sold candy and newspapers. Amos Jacobs, who later gained fame as Danny Thomas, was a regular. All three boys went to college, and fathered children who did post-graduate work. All three were engineers.
No one would have predicted that Masha’s family would be such a success. By the standards of the new immigration code, they would not have been admitted. We want people who are trained in high tech, people who can enrich the tycoons of Silicon Valley. I’m all for that, but I’m also a strong believer that we should welcome those seeking a better life, the so-called “economic immigrants.”
Which is why I don’t believe our government, or any other, can reliably predict which people to accept, and which to keep out, just on the basis of their current abilities to go to work for Google or Facebook. Their children and grandchildren may turn out to be important contributors. We just don’t know how they are going to work out. My grandparents sure didn’t look like desirables at the start of the twentieth century, nor did millions of others who wanted in.
If we don’t have the wisdom to predict who will make good citizens, we do know at least some who won’t. We don’t want those who are indoctrinated in the various cults of radical Islam. Kids who have been “educated” in the madrassas of the Wahhabi fanatics, those who believe that all wisdom was handed down in the Koran and Mohammed’s hadiths, and who believe that sharia “law” is more important than constitutional law, are not likely to assimilate into American society. We don’t want immigrants who are going to create separate communities that reject the basic principles of our country.
Hence President Trump has long been on the right track in trying to block the inpouring of radical Muslims. Just as it was right to block committed Communists because we knew they would subvert American democracy, it is right to block those who will subvert democracy for other reasons. I don’t think that we should welcome Antifa leaders and activists. And I think the overwhelming majority of Americans agree. Don’t you?
Finally, if I’m right, we simply must insist on legal immigration, and stop the illegals. Otherwise we’re going to replicate the failed European open borders policies of recent years. In case you hadn’t noticed, those miserable policies have been roundly rejected in country after country, from Great Britain to Hungary. We don’t want to go through a similar convulsion.