Immigration: Not Opinions, Facts

Immigration is in our newspapers and on our screens every day. Yet, between the factual confusion of most Republicans and the insult-laden cheery irresponsibility of Democrats, little of substance is being said. Here are two central facts that are routinely ignored:

1 In practice, there is no legal path to immigration for 95% + of illegal immigrants. Asylum is a possibility for a tiny number among them. Poverty is not currently grounds for asylum. (See reference below.)

2 A forty year-old single immigrant from India with an engineering degree is unlikely to take more out of the public trough than he puts in. He is also very unlikely to commit a serious crime, especially a serious crime of violence. Now, consider younger immigrants from Central America, who have have few or no skills, who don’t know English, who may be semi-literate, or even illiterate in their own language. If they are female, they will probably cause a draw on the public treasury, if nothing else by sending to school children with special (linguistic) requirements, while contributing little to the financial maintenance of the same schools. That’s the optimistic case, where the children are healthy and normal.

If they are male, they will add to American crime, especially to violent crime because that’s the way it works: Younger, poor men, of no or low literacy are responsible for almost all of the violent crime in America. Note that this pronouncement does not contradict the findings of the excellent article by Michael T. Light and Ty Miller “Does Undocumented Immigration Increase Violent Crime?” published in the Journal Criminology, March 18th 2018. The study on which they report finds that an influx of illegal immigrants does not correspond to a higher crime rate. (Note: It’s a good study by any criteria – I am credentialed to judge.)

The point – beyond the sterile debate about immigrants’ crime rates – is that immigrants of the “right” (wrong) characteristics do not replace the native born one-for-one, including in the commission of crimes. They contribute their own deeds. Take the young California police officer named Singh who was murdered by a crime recidivist illegal alien in early 2019. If Officer Singh had not encountered his particular illegal alien killer, does anyone think that a citizen, or a legal alien would have stepped in to murder him?

This is an abstracted summary from my longer, informational essay on immigration: “Legal Immigration Into the United States.”

17 thoughts on “Immigration: Not Opinions, Facts

  1. “female [immigrants from Central America] will probably cause a draw on the public treasury, if nothing else by sending to school children with special (linguistic) requirements”

    What’s “special” about offering instruction in a language spoken by 50 million Americans?

    America’s not as polyglot as it used to be (the Declaration of Independence was published in English, Spanish, French, German, and Dutch so that most literate Americans would be able to read it), but it doesn’t seem unusual to me that a country that absorbed a number of former Spanish colonies would still have Spanish-speakers. How is educating them in their language any more “special” than educating English-speakers in theirs?

    • It takes time and resources away from teaching other students. Teachers are strained as it is with classrooms with as many as 50 students per class. Teaching Spanish as a separate optional class is an option. These kids need a classic English education to be mainstreamed into the work force.

      Many of these immigrants are not even literate in their native language, which causes even more problems educating them. Jmho

  2. “It takes time and resources away from teaching other students.”

    Just like teaching in English to the English-speaking students takes time and resources away from teaching them.

    God did not, so far as I know, descend from on high and decree that one of the several languages spoke in the US at the time of its founding must forever be the only language used, by all people, forever and ever.

    • Thomas: I am sympathetic to this position and well aware of the fact that there is not US official language. I am describing the practical burden non-English speaking children impose on local schools. That’s not debatable. One might argue that the expensive effort required to teach such students in their own language in addition to teaching them English is a moral or political necessity, or that it’s a good collective investment. Those are speculations not within the purview of an essay I intended to remedy the ignorance of basic facts that seem to be the context of the heated discussions in the media. I realize that I allow myself flights of speculation in other parts of the essay. Those are very limited. I allow myself such luxuries when two conditions are met: 1 I have something special to say; 2 I think there is a chance I will be heard. The education of students i several languages is too difficult a topic for an American audience drowning in misinformation about the acquisition of foreign languages. (I have a longish essay on the topic somewhere. I sure hope Brandon finds it and indexes it here!)

    • “One might argue that the expensive effort required to teach such students in their own language in addition to teaching them English is a moral or political necessity, or that it’s a good collective investment.”

      Why “in addition to teaching them English?”

      Spanish is an elective at most schools where the students are primarily English speakers. Why not let English be an elective at schools where the students are primarily Spanish speakers?

      Much of the US land mass is composed of areas that were Spanish-speaking when the US conquered them — Florida, the entire southwest, California. Puerto Rico still IS Spanish-speaking almost entirely, and significant segments of the populace in those other areas is as well. Is there some particular reason why students there must have English imposed on them?

  3. If someone migrated to a predominately Spanish speaking country, they would need to learn to speak the native language to communicate effectively. The onus would not be on the people of that country to learn English.
    In the majority of Western countries English is the common business language. We would want immigrants to thrive in our business communities to better themselves and make it easier to assimilate. They are free to speak their native language at home or with their friends. In the business world they will need to have fluent English skills to effectively compete.
    There is nothing wrong with being fluent in as many languages as possible, as long as you don’t expect someone else to pay for it.
    I want legal immigrants to be successful in America, not held back by language barriers.

    • John: As I write somewhere in this long essay, immigrants whose first language is Spanish are learning English. They do it for the very reasons you list. They are all very conscious of the economic advantages of knowing the local language. Acquiring a second language is just more difficult and more time consuming than the proudly monolingual native-born know. I have an essay somewhere about this topic. I will dig it up if you, or anyone else is interested.

  4. PS Here is the title of my long but well informed rumination on the cultural context of language learning: “Foreign Languages and Self-Delusion in America.”
    It’s in my blog:

  5. An irrefutable criticism of politicized propaganda pretending to be immigration debate … I wonder whther someone is providing useful, ongoing statistics somewhere? Re: Legal/illegal entries, enforcement, cases, dispositions, detentions, deportations, etc. Non one of the various interest groups seems to provide much of a numerical picutre.

    • Jack. Thanks. I am quite sure that you can find anything you wish on different federal government sites. I won’t do it for you because you are probably younger, and more vigorous, as well as more competent, than I am. I did not turn on the lights on secret statistics in my essay, I exposed the laziness of politicians on all sides. Why don’t you tell yourself you are going to write a small piece: “Ten facts about Immigration,” that you will post on your own blog and on NOL, both?

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