Debates over immigration restriction

Until aboutthe Roman Catholic population of the United States was a small minority of mostly English Catholics, who were often quite socially accomplished. But when several years of devastating potato famine led millions of Irish Catholics to flee to the United States in the mid s, the face of American Catholicism began to change drastically and permanently. In the space of fifty years, the Catholic population in the United States suddenly transformed from a tight-knit group of landowning, educated aristocrats into an incredibly diverse mass of urban and rural immigrants who came from many different countries, spoke different languages, held different social statuses, and emphasized different parts of their Catholic heritage.

Debates over immigration restriction

Peter Schuck Fall Congress is once again rewriting the immigration laws. How wide, and to whom, should we open that Golden Door? What goals should our national immigration policy serve?

Debates over immigration restriction

Yet of all the first-order policy issues facing Debates over immigration restriction nation, this may well be the hardest one for us to approach rationally.

We are hardly alone, of course. Immigration also arouses fierce passions in France, Spain, Japan, and most other nations. But Americans feel a special skittishness and ambivalence about the subject. Defining ourselves as a nation of immigrants, we also view immigration as a threat.

Defending our autonomy, we also invite millions of strangers to come here, transforming our society Demanding secure borders against illegal workers, we also advocate the free movement of goods, technology, and capital.

Growing global interdependencies further muddy the debate, making it harder to know who "we" are and what "our" national interests really are. In one sense, immigration policies are highly constrained; in another, they are up for grabs. Any sovereign nation must decide who may enter, who may become a member, and on what terms.

In the American welfare state, completely open borders would be a political impossibility, engendering a harsh backlash against immigrants that could make earlier nativism pale by comparison.

Within that constraint, however, there are any number of ways to combine and weight our multiple goals in admitting immigrants.

We let in some immigrants to reunite families; others because of the labor, skills, or other resources they bring; still others for a mixture of humanitarian and geopolitical purposes -- providing a haven for refugees and embarrassing regimes we oppose.

This diversity of goals, coupled with an intense demand for U. Congress usually manages to keep this incendiary subject off its agenda; in the past, major policy shifts occurred infrequently, But it has not turned out that way Now only a few years after Congress passed the omnibus Immigration Reform and Control Act of IRCAit is about to revamp the entire structure of legal immigration.

Once again it must grapple with the complex politics of immigration. The ideological poles of the current debate are easy to categorize. At one end are libertarians and free market purists. They favor not just expansion but essentially open borders; limits on movement are acceptable only as a concession to misguided public demands.

Opposed to an active role for government, they fear welfare-state redistributions of wealth and status to immigrants and citizens alike.

Political freedom to migrate in search of liberty and economic freedom to migrate in search of high rewards are, for the expansionist, two sides of the same coin. These groups, which include some labor union and civil rights liberals as well as environmental activists, defy conventional partisan or ideological classifications.

Some restrictionists also harbor nativist or racist animus toward immigrants. These feelings, however, are stigmatized at the level of national debate; individuals may voice them but organized political groups do not.

Debates over immigration restriction

Many with little sympathy for libertarian or free market orthodoxies view the present levels of immigration as sufficient. Some favor more of it. Americans generally admire immigrants, value ethnic diversity and take pride in our far-flung origins.

Abortion: contenders' views

Those animated by a vision of cultural assimilation seek a melting pot, while the more pluralistic prefer a cultural stew. Still others are stirred by humanitarian ideals. But despite their pro-immigrant sympathies, they all share a concern about how immigration affects one or another aspect of American life; their particular concerns tend to reflect their class, locality, ethnicity, and other factors.

In this vast middle range of opinion, the liberal-conservative axis is a poor guide to attitudes toward immigration. Economists are prominent in the current policy debate. They emphasize that people cross borders for much the same reason that Toyotas, computer programs, and Eurodollars do: To economists, the policy problem is to decide what kinds of skills we need and then to devise ways to induce workers who possess them to come.

Correct criteria will make us a richer country; poorly designed ones will leave us poorer. So long as newcomers produce more wealth than they consume, the more the merrier.

Most citizens and elected leaders have a very different view of immigration. They see immigrants less as "human capital" than as bearers of alien cultures with distinctive values, language, interests, and claims.Off-label promotion—pharmaceutical manufacturers’ marketing of FDA-approved drugs for unapproved uses—is considered a First Amendment right by some, a threat to the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs by others.

About the author. Andrew Jakubowicz is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Technology, Sydney. He is also the co-director of the Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre at . Congressional Debate on Immigration Restriction () Excerpts from the Original Electronic Text.

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