Thursday, December 8, 2005
Illegality may be a good way to filter immigrants
I recently put up an excerpt from this NYT article, which pointed out that by Mexican standards most of the illegals were Mexican mainstream rather than dross. I should have said what I see as the implications of that. I think it supports the view that GWB has taken on the matter -- that these people deserve some respect as enterprising, hard-working people. All immigration is a selective process and it well behooves us descendants of immigrants to think of immigrants as a bit better than their parent populations. I know that I am much struck by this view whenever I am in England. The English who still live in England seem a VERY grey lot compared to the many Englishmen I know who have emigrated to Australia. Englishmen abroad are so much more self-confident and dynamic than the ones who have remained passively behind in England and who look forward only to the day when they will become OAPs (State-supported seniors).
Emigration is always a selective process of some kind and the only issue is what the particular selective pressure is in any given case. And I frankly think that the selective pressure of getting into the USA illegally is probably as good a filter as passing any of the normal bureaucratic barriers that I know of. It is obviously true that the illegals do also contain a significant criminal element but, as a social scientist, I look at the process overall and conclude that the USA is probably not worse off genetically for its Hispanic influx. There are a lot of good genes coming across the border too.
And now for my usual anecdote, another breakfast one as it happens! When I think of Hispanics, I think of the guy that I used to get breakfast off in NYC. I used to order ham and eggs at his little diner and I went there because it was both cheap and a good breakfast. And was that guy efficient! He moved like greased lightning. I have never seen anybody butter toast with one swoop of a knife before but he always did. So he could serve twice as many customers per unit time as most eatery workers. It was a splendid example of capitalistic incentives at work and also a splendid example of the sort of immigrant you get when you make them pass a heavy filter.