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Being intrigued and interested in the announced topic, Why do we have such a big immigration mess?, I immediately registered to attend Heartland’s speaker series featuring Henryk A. Kowalczyk in a talk about immigration on Wednesday, October 2nd.
Henryk A. Kowalczyk referred to the Heartland anniversary benefit dinner of 2008, at which time guests participated in a heated debate about immigration. A vote was taken and was split almost evenly between supporters and opponents of illegal immigrants and immigration. Now five years later, the issue is still front and center. About Mr. Kowalczyk, he was born in Poland but now lives in Chicago as a naturalized citizen.
Introduced by Joe Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, Mr. Kowalczyk explained how as an engineer and a business man he looked for solutions to problems, but to do so it was essential to understand the problem first.
Within minutes into Kowalczyk’s talk, I could perceive that his views were not of my own nor of my liking, which was likewise the tenor of a few of the comments made by others at the conclusion of the event. At first I thought Mr. Kowalczyk was approaching the issue of immigration as a libertarian, but I quickly dismissed this viewpoint. Libertarians argue from the first principle of human rights, believe they are inherent regardless of what country someone lives in. Therefore, to a libertarian, the right to emigrate or immigrate is a basic human right. Henryk definitely did not embrace this concept. He believes we should put a price tag on immigrating to the U.S., which is really a conservative position even if he favors more people entering the country. Might this make Mr. Kowalczyk a pro-immigration conservative? Read on to decide for yourself.
Freedom of speech is so important to uphold. Kudos to The Heartland Institute, as a leading free market think tank, for inviting Kowalczyk to speak, knowing that his remarks would be scrutinized and questioned! Mr. Kowalczyk was warned beforehand of the reception he would most likely receive in front of Heartland members and friends, but this didn’t deter him from accepting Heartland’s invitation.
According to Henryk Kowalczyk our thinking about immigration is based upon and tainted by 1) xenophobia, 2) on having Socialistic tendencies, and 3) on the failure to practice deliberation democracy.
Capitalism, as defined by Kowalczyk, was where everyone had the same freedom to pursue their particular interest, while with Socialism there was a need for a society to collectively work to come up with better ideas for the good of a society.
What I found most disturbing and so out-of-step with my own thinking was when Kowalczyk described those of us who weren’t in support of open immigration as having tendencies that were akin to socialism. Kowalczyk reminded all that the democratic process had at time backfired, as many Americans continue to hold on to the belief that democracy mandates that all men should have an equal vote in deciding important issues
What followed was a discussion by Kowalczyk of mistakes made a hundred years ago in the treatment of new arrivals. Never corrected, they now weigh heavily on today’s immigration problems.
Before 1924 new arrivals were mostly unfettered Europeans, only white, in search of new opportunities and freedom of movement in looking for jobs. The scouts came first, bringing their families over later. Many of the new immigrants settled west of the Mississippi where limited friction did develop between the new arrivals and those who had already undergone urbanization.
The 1850’s saw the rise of anti-Irish sentiment. Anti-German sentiment followed. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was aimed at controlling the influx of Chinese immigrants who had arrived to work on railroads.
The arrival of the 20th century brought with it a large influx of individuals with pronounced cultural differences. With this trend followed a dramatic change in the nature of society. An intense dislike for each new ethnic group setting foot in America became common place. Especially evident was the rise of anti-Semitism which developed side-by-side with the widely held belief of eugenics, which deduced that Jews were inferior and had a negative effect on society. It made no difference that Jewish enrollment in colleges in the East totaled 20 percent of all new admissions. With the rise Hitler and the use of eugenics by his administration to create a superior race of people, the movement lost all of its steam in the U.S. and was quickly abandoned by the elites.
Critical in creating the immigration mess of today, according to Henryk Kowalczyk, was the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907, and the formation in the same year of the Dillingham Commission (1907-1911) in response to the growing political concerns about immigration in the U.S.
The Dillingham Commission decided that immigration from southern and Eastern Europe posed a serious threat to American society. This determination prompted The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 which instead favored immigration from northern and western Europe. Eight years later, in 1929, the National Origins Act set the annual immigration ceiling annually at 150,000 which allocated northern and western Europeans 85% of all the places. Asian immigration was barred altogether.
How the mindset of the American people and the actions of politicians were influenced by xenophobia, socialism, and deliberation during the first decades of the 20th century in regard to immigration policy, Mr. Kowalczvk tied all together in the following ways. Concerning xenophobia, The laws enacted, as described in the two previous paragraphs, set forth immigration quotas and further classified people from one area more desirable to fill the existing quotas slots than from others areas of the world.
Regarding socialism, pointed out by Kowalczyk was that this ideology had achieved recognition while gaining a foothold in this nation during the first decade of so the 20th century, bringing with it the idea that the U.S. was superior to other countries. Accordingly, this nation had the right to decide those who could enter the country. An example given of socialistic behavior at the time was alcohol prohibition from 1920-1933 under the guise that a central government by its actions could shape society.
As far as the inability of the American people to practice deliberate democracy, Kowalczyk asked what the consequences were of limiting new arrivals in relation to the Law of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act)?
They were enumerated as such:
- With the limiting of new arrivals, some believed this was a factor in the Great Depression,
- It was the first time politicians had added a price tag to be in the U.S.
- An environment was created for the black market.
- The negative aspects didn’t show up immediately because of WW II and the prosperity it generated.
Going forward in years to 1952, although the immigration part remained essentially the same with the upholding of the national origins quota system, the Naturalization Act of 1952 removed the stigma against Asians from being able to become naturalized American citizens. Also introduced was a system of preferences based on skill and family reunification, vetoed by the Truman White House, Congress overrode the veto.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. This act opened up chain-family-sponsored immigration. It also leveled the immigration playing field by giving a nearly equal shot to newcomers from every corner of the world. By so doing it also changed the face of America with immigration now being viewed as a gift that wealthy nations of the world should offer to the very poor. No longer was immigration seen as part of our economy.
The Immigration Act of 1990 went even further and signaled a return to the pre-1920’s open-door immigration policy. It likewise created the lottery program which Kowalczyk considers the greatest and most stupid blunder ever made in dealing with the immigration mess by establishing a whole new class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.”
The 2006 Kennedy-McCain Comprehensive immigration Reform Act of 2006 went nowhere.
Jumping ahead to 2013, the so-called partisan Gang-of-Eight Senate bill is presently stalled and under fire over the issue of whether the border should be secured first before amnesty is granted with only the promise of border security. In Kowalczyk’s estimation, the 2013 Senate proposal is based on upside down logic because it fails to meet our nation’s economic needs by bringing in as many foreign workers needed.
Regarding President Obama’s DREAM Act Executive Order, Kowalczyk was in favor of it because it offered much needed development relief and education opportunities to alien minorities. According to Kowalczyk, some human treatment was finally being offered young people. Any opposition to what the Dream Act granted exhibited proof of the continued presence of xenophobia in this nation.
Reasons given by Mr. Kowalczyk as to why this nation should and can absorb more immigrants:
- Foreign born, including both illegal and legal, make up only 13% of this nation’s total population. The doubling of the percentage in the last 30 years has given rise to anti-immigrant sentiment.
- In Canada the number of foreign born is 20%. Canada has a higher GPD than does the U.S. Kowalczyk attributes this to Canada’s higher immigrant population and thus concludes that this nation would benefit by having a larger percentage of immigrants.
- Out of a population of 350 million in the U.S., illegal immigrants at 11 million account for only 3.49% of the population. Kowalczyk believes that this percentage wouldn’t go any higher even if we allowed more illegal immigrants to enter the U.S., as this is all our U.S. labor market is in need of.
Like it or not, Mr. Kowalczyk believes that we must acknowledge that more immigrants are needed. For those critics who say that illegals are taking jobs away from the American people this is not true, as many of this nation’s jobs have moved either overseas and to other countries.
For those critics who say that big business benefits mostly from illegal immigrant workers, this is not true. With more people working for a living more wealth is created.
Critics are also incorrect when they say that the source of all our nation’s problems is allowing illegal to work in this country. Regarding high skilled labor, Kowalczyk does admit that engineers brought over from other countries do work for less, but it is the fault or our nation’s colleges in failing to produce engineers and scientists in sufficient number to fill our nation’s requirements.
As far as the current immigration impasse, Mr.Kowalczyk relates it to the fact that 55% of the American people want fewer immigrants than we now have. Most legislators do objectively realize that this nation needs more immigrants, but they haven’t the guts to confront their voters and tell them they are wrong.
As far as not enforcing our laws? The law is meant to protect particular interests. It is not to be decided in accordance to moral values. A moral dilemma facing law enforcers and enforcement has become the criminalization of illegal immigrants.
By using government to restrict the flow of illegal immigrants, Kowalczyk warns that socialist behavior is being employed which didn’t work anywhere else before in the world, and it won’t work here and now.
My comment expressed openly at the Heartland event at the completion of Henryk Kowalczyk’s talk: I don’t believe anything you said! I then went on to tell Mr. Kowalczyk why.
It was only when leaving early to catch a train back home, that Kowalczyk showed a slide he had omitted during his talk because of time restrictions that offered some thoughts I could agree with — if the border were first closed — although I’m still in disagreement with Kowalczyk’s open border concept and that we need more immigrants for the sake of our economy. Furthermore, why is treating illegal immigrants as a social issue dead wrong?
Mr. Kowalczyk’s proposal of several years in the making is defined under his The Freedom of Migration Act. Although Kowalczyk admits that his concept is far away from what most Americans think about immigration and that he could be completely wrong, he further states, if most Americans were right we would not have an immigration crisis either.
- The only way that a foreigner could settle in the USA should be by finding employment here.
- Private employment agencies should, for a fee, manage the recruitment of foreigners, background checking, issuing ID cards, and keeping record of their employment.
- During the first 5 years of living in the USA, an alien worker should not be entitled to any social benefits available to citizens and permanent residents.
- Political refugees and other individuals admitted to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons should be assisted by private charitable organizations to register as alien workers and then follow the same path as all other foreigners settling here.
- Foreigners which are rich enough to live here without working should be allowed to do so.
- After staying in the USA for five years, a foreign worker, his or her spouse, or minor children should be entitled to obtain a status of the permanent resident, opening the venue to the citizenship.