Samuel Francis

     One of the more remarkable aspects of the continuing debate over
American immigration policy is that the nation's liberal elites seem,
ever so gradually, to be finally catching up with the people. For years
opinion polls have shown that a large majority of the American people,
of all political persuasions and all ethnic backgrounds, want less
immigration. Yet year after year immigrants continue to flood across
our borders as "opinion molders," elected officials, business
executives, and professional eggheads insist that mass immigration is
really beneficial and its dangers are much exaggerated by "nativists"
and "racists."
     Only in the last couple of years have a few books been published
that dissent from that view, and the appearance of these books,
published by major New York houses, suggests that the elites are
finally beginning to grasp what uncontrolled immigration means for the
people and the country they rule. What began as a popular protest
against elite policies and preferences has now started influencing the
elites themselves, even if the elites still like to imagine that they
thought of it first.
     Roy Beck's *The Case Against Immigration* is the most recent
example of a book published by a major publisher that challenges the
conventional wisdom about immigration (Peter Brimelow's *Alien Nation,*
published last year, was the first), and although Beck has been
actively engaged in the movement to restrict immigration for some
years, he has done so as a card-carrying liberal. A former newspaperman
in Washington, DC who has been deeply involved in the social activism
of the Methodist Church, Beck has seen firsthand what immigration means
for ordinary Americans, not only underclass blacks but also middle and
working class whites. His book is an exhaustive documentation of the
evil consequences that immigration is causing for these groups as well
as for the nation as a whole.
     Beck's liberalism, however, is by no means of the polemical or
partisan variety, and the impression that his book gives is that he is
a man deeply and genuinely concerned about the injustices endured by
the real victims of immigration. He avoids most of the cultural
arguments against immigration that conservatives tend to use, his main
concern focusing instead on the economic effects of immigration on
workers and on the social consequences for those Americans whose jobs
and communities have been savaged by increased populations they are
unable to handle and ethnic and cultural conflicts they neither wanted
nor anticipated. Because he deals in detail with the impact of
immigrant invasions on several local communities in the Midwest and
South, he winds up building a more credible and concrete case against
immigration than many conservatives who have written on the cultural
aspects of the issue. As a result, his book is not only persuasive in
its artful combination of facts, statistics, and analysis, but also is
emotionally wrenching, as the reader is introduced again and again to
communities that have been destroyed or stand on the brink of
destruction because immigration has served the private interests of the


     Beck's thesis is that "The federal government's current
immigration program primarily benefits a small minority of wealthy and
powerful Americans at the expense of significant segments of the middle
class and the poor. Attempts to protect the current level of
immigration by wrapping it in the language of tradition or
humanitarianism generally distort both history and the practical
realities of our own era while diverting attention from immigration's
role as a tool against the interests of the broad public." Put somewhat
differently, Beck has discovered that elites make use of liberalism to
justify policies that accrue to no one's interest but their own.
     He makes clear that current immigration policies are the result of
laws and policies deliberately adopted by the federal government over
the last 30 years. Since 1970, some 30 million people, "the numerical
equivalent of having relocated within our borders the entire present
population of all Central American countries," have been added to the
U.S. population because of immigration, and this influx has largely
been the result of a single legislative measure, the Immigration Act of
1965. During the congressional debates on that legislation, which was
seen at the time as part of the civil rights revolution, its liberal
sponsors argued repeatedly that it would not result in large increases
in immigration and that the immigrants who arrived because of it would
not alter the traditional ethnic composition of the American population
from its historic European base to a Third World base. This was
explicitly stated by Edward and Robert Kennedy, its chief sponsors in
the Senate, as well as by Representative Emmanuel Celler in the House,
President Lyndon Johnson, and various Cabinet officials. Within a
decade, however, they were proved to have been wrong, as conservative
critics of the act predicted, and the consequences are with us to this
     The 30 million immigrants who have arrived in the last quarter
century are overwhelmingly from non-European Third World societies, and
as a whole they bring with them many of the ideas, habits, and manners
that make their native countries Third World in character: the lack of
a work ethic, an inclination toward authoritarian and often violent
political behavior, and an unfamiliarity and uneasiness with the
religious, educational, hygienic, scientific, and moral conventions of
the West that most Americans take for granted.
     The U.S. Census Bureau has published at least two reports showing
that by the middle of the next century -- less than 60 years from now
-- the United States will cease to be a nation with a majority of its
population descended from Europeans and will acquire a non-European
majority. The conclusion is simple: Because of uncontrolled
immigration, the United States is in grave danger of becoming a Third
World country within the next half century.
     Of course, if immigration were halted now, there might be time for
non-European immigrants to assimilate, both by acquiring Western habits
of work and social relationships and by moving upward in the economic
scales. But because immigration is continuous -- because its apologists
refuse to consider any reduction in the number of immigrants
-- the constant flow virtually insures that unassimilated immigrants
will keep coming faster than those already here will begin adapting to
our culture and that America will assimilate to them rather than the
other way around. That, after all, is why police departments, schools,
and businessmen now find it necessary to train their personnel in
Spanish, Chinese and various other languages, and a polyglot babble of
other tongues virtually unknown in this country outside anthropology
and linguistics departments.


     While Peter Brimelow in *Alien Nation* concludes that even
advocates of immigration do not argue that immigration is necessary for
continued American economic growth, Beck goes him one better, arguing
that immigration has been demonstrably harmful to the middle and
working class. It has been harmful because by making available to
employers an inexhaustible supply of cheap labor, immigration has
destroyed the bargaining power of workers. Middle class wage levels and
living standards have certainly declined since mass immigration began
in the 1970s, but, not content with pointing to this curious
coincidence, Beck also argues that the decline has been in part the
result of immigration. Thus, he cites a study of various large American
cities by a team of economists that compared wage levels before and
after large waves of immigration. According to Beck, the study "found
that the average wage increase (not factored for inflation) was 26
percent lower in high-immigration cities than in the average U.S. city
-- and lagged a whopping 48 percent behind wage increases in
low-immigration cities." In California, state government studies have
shown that "during the 1980s, under the heaviest immigrant influx of
the state's history, California blacks lost much of their economic
advantage." In Los Angeles, wage increases lagged 31 percent behind
Birmingham, Alabama and 47 percent behind Pittsburgh, both of which
were low-immigration cities.
     Mr. Beck also points out that it was during the era of restricted
immigration, between passage of the 1924 Immigration Act and its
effective repeal in 1965, that black Americans made the most economic
progress. Cut off from bottomless supplies of cheap foreign labor,
employers were able to hire blacks, who moved from the South to the
North by the millions in those decades and were able to find rewarding
work in a restricted labor market. It was only when alien labor again
became easily available after passage of the 1965 act that black
Americans again started sliding toward their present underclass status.
And, of course, for every American displaced from his job by
immigrants, other Americans must pay through higher taxes for
unemployment compensation and other benefits, as well as for the costs
of controlling the crime and dislocations that result from an
immigration policy that has helped impoverish both middle class whites
and blacks and destroyed their social institutions.
     Beck's most compelling chapters are those that recount the effects
of mass immigration on small towns and cities in the Midwest and the
South, where industries like meatpacking and poultry processing have
abandoned the American workers who traditionally filled those jobs and
have deliberately imported cheap and often inadequately trained foreign
workers to replace them. The result has been unemployment for American
workers, the disruption of their communities at every level, an
increase in crime and ethnic tensions, the erosion of local education,
uncertainty about the future, distrust of neighbors, and conflict
between classes and races. Nor do the big corporations who import the
foreign workers care much about them either. Workplace injuries have
increased as foreign workers who lack the training to cut meat have
taken over. The companies don't need to be too concerned about the
safety of their new peons since there are always more to replace them.


     It is important to Beck that readers understand he is not talking
mainly about illegal immigration, a phenomenon that today almost every
politician assures us he is against. The workers who mainly take jobs
from Middle Americans and urban blacks, and increasingly from
managerial and technically skilled workers in high-tech industries, are
largely legal immigrants, as are the vast bulk of the 30 million who
have arrived over the last generation. The current political chatter
about "controlling the borders" and stopping illegal immigration is
merely a sop to make voters worried about the immigration crisis think
that their leaders are really doing something about it. But the truth
is that despite public opinion and despite overwhelming evidence as to
its real consequences, this year's immigration bill did nothing to
reduce or halt legal immigration.
     It is precisely the refusal of the political, business, and
cultural elites in the United States to take any measures to control or
stop immigration that is so frightening. The evidence for the real
meaning of immigration -- the lowering of wages, the displacement of
workers, the increase of crime, the heightening of ethnic and racial
conflict, the disintegration of the bonds of nation and culture, and
the sheer burden of numbers on natural resources and an eroding
infrastructure -- is now overwhelming, and still the political
leadership of both parties regurgitates the cliches about "a nation of
immigrants" and our "global responsibility."
     Of all the books that have now been published on immigration, none
makes more clearer the deep division between elites and Middle
Americans over this issue than Beck's. Despite his profession of a
continuing adherence to liberalism, the book he has written ought to be
at the fingertips of every citizen and every political leader who
thinks or talks about immigration and its consequences for this

* * * * * * * * * *
Mr. Francis  is a nationally syndicated columnist.

[This article was published in *The New American* magazine, November 11,
1996 issue, Volume 12, No. 23. The subscription rate is 1 year- 26 issues-
$39 or 6 months - 13 issues- $22. Call toll free-1-800-727-8783 or
visit their website at]

*The Case Against Immigration: The Moral, Economic, Social, and
Environmental Reasons for Reducing U.S. Immigration Back to Traditional
Levels,* by Roy Beck, New York: W.W. Norton, 1996, 287 pages,
hardcover, $24.00.