Whither immigration policy?

I’m very happy to learn that the National Conservatism Conference immigration comments of law professor Amy Wax were, in context, not racist.*

I first read some of them through Rod Dreher who had gotten only excerpts that sounded pretty damning. I gratefully got the broader context this morning from David French.

Wax’s point was that cultural closeness matters in immigration policy because it eases assimilation, and that if we restrict immigration from backward, culturally-distant places, we are ipso facto favoring disproportionately white immigration.

French plausibly thinks that means, and that Wax intended it to mean, favoring immigration from Europe. If she said that, I missed it, but it’s a fair interpretation anyway.

I’m even happier, though, that French argues against Europhile immigration leanings, in three interesting points, the first of which is obvious almost to the point of being banal:

  1. “[N]onwhite immigrants (including nonwhite immigrants from developing countries) do very well in a key measure of American assimilation — economic industry … The bottom line is that skilled immigrants do well in the United States no matter where they’re from.”
  2. “[S]he wildly overestimates the extent to which European society represents some sort of cultural match with the United States. American culture and European culture have been drifting apart for decades on a key metric — religiosity. Secular nationalists may not care about this, but European-biased immigration is secular-biased immigration, and that will alter American culture in appreciable ways.” He’s right that I had no idea how non-religious Europe has become, and he illustrates it vividly: Poland (!) would rank 48th, near the religiosity bottom, were it an American state. All other European nations are off our national scale.
  3. “My final objection relates to one of the core, virtuous objectives of the new conservative nationalism — social cohesion. Perversely enough, the most polarized population in America is the white population … America’s black and brown populations are more moderate and more religious than white liberals.”

I’m grateful for this because I had been thinking along the same line Wax was thinking along, and was also troubled by the racial implications of disproportionately European immigration.

I like French’s summary of his own immigration views, but I’ve borrowed enough and will let you ferret them out on your own.


[* Her comments will almost certainly continue being treated as racist by those who, exactly as she describes, think any immigration philosophy that focuses on culture is ipso facto racist because of correlations between race and culture. Suffice that I’m more concerned with intent than with effect when I say “racist.”]

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