by George Rasley
Rumors have been swirling that President Trump is planning another effort to pass an immigration reform bill, and CHQ was invited to join a small group of conservative opinion leaders in meeting with senior White House staff to preview some of the ideas the President is considering.
There was a lot of good give and take during the meeting and many of the ideas discussed have their roots in Senator Tom Cotton’s RAISE Act, which we have long considered to be the best of the recent immigration reform proposals and the floor below which no conservative immigration legislation should go.
But what is missing from the RAISE Act, and has been missing from every recent immigration reform proposal proposed by Republicans, is any effort to address the most important failure of our current immigration system: Its total lack of any effort to assimilate the immigrants we so generously allow into our country.
While the gross number of immigrants allowed in matters a lot – and we would certainly suggest that the current number is too high – the real problem is our government’ utter failure to make any coherent effort to assimilate them into American culture and civil society once they arrive.
Today’s citizenship test is a laughably low standard for anyone seeking to become a citizen to meet and passing the citizenship test has become one more way the unscrupulous game the immigration system.
It doesn’t have to be like that, and it is a tribute to President Trump and his White House staff that they recognize that while the numbers of immigrants matter, what matters, even more, is their commitment to American principles of constitutional liberty; such as tolerance, free expression, the equality of all persons and economic opportunity.
And while the United States has experienced waves of immigration in the past, the challenge of assimilation has never been greater because many of the immigrants we are admitting today come from cultures where the principles of American constitutional liberty are the opposite of their native culture, and they do not aspire to shed their native culture.
This is a challenge that our government and our leaders did not face in the Nineteenth and most of the Twentieth Centuries.
While some 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island most were from Europe and had some understanding of and aspiration to achieve the promises of constitutional liberty and the western enlightenment: freedom from the oppression of kings and potentates and citizenship in a country where Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness would be protected, as the authors of the Declaration of Independence put it.
Many of today’s immigrants do not come here with the idea of leaving the old country behind, they are committed to bring the old country and all its problems here. Witness the Muslim enclaves in Michigan and Minnesota and the domination of many Central American-heavy immigrant neighborhoods by criminal gangs, such as MS-13, and we see a phenomenon not seen since the days of the Anarchist movement of the late Nineteenth to early Twentieth Century – immigrants who hate and want to destroy their host country.
The difference between then and now is that then we had a strong and effective assimilation effort through education and culture: English was mandatory, civics was not an educational afterthought, neither was American history, and patriotism and what was then known as Americanism were deeply embedded in our popular culture.
And it worked. The power of American culture and our ideas of constitutional liberty are invincible… if they are properly deployed.
When the United States entered World War I German-Americans weren’t running off to fight for the Kaiser, unlike the dozens of Somalis who have left Minnesota to join ISIS and al Qaeda. And Japanese-Americans, discriminated against and unfairly interned at the beginning of World War II, didn’t slip off to commit domestic sabotage and assassinations, as some of today’s unassimilated Middle Eastern immigrants have done, instead they joined the United States military and fought with distinction to prove their detractors wrong.
However, today, our educational system is much more likely to teach that the American founding was and example of white supremacy and a vehicle for oppressive imperialism, than it is to inculcate the values of tolerance and constitutional liberty in new immigrants, little wonder that many of today’s immigrants have failed to assimilate.
We believe President Trump’s willingness to take on the assimilation issue comes from his own deep sense of patriotism and love of country, and his own family’s immigrant story of assimilation and success. We are 100 percent in favor of a strong and effective assimilation program being included in any immigration reform plan put forth by the President.
It remains to be seen how the latest Trump immigration plan will come together, and we will have more to say on specific parts of what we heard at Tuesday’s meeting, but one thing is clear: President Trump is prepared to tackle the most important and most neglected element of our immigration problem, the problem of our failure to assimilate the millions of immigrants we have allowed to come here from cultures where our ideas of constitutional liberty are not just unknown, but hated.