Go Back to Wherever You Came From is Not a Policy and Not in America’s Interests

Pew recently issued the results of its in-depth research on immigration.

First, a few “factoids.”

When we include the children and grandchildren of those who have immigrated to the U.S. since 1965, immigrants have accounted for 55% of America’s subsequent population growth. (They’re projected to account for 88% of the population increase over the next 50 years.)

Nearly 14% of the population is foreign born.

Compared with U.S.-born adults, recent arrivals are less likely to have finished high school, but they are more likely to have completed college or to hold an advanced degree.

As with so many other issues, American attitudes are polarized: Some 45% of adults say immigrants in the U.S. are making American society better in the long run, while 37% say they are making it worse.

A recent op-ed in the New York Times offered some useful perspective on the issue:

History provides some clarity about the relative costs and benefits of immigration over time. Fifty years ago this month, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. By any standard, it made the United States a stronger nation. The act was endorsed by Republicans and Democrats in an era when cooperation was still possible. Indeed, the most serious opposition came from Southern Democrats and an ambivalent secretary of state, Dean Rusk. But it passed the Senate easily (76-18), with skillful leadership from its floor manager, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and Johnson himself….

The flood of new immigrants also promoted prosperity in ways that few could have imagined in 1965. Between 1990 and 2005, as the digital age took off, 25 percent of the fastest-growing American companies were founded by people born in foreign countries.

Much of the growth of the last two decades has stemmed from the vast capacity that was delivered by the Internet and the personal computer, each of which was accelerated by immigrant ingenuity. Silicon Valley, especially, was transformed. In a state where Asian immigrants had once faced great hardship, they helped to transform the global economy. The 2010 census stated that more than 50 percent of technical workers in Silicon Valley are Asian-American.

Not to mention that our food choices have improved immeasurably….In short, any rational analysis demonstrates that immigration has been (and continues to be) incredibly beneficial to the country.

I suspect that it is another “factoid” from the Pew survey that really explains “the Donald”– and for that matter, most opposition to immigration: By 2055, the U.S. as a whole is projected to have no racial or ethnic majority.

Let’s be honest: much of the animus expressed toward immigrants (and protestations to the contrary, that animus is not limited to those labeled “illegals”) is based upon the “otherness” of some of them. To be blunt, much of it is racist.

As I’ve noted previously, my son-in-law is a (legal) immigrant, and in his thirty-plus years in America, has never experienced that animus. I’m sure it’s just coincidental that he’s a very pale Brit….


  1. This is a timely subject coming on the heels of yesterday’s topic concerning “community”.
    Our city of Indianapolis has a long history of struggling with immigrants and the racism that shows itself in those struggles. Whether it is blacks coming up from the south, Hispanics newly arrived from the boarders, or whites from Appalachia, the citizens of Indianapolis have traditionally labeled, exploited, and ghettoized the new arrivals. Mostly this has happened without a word of protest from our civic leaders much less any effort on their part to include the newcomers in a way that would help to build community.
    It takes LEADERSHIP to build community.
    If city hall does not include all, does not openly and loudly welcome all, the populace gets the message that it is OK to discriminate and exclude. If we sense that Indianapolis does not enjoy the benefits of community perhaps we should be looking hard at the city-county building, the Chamber of Commerce, and the other businesses and civic organizations that claim leadership. Then again, maybe we should all just adhere to the saying, “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

  2. Sheila: disappointing that your team has joined the fascists who profit by promoting in a myriad of ways mass migrations of poor families their victimization by this manipulation to de-
    press wages or at least muffle movements to raise wages. When government moves to intervene they go rabid in their counter-attacks.
    Let’s have the results of a study revealing the causes of, reasons for, and what can be done to mitigate the misery of population migrations. Recommended: John Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath” (if not already removed from libraries).

  3. I find it funny that the immigrant group that really gets the know-nothing’s hopping mad is Muslims. Why? Well, the worst of them are backward, ignorant, racist, sexist, and they believe in a false god that confirms their worst tendencies. In other words, they are way too much like us to fit in here.

  4. As I stated in a comment a couple days ago – I am not a racist. We are all either descendants of immigrants or immigrants, unless we are Native Americans. Native Americans are the only ones that can honestly claim that this is their land.

    My problem regarding illegal immigrants in northern Indiana is not with them, but with the corporations that employ them. These corporations hire them because they not only get away with paying lower wages, but also avoid paying taxes for these employees.

    A few years ago our legislature ‘almost’ passed a bill to financially punish these corporations with large enough fines that would make it very risky to break the law. Alas, they were able to pay off enough legislators to get that bill scrapped and they have continued to do business by breaking the law – business as usual.

  5. This is an essay promoting an idea that boggles the mind!
    The fact that people who have the get up and go to come here would actually have the get up and go to take advantage of their get up and go enough to actually start a new company to get up and get rich???
    Unheard of.

  6. All of my grandparents were imigrants. They raised good families in the years before and during the depression. The strenght and courage it took for them to do that has always impressed me.

  7. Nancy; if you are referring to Indiana by “our legislature” I remember it well. It was Republican Senator Mike Delph of Carmel who authored the bill to penalize employers and landlords for knowingly hiring and renting homes to illegal immigrants. He attempted two years in a row to get it passed. Both times Good Old Boy Republican Senator Jim Merritt of Indianapolis blocked the bills.

    Shortly thereafter Senator Delph attempted to pass another bill which would lower student loan rates for all. Again, good old boy Merritt stepped in and stopped that from happening. Delph caved and returned to the typical Republican anti-everything format.

    In August, 1991, Merritt was one of the primary speakers at the Mayor’s Conference on Abandoned Buildings; his topic was “Unsafe Buildings Amendments in 1991 General Assembly”. The was, of course, Mayor Hudnut’s Conference; at the time there were approximately 4,500-5,000 abandoned buildings in Indianapolis/Marion County. Goldsmith was elected in November 1991, inaugurated January 1, 1992 and the issue was trashed along with others. The last abandoned building count I read recently was 10,000. So; Merritt and the General Assembly dropped the issue and the problem escalated and continues to escalate.

    Dealing with those abandoned buildings could be combined with the unemployment rate today, the legal and illegal immigrants, rehabilitating depressed areas, rehabbing the thousands of abandoned buildings, provide housing for low income and homeless in this city by putting our tax dollars (including that surplus referred to by Pence) to work resolving several problems. This would also call attention to the lack of repair and replacement of collapsing infrastructure and push our “leaders” to action…only if we elect the qualified leaders in upcoming local elections.

    Many illegals are being deported in the country; immigrants were beginning to be a problem in Indianapolis during the mid-1970’s. All immigrants who applied for assistance were aided by the then Hispano-American Multi-Service Center downtown. They dealt with legal documentation, housing, food, medical care, ESL classes, jobs, counseling for many problems; it was done by a staff of dedicated workers who faced physical danger at times due to frustration and personal hostilities of immigrants. I happened to be there one day as monitor for the City when a knife fight broke out in the waiting room. Male staff put people into safe areas and grappled with the two men, disarming them and holding them till police came.

    Then Reagan was elected and funding was cut – which, in turn cut services to all multi-service centers here. The problems regarding immigrants has been allowed to escalate for decades…as has the problem of abandoned buildings which could be used to house many of them and others. Mayor Peterson walked into a city government in a shambles; had he been elected for a third term we would not be facing many of the problems brought about by our former Marine Mayor who rescrambled the mess and added a few new problems. Illegal immigrants are a continuing issue due to lack of assistance to become legal and allowing businesses to hire them at lowest wages possible. The issue/problem is not to be resolved by “sending them back to where they came from”; resolution can only come by dealing with the problem head on. This won’t be accomplished by adding pro sports teams and venues, bike lanes disrupting traffic flow on our streets or “prettying up” the downtown area for tourists. It will only be resolved by hard work using qualified people and time due to the vast overload at this time.

  8. My husband is an immigrant, now US citizen. Should I pop in to give you our story? I don’t know. He doesn’t fit the anti-immigrant bashing because he’s educated, speaks the Queen’s English and is polite but he does have brown skin. And since we’ve moved to Europe, now I’m the immigrant. But I haven’t taken anyone’s job and I don’t expect my neighbors to convert to my American ways at all. I try not to make a fuss anywhere because I don’t want to be one of those ‘ugly Americans’.

  9. I emphatically disagree with just about all of this post. Pat Buchanan writes about how opening the immigration floodgates in the 60’s was deliberately designed to destroy the character of America.

    Quotes from his exalted PJB holiness:

    John F. Kennedy: Don’t make over the face of America with immigration
    This was a time, recall, when 156,700/year was the quota limit, and JFK did not seem to object: “There is.a legitimate argument for some limitation upon immigration.” And Kennedy reassured Americans that his proposal “does not seek to make over the face of America.”

    Indeed, in his litany of famous immigrants who have contributed mightily to America, JFK does not mention a single African or Asian, or any woman at all. All are males and all were from Europe, except one West Indian: Alexander Hamilton.


    Ted Kennedy: 1965: Immigration Act won’t flood America from Third World
    Senator Edward Kennedy, the chairman of the subcommittee that conducted the hearing on the Immigration Act of 1965, pledged: “Our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same. Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset. Contrary to the charges in some quarters, S.500 will not inundate America with immigrants from any other country or area, or the most population and economically deprived nations of Africa and Asia.”

    Only haters would make such assertions, thundered Kennedy. “The charges I have mentioned are highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact.”

    What happened? The US has added at least 40 million immigrants after 1965.Before 1965, 95% of new immigrants had come from Europe. After 1965, 95% came from the Third World. The effect of the 1965 act was to remove national origins quotas from Europeans and give them to the Third World.


    Yes, they need to get out and go back where they came from, and I’ve said that to a few of them. This is a country for Western Europeans descendents of Slave Blacks.

    America is a Christian country and needs to stay that way.

  10. Omitted conjunction.

    “This is a country for Western Europeans and descendents of Slave Blacks.”

  11. Christian Country? You say? They may be the majority but what are we going to do with all of those Jews, Hindu’s, Muslims, and atheists? Kick them out? They’re Americans. If you don’t like it Gopper, please go somewhere else…oh wait…that’s the title of this blog post!

    Get over it. Accept the fact that this country was built by illegal immigrants. Too bad, so sad, you’re wrong.

  12. As with climate change, science informs first and most precisely of changes in our environment. Science has observed for quite some time the replacement of power by connection underway within civilization today. In fact fortunes have already been made exploiting it. Mark Zuckerberg, I’m talking about you.

    Of course the non scientist in most of us has also noticed but intuitively. And like the dinosaurs when their time came we are slow to adapt. In their case too slow to survive. We still could go either way in terms of survival with our hope coming primarily because what has to be adapted by us is not physical but cultural and what is unique about our species, civilization.

    Gopper teaches us today about the consequences of failure to adapt AKA failure to thrive. He wants the problem to go away and hopes that the combination of his armament and misanthropy will do the trick. Adapt the environment to his wishes instead of visa versa.

    Of course the irony in all of this is that in our world connection is more powerful than the physical violence that has always empowered those willing to be violent. What’s changed is not that fact but the technology that is now available to connect us. We are literally one world. Democracy may not be in position for all mankind yet but the first priority of the few remaining tyrants is control of the knowledge network, the Internet, because of its inherent democracy.

    Knowledge from connection is the new currency of civilization. The willingness to be violent may still settle one on ones or few on few but shrivels in the shadow of global connection.

    Migration is the story of humanity. It is in our DNA. Connection empowers it. Violence is helpless against it Gopper and Donald. Your inability to learn and adapt has made losers of you.

  13. BTW, saw “Newsies” last night. Wonderful entertainment including celebrating the literal birth era of the power of connection.

  14. Not going to get over it, ALG.

    Those people need to go and return America to the Americans. We’ll use the political process first…

  15. My pastor husband and I were told to “Go back where you came from” when we moved to Idaho in 2008. We were too liberal for the backwoods, ignorant, gun-toting, racists who populate that state, especially in the northern panhandle in the beautiful city of Coeur d’Alene.

    Beautiful city to look at and to walk through, but the politics were such that we never felt welcomed by many who were so bigoted and nasty to our faces, even church members who felt we weren’t sufficiently “righteous”. The city itself was not always like that. In more recent years, however, new Republican leaders who were retired fireman, cops, and military, brought with them their money from government retirement accounts, and their ideas that they were the only good people worth electing and the rest be damned. Schools changed as money was taken from public education and given to charter schools. Every time a suggestion for positive change was brought up at city council meetings, it was shot down promptly by ‘Orange County North’ folk and their followers. Our votes never counted toward any kind of healthy discussion because healthy discussion was cut off by the new brand of leaders and their followers. Gopper, America is not a Christian country, as much as you would like to think that it is! And if it is, God help us all!

  16. I agree with Gopper. He’s not going to get over it. The only way that he could would be to start taking in news instead of Fox, the NRA, and hate radio advertising disguised as news and he’s addicted to them because they tell him that what he wishes for is in fact true. A more powerful addiction than drugs.

    Democracy assumes that over half of citizens at any point in time are free enough of self interests to hire those who can and will support the interests of the country. That is a fault tolerant system that works as long as responsible adults get out and vote.

    That’s all the we have to do to keep Gopper’s addiction from harming us and our country.

  17. Who are THOSE PEOPLE gopper? Return what to Americans? Come on, what are you spouting off about?

    Sorry folks, I can’t help myself. He needs to be specific.

  18. “Those people need to go and return America to the Americans,” says Gopper. Unless you’re an American Indian, you need to take the first boat out.

  19. Gopper, give me your address and I’ll come over and help you pack! Have a pickup truck. I can even drive you to the border.

  20. Not going to get over it, ALG.

    Those people need to go and return America to the Americans. We’ll use the political process first…

    What comes after the political process first ? (The Gas Chambers and Crematoriums ?)

  21. Let the USA put a large fence around WY and move in all the “new people” Trump may build the fence.
    Cheney should help in resettlement and give some of his ill gotten $$$$$$$$$ to help with it all.

  22. How about if we move everyone with guns beyond hunting fare to WY? I think that it would only take about a year and most would be dead.

  23. I agree with Gopper to some extent. What is wrong with limiting the number of immigrants allowed to enter the US? It seems like a reasonable approach to making sure that everyone gets something: immigrants get to come here, but not so many that our systems get overwhelmed. Social services, employment, public safety need to be part of a policy on immigration.

  24. Daleb, of course we have always done exactly what you suggest. However like all laws immigration laws can be broken.

    Our border with Central America is impossible to make impenetrable so the unemployed there are attracted to our jobs here where they can support their families with the modest skills but significant ambition that they have. They contribute to both our macro economy and their micro economy.

    This arrangement is mutually beneficial to the degree that the most effective argument against it is “but they are lawbreakers” just like all of those going faster than the speed limit here which is, well, everybody.

    Like so many things, immigration both legal and illegal is not a real problem but can be made into a seeming one with simple brand marketing technology.

    So it is.

  25. Does Gooper understand that the ILLEGAL immigrants are not the ones among the numbers we allow in? They come uninvited, on their own and avail themselves of as many of our benefits as they can.

  26. This may stun Gopper and bigots who share his philosophy, but the country we live in, the U.S.A. is but a small part of America, which extends south from below the arctic circle to the tip of South America in Chile. It would be far less expensive and far more conducive to peace in all of the countries that comprise the real “America” if Gopper and his fellow haters would travel somewhere else. Unfortunately that raises yet another problem: Who would want them?

  27. Gopper says “we” as if lots of people think like he does. What kills him is that every day, fewer and fewer people think like he does. His wave has crested and broken, and he feels trapped in an undertow that pulls stronger by the day against his virulent nationalism, racism and hate-ism.

  28. much of the recent discussion about immigration was probably initiated by the mess in Syria, which was triggered in significant part by the Obama administration. So we owe something to these immigrants. What really disturbs me is that there are SUBSTANTIAL numbers of refugees from the middle east and Afghanistan who worked for the US and helped protect and assist our forces. We have left them high and dry, unable to get in the US, and exposed to grave danger. Instead of thinking about Syrians, etc. we should put our local allies to the head of the list and IMMEDIATELY let them in. The other refugees come later.

  29. “What kills him is that every day, fewer and fewer people think like he does.”

    Nah. You cramped urbanites with fuzzy gender roles don’t reproduce. You live in a few square block bubble stacked on top of each other and think that’s how the world is.

    What size arena is Trump using for his rallies?

  30. Gopper, your assumptions about me are wrong, in keeping with your assumptions in general. Your hatefulness is irrational, vulgar and indefensible. Again, I am sorry to you for whatever happened to you to make you see the world as you do. Have a nice weekend.

  31. Where does Gopper get his name? Google the word “gopper” and you will find its definition in the Urban Dictionary. He has chosen the name well, and it has nothing to do with the GOP.

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