Tuesday, January 16, 2007


It was atop the front page of Sunday’s January 7 North County Times: “40 percent of Medi-Cal births are to non-citizens.” Only substituting the word “illegals” for “non-citizens” could have made the headline more stark. And even as it was, a prominent 3-D graphic announced “The Cost of Illegal Immigration.”

The 40% figure concerned the 5,814 taxpayer-funded births in San Diego County in 2004. Statewide the figures were 42.6% and 105,665—numbers whose size partially explains why the government report was “quietly released last spring.”

Another reason is contained in Pat Buchanan’s book, State of Emergency—namely, that Los Angeles County, which was 82% non-Hispanic and white in 1960 is now home to a Mexican population that is “second only to that of Mexico City.” Meanwhile, the county’s Anglo population has “dwindled to 31 percent.”

Numbers like these (and the fact that since 1980 criminal aliens in state and federal prisons have grown from 9,000 to 125,000) make understandable local attempts to resist the wave of immigration that is changing the complexion of America from a nation that was 2.6% Hispanic in 1950 to one where that rubric applies to around 14.4% of the population.

Most illegals, and certainly most legal immigrants, are neither violent criminals nor regular welfare recipients. And Buchanan himself acknowledges that the desire of hard-working Mexicans to improve their lot north of the border is perfectly understandable. What isn’t so understandable is the willingness of Americans to believe that a massive migration of individuals from Mexico to the United States can occur without incurring costs more far-reaching than Medi-Cal dollars. As the economist Robert Samuelson has said, “No society has a boundless capacity to accept newcomers, especially when many are poor and unskilled.”

One consequence of America’s recent border policy has been an upsurge in the number of low-income Californians. Buchanan notes that as wealthy Californians proliferated in the 1990s, the state’s share of “people mired in poverty rose by 30 percent.” The result, according to Ruth Milkman, director of the UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations, is that LA County began “to resemble much more a Third World society where a class of people are stuck at the bottom.” Among San Diego’s fears of Los Angelization, this factor should be at the top of the list.

Another consequence of our border policy has been the creation of a large sub-culture whose roots are, as last year’s marches demonstrated, still planted in Mexican soil. The idea that two different cultures with two different languages will amicably inhabit the same land is a notion that anyone familiar with the history of Czechoslovakia, Quebec, or the Balkans should indulge with caution.

One reason this potential clash of civilizations hasn’t been taken seriously by American elites is that they themselves no longer value the nation’s historical traditions—as anyone who reads Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States can tell. Unlike most blue-collar Americans, many academic and corporate elites pledge allegiance to international flags—that is, to no country at all.

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