Some Sovereign Sense

It’s been a long time coming, but out of the atrocity of Sept. 11 has come a reality check of America’s immigration policy. In effect, we need a meaningful one.

As a nation of immigrants, we’ve been reluctant to look beyond Statue of Liberty rhetoric that never envisioned 10 million illegal immigrants in a nation at war with Islamic terrorists. Whether “huddled masses” or “muddled asses,” a “c’mon over” sentiment has been the American way.

By contrast, there’s nothing ennobling about “border security,” but it comes with the sovereign territory. The very words “border security” have all the warmth and fuzziness of a “Bad Dog, Keep Out” sign. It’s just that without it, a lot of “yearnings” will go unrealized and undermined.

The experiences of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all “nations of immigrants,” should be illustrative. They have no qualms about saying, in effect, “It’s our country, and we get to choose who’s invited to stay.”

They have quotas as the U.S. does, but they have criteria that make much more sense. Economic and security issues matter more than family connections. For example, age, education level, prioritized skills and English proficiency are critical factors. Family ties are relevant, of course, but they aren’t in themselves determinative.

Patrick Buchanan raised this issue a few years back, but unfortunately his ham-handed, politically incorrect phrasing overwhelmed his argument. “Who would better assimilate into Alexandria, Va.?” he asked. “A hundred thousand Brits or 100,000 Zulus?”

But then, that requires agreement at some point that assimilation — even at the expense of some diversity and charges of racism — is desirable as part of a national immigration policy.

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