Luma Simms is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; her essays, articles, and book reviews have appeared in a variety of publications including National Affairs, Law and Liberty, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, First Things, Public Discourse, the Institute for Family Studies, and others.

Policy Change Alone Can Never Fix Our Immigration Problems

I have moved 34 times in my life; I have called many places “home.” My parents and I immigrated to the United States in 1978, and this gives me a somewhat different perspective than most Americans on the challenges and opportunities that immigration provides the nation. First and fundamentally, as Americans, we are conflicted between our desire to be generous, to share our land and give refuge to the many people in the world who come here or attempt to come here; and our concern that these very people seem to be unable or unwilling to become like us—Americans. Our country is changing in ways that make it seem no longer our country. And that makes us anxious.

This conflict within our society is alloyed with vagueness of what it means to be American, and a multicultural mentality that says it’s meaningless and hopeless to talk about the meaning of being an American (which even if it existed was just another manifestation of the white patriarchy). This contention in public life leaves the American people vulnerable to manipulative politicians who use these conflicted thoughts and emotions for their own personal power and ideological agenda.

Fixing Immigration Problems Through Policy Change?

In his book Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders, Reihan Salam sees the anxiety and the cultural agitation over immigration issues and approaches the problem like it’s a broken machine that needs to be fixed—with the same utilitarian efficiency Americans are well known for—which in this case usually means addressing the problems through pragmatic socio-economic policy changes, and not through ethical or cultural persuasion. Melting Pot or Civil War? offers what we might call economic solutions to what is fundamentally a human and cultural problem.

As an immigrant bearing the wounds of rootlessness, I see the quiddities of the complex immigration universe primarily as an existential challenge. And only after understanding it on that plane, do I think we can be well-equipped to create a just and morally sound policy.

Read the essay at Law and Liberty

Immigrant Assimilation in the United States: Reihan Salam’s Melting Pot or Civil War?