Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Assimiliation: David Brooks writes a review today of Samuel Huntington's new book, "Who Are We." The book is a warning of the dangers of ever larger numbers of Mexican immigrants, legal or otherwise. They don't assimilate, they don't learn English, they're a drain on society, blah, blah, blah. My feeling has always been that the benefits of having a relatively open immigration policy far outweigh the costs. When the best and brightest the world over want to come to your country for higher education and employment opportuniites, society will benefit in many ways, economic as well as cultural. The more challenging cases are obviously the poorest border crossers who lack education or skills and may never leave the cocoon-like neighborhoods they find. But I suspect that even if we can't assimilate them all, time, and further generations, will take care of the problem.

Anyway, Brooks says it a lot better.

We are bound together because we Americans share a common conception of the future. History is not cyclical for us. Progress does not come incrementally, but can be achieved in daring leaps. That mentality burbles out of Hispanic neighborhoods, as any visitor can see.

Huntington is right that Mexican-Americans lag at school. But that's in part because we've failed them. Our integration machinery is broken. But if we close our borders to new immigration, you can kiss goodbye the new energy, new tastes and new strivers who want to lunge into the future.

That's the real threat to the American creed.

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