Conservatism and Immigration

by John O'Sullivan

Surely the general conservative position on immigration–to respond to John Podhoretz’s point–is that America is strengthened by a level of immigration that can be assimilated economically and culturally and weakened by a level that cannot be so assimilated. The first level brings into the country new skills, ideas, and aptitudes that make society more prosperous and culturally lively; the second reduces the income and opportunites of some Americans, generally poorer ones, and fosters a balkanized and culturally divided society. It is, of course, almost impossible to hit exactly the right balance and the signs that immigration levels have passed the assimilable point are more often seen in retrospect than in prospect. But I should have thought that at present the signs were clear that immigration levels are too high and have been for some time–not least that popular opinion is actually angry about them.

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