The Corner

Assimilation, That’s The Ticket

From a reader:

Hi Jonah,

Gosh I am totally obsessed with the Corner and read it many times thru out the day. You’re my favorite. Anyway,

as per a previous email from an hispanic that you posted on the Corner, I have a few comments, if I may.

My family and I are 4th generation Mexican-American who live in Texas. I don’t even know for sure if we came legally or not. Nonetheless, none of us think that every latino sneaking across the borders deserves to be greeted with well wishes and welfare hugs. In fact, the most heated and angry things I’ve heard about border crossers have come from other Mexican Americans. It’s certainly not racism or elitism. I personally know many Mexican Nationals who come here only to have their children born here so that they may take advantage of the welfare goodies that this gives their “citizen” children, or if not that, to work and send money back to their families in Mexico. These 2 things are certainly not on the surface nefarious things. What is unacceptable is there is no attempt to assimilate and settle down, to learn English, nor any intention of becoming “American.” So you see, it is this that separates my family, and many millions of others like my family, from these new generations of Mexicans who are here illegally. My family came here in order to become American. And we have been proud Americans for over a hundred years. We have never accepted charity, certainly not from our government, and have proudly taught our children English and American History. We simply cannot support this illegal encroachment, even if we share some distant ancestors with the encroachers.

To me, it’s not about legal versus illegal immigration. It’s about do they have any intention of embracing America as their own new country. If not, then they must be roundly escorted the hell out. Or kept out with big fences. The spirit of our immigrant past demands it.

As an aside, I married a Mexican National many years ago. We married right after he received amnesty from Reagan’s admin back in the 80’s. He’d been working here illegally for about 10 years. He dreamed of buying a house and living here until he died. He taught himself English by watching the news every night. And a more proud man you never met when he was made legal. He still keeps a picture of Reagan up on his wall and proudly calls himself an American (and a Republican, too!) He cried at Reagan’s funeral. He still speaks beautiful Spanish, although he’s fluent in English; he owns his own company and pays his taxes and sends money to his ailing mother in Mexico. So is he what we want to keep out or encourage to come in? I think this country will always welcome immigrants like him. He’s the difference between a pilgrim and a univited guest.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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