The Corner

Liberty Visas

My old boss Ben Wattenberg — a self-styled “pro-immigration super-hawk” — had one idea I really liked. At the end of the Cold War, he argued that America should issue roughly a half-million “liberty visas.” His primary motivation was to compensate for the fact that the citizens of “captive nations” in the Soviet Empire were largely denied the opportunity to emigrate to the United States. By issuing the liberty visas outside the usual quotas for immigrants, the US would A) make amends B) help trade and capital flows between the fledgling ex-Soviet states C) increase the percentage of skilled or educated immigrants coming into the US and D) help maintain the demographic balance of the United States — i.e. prop-up the share of white folks in this country.

As for point D, Ben’s aim wasn’t racist in the slightest. As far as he was concerned he was delighted if Latinos, Asians and Africans came to America. But he recognized that a pro-immigration political consensus was that much harder to sustain in this country if the white-majority ethnic balance was thrown too much out of whack. It may sound cynical the way I’m describing it, but Ben’s enthusiasm for immigrantion from everywhere was such that it was clear his idealism far outweighed any other motive. Regardless, I’ve always liked this idea for these and other reasons.

However, since we’re told that favoring “limits” to immigration constitutes a racial animus of some kind, I can only assume that favoring an increase of Caucasians would arouse even more anger.