Magazine October 29, 2018, Issue

A Question of National Character

The Statue of Liberty (Adrees Latif/Reuters)
Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case against Open Borders, by Reihan Salam (Penguin Random House, 224 pp., $27)

A big thesis runs deep through Reihan Salam’s new brief in favor of restricting low-skill immigration. However familiar it may sound at first, the case he makes is truly a game-changer. Despite the importance of culture and religion in people’s lives, and in the character of the American people, those deeply meaningful sources of identity are not, Salam says, enough on their own to form the basis of a shared concept of citizenship now or in the future. In fact, in America, epochal changes are under way that raise the stakes in the conflict over newcomers to unprecedented new heights.

James Poulos is an editor-at-large of The American Mind, a contributing editor of American Affairs, and a fellow at the Center for the Study of Digital Life. He is the author of The Art of Being Free.

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