Warning: as with “Get past your identity and look at the data,” “The stink of poly-ticks is high in this post, which has little to do with actual game, so you may want to skip it.” You’ve been warned. You should read “Ms. Slav story updates: Enter new girl Peaches” instead.
There are few fields with larger gaps between the “Twitter world” and the “knowlede world” than immigration. Most people who live in the latter don’t do Twitter as “Twitter natives” do. Among historians, anti-immigration sentiment is almost entirely absent. Why? For one thing, the data show that “Immigrants are doing a great job of becoming Americans.” Plus, historians know that the arguments against immigrants have always stayed the same and have always been wrong. Like Henry Cabot Lodge’s famous speech 1896 speech, “The Problem of Immigration”:
other races of totally different race origin, with whom the English-speaking people have never hitherto been assimilated or brought in contact, have suddenly begun to immigrate to the United States in large numbers. Russians, Hungarians, Poles, Bohemians, Italians, Greeks, and even Asiatics, whose immigration to America was almost unknown 20 years ago, have during the last 20 years poured in in steadily increasing numbers, until now they nearly equal the immigration of those races kindred by whom the United States has hitherto been built up and the American people formed.
In other words, we gotta kick out those foreigners who are different than us. Today, of course, their descendents are making the same anti-immigration arguments that are common on Twitter. Lodge also says:
It is not necessary to enter into a discussion of the economic side of the general policy of restricting immigration. In this direction the argument is unanswerable. If we have any regard for the welfare, the wages, or the standard life of American workingmen, we should take immediate steps to restrict foreign immigration. There is no danger, at present to all events, to our workingmen from the coming of skilled mechanics or trained and educated men with a settled occupation or pursuit, for immigration of this class will never seek to lower the American standard of life and wages
It is necessary; immigration improves American lives and immigrants don’t compete for the jobs Americans do. Funny stories like, “Farmers Finding Few Americans Willing To Do Jobs Immigrants Do” are common. I have friends in the restaurant biz. Try hiring native-born Americans to be dishwashers. The places in the United States with the highest immigration rates also have the strongest economies.
No one arguing against immigration is highly knowledgable about history, or the way their arguments have been used for the last one to two hundred years, and they’ve been wrong the whole time. And anti-immigrant rhetoric is rarely if ever supported by (real) research in peer-reviewed journals. For example, The welfare impact of global migration in OECD countries finds that immigration improves GDP and “recent migration flows have been beneficial for 69% of the non-migrant OECD population, and for 83% of non-migrant citizens of the 22 richest OECD countries.”
We are seeing immigrants create new jobs. Immigration does not create crime and if anything immigrants have lower crime rates, on average, than native-born persons. So why do these memes persist? It seems that humans like to sort ourselves into tribes and it’s fun to create out-groups, and immigrants make handy out groups. Normal people don’t go trolling through the literature and instead form their views on single-hit sensationalist stories and the like. Most people also don’t think about history or their own families’s histories, which, in the United States, always includes immigration somewhere (unless a person is Native American).
The United States is not an ethno-state. It is a set of ideas and ideals. It is also a machine for taking in disparate people and turning their children into Americans (some of whom will in turn adopt anti-immigrant rhetoric). We should be happy this process works and works well. We should also be attentive to the kind of evidence cited by anti-immigrant types. Yes, there are sensationalistic stories about individual bad acts. Just as there are… sensationalistic stories about individual bad acts by people born in the United States. But the anti-immigrant rhetoric is almost totally absent among historians and economists. We should be thinking about why that is. Yes, it’s possible that there’s a giant conspiracy theory. Or, more likely, knowing history makes people chill out about the supposed foreign invasion.
In good news, American support for immigration is at all-time high. I doubt this is because of a newfound love for and knowledge of history, but it is nice.
Overall, Western Civilization is a hardy weed and normal people around the world want TV, convenient food, and hot sex.
I don’t expect to change hearts and minds because almost no one thinks statistically or attempts to systematically review what data exist.