What open-borders conservatives mean by “assimilation”

The holy grail for open-borders conservatives has always been the full assimilation of Third-World immigrants into America, a consummation that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that cultural differences really don’t matter, that everyone in the world really is an American under the skin, and therefore that there’s no reason not to let everyone in the world come to America. That project, as we all know, has run into some bumps of late. Yet the conservative immigration advocates, at least as far as their public comments are concerned, have lost not a scintilla of confidence in its ultimate success. At the same time, given the obstacles to assimilation that even the most sanguine of the immigration supporters can no longer deny, their notion of what assimilation actually consists of—and the price that America must pay to achieve it—has shifted dramatically.

How dramatically can be seen in a remarkable piece in The Weekly Standard by Tamar Jacoby, the resident immigration optimist for the Manhattan Institute (and, to speak frankly, a major-league bird-brain). Jacoby crows and chirps over the large number of Hispanics who voted for Republican governors Jeb Bush and George Pataki in the recent election. Pataki’s achievement was particularly impressive. Having received only 15 percent of New York City’s Hispanic vote in 1998, Pataki carried 38 percent of it in 2002, while raising his statewide share of Hispanic support to between 43 and 46 percent. Such large GOP gains among normally left-leaning Latinos are the linchpin of current Republican strategy as outlined by Karl Rove and others, demonstrating three putative facts that they consider central to Republicans’ long-range prospects: the “true” conservative character of Hispanics, the overall assimilability of Hispanics, and the viability of the Republican party in a culturally diverse America. How did Governor Pataki accomplish this triple play? Jacoby is eager to tell us:

Pataki’s success was perhaps the most remarkable, given New York Puerto Ricans’ reputation as a conventional “minority” (read ultra-liberal) bloc. Encouraged by growing Latino support for Republican mayoral candidates Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, Pataki has been courting this constituency for several years now, on the campaign trail and also as governor. No favor was too large or too small, starting with a $1.8 billion raise for the mostly black and Hispanic health and hospital workers union, SIEU/1199. The governor visited the Puerto Rican island of Vieques in April 2001 and persuaded the White House to phase out Navy bombing exercises there. He made it easier for the children of illegal immigrants to attend state universities; he even instituted stiffer penalties for those who mug or murder livery cab drivers. Latino voters felt the difference acutely: Pataki was one of the first Republicans ever to visit their neighborhoods, much less spend heavily on Spanish-language ads or encourage grass-roots get-out-the-vote groups like Amigos de Pataki.

Let’s be real clear about what is happening here. Jacoby, a supposed conservative working for a conservative think tank and writing for a conservative magazine, is celebrating the fact that Pataki sold out conservative principles to New York’s infamous health and hospital workers’ union, that he sold out U.S. national defense to the Puerto Ricans on the Vieques issue, that he provided yet more privileges for illegal aliens and their families, and that he further advanced the project of turning Spanish into a public and quasi-official language in this country. The great electoral victory Jacoby describes is not that the Hispanics have joined the GOP, but that the GOP, in the person of George Pataki, has joined the Hispanics. At this rate, all the Republicans would have to do is turn themselves completely into a welfare-statist, Spanish-speaking, open-borders party and, by Jacoby’s lights, the “assimilation” of Hispanics into America would be complete.

Thus Jacoby continues:

The kind of GOP platform most likely to lure Hispanics is obvious enough. Opinion surveys consistently show that they like big government and look to it to help them—a tendency that often inclines them toward Democrats. Yet like other immigrants, they also put a premium on opportunity—and Republicans can offer to provide it in the form of education, loans for first-time homeowners, tax cuts for small business, and a more rational immigration policy. Still, Latino party insiders insist, it’s a message that will only work if more Republicans adopt it—many more. “Jeb Bush and George Pataki showed it can be done,” says consultant Mike Madrid. “It’s not only possible, it’s probable— but only if the party can get its act together.”

In other words, Republicans must support big government-type programs, which Hispanics like, along with more targeted government subsidies such as loans and tax breaks, which Hispanics also like, while combining this increased level of Hispanic-directed social assistance with a more “rational” (read: open-borders) immigration policy. Once again, Jacoby’s suicidal yet bizarrely eager message to Republicans and conservatives is plain: In order to assimilate Hispanics, maintain national unity, and assure the survival of the Republican Party in the increasingly diverse society of the future, the GOP must abandon both conservatism and any adherence to a recognizable America. And when that day comes, Tamar Jacoby and her fellow neoconservatives will be there, chirping that mass Third-World immigration “works” after all.

You heard it here.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 25, 2002 09:39 PM | Send


What will Ms. Birdbrain and the Weekly Standard say when Arab riots similar to those in Belgium start taking place? Does anybody know if the neocons and our political leaders are crazy or just evil?

Posted by: David on November 30, 2002 1:19 AM

“Does anybody know if the neocons and our political leaders are crazy or just evil?”

I think it’s primarily a collective denial of reality practiced by a self-regarding decadent elite. They have made a more or less conscious decision not to think about certain things, such as immigration, because thinking about those things will get in the way of their current program which they find very fulfilling and satisfying. They have a shared, tacit etiquette in which it is understood that anyone who brings these issues up is simply Non-U, a crude, probably sweaty person who doesn’t know the rules of the game and doesn’t belong in the same room with them. So they don’t have to think about what he’s saying.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 30, 2002 2:08 AM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):