Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

September 25, 2018

This is America

Filed under: Immigration — Razib Khan @ 8:19 pm

As you may know, Reihan Salam, who I would consider a friend (albeit, one I see in person three years or so!), has a new book out, Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders.

It won’t be a surprise to know that I generally agree with him on a lot of issues relating to immigration. The first time I met him in person in 2007 we actually talked about the positive externalities of high skill immigration streams. Since then my views haven’t changed much, though my faith in these United States has declined some to be honest.

I will pass along this interview with Reihan today, A Son Of Immigrants Makes The Case For Tighter Immigration Policy. Reihan, as you may know, is the son of Bangladeshi immigrants who arrived in the late 1970s. The woman interviewing him happens to be ethnically Bengali herself (though her family is from India), raised in Oregon around the same time I was (we’re about the same age).

This is America 2018. An American of Bengali ethnic extraction writes a book and happens to be interviewed by happenstance by another Bengali American. Definitely not a world we could have imagined in the 1980s.

March 6, 2012

Half of white liberals want less immigration

Filed under: Immigration,Politics — Razib Khan @ 6:00 am

As I have mentioned elsewhere my espousal of conservatism at Moving Secularism Forward went well. Interestingly several people came up to me afterward and admitted a sympathy for the “conservative” position on immigration (i.e., restrictionism). The rationales were both environmentalist (population control types) and law & order. Just out of curiosity I wanted to see any possible changes in attitudes toward immigration for non-Hispanic whites by ideology and education since 2004, when the issue has become more polarized.

Attitude toward immigration levels
Demographic Increase a lot Increase a little Remain the same Reduce a little Reduce a lot
2004 Liberal 2 10 43 19 26
2004 Moderate 1 6 35 23 35
2004 Conservative 2 4 27 32 35
2006 Liberal 3 14 38 24 22
2006 Moderate 1 2 33 31 32
2006 Conservative 1 6 26 27 40
2008 Liberal 7 13 37 24 19
2008 Moderate 0 3 34 22 42
2008 Conservative 0 8 25 32 34
2010 Liberal 3 16 32 25 24
2010 Moderate 1 4 32 30 33
2010 Conservative 2 7 31 28 31
2004 No College 1 4 29 30 36
2004 College 3 9 44 25 18
2006 No College 1 4 28 28 39
2006 College 3 13 40 26 18
2008 No College 2 4 27 27 41
2008 College 3 15 39 26 17
2010 No College 2 6 29 26 37
2010 College 3 13 37 32 16

I suspect what we are seeing here is an inverse of the situation with free trade. On immigration and trade there is less of a Left/Right difference than an Outsider/Insider or Populist/Elite distinction. The Right elites tend to focus on trade to the point where they muffle or suppress much mobilization against this by their own grassroots (e.g., Pat Buchanan). Similarly, Left elites have come to a consensus that populist mobilization by their side against mass immigration is no longer acceptable. And of course no matter the rhetoric, the elites on both sides have traditionally favored the globalist position, though it seems since 2006 the Republican elites have lost control of the immigration issue in their party (though I’m 100% sure that Mitt Romney is simply making populist noises, and will continue with the status quo once on office). Since white liberals fear being perceived as racist (this sentiment was palpable from some of those who supported restrictionism at the conference) this is unlikely a major issue that will come up for them in the near future, and for various reasons the labor wing of the Left coalition no longer emphasizes opposition to immigration. Liberals and Democrats like to contend that the Right has better unity and coherency once a consensus is achieved, with the elite keeping the grassroots in line, but this is one position where for various structural reasons it is the Left which has remained more unified, despite wide ranges of opinions.

June 22, 2011

The privilege of many without privilege

Filed under: Immigration — Razib Khan @ 6:40 pm

The New York Times Magazine has a long piece up by Jose Antonio Vargas about his life as person without papers in the USA. Vargas is no Bob Woodward, but anyone who follows the news closely would be familiar with his name (for example, he was commissioned to write about Mark Zuberkberg for The New Yorker). There’s a similar case profiled over at Sepia Mutiny. Many of the comments are not sympathetic in the latter case. They speak not from a place of nativism, but from those who have gone through the legal immigration route, and resent those who did not go through the same gauntlet. And a gauntlet it is. My family went through the process when I was a child, and my impression is that it’s gotten much more harrowing and backlogged over the years.

In any case, I do want to bring up an issue which I think needs to be put into the record when discussing people who arrive here without papers: many of them are often rather from somewhat privileged backgrounds in terms of the lands from which they come. I’m not saying they’re upper class or wealthy, but if someone is not from Mexico, the cost to be smuggled into the USA on with false papers is not trivial. Vargas’ family had connections to this this country because of the nature of chain migration. This means he already had a major leg up in comparison to the typical Filipino. Those without papers who come from the eastern hemisphere and overstay tourist visas and such are invariably far more privileged than the majority of their fellow citizens. There are hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from India apparently. I doubt very many at all are from the ~20% of India’s population which is Dalit or tribal. That’s because getting to the USA often requires connections, and those people often have no such connections, whether in India or the USA.

Of course I grant the reality is that if someone is over here it is not the same as if they are over there. Millions of poor people around the world die of ailments which are commonly treated in emergency rooms across the United States, no matter the person’s immigration status is. If you live in this country, you will get a different level of consideration than if you are afar. We can take an abstract view and wonder as to the justice of this, but it’s the natural a human way, right or rational. Those who are near, who are our neighbors, matter more to us, and are more real as people than those who are out of sight and mind.

But I think it is important not to totally ignore the abstract utilitarian aspect to this. For the vast majority of the world’s poor undocumented migration to the USA is not feasible. The distances are too great, and they lack the funds and connections. If Jose Antonio Vargas was deported to the Philippines he could still make a living by freelancing and being a foreign correspondent, he has so many connections now. Deportation is not going to be a catastrophe for him, though it will be a major come-down perhaps from the upper middle class life he’s obtained through his hard work.

In any case, those who argue for the rights of illegal immigrants appeal to our sense of justice and compassion. And they are right to do so. Our basic nature finds many of their stories appealing. But, we need to remember that there are many who also deserve our hearing who are unheard because they are far more marginalized and without means to have their voices heard. When making a moral case one must peel apart the layers of ethical complexity, and not fall prey to Manichaean dichotomies.

August 25, 2010

Across North American borders

Filed under: Culture,Data Analysis,Google Data Explorer,Immigration,Mexico — Razib Khan @ 9:11 am

There is a border across which fertility drops by a factor of two in North America (defined as from Canada to Panama). Specifically, one nation has a TFR of ~4, and the other ~2. Can you guess the two nations? You can find the answer in the charts below.

First, linear:

Now, log-transformed:

That’s right, TFR, Guatemala (4.15) → Mexico (2.21) → United States (2.05) → Canada (1.53)

(source, 2005-2010 estimates)

Here’s GDP PPP per capita:

United States ($46,400) → Canada ($38,000) → Mexico ($13,600) → Guatemala ($4,800)

This is why the Mexican-Guatemalan border experiences a great deal of traffic.

February 3, 2010

…about those cheese-eating surrender monkeys

Filed under: Culture,France,Immigration,Islam — David Hume @ 6:38 pm

France denies citizenship over veil:

French officials have denied citizenship to a man because he allegedly forces his wife to wear a full Islamic veil, the immigration minister said Wednesday.

“This individual imposes the full veil upon his wife, does not allow her the freedom to go and come as she pleases, and bans her from going out with her face unveiled, and rejects the principles of secularism and equality between man and woman,” Immigration Minister Eric Besson said he told Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Tuesday’s decision came a week after partial ban on veils covering the face — including those from a burqa — was issued by a French parliamentary commission. If voted into law, the ban would apply in public areas such as schools, hospitals and on public transportation, CNN reported.

Six months ago, Sarkozy told lawmakers France did not “welcome” the Muslim burqa, citing the issue of women’s freedom and dignity, not religion.

A 2004 French law banned Muslim girls from wearing headscarves in state schools. It also banned other religious symbols such as large Christian crucifixes, Jewish yarmulkes and Sikh turbans.

In my mind one of the more shameful aspects of the American Right in the early 2000s was our denigration of our Western European allies over the Iraq War, in particular France. Sure, their motive wasn’t pure, but motives rarely are, and the French were right. The anti-French mania was represented by repulsive schlock such as Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America’s Disastrous Relationship with France. Granted, the relationship with France in many elementary school curricula is inversely childish, with the Marquis de La Fayette serving as a saintly personal representative for the French nation, with whom our relationship was always complex and to a large extent driven by situational conditions (not to mention that different portions of the American populace had opposite stances toward France on occasion, as during the French Revolution, when the South was pro-French and New England anti-French). But teaching materials for children tend to be childish and simplistic by their nature; what excuse does a conservative intellectual such as John J. Miller have? Instead of elevating his readership, in this case it seems he appealed to their baser inclinations, and that appeal will surely not stand the test of time.

In any case, I point to the French attitude toward particular types of Muslim religious garb as illustrative of the fact that they certainly are not “surrender monkeys.” In fact, laïcité tends to make Anglo-Saxons uneasy, with its aggression and disregard for liberty. But in this case the reasons are clear. One the one hand, there are practical rationales for why people should not expect to go about in public with their face covered; facial expressions are critical signals which our species relies upon. In pre-modern Muslim societies generally it was elite Muslim women, who lived segregated lives, who could engage in the luxury of the full face veil. Today middle class Muslim women who wish to have careers take up the veil. This is an innovation, and I think there are prudent grounds to object to it. A Muslim woman in the past who took up the veil as generally not a public woman. Today many public women are now taking up the veil. The personal has been made political.

That being said, the big problem here is Islam. If everyone was honest it might be feasible for Europeans to propose a “grand bargain”: Muslims can practice their faith however they want, so long as Europeans can block all further immigration from Muslim lands, or, by practicing Muslims. Non-Muslims the world over can tolerate small Muslim communities, but they fear the rise of large minorities. I will not review the reasons for the discomfort, they are not premised on delusion. But if Muslims were like the Amish or Hasidic, a peculiar people apart, but no long term demographic threat, then objections to the niqab or burqa would disappear.


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