From my perspective, much of the immigration debate takes place on the right. Traditional conservatives feel that mass immigration is a cultural and economic disruption, while libertarian-leaning conservatives emphasize how immigration makes the American economy more efficient. To the extent that progressives are involved in the immigration debate, it is generally as advocates for the immigrants themselves -- arguing that deportation is unethical, for example, or that immigrants should be allowed to sponsor their extended families. For progressives, to what extent is immigration seen as a positive good for natives rather than just for the immigrants? More specifically, do progressives believe immigration moves us closer to their ideal vision of American society?
If so, please read my new piece for Real Clear Policy. I describe how America's leading progressive state, California, is failing on the issues most important to progressives -- poverty, low education, and social distrust. Many factors contribute to that failure, but one that stands out is the demographic change caused by decades of mass immigration. From the piece:
Given the impact of immigration, it is tempting to excuse the failure of progressivism in California on the grounds that the state faces demographic challenges that other states do not. After all, one can easily identify both blue states and red states that perform well on various social indicators, and that performance is largely driven by the states’ people, not by their governments. But here is the problem for progressives: They told us immigration-related challenges could be overcome through policy. High tax rates, strict labor regulations, and strong unions were to lift the least-skilled into a middle-class lifestyle. Investments in education were to close early-learning gaps. Ethnic tensions were to be smoothed over with diversity training seminars and multicultural textbooks.
Needless to say, however much progressive policies in California are helping achieve those goals, they have not succeeded nearly enough. In the showdown between mass immigration and progressivism, immigration has won, hands-down. The California experience thus stands as a hard lesson on the limits of public policy.I would like progressives to engage more on this question.
Update 5/18/2017: None ever did.