Immigration has again become a national wedge issue in this midterm election year. It doesn’t look like any new immigration laws will come out of Congress before this November, but that doesn’t mean that bamboozling voters over alternative immigration policies is not effective for garnering their votes. Recent posts (here) and related comment streams have discussed topics that relate to immigration, and interest in the topic and its related factors – e.g. governance, national security, economics – remains high. To continue the conversations, I offer a series of loosely related points that represent my take on the matter. In this view, the national debate on immigration has been badly and purposefully misguided, taking full advantage of our national dumbth. There is no indication that clarity will strike any time soon to provide a basis for the much sought after ‘immigration reform’.
1. The public understands and appreciates surprisingly little about emigration and immigration as terms that define the movement of people. Emigration denotes the departure from or exiting a jurisdiction (e.g. a country). Immigration denotes the intent to become a permanent legal resident of a welcoming jurisdiction. (This longstanding ignorance is evident in the names of trails and landmarks in America’s west. Trails and roads coming into California historically were used overwhelmingly by immigrants. And routes from St Louis and St Joseph were overwhelmingly established for and used by emigrants departing the eastern part of the country.)
2. Emigration may or not be a two-way bargain between a jurisdiction and the departing émigré – i.e. the émigré may escape a jurisdiction instead of applying for an exit visa. But immigration requires a mutual agreement between the immigrant and the conditionally welcoming jurisdiction. Depending on the jurisdiction, the contract is usually explicit, but may even be implicit (see below). The minimal part of every immigration ‘contract’ is that the immigrant comes to the welcoming country to make a life within its established culture while adopting its existing ways. Were the new arrivals from another culture intent on changing the nature of their new home, they would be called colonists rather than immigrants.