Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is asking that the federal government allocate city-based visas for high-skill immigrants if those immigrants are willing to settle in Detroit. This immigration to the rescue strategy seems like bad fit for Detroit. From 1960-2010, the US foreign-born population increased from 9.7 million to 40 million. At the same time, Detroit’s population fell by over 50 percent. You would think that if immigration was going to save Detroit, it would have happened already.

Ah, you say. Those immigrants were allowed to live in any old part of the country. What if we forced those immigrants to live in particular municipalities? That gets to a problem I have with some right-leaning supporters of expanding immigration. They try to get around objections to their proposals by suggesting rules that inhibit the ability of immigrants to fully participate in American civic life. This leads to Republicans like Kevin McCarthy arguing for amnesty-but-not-citizenship for illegal immigrants. So we would get some immigrants who are bound to the land, and others who are a permanent nonvoting class. And these are the “compromises”. This is why I’m such a big fan of birthright citizenship. It prevents some Chamber of Commerce shill (whether formally employed by the organization or holding elected office and hoping for a post-retirement lobbying job) floating a compromise that involves the creation of a hereditary class that is excluded from the welfare state and citizenship.

One principle we should have in our immigration policy is that those who settle here should be treated as prospective citizens rather than as human raw material for employers or as an alienated client constituency for left-wing organizations. I’m for a limited amnesty, but I’m also for giving the amnestied citizenship. If we are going to invite people to live in America, it should not be our concern whether they live in Detroit, Topeka or Miami. Our immigration policy is going to bring in our future neighbors. Their children will be the classmates of our children. That means that our immigration policy should involve the most speedy and complete integration of immigrants into American civic life. No servant classes here.

Articles by Pete Spiliakos

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