USA: Let’s Take a Break From Immigration

Nicholas von Hoffman, June 2007

After the first World War, immigration to the United States was drastically cut back, and it stayed cut back for about 25 years until after World War II. You might call it the Grand Pause after the previous 45 or 50 years during which immigrants poured into the country by the millions ...

The Grand Pause brought with it beneficial effects no one foresaw. It gave the nation a chance to digest the huge new addition to the population it had already received and it gave the millions who had arrived during the previous half century the time to assimilate.

... we might wish to ask ourselves whether the time for welcoming vast numbers of new people may have passed.

Merely raising such a possibility brings on shouts of protest—America is a nation of immigrants and my parents came through Ellis Island and so forth and so on. We hear this speech given as though it follows that what was done in the past is what ought to be done in the future.

This is not the 19th century nor the early decades of the 20th, when huge populations conferred power on a nation. In the 21st century, large populations are a drag. Population growth is a burden.

The idea of growth has been so hammered into our heads that the thought of a no-growth prosperity is inconceivable. Make the pie bigger and we each will get more. It has not occurred to us that another way to get more is to have the same size pie but fewer people demanding a slice ...

Closing down immigration for a generation will create many problems for which we have no immediate answers. New thinking will be demanded and new thinking is what we must do, because the compromise immigration bill is a continuation of thoughtless growth that will lead us first to a bigger mess than we have now, then to a nightmare and finally to disaster.

Lawrence Auster's comments ...

While von Hoffman correctly points out that the purpose of the 1924 Act was not to have a pause in immigration to help immigrants assimilate, he diplomatically remains silent on what the actual purpose of the Act was: to maintain the then existing ethnic composition of the U.S. ... The fact that a liberal writer like von Hoffman is using the 1924 Act as his model for us to follow today, even if on the basis of a somewhat different rationale, indicates--as I said of Peggy Noonan's recent call for an immigration moratorium--a revolution in consciousness.

A reader who writes on immigration and culture replies:

... we are losing our culture and identity. Previous conventional wisdom was that the immigrants are assimilating just as in past, that the great American economy assimilates everyone etc. Don't downgrade the contributions of you and me and others who have tried to point out how it's NOT working this time.
More: New York Observer, VFR - Pt 1, VFR - Pt 2