Only mass deportation can save America

In the matter of immigration, mark this conservative columnist down as strongly pro-deportation. The United States has too many people who do not work hard, do not believe in God, do not contribute much to society and do not appreciate the greatness of the American system.

They need to return whence they came.

I speak of Americans whose families have been in this country for a few generations. Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of American law and history, they are the stagnant pool in which our national prospects risk drowning.

On point after point, America's non-immigrants are failing our country. Crime? A study by the Cato Institute notes that non-immigrants are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of illegal immigrants, and at more than three times the rate of legal ones.

Educational achievement? Just 17 per cent of the finalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search - often called the "Junior Nobel Prize" - were the children of US-born parents. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, just 9.5 per cent of graduate students in electrical engineering were non-immigrants.

Religious piety - especially of the Christian variety? More illegal immigrants identify as Christian (83 per cent) than do Americans (70.6 per cent), a fact right-wing immigration restrictionists might ponder as they bemoan declines in church attendance.

Business creation? Non-immigrants start businesses at half the rate of immigrants, and accounted for fewer than half the companies started in Silicon Valley between 1995 and 2005. Overall, the share of non-immigrant entrepreneurs fell by more than 10 percentage points between 1995 and 2008, according to a Harvard Business Review study.

Nor does the case against non-immigrants end there. The rate of out-of-wedlock births for US-born mothers exceeds the rate for foreign-born mums, 42 per cent to 33 per cent. The rate of delinquency and criminality among non-immigrant teens considerably exceeds that of their immigrant peers. A recent report by the Sentencing Project also finds evidence that the fewer immigrants there are in a neighbourhood, the likelier it is to be unsafe.

In March, these demonstrators protested near the White House against United States President Donald Trump's travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

And then, there is the all-important issue of demographics. The race for the future is ultimately a race for people - healthy, working-age, fertile people - and our non-immigrants fail us here, too. "The increase in the overall number of US births, from 3.74 million in 1970 to four million in 2014, is due entirely to births to foreign-born mothers," reports the Pew Research Centre. Without these immigrant mums, the US would be faced with the same demographic death spiral that now confronts Japan.

Bottom line: So-called real Americans are screwing up America. Maybe they should leave, so that we can replace them with new and better ones: newcomers who are more appreciative of what the US has to offer, more ambitious for themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future. In other words, just the kind of people we used to be - when "we" had just come off the boat.

OK, so I am jesting about deporting "real Americans" en masse. Who would take them in, anyway? But then, the threat of mass deportations has been no joke with this administration.

Last Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seemed prepared to extend an Obama administration programme known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Daca, which allows the children of illegal immigrants - some 800,000 people in all - to continue to study and work in the US. The decision would have reversed one of President Donald Trump's ugly campaign threats to deport these children, whose only crime was to have been brought to the US by their parents.

Yet, the administration is still committed to deporting their parents, and last Friday, the DHS announced that even Daca remains under review - another cruel twist for young immigrants wondering if they will be sent back to "home" countries they hardly knew, and whose language they might barely even speak.

Beyond the inhumanity of toying with people's lives this way, there is the shortsightedness of it. We do not usually find happiness by driving away those who would love us. Businesses do not often prosper by firing their better employees and discouraging job applications. So how does America become great again by berating and evicting its most energetic, enterprising, law-abiding, job-creating, idea-generating, self-multiplying and God-fearing people?

Because I am the child of immigrants and grew up abroad, I have always thought of the US as a country that belongs first to its newcomers - the people who strain hardest to become a part of it because they realise that it is precious; and who do the most to remake it so that our ideas, and our appeal, may stay fresh.

That used to be a cliche, but in the Age of Trump, it needs to be explained all over again. We are a country of immigrants - by and for them, too. Americans who do not get it should get out.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 18, 2017, with the headline 'Only mass deportation can save America'. Print Edition | Subscribe