Some Rational Thought about Immigration from the Wall Street Journal

USA_Passport_StampGreg Ip is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal…at least for now. On June 29, Ip violated one of the most basic tenets of his employer’s editorial policy: He penned a rational and thoughtful opinion piece about immigration.

Rather than treating opponents of unchecked immigration as a bunch of racist, xenophobic yahoos who aren’t intelligent enough to understand what’s in their own best interest, Ip actually acknowledges that their concerns are legitimate.

For starters, Ip concedes that in an era of globalization there is an important qualitative difference between the free movement of goods and capital, and the free movement of people wishing to settle in other countries. “Foreign-born people affect the makeup of society in a way that a foreign-made car or a foreign-owned factory doesn’t,” he writes. Referencing last week’s Brexit, Ip postulates that, “Britons would have no doubt stayed in the EU’s single market for goods, services and capital if they could opt out of the single market in labor.”

Contrary to how the elites in the financial centers in New York or London might view the world, people outside these hubs view it differently. Nations are not merely economies. Economies are important, but there are many other things that people value as much or more. These include culture, language, a sense of identity, and a sense of control over one’s own destiny – concepts that may be entirely alien to the global elite, but which are important and legitimate concerns to most everyone else.

From there, Ip offers up the truly radical notion that immigration policies – be they Britain’s or America’s – must serve the interests of their citizens. Governments must control “the number and composition of immigrants so citizens believe immigration policy is in the country’s best interests, not the immigrants’.”

Even more importantly, Ip dismisses the frequent characterization of those who oppose open borders as racists and xenophobes. Throughout the Western world, he notes, opposition to mass immigration has less to do with the immigrants’ race or national origin, but with their likelihood to make positive contributions and assimilate into the host society. “Race is a factor, but not a dominant one, whereas culture and assimilation matter a lot. The researchers find that people care more about the language immigrants speak than their skin color or national origin.”

Moving forward, Ip suggests a shift to a merit-based immigration policy that emulates the point system used by Australia and Canada. (Regrettably, he also supports amnesty for current illegal aliens. But, he does write for the Wall Street Journal after all.)

To be sure, there are still many differences between Ip’s and the Journal’s views on immigration reform and those of FAIR. But the fact that one of the Journal’s columnists is willing to acknowledge and respectfully discuss the concerns of those on the other side is an important step in the right direction. That is, if Ip still has his job tomorrow.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    I was reading a column the other day, forget the author, but he was saying that the “elites must educate the masses” because the little people have it all wrong about immigration and free trade. Looks like someone is spending too much time in their ivory tower. Workers in formerly high paid trades like construction and meat packing have seen their wages plummet hand in hand with the mass immigration of the past thirty years, numbers unprecedented in our history. Many people struggle to make it on thirty hours a week with no benefits jobs like Walmart. Business can do that because they have a never ending flow to hire from, unlike years ago.

    As far as trade, every one of these deals was sold as opening up the other country’s markets to our goods. But it never happens. They keep their markets closed and we open up ours, with the result of ever growing trade deficits. NAFTA is exhibit A. All the working class sees is their jobs going to Mexico. And many of those jobs were lost under this administration, when this president promised in 2008 to renegotiate NAFTA.

    I’ve seen various members of the media, which after all is just a mouthpiece for big business, with the same condescending argument that the average person just doesn’t understand the “advantages” of free trade. No doubt there are some, but when a company is free to move factories to a country that pay a quarter or less of the wages here, the American worker loses. Nor do prices seem to drop accordingly in most cases on goods sold here. The profit goes to the company.

    • avatar

      And immigration from mainland China should be reduced as the following articles illustrate:

      US Charges Chinese Man, A Former IBM Employee, With ‘Economic Espionage’
      By Himanshu Goenka 06/15/16

      –A Chinese national has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on six counts of “economic espionage and theft of trade secrets,” over six months after he was first arrested by the FBI. Xu Jiaqiang has been accused of stealing “proprietary source code” of software “from his former employer…”

      –U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York said in a statement Tuesday: “As alleged, Xu Jiaqiang is charged with stealing valuable, proprietary software from his former employer, an American company, that he intended to share with an agency within the Chinese government.”

      In the same statement, available on the DOJ website, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said: “Those who steal America’s trade secrets for the benefit of foreign nations pose a threat to our economic and national security interests.”

      The DOJ has not identified the U.S. company Xu worked for, but it has been widely reported that IBM was Xu’s former employer. On its website, IBM lists a Xu Jiaqiang as a developer and there is also a LinkedIn profile of a Xu Jiaqiang employed with IBM for the same dates as mentioned in the DOJ statement, but International Business Times could not verify if it is the same person.

      Inside The Ring by Bill Gertz June 23, 2016
      Judge: No bail in Chinese nuke case

      A federal magistrate in Tennessee has denied bail for a Chinese-American man charged in a major nuclear technology transfer case.

      Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, who holds dual U.S. and Chinese citizenship, was indicted in April on charges he conspired to develop and produce special nuclear material in China in violation of the Atomic Energy Act. He also was charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the Chinese government.

      Working for the Chinese state-owned company China General Nuclear Power Co., Mr. Ho sought to buy details of U.S. nuclear reactor designs that would allow China to shortcut research and development in building copies of U.S. reactors.

      The technology sought by the Chinese is dual-use and could be used to support China’s large-scale nuclear weapons modernization program.

      According to the indictment, Mr. Ho since 1997 worked with six U.S. unidentified nuclear experts, many of them Chinese-American, and arranged visits for them to China. Some were paid to supply nuclear technology and information for China’s nuclear power industry.

      One email quoted in the indictment states that Mr. Ho, who was born in Taiwan and raised in the United States, wrote to one nuclear expert stating, “I am looking for experienced fuel design/manufacturing/testing people (across the entire spectrum) for an upcoming project in Shenzhen, Guangdong. … Retired or active [U.S. Company 1] people are all acceptable. Please help but do not openly announce this news. I don’t want to alert [U.S. Company 1].”

      Mr. Ho targeted a second company seeking the design of its hardware and software for a core-monitoring system.
      The nuclear engineer has pleaded not guilty and sought to be released on a $1 million bond. If convicted of the nuclear charges, he faces up to life in prison.

      Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton on June 16 denied pretrial release for Mr. Ho over concerns he would flee the country. The judge stated in a detention order that, prior to Mr. Ho’s arrest in April, he spent more than 300 days per year in China, owns residences there, and since 2009 has transferred $3 million from his consulting business in Delaware to China. The company he works for in China also is owned by the Chinese government.

      The nuclear technology conspiracy case highlights China’s ongoing efforts to steal U.S. technology.

      “Allen Ho, at the direction of a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company allegedly approached and enlisted U.S. based nuclear experts to provide integral assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China,” Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in April. “Ho did so without registering with the Department of Justice as an agent of a foreign nation or authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy.”

      In the 1990s, Chinese technology spies, focusing on American nuclear weapons laboratories and through covert means, were able to obtain secrets on all deployed warheads in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

      One of the engineers targeted in the case, Tennessee Valley Authority official Ching Huey, made a plea bargain with prosecutors in the case last year.

      • avatar

        Just two more cases in a string of many and we’re too cowardly and politically correct to do anything about it. China is our economic and military enemy and we train their students and give their citizens access to our companies and universities to steal our technology.

      • avatar

        BTW, the “free trade” 12 nation Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP, is being deliberately stalled until after the election, and letting the lame duck Congress do the dirty work. They don’t dare do it now and put everyone’s vote on record. It’s been completed for months but it’s not being brought up for a vote. This way they can hide the way they really feel, and they figure, correctly, that by the time the next election rolls around voters won’t even remember.

        If the elites wonder what all this “anger” is about, it’s about this kind of stuff. Just another attempt by these double dealing, ace up their sleeve, slip it in through the back door snake oil salesmen to do something by hook or by crook.

    • avatar

      More Globalist Economist Propaganda:

      Foreign engineered cars assembled in USA means free trade?

      How about “DOOMED TRADE” working for like Asian OVERLORDS at low ‘non-union” pay…and they still sell us the foreign engineered cars at “OVER-PRICED” levels compared to American engineered ones…even S. Korean ones…..