Making an argument for overhauling the nation’s immigration system Friday to a crowd of conservative activists, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush claimed immigrants were “more fertile” and thus a great benefit to American society.
His remark appeared to be an inarticulate reference to immigrants’ fertility rates, which data show are higher than native-born Americans.
“Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years. Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity,” Bush said at the annual Faith and Freedom conference in the nation’s capital.
Before we ridicule, can we at least agree on “immigration”? We love immigration. Love it as no one but descendants of immigrants can. But we don’t love illegal immigration. For while illegal aliens can be “fertile” and can “love their families” (native-borns don’t?), they can’t create businesses. Taking jobs from native borns, living tax-free, burdening the social welfare system, their “engine of economic prosperity” sputters at best, and at worst drags down the rest of the economy.
Now, to the ridicule. Rush?
Did you know that? Did you know that immigrants are more fertile than native born Americans? Did you know that immigrants create far more businesses than native born Americans? Did you know that? Did you know that they love their families and they have more intact families than native born Americans? And they bring a younger population and an engine of economic prosperity. I don’t know. I’m looking at the economic engine that they brought to California. I’m looking at the economic prosperity that’s, I mean, barely containable out in California. I’m looking at it, I don’t really see it, but I’m looking at it.
“Fertile” is borderline racist. In fact, it crosses the border about as easily as those fruitful “immigrants” about whom he waxes so rhapsodic. It summons images of packs of “immigrant” children, barely a year apart, swarming over their weary but high-yielding “immigrant” parents. I love immigrants because they fervently believe (or should) in the political and economic systems we native-borns take for granted. I do not love them (or not merely) because they are rich in loam and composted material.
But looked at more broadly, “fertile” is purely and vilely racist. Many black Americans, native-borns all, oppose the push for amnesty and increased immigration, legal and illegal, because they need the work. The unemployment rate for black men, aged 20 and over, jumped last month from 12.6% to 13.5%. Among black youth, aged 16 to 19 (both sexes), unemployment stands at 42.6%. Don’t they love their families? Can’t they create economic prosperity?
What Jeb Bush, as compassionate a conservative as there is, seems to be getting at is that black Americans aren’t fertile and their families are less intact. On that, as much as it pains me to concede, he is right. The statistics on abortion in the black community are blood-curdling, the “intactness” of the black family only slightly less so. After centuries of slavery, and another century of Jim Crow, we’ve added an additional half-century of holocaust on black Americans and their families. I don’t know what black people did to deserve it, but I think it’s more than enough punishment.
The facts of life are conservative, as Maggie Thatcher said. We have an underclass of people crying out for economic justice, while our political establishment (both left and right) seeks to push them further down the ladder of opportunity. Rather than keep them in want, supplying them with the barest necessities but no chance of advancement, we should insist that they work, and give them every opportunity to do so. The immigrant experience that we romanticize describes people arriving here with nothing, and building lives for themselves and their (many) descendants, under the protection of the freedoms we guarantee.
You might say African slaves were the original illegal immigrants (slavery being a crime against God, if not man). Where’s their pathway to citizenship?