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In his new book, Melting Pot or Civil War: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders, Reihan Salam tries to do something difficult: build a pro-immigrant case for a more restrictive immigration system.
This is an argument, interestingly, that’s as much about inequality as it is about immigration. “Diversity is not the problem,” Salam writes. “What’s uniquely pernicious is extreme between-group inequality.”
Salam, the executive editor of the National Review, thus makes a two-sided case: He argues that a socially sustainable immigration system is one where America is more deeply committed to equality, which means both focusing on higher-skilled immigrants who need less support and radically raising the amount of support we’re willing to give immigrants who do need it. And that compromise, he argues, should be paired with a more serious American effort to improve the economic conditions of the places immigrants travel here from.
Is this a synthesis that makes sense? Does it really address the cleavages preventing us from moving forward on immigration? And what are the fundamental values that we should base our immigration system on anyway? That’s what Reihan and I discuss in this episode.
The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants Are Changing American Life by Tomas Jimenez
Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity by Tomas Jimenez
Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity by Samuel Huntington