Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 20, 2014

Mass migrations

Filed under: Border Security,Immigration — by Philip J. Palin on November 20, 2014

Whatever the President says tonight and however the Congress responds, human migration — legal and illegal — will persist. Following is some of the context any effective policy or strategy will need to reflect.

The Global Context

Rapid population growth, rising economic expectations, and improved transportation networks have spurred unprecedented numbers of humans to move from places of economic disadvantage, social turmoil, and political oppression to places of greater wealth, security, and freedom.

Statistical sources are not always counting the same things in the same way. Many of the sources are estimates. And I am new enough at this topic I do not have confidence in my ability to rationalize the different approaches.  Accordingly the following numbers should be seen as suggesting scope and scale, not as a precise accounting.

The United Nations International Migration Report (2013) indicates that there are over 232 million international migrants.  These are citizens of one nation currently residing in another country regardless of status.

Approximately 41 million residents of the United States are foreign-born (13 percent of total population).  Of this total the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics estimates that somewhat more than 11 million are not legally authorized (3.5 percent of total population) to be in the United States.

In 2013 roughly 1 million migrants entered the United States with some sort of authorized status.  The United States is the single largest destination nation for migration, but there are other significant destinations.

The map immediately below reflects comparative migration in-flows.  The second map shows comparative Gross Domestic Product.

International migrationNet inflows of migrants (Worldmapper)

gdp 800x400Gross Domestic Product (Worldmapper)

While the poorest of the poor are not the most typical migrants, perceived vulnerability and/or persistent lack of economic mobility is clearly a major motivation.  In an origin-analysis for unaccompanied minors presenting at the Southern border in the first half of this year, DHS/CBP found a pattern that coincides with poverty and, especially, violence (see map below).


Historical Context

In 1875 when construction began on the Statue of Liberty there was no federal legislation restricting immigration.  In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote these words,

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Even by then it was a bit more accurate to write, “Let me choose among your tired…”  The Page Act of 1875 was aimed mostly at curtailing Asian migration to the United States. This was followed by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.   The Immigration Acts of 1903 and 1907 excluded several classes of potential immigrants such as anarchists, lepers, epileptics, and those with a variety of psychological disorders. The Immigration Act of 1924 established quotas for some nations of origin. Mexican immigration was restricted for the first time in 1965.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 emerged from a set of political, economic, and ethical issues rather similar to the situation today.

Regular readers may be annoyed — but you are not surprised —  that I perceive a classical analogy.

Fundamental to Roman imperial policy was assimilation of “barbarians” (either conquered or immigrants).  This was especially true in the Fourth Century as several Germanic tribes pressed hard by Hunnish invasions and migration piled up against and over Roman borderlands. Gibbon seems to argue the Goths were too different and too numerous to assimilate.  So there is a traditional narrative that Rome fell to especially aggressive “immigrants.”  Some contemporary scholars disagree.  Alessandro Barbero and others point to the decision of the Emperor Valens in 378 to fight rather than make common cause with the Goths as a fundamental error. The Battle of Adrianople reversed several centuries of a culturally inclusive strategy and committed the Empire to an unsustainable effort to exclude. The city of Rome was sacked in 410.

Historians can argue what really happened then.  We are making similar choices now. As with Valens and the Goths, it is sufficiently complicated that even historians may be unable to agree on the implications of what we do or fail to do.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

November 20, 2014 @ 8:35 am

Thanks Phil for this useful overview. IDPs [internally displaced persons] also huge numbers. Example-Katrina victims.

LEAK: The President will address two categories of illegal resident immigrants tonight that together total about 3.8 million people.
First, resident illegal aliens that are the parents of US citizens. Second, resident illegal aliens that are the children of US citizens. And the Administration will argue that opposition to these categories are anti-family!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

National Origins Act, 1924

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas it is provided in the act of Congress approved May 26, 1924, entitled “An act to limit the immigration of aliens into the United States, and for other purposes” that “The annual quota of any nationality shall be two per centum of the number of foreign-born individuals of such nationality resident in continental Untied States as determined by the United States Census of 1890, but the minimum quota of any nationality shall be 100 (Sec. 11 a). . . .

“The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Labor, jointly, shall, as soon as feasible after the enactment of this act, prepare a statement showing the number of individuals of the various nationalities resident in continental United States as determined by the United States Census of 1890, which statement shall be the population basis for the purposes of subdivision (a) of section 11 (Sec. 12 b).

“Such officials shall, jointly, report annually to the President the quota of each nationality under subdivision (a) of section 11, together with the statements, estimates, and revisions provided for in this section. The President shall proclaim and make known the quotas so reported”. (Sec.12 e).

Now, therefore I, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States of America acting under and by virtue of the power in me vested by the aforesaid act of Congress, do hereby proclaim and make known that on and after July 1, 1924, and throughout the fiscal year 1924-1925, the quota of each nationality provided in said act shall be as follows…

Submitted by:

Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

Thank you Mr. Palin for this very informative post! Very interesting and timely!

Henry Cabot Lodge, Congressional Record, March 16, 1986

“The injury of unrestricted immigration to American wages and American standards of living is sufficiently plain and is bad enough, but the danger which this immigration threatens to the quality of our citizenship is far worse.”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

The Secret Oath of the American Protective Association

I do most solemnly promise and swear that I will always, to the utmost of my ability, labor, plead, and wage a continuous warfare against ignorance and fanaticism; that I will use my utmost power to strike the shackles and chains of blind obedience to the Roman Catholic Church from the hampered and bound consciences of a priest-ridden and church-oppressed people; that I will never allow anyone, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, to become a member of this order, I knowing him to be such; that I will use my influence to promote the interest of all Protestants everywhere in the world that I may be; that I will not employ a Roman Catholic in any capacity, if I can procure the services of a Protestant.

I furthermore promise and swear that I will not aid in building or maintaining, by my resources, any Roman Catholic church or institution of their sect or creed whatsoever, but will do all in my power to retard and break down the power of the Pope, in this country or any other; that I will not enter into any controversy with a Roman Catholic upon the subject of this order, nor will I enter into any agreement with a Roman Catholic to strike or create a disturbance whereby the Catholic employees may undermine and substitute their Protestant co-workers; that in all grievances I will seek only Protestants, and counsel with them to the exclusion of all Roman Catholics, and will not make known to them anything of any nature matured at such conferences.

I furthermore promise and swear that I will not countenance the nomination, in any caucus or convention, of a Roman Catholic for any office in the gift of the American people, and that I will not vote for, or counsel others to vote for, any Roman Catholic, but will vote only for a Protestant, so far as may lie in my power (should there be two Roman Catholics in opposite tickets, I will erase the name on the ticket I vote); that I will at all times endeavor to place the political positions of this government in the hands of Protestants, to the entire exclusion of the Roman Catholic Church, of the members thereof, and the mandate of the Pope.

To all of which I do most solemnly promise and swear, so help me God. Amen.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 12:27 pm

Cleveland Veto: Literacy Test for Immigrants

I herewith return, without approval, House Bill No. 7864, entitled “An act to amend the immigration laws of the United States.”

By the first section of this bill it is proposed to amend Section 1 of the act of March 3, 1891, relating to immigration, “by adding to the classes of aliens thereby excluded from admission to the United States the following: all persons physically capable and over sixteen years of age who cannot read and write the English language or some other language…”

A radical departure from our national policy relating to immigration is here presented. Heretofore, we have welcomed all who came to us from other lands, except for those whose moral or physical condition or history threatened danger to our national welfare and safety…

It is not claimed, I believe, that the time has come for the further restriction of immigrants on the ground that an excess of population overcrowds our land.

It is said, however, that the quality of the recent immigration is undesirable. The time is quite within recent memory when the same thing was said of our immigrants who with their descendants are now numbered among our best citizens.

The best reason that could be given for this radical restriction of immigration is the necessity of protecting our population against degeneration and saving our national peace and quiet from imported turbulence and disorder.

I cannot believe that we would be protected against these evils by limiting immigration to those who can read and write in any language twenty-five words of our Constitution. In my opinion it is infinitely more safe to admit a hundred thousand immigrants who, though unable to read and write, seek among us only a home and opportunity to work, than to admit one of those unruly agitators and enemies of governmental control, who cannot only read and write, but delights in arousing by inflammatory speech the illiterate and peacefully inclined to discontent and tumult. Violence and disorder do not originate with illiterate laborers. They are rather the victims of the educated agitator. The ability to read and write as required in this bill, in and of itself, affords, in my opinion, a misleading test of contented industry and supplies an unsatisfactory evidence of desirable citizenship or a proper apprehension of the benefits of our, institutions. If any particular element of our illiterate immigration is to be feared for other causes than illiteracy, these cause should be dealt with directly instead of by making illiteracy the pretext for exclusion, to the detriment of other illiterate immigrants against whom the real cause of complaint cannot be alleged….

A careful examination of this bill has convinced me that for the reasons given, and others not specifically stated, its provisions are unnecessarily harsh and oppressive, and that its defects in construction would cause vexation and its operation would result in harm to our citizens.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

“Unguarded Gates,” Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 1885

Unguarded Gates

Wide open and unguarded stand out gates,
Named of the four winds, North , South, East, and West;
Portals that lead to an enchanted land
Of cities, forests, fields of living gold,
Cast prairies, lordly summits touched with snow,
Majestic rivers sweeping proudly past
The Arab’s date-palm and the Norseman’s pine–
A realm wherein are fruits of every zone,
Airs of all climes, for lo! throughout the year
The red rose blossoms somewhere — a rich land,
A later Eden planted in the wilds,
With not an inch of earth within its bound
But if a slave’s foot press it sets him free.
Here it is written, Toil shall have its wage,
And Honor honor, and the humblest man
Stand level with the highest in the law.
Of such a land have men in dungeons dreamed,
And with the vision brightening in their eyes
Gone smiling to the fagot and the sword.
Wide open and unguarded stand our gates,
And through them presses a wild motley throng —
Men from Volga and the Tartar steppes,
Featureless figures of the Hoang-Ho,
Malayan, Scythian, Teuton, Kelt, and Slav,
Flying the Old World’s poverty and scorn;
These bringing with them unknown gods and rites,
Those, tiger passions, here to stretch their claws
In street and alley what strange tongues are loud,
Accents of menace alien to our air,
Voices that one the Tower of Babel knew!
O Liberty, white Goddess! is it well
To leave the gates unguarded? On thy breast
Fold Sorrow’s children, soothe the hurts of fate,
Lift the down-trodden, but with hand of steel
Stay those who to thy sacred portals come
To waste the gifts of freedom. Have a care
Lest from thy brow the clustered stars be torn
And trampled in the dust. For so of old
The thronging Goth and Vandal trampled Rome,
And where the temples of the Caesars stood
The lean wolf unmolested made her lair.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

“Restriction of Immigration” by Francis A. Walker, The Atlantic Monthly, June, 1896

When we speak of the restriction of immigration, at the present time, we have not in mind measures undertaken for the purpose of straining out from the vast throngs of foreigners arriving at our ports a few hundreds, or possibly thousands of persons, deaf, dumb, blind, idiotic, insane, pauper, or criminal, who might otherwise become a hopeless burden upon the country, perhaps even an active source of mischief. The propriety, and even the necessity of adopting such measures is now conceded by men of all shades of opinion concerning the larger subject. There is even noticeable a rather severe public feeling regarding the admission of persons of any of the classes named above; perhaps one might say, a certain resentment at the attempt of such persons to impose themselves upon us. We already have laws which cover a considerable part of this ground; and so far as further legislation is needed, it will only be necessary for the proper executive department of the government to call the attention of Congress to the subject. There is a serious effort on the part of our immigration officers to enforce the regulations prescribed, though when it is said that more than five thousand persons have passed through the gates at Ellis Island, in New York harbor, during the course of a single day…no very careful scrutiny is practicable.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

“Immigration and the Labor-Supply” by Don D. Lescohier, The Atlantic Monthly; April, 1919

The uprising which is shaping the economic world to-day demands that we now begin to think of labor-reserves and others of our economic customs from the workers’ point of view; that we reconstruct our society on some plan that will give all men a chance for happiness and success, all babies a chance for survival, all children a chance for proper care and schooling.

The large labor-reserve or surplus which has been persistently with us in America is largely due to four facts: —

(1) A fluctuating but unceasing inflow of immigrant labor;

(2) An unorganized labor market;

(3) A decentralization of the labor-surplus; and

(4) A rapid, wasteful turnover of labor.

These four are closely related. They interact upon each other. The effects of each one are in part a cause and in part a result of the other three.

1. Immigration has been largely the response to an active demand for labor in America. We have steadily drawn from Europe supplies of labor brought to maturity, or near maturity, in foreign countries. In the fifteen years immediately preceding the war they increased our net population by about ten millions. In prosperous years, the volume of immigration was much larger than in bad years. The wave fluctuated, but the human tide continued to flow. And yet, in every year and month and on every day in which these millions were coming, there were idle workmen on the streets of every city in America. Abundant supplies of land, rich natural resources, and expanding industries continually called for labor for their utilization. Nevertheless, every morning of the year found idle men at tens of thousands of factory-gates, hanging around employment offices, or pacing the streets. Labor surplus has been as ever-present as labor shortage. Investigation after investigation of employment conditions has demonstrated a continuing supply of idle men in America. Employers have lacked men at the same time that men have lacked work.

It does not necessarily follow that the accretions of population due to immigration produced a surplus of labor in America that could not be employed. Our industries have been developing with marvelous rapidity in the last quarter century. But the facts are that there have never been less than a million idle men, and often five or six millions, at a time during the last twenty years. This continuing surplus has been due in part to the lack of adjustment of immigration to our varying labor needs. But it has also been due in part to the fact that the labor we have is not properly distributed, in part to the fact that the labor-reserve is decentralized, and in part to the excessive turnover of labor which has obtained in our industries.

I am not certain that stoppage of immigration for ten years would retard our industrial development. It is certain that we have never obtained the maximum possible output from our wage-earners. Irregularity of employment, lack of training, and lack of proper care of their health, have prevented them from attaining their potential efficiency. If our labor-supply decreases while our need for labor increases or maintains itself, the result will unquestionably be a rapid development of industrial training. This was what enabled us to meet, at least in part, our shortage of skilled labor during the war. If, in the face of a decreased immigration, we devote ourselves to constructive labor policies which will increase the technical skill of our laboring population, reduce labor-turnover, and maintain the laborers’ health, character, and intelligence, we shall meet the need both of industry and of the workers for a higher standard of living. For it goes without saying, that a rise in the general efficiency of labor will enable wages to remain at a higher level than if the pre-war condition is revived.

Of course, immigration will not cease, and the industrial expansion to which we look forward when the first after-effects of the war have passed will not find us with a seriously decreased supply of workmen. There is certainly no prospect of such a reduction in immigration as would justify any relaxation of our present immigration laws. A thorough organization of the labor market, to bring the man and the job together with the least loss of time to each; a constructive study of means for reducing labor-turnover; and training, health-conservation, and steadied employment to increase the workers’ efficiency–these are the policies which will man our industries and at the same time develop in the workers a stronger confidence in our civilization.

The war’s effect on our labor-supply would result in policies which will give us a more efficient labor force with a higher standard of living. When immigration resumes its normal flow, as it may do in a few years, our efficient domestic labor force will enable us to absorb the new immigration without creating the evils of the past. Instead of deploring the check to immigration which will probably result from the war, we should interest ourselves in stimulating labor policies that will raise the efficiency of our whole labor population. This will give us a healthy labor policy in place of the suicidal policies of the past. Nothing will promote America’s industrial position among the nations more surely; nothing will operate so effectively to check extreme labor movements like Bolshevism.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 20, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

Not to distract from this very interesting subject, however given a far more serious priority, this Rev Wright/Obama pro Tehran administration has given since last year $1 billion w/nothing in return and now w/multiple rockets capable of carrying WMD in production, immigration may be at the head of the table this evening, however folks, immigration is truly a far less given priority to an administration who has supported the Muslim Brotherhood and really believes that as the Rev Wright clearly said and quoted as closely as possible in ’08, “As long as the ‘Zionists’ have WMD in hand, Tehran has the same Right” –

….and soon enters Karl-Theordor zu Guttenberg and the Assyrians who are slowly and strategically encircling Tehran….

Immigration and certainly closing our porous borders may be highlighted, however let’s Not distract ourselves too long as War looms ahead!

Close the border and it is already a given that Barry Obama will do as much as he can in his reach to afford those he can such status – immigration, a long issue in our history and from my perspective, feeling sorry for all those who have chosen to file appropriate application and supply certificates of health and maybe wait two years and maybe more to be granted a temporary visa and all these others folks just walk across one of the few such open borders globally and w/o any concern that authorities will take adverse action….

Do Not lose site of Tehran as each day, multiple WMD’s in the hands of Tehran, now a nine year campaign duping so many along the way is almost realized….

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 21, 2014 @ 6:58 am

Thanks President Obama for weighing in last night on the field of human endeavor wherein the USA has its largest COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 23, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

Any links to discussion of EU immigration policy?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

November 23, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

Bill: A good place to start looking at official policy: http://frontex.europa.eu/

A couple of unofficial sources: http://www.statewatch.org/ and http://www.asylumineurope.org/

Not my expertise base, but these unofficials seem credible.

There are plenty of anti-immigration sites as well. These are usually related to particular nation-states: UK, Netherlands, Norway, etc. Many — most? — strike me as more or less fear-mongering, racist and/or hateful. You can find them easily enough.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 24, 2014 @ 9:18 am

Thanks Phil!

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