Victor Davis Hanson on Immigration

‘Something Is Terribly, Terribly Wrong’

From an interview in World Magazine:

WORLD: You write that “almost everything stern and uncompromising that for two centuries has helped other immigrants to the United States–language immersion, autonomy from government assistance, rapid assumption of an American identity, and eager acceptance of mainstream American culture–has either been discounted as passé or embraced only halfheartedly.” We are recovering some of the 19th-century understanding in poverty fighting; can we do the same regarding immigration?

HANSON: I hope so. With perhaps as many as 20 million illegal aliens from Mexico, and the immigration laws in shreds, we are reaching a state of crisis. In a multiracial society such as our own, are we to tell the Filipino, the Sikh, the Korean, or the Haitian, “Stand in line, come legally, wait your turn–unless you come across the Mexican border and break the law in doing so.” So, we need to return to what is known to work: measured and legal immigration, strict enforcement of our existing laws, stiff employer sanctions, an end to bilingual documents and interpreters, and ethnic chauvinism, English immersion–in other words, an end to the disastrous salad bowl and a return to the successful melting pot.

WORLD: You write about Californians’ “dependence on seemingly limitless cheap labor–the Devil’s bargain we have made to avoid cutting our own lawns, watching our own kids, picking our peaches, laying our tile and cleaning our toilets.” You also contrast the scene at the Fresno malls, where thousands of healthy American teenagers are hanging out during the raisin harvest, with the work of the “tough, lean Mexican immigrants” who bring in the harvest. Is it impossible at this point for middle-class Fresno parents to insist that kids earn their electronic gadgets by working in the fields?

HANSON: I don’t think so. If there were not a perennial supply of cheap labor, wages would rise, and would draw back workers to now despised seasonal jobs; something is terribly wrong when central California counties experience 15 percent unemployment and yet insist that without thousands of illegal aliens from Oaxaca crops won’t be picked and houses not built. At some point, some genius is going to make the connection that illegal immigration may actually explain high unemployment by ensuring employers cheap labor that will not organize, can be paid in cash, and often requires little government deductions and expense. [emphasis mine]

Later, when asked what new immigration laws should look like, he answers

We need enforcement of old laws, not creation of new ones.

Amen. This is something that’s going to cost the Republicans currently in office, and it might start costing them in 2006.

Go read the whole thing.


  1. Amen to the amen. Enforce the existing laws and treat criminals like criminals, don’t forgive their actions. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I missed it somehow.

  2. I subscribe to National Review and check out their website frequently due in large part to VDH’s great articles. He is living proof a classic liberal arts education (ancient history and languages, the classics, etc..) is still relevant in today’s world. As usual, he is right on the mark with immigration.