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been replaced by an informal system that lures immigrants here with the promise of work, however meager, and the understanding that immigration authorities likely will turn their heads as long as immigrants keep their heads down. Their illegal status keeps them in limbo, prevented by law and custom from putting down roots, and makes it easier for abusive employers to exploit them, in turn dragging down U.S. workers beside them. Recognizing the danger inherent in this dynamic, the major U.S. unions in 2000 abandoned their long-time opposition to increasing legal immigration. The political and labor conversation about immigration has evolved, but the story told by the populist right has remained largely the same, unapologetically focused on race and culture. Practically in the same breath, Pat Buchanan praises Cesar Chavez”the first Minuteman” for his agitation against illegal immigration, and then laments that California has named a state holiday in his honor, because Chavez was Latino. Buchanan all but says it’s OK to be racist. “If racism means a belief in the superiority of the white race and its inherent right to rule other peoples, American history is full of such men,” he writes in State of Emergency. “Indeed, few great men could be found in America or Europe before World War II who did not accept white supremacy as natural!’ While Buchanan’s brief portrait of Mexico’s loss of Texas warns of the folly of inviting strangers into a land, his account of Mexican immigration to America is one not of invitation, but outright invasion. “What can be said for a man who would allow his home to be invaded by strangers who demanded they be fed, clothed, housed, and granted the rights of the firstborn?” he asks. He lumps mass immigration as part and parcel of an alleged conspiracy to replace borders and national sovereignty with a world government. This rhetoric resonates with those sympathetic to Buchanan’s argument and who probably watch Lou Dobbs and identify with the Minutemen. But the problem is not that immigrants are receiving the benefits to which Buchanan claims they feel entitled. It’s that “the firstborn” feel that they are not receiving their due. Buchanan identifies concerns that many Americans share: stagnant or falling wages, ethnic clashes, economic inequality, and declining test scores of American students. But he does not appear to be interested in solutions. When it comes to education, he blames immigrant students for skewing average test scores downward, then proceeds to complain that “educrats” use the averages to argue for the \(apparently unworteacher salaries. Buchanan’s solutions are a 10-year moratorium on all legal immigration, a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, a vigorous deportation program, and denying children of illegal immigrants born here the 14th Amendment right to citizenship. He advocates halting welfare for illegal immigrants, except emergency medical services. Since they are not eligible for most benefits anyway, the main effect would be to deny schooling to children. Buchanan fails to understand that his rhetoric fosters the socioeconomic inequality he decries. He would address ethnic tensions by keeping out people who look differentan idea guaranteed to make ethnic clashes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Akers Chacon and Buchanan both oppose a guest-worker program that would condemn immigrants to tran sient status. Buchanan would rather not see immigrant workers come at alla solution that reasonable people recognize is unrealistic. Akers Chacon opposes the temporary, marginal aspect of guest-worker programs and the damage that a large, unauthorized migrant population does to the interests of workers in the United States and elsewhere. His solution is to throw open the borders, proclaiming, “No one is illegal!” Both of these approaches fall short. Advocates of true open bordersa group that is far smaller than the nativist right would like the public to believe fail to recognize the real cultural fears that are part of human nature, as well as the disruptions that a further increase in immigration would spawn. Buchanan and his ilk shirk responsibility for shaping a society that presents both a reasonable possibility and an expectation that newcomers can adopt the habits of their new home. There probably is no reconciliation between these two positions. But it is possible for Americans who care about the future of the country to drown out the small but vocal contingents at either end of the debate. For this, we could do far worse than turn to the solutions Zolberg proposes. “Borders are necessary to establish and preserve distinctive communities, notably self-governing democracies,” Zolberg writes. In addition, given economic disparities among nations, open borders would attract a flood of immigration from poorer to more affluent nations. Yet he also views nativist attacks on immigrants as a far bigger threat to democracy than migration itself. He advocates neither allowing unlimited immigration nor a moratorium on immigration. He argues for giving admissions priority to those in most needunskilled workers and those fleeing violence. Zolberg contends that to eliminate unauthorized immigration would require creating a police state. Instead, he sensibly advocates improved border security, combined with protection of the rights of minority groups upon whom the populist right has unleashed its wrath. “Immigrants who feel welcome rarely set out to destroy their new home,” Zolberg concludes. Nor, he might have added, do they secede. One wonders whether, had Santa Ana recognized the same principle, the story of the Alamo would have been entirely different. Michele Wucker, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, is the author of Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 23, 2007