By Jeffrey E. Elliott, Esq.
The longstanding populist view of the general attitude towards American immigration can be summed up by the well-known and oft quoted poem associated with the Statue of Liberty. And who could not be inspired?
“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-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Because of the inspiring sentiments of the above poem by Emma Lazarus; the historical context of the beginnings and formation of the United States; the vast untamed American continent awaiting cultivation, industry and settlement and the general belief in manifest destiny most Americans thought the border’s door or path to American citizenship should be wide open. To have a contrarian opinion was a negative outlook and unamerican.
However, was this general populist view really the viewpoint of the young American republics founding fathers and leading citizens? Or is the general liberal idea regarding an open border globalist approach, based on the founding father’s perspective and policy only a populist myth?
Let’s examine some contrarian opinions by the founding fathers and colonial leading citizens against this populist notion of open borders and globalism. Consider the following opinion by the American founding father Alexander Hamilton in “Examinations of Jefferson’s Message to Congress”.
“The opinion advanced [by Jefferson,] is undoubtedly correct, that foreigners will generally be apt to bring with them attachments to the persons they have left behind; to the country of their nativity, and to its particular customs and manners. They will also entertain opinions on government congenial with those under which they have lived; or, if they should be led hither from a preference to ours, how extremely unlikely is it that they will bring with them that temperate love of liberty, [italics in original] so essential to real republicanism? There may, as to particular individuals, and at particular times, be occasional exceptions to these remarks, yet such is the general rule. The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”
(“Examinations of Jefferson’s Message to Congress of December 7th, 1801,” Jan. 12, 1802) ( see: http://www.fairus.org/issue/legal-immigration/quotes-historical-figures )
Most certainly, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton points, regarding unrestrained and unregulated migration are as valid today as their opinions were in 1801-1802. The tremendous influx of migrants holding anti-American views by adopting Sharia law and political Islam, which undermines the American constitution clearly manifests the notion expressed by these fathers “ in the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all important, and whatever tends a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency” ( Examinations of Jefferson’s Message to Congress of December 7th 1801, Jan 12, 1802). Clearly, individual thought and divergence is accepted, but not immigration to the point that an “injurious tendency” will create a divisions of such opposite values that the polarization of society is so great and similar values so difficult to obtain that social discourse and civil order breaks down, such as is evident in many middle eastern nations.
Founding father Thomas Jefferson raises the issue of uncontrolled immigration to the early American States in his Notes on Virginia. Jefferson said,
“Yet from such [absolute monarchies], we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. Their principles with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us in the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.”
(“Notes on Virginia,” 1782) ( see : http://www.fairus.org/issue/legal-immigration/quotes-historical-figures )
Jefferson is well-known as more accepting of the founding fathers as to new immigrants and arrivals to the young American States nonetheless also opined caution. In regards, to the allowance of immigrants particular to the types of political views new arrivals may endorse. Jefferson further concluded,
“These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.
I may appeal to experience, during the present contest, for a verification of these conjectures. But, if they be not certain in event, are they not possible, are they not probable? Is it not safer to wait with patience 27 years and three months longer, for the attainment of any degree of population desired, or expected? May not our government be more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable?
Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here. If they come of themselves, they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship: but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements.” (Notes on Virginia, 1782) ( see http://stuffnobodycaresabout.com/2016/08/22/thomas-jefferson-foreign-ideas-immigration/ )
Quite frankly, Jefferson’s warnings are very significant regarding immigration to the United States in 21st century America. That is, to allow unrestricted and mass immigration into the United States will jeopardize the traditional western values of the American republic, including fundamental constitutional values. As an example, admittance of a massive influx of immigrants from Islamic nations holding that Sharia law is superior to the United States constitution will have a similar effect utilizing Jefferson’s analogy of allowing 20 million American republicans into monarchical France.
Naturally, Jefferson is referencing a dual argument concerning substantial demographic arguments and significant and sustained changes in traditional values. If during the reign of a French monarch 20 million American republicans suddenly migrated to France the traditional French monarchy could collapse, and French values be dramatically and substantially changed. Jefferson argued, that the sudden massive influx of migrants would bring “turbulence, less happy, less strong” nation and thus not in the national interests of France. Jefferson further postulated that similar effects of uncontrolled immigration could also happen in the United States (see Notes on Virginia, 1782)
In the Federalist, No. 2, John Jay provided fair comment on the rather homogeneous nature of the American European population. Many have attempted to criticize Jay’s comments, because the skeptics have wished to take issue with homogeneous versus diversity. These critics miss the mark. Jay was putting the argument forward in general terms. His argument is that the general traditions are not so diverse, in that, Western Judeo-Christian culture was the underpinning, which generally united the various European immigrants to America. Jay postulates as follows in Federalist No. 2.
“With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.” (See Federalist No. 2, John Jay) (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_No._2 )
A close reading of Federalist No. 2 reveals John Jay’s common-sense approach, in that, he acknowledged the common union and bond within the context of western Judeo-Christian culture. Moreover, Jay accepts that a homogeneous people have been prepared to accept and adopted the principles of the American Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights as these founding documents were introduced to the people with the context of western culture and the age of enlightenment. These concepts were first made fertile in the minds of the colonists through the writings of their fellow Europeans.
John Quincy Adams insisted that the immigrant must be prepared to support themselves and not rely on government welfare or aid packages to assist their immigration to the United States. John Quincy Adams stated the following
“It was explicitly stated to you, and your report has taken just notice of the statement, that the government of the United States has never adopted any measure to encourage or invite emigrants from any part of Europe. It has never held out any incitements to induce the subjects of any other sovereign to abandon their own country, to become inhabitants of this (Country).” ( see In 1819, John Quincy Adams to Secretary of State) (see: http://thefederalist.com/2014/08/18/what-john-quincy-adams-said-about-immigration-will-blow-your-mind/ )
Thus, in a letter to the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams addressed his policy towards immigration. He was concerned that immigrants may belief that their migration to the United States would be assisted by public welfare and the United States did not have the financial ability to support a massive influx of immigrants. Sound familiar?
Massive migrations of persons from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America wish to escape their home countries and cash in on generous American benefits. These migrants will pass up offers from countries closer geographically, culturally, ethnically and more similar in religion and traditions, in order, to get the free benefits offered by America. Is this the type of migrant America should be accepting?
For instance, recently, massive caravans from Latin America attempted to illegally migrate to the United States. Countless numbers of these migrant refused to accept legal immigrant status from culturally similar Latin American nations, because the caravans wanted the financial benefits offered by the United States. Should not these immigrants accept a refugee status from a closer nation, which has a similar culture and language? Is not the founding fathers and other leading American warnings sufficient enough to keep America from self-destruction through migrant overload?
President George Washington known for his liberal approach towards immigration also believed rational, reasonable and common-sense precautions should be employed towards immigration issues and to control open border immigration. Said Washington.
“T] he policy or advantage of [immigration] taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the Language, habits and
principles (good or bad) which they bring with them. Whereas by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures and laws: in a word, soon become one people. “– George Washington (letter to John Adams, 15 November 1794)
In the modern era, President Washington is raising legitimate questions concerning cultural assimilation and integration into the greater American society, which clearly includes the adoption of western Judeo-Christian values. President Washington as revealed in his 1794 letter to John Adams was vehemently opposed to balkanization, dissimilation and cultural resistance to the ideals and traditions of the age of enlightenment and the foundations of western Judeo-Christian culture.
Of course, it is true, none of the founding fathers were altogether opposed to foreign immigration, but none of these men endorsed a free open border and globalist policy either. The founding fathers were practical thinkers and realized that limits had to be placed on immigration and faithfully enforced