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Heartland Invasion By: Ronald Piana
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Many of those Americans who still do not grasp that we have an immigration crisis in this country tacitly reassure themselves that “it only matters in New York, California, Texas and Florida, and I don’t live there.”  Unfortunately for them, mass immigration has metastasized and exploded from its traditional borderland and big-city venues into the heartland, bringing in its wake the same social problems familiar in metropolitan America.

Historically, small-town rural America has been less vulnerable to the effects of our flawed immigration policy and poorly defended borders. In fact, many of these areas have not seen significant immigration in 80 years. However, states such as North Carolina, that had managed to maintain a fairly status quo population balance are now experiencing an insuperable influx of immigrants.

North Carolina is one of the states that has experienced the largest per-capita growth in its immigrant population in recent years. During the 1990’s, the state’s Hispanic percentage of population swelled by a whopping 394%. For example, the bucolic town of Siler City, with less than 7,000 residents, went from having a 4% Hispanic population to 39% in barely 10 years.  This was accompanied by massive social disruption of a well-established community that used to epitomize traditional America.

Simple mathematical projections demonstrate the demographic issue faced by a small, close-knit community when there is a surge of unregulated immigration. The steady arrival of new immigrants compounds the imbalanced fertility rates — Americans are having what are referred to as replacement families, two children per family on average, while the average number of children in an immigrant family is nearly four.

Immigration data throughout the rest of North Carolina tell a similar story. The 2000 Census discovered about 400,000 more persons than they had expected since issuing its most recent state population projections in 1999. More significantly, the Bureau concluded that most of the under calculated persons were illegal aliens.

But immigration numbers alone don’t resonate unless attached to data delineating the full range of consequences of a policy that is failing to protect its citizenry from decades of laxity. The estimated net cost of North Carolina’s immigrant population to the state was over $360 million in 1995. This amount, which has grown exponentially over the subsequent 7 years, only covered the public services they consumed and their displacement of native American workers statewide.

Social tensions in the Tar Heel state have also been exacerbated by the huge rise in the Hispanic population. The problem is especially acute between Hispanics and the state’s black populations. Prior to the mass influx of Hispanics, blacks were virtually North Carolina’s only minority, making up 22 percent of the total population. Now, Hispanics in search of work and cheap housing have crowded into the black neighborhoods and the menial job market.  Try climbing out of poverty when more poor people are being dumped on top of you!

In 1995, one economic reality of our immigration policy was brought to light by a group of 21 black conservative entrepreneurs designated as Project 21, an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy. They cited a study conducted by the Negative Population Growth Inc. that concluded US immigration policy was having a severe adverse effect on wages and employment. According to NPG, the hardest hit were black males seeking entry-level jobs. It countervails compassion and logic to let our own working-class poor minority become displaced by yet another, even poorer minority.  If we cut off the supply of cheap immigrant labor, these people would eventually mature into solid working-class citizens and their children would probably rise to the middle class.

Cleary, immigration has become a social and employment problem. And the pattern is replicating itself in states across the country. Waves of poor immigrants willing to undercut the going wage rate for a particular industry supplant native American workers and the community’s quality of life gradually begins to decline, along with its social cohesion, already under assault by a number of other forces in modern American society.

Years ago at a pro-immigration rally, an exuberant Hispanic civil rights activist shouted an eerily prescient threat, “They shall overcome, but we will overrun.”

And overrun they have. Some examples:

· In Minnesota, the Hispanic population tripled in the 1990’s, overrunning the meatpacking industry, which in the last 30 years has gone from a bastion of well-paid blue-collar employment to a sweatshop industry.

· Tennessee’s Hispanic population almost tripled in that same timeframe. Approximately 25 percent of the state’s prison population are illegal aliens.

· Waves of Hispanics doubled Utah’s immigrant population, first drawn by agricultural jobs, later moving into year-round work.

· In Nebraska, during the 1990’s about 40% of the state’s aggregate population growth was Hispanic. A state sponsored study found that illegal aliens often reside in multiple family dwellings, which places increased burdens on schools and health-care systems because property taxes do not increase according to the number of household occupants.

· Illinois is yet another state that has experienced an unusually large growth in immigration. The nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies estimated that due to immigration, the population of Illinois would increase by approximately 3 million persons over the next 25 years. The consequences are predictable: Bilingual education increased the cost per student by about 50 percent; the state spends more than $170 million on welfare for illegal aliens; the increase in crime costs the state $44 million to imprison illegal aliens.

To the casual observer, Mexicans coming across the border to fill jobs in industries such as textile mills and meatpacking plants are simply an innocuous source of cost-effective labor. The amnesty-for-illegal-aliens crowd still chants the same weary mantra. “Immigrants are doing work that Americans won’t do anymore; thus, they are providing a valuable labor resource.”

Not quite, besides we no longer have a shortage of cheap labor. Case in point: meatpacking is one of the jobs that proponents of unfiltered immigration contend Americans just won’t do anymore. That’s because it went from a high-wage industry to a low-wage industry. According to Eric Schlosser, author of the best seller Fast Food Nation, “20 years ago meatpacking plants provided some of the most well paid working-class jobs in America.” More telling observations about the trend of immigrant labor came from Schlosser’s research, “for over a century we have had a migrant agricultural work force; we are now rapidly moving toward a new age: an industrial migrant work force.” IBP, the nation’s largest meatpacking company actively recruits labor from Mexico and directly along the border.

Current US immigration policies and decriminalization of those who unlawfully cross our borders came home to roost in the big cities of the East and West coast decades ago. Now the tributary towns, those quaintly named dots on the map that have fought to hold onto the traditional values that have kept their communities spiritually and financially solvent are being damaged by unchecked immigration.

In the introduction to his book “Slouching Towards Gomorrah,” Robert Bork makes the point that culture eventually makes politics. With regard to immigration, it just might be the other way around. Unless we reform the way we evaluate potential immigrants — simply put, what social and economic skill-sets can you bring to this nation that make you deserving of it — we run the very real risk of depressing our national standards to Third World levels.  We could end up as Brazil, with an advanced industrial economy surrounded by stagnant pools of debased urban and rural squalor.

Rural, small town America shouldn’t be romanticized into caricature; it is changing too, unfortunately. But some provincial aspect of our country deserves to change at its own slower, self-determined pace. It exists, like our national parks, to show us what we used to be like as a nation, to serve a stabilizing anchor in times of rapid cultural and social change. This is a good thing, but it is being inexorably destroyed by mass immigration.

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