Still the most popular destination for immigrants worldwide

In a 2009 Forum article — Immigration & Immigration Reform in the United States: An Outsider’s View — Randall Hansen of the University of Toronto asks an important question, one that our country, and our President should also be asking:

Why is it that the United States “remains by far the most popular destination for immigrants worldwide?”

As Hansen tells it:

The United States is not only the world’s premier immigration country, it is also the world’s most successful integration machine. There are multiple indicators of this success. The U.S. has among the highest employment rates among immigrants. Whereas in many European countries, immigrants or ethnic minorities are unemployed at twice to five times the national average, the gap in the U.S. is zero. [Also the United States] has a unique capacity for populating itself with people who disagree on everything except one point: that they live in the greatest country in the world. The peculiarity – I am tempted to say glory – of the U.S. is that both a deeply conservative, anti-gay, Christian fundamentalist and a radically leftwing, loudly out, ‘leather queen’ can simultaneously believe that the U.S. is the only country in the world for them.

And isn’t this a good thing? Isn’t our being now, as in the past, “the most popular destination for immigrants worldwide,” a precious national treasure, one that we ought to vigorously preserve and protect? And if so why is it that the members of Congress can’t get behind a comprehensive immigration reform package that would encourage and support new waves of immigrants who, as the millions of their predecessors did before them, would bring with them the potential for new growth and prosperity, their own as well as that of their adopted country?

One thought on “Still the most popular destination for immigrants worldwide”

  1. Philip:

    I agree that it is waves of immigration that have made the US so strong over time.

    The reason that the US has always handled immigration better than other nations is that everyone is an immigrant at some point. There was never a uniquely American culture going back hundreds if not thousands of years as is the case with most of the world.

    As much as Europe is modern it is extremely tribal and in this regard not very different than the Middle East or other regions of the globe.

    So no surprise that they are lousy at integration.

    Ironically, England, France and others are reaping the “benefits” of their colonialism. LOL karma is a real bitch.

    Now you can argue that LatAm was also new territory like the US and Canada.

    The main difference is how colonization occurred.

    England always wanted to do commerce with its colonies whereas Spain and Portugal just took gold/other.

    So England’s colonies have fared better.

    As per immigration reform I think this needs to be addressed, but not immediately.

    We first need to get our economic house in order or there will be no US.

    While we can certainly do more than one thing at a time one needs to be realistic about how much political capital can be spent.

    Immigration, unfortunately, has been turned into a highly charged and emotional debate. To address it requires spending a ton of political capital. Such political capital is better spent on fixing our economic woes at this time as addressing immigration would take focus off of the economic ball.

    As per the issue with Mexican immigration – such immigrants come here for a better life no different than our ancestors.

    And contrary to what some will have one believe they work extremely hard for very little all in pursuit of the American dream.

    It is this type of risk taking personality that has made the US so great – immigration wave after wave.

    As such risk taking DNA has been the catalyst behind innovation.


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