Emily Skarbek  

Celebrating Immigration

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St. Patrick's Day in the United States is a celebration of immigrants. Immigrants who wouldn't pass the Krikorian Criteria. It is not a state-recognized, legal holiday in most places. Instead it is an outgrowth of American civil society.

The first observance occurred was in 1737 when the Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized a gathering to honor its homeland. The group was active in providing temporary loans and assistance to Irish immigrants and acting as a network for helping new arrivals find work.

These types of civil associations were a very important part of early American history - privately supplying club goods and insurance to a wide variety of ethnic, religious, and secular groups. This rich tapestry of civic life gave people space to exercise the art of association and learn to live in a dynamic world populated by people unlike themselves. It was in these spaces between the family and government where people could develop their own capabilities to diagnose social problems and initiate action aimed at mitigating problems particular to their time and place.

Voluntary society in associations and markets is what Richard Cornuelle advanced as necessary for the functioning of a free and responsible citizenry. He termed this an "unfinished revolution" that sought to recover the confidence of individuals to exercise control over themselves and their communities, and resist using the state to try to fix problems.

People across the country will be celebrating today the legacy of a relatively more open boarders immigration policy of an earlier period. Between 1820 to 1860, roughly 2 million Irish arrived in the US, most fleeing the famine ravaging Ireland. They came poor, uneducated, and facing prejudice and discrimination. The lesson that this experiment was a strong net gain for America hopefully isn't lost amongst the fearmongering of politicians or the abundance of green beer.




COMMENTS (3 to date)
Bill writes:
People across the country will be celebrating today the legacy of a relatively more open boarders immigration policy of an earlier period. Between 1820 to 1860, roughly 2 million Irish arrived in the US, most fleeing the famine ravaging Ireland. They came poor, uneducated, and facing prejudice and discrimination. The lesson that this experiment was a strong net gain for America hopefully isn't lost amongst the fearmongering of politicians or the abundance of green beer

Hear hear. I'll drink to that.

Hana writes:

I think it may have gained most of its momentum as an excuse to take a break from the abstention of Lent.

JK Brown writes:

True, it was a net gain, in a country with lots of space in need of workers to build upon it. But even a rather pragmatic look at immigration in 1908 recognized that the situation might be very different when new arrivals started putting citizens out of jobs or proved to be dangerous.

The question then is, Have we reached we reached the limitations on jobs and are some of the immigrants dangerous. That is the current political questions. For the former, the saturation in jobs could possibly be alleviated by an aggressive attack to reform regulation thus opening the way for new enterprises. Additionally, the way the prior influxes of immigrants were assimilated was not by having educators who constantly inflamed the diversities, but rather by ones who taught the tossing off of the old culture and embracing the new one of individual liberties of the English-speaking peoples and even the Irish embraced those liberties. Of course the cultural habits that did not conflict with the individual liberties were simply mixed into the lives of the communities.


It is unlikely that our portals, thus far ever open to the aliens of all Europe, will be closed to them until it has been conclusively shown that the existence of the nation is imperiled by their coming, or until large numbers of worthy and industrious American citizens are obviously deprived of their means of livelihood by the arriving throngs of foreigners. At the present time there is nothing which points to the realization of these conditions; and, until there is, discussion concerning the restriction is in reality idle. Therefore let us be practical, nursing no delusions, and face conditions as they are. We have always needed the immigrant to aid us in amassing wealth, and we shall need him in the future, for the United States has now become the great labor mart of the world.

In the years to come, the increasing effect of immigration will doubtless appear in changed customs, realignment of religious beliefs, and some variation in national and political ideals, in fact, in the establishment of a new and composite civilization.

A Common-Sense View of the Immigration Problem
Author(s): William S. Rossiter
Source: The North American Review, Vol. 188, No. 634 (Sep., 1908), pp. 360-371 Published by: University of Northern Iowa
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25106201

Mises recognized free immigration as a part of classical liberalism, but the also so the conflicts that would be generated by compulsory and public schooling imposed on diverse communities.

In all areas of mixed nationality, the school is a political prize of the highest importance. It cannot be deprived of its political character as long as it remains a public and compulsory institution. There is, in fact, only one solution: the state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions.

...

But even if we eliminate the spiritual coercion exercised by compulsory education, we should still be far from having done everything that is necessary in order to remove all the sources of friction between the nationalities living in polyglot territories. The school is one means of oppressing nationalities— perhaps the most dangerous, in our opinion— but it certainly is not the only means. Every interference on the part of the government in economic life can become a means of persecuting the members of nationalities speaking a language different from that of the ruling group. For this reason, in the interest of preserving peace, the activity of the government must be limited to the sphere in which it is, in the strictest sense of the word, indispensable.

Mises, Ludwig von (2010-12-10). Liberalism (pp. 115-116). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition.

Currently, the US public schooling promotes and build up this conflict rather than teaching the historical ancient liberties that rise above any individual culture. One wonders if going after the deleterious effects of the current fad of diversity in public schools couldn't be a path to easing the immigration tensions.

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