On Independence Day, Remembering George Washington, the Immigration Realist

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

July 2, 2016
Washington advocated for sensible immigration.

In George Washington’s 1794 letter to Vice President John Adams, he outlined his immigration vision. Washington wanted immigration to be kept at modest levels so that immigrants could retain their culture and language, but more important, assimilate so that the American nation would become “one people.”

My Sicilian-born grandmother would have made Washington proud. Nona learned English shortly after arriving in New York, but never forgot her Italian heritage. Late in her life, Nona recalled that her happiest American memories were the three days that she gave birth to two sons and a daughter, and the day she became a United States citizen.

Washington’s immigration realism is a distant memory. The Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations have been, to various degrees, pro-immigration. Assimilation is no longer encouraged. In fact, the citizenship test can now be taken in any of six languages that include Arabic, Chinese and Tagalog. A record 61.8 million U.S. residents, 44 percent of them American-born, speak a language other than English in their households.

The current immigration totals are a long way from what Washington would describe as sustainable. In 2014 and 2015, according to Census Bureau statistics, 3.1 million legal and illegal immigrants came to the U.S., including thousands from terrorist-sponsoring nations that have sworn to destroy the U.S.

More immigration hurts everyone. Especially harmed are the most recently arrived immigrants who will never make their way as long as huge numbers keep coming behind them, an argument that immigration advocates cannot deny.

On Independence Day Washington’s goals should serve as a reminder of the great America that CAPS and its members fight every day to save.


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