Immigration Altercation

In his book Management Challenges for the 21st CenturyPeter Drucker wrote that he considered the pressures of immigration to be as inescapable as the law of gravity. But, he added, “there is no more inflammatory issue than large-scale immigration, especially from countries of different cultures and religions.”

This week, the United States Senate passed a 1,200-page immigration bill, the first such major overhaul since 1986, potentially raising the number of immigrants that will be permitted into the country, increasing security along the border and setting the course for the legalization and eventual citizenship of an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Now the bill goes to the House. Emotions have indeed run high. Opponents of the bill say they’ve been “betrayed” by Republicans such as Marco Rubio supporting the bill.  Supporters chanted jubilantly in the Senate gallery, according to CNN.

In short, it’s certain that immigration is an inflammatory topic. But what about the merits of admitting an increased number of people and legalizing those already here?

In Managing in the Next Society, published in 2002, Drucker expressed an optimistic view of the effects of high immigration, writing, “America’s experience of immigration should give it a lead in the developed world for several decades to come.” Because of the large number of immigrants who had come to the United States legally and illegally since the 1970s, the country’s population would continue to grow. Moreover, the nation was good at assimilation. “In fact, recent immigrants, whether Hispanics or Asians, may be integrating faster than ever,” Drucker noted.

Image source: CHNM/GMU
Image source: CHNM/GMU

Drucker viewed the “American concept of ‘economic interest’ as an effective and unifying political force” that had also been crucial to the nation’s survival. In the 19th century, as Drucker pointed out in Men, Ideas, and Politics, a “new tidal wave of immigrants of different social background, national origin and religious allegiance always arrived long before the preceding wave of immigrants had been absorbed.” Absent such a force, the “ideological, philosophical, or religious cleavages might have been fatal.”

In other works, however, Drucker sounded a more cautious note.  In Managing in a Time of Great Change, written in 1995, Drucker advocated helping poorer countries to develop their economic capacities. “The alternative is to be inundated by a mass immigration of unskilled or low-skilled people for whom there are no jobs at home,” he wrote. “And as events in Germany (but also in Los Angeles) show only too clearly, such immigration already exceeds what is socially and politically manageable.”

And Drucker viewed immigration without assimilation to be, at best, unwise. America was originally a “melting pot,” Drucker declared in Post-Capitalist Society. “In the last 30 years, this has become highly unfashionable,” he added. “Any attempt to make new groups into ‘Americans’ is considered discrimination; yet only 60 years ago the attempt to prevent such groups from becoming ‘Americans’ would have been discrimination.”

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of America’s immigration policy?