James Fulford writes: Ed Koch, the late Mayor of New York, was an immigration enthusiast, as you can see from his review/response to VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow’s 1995 book Alien Nation, which book was, as we apparently need to keep telling people, about the rate of legal immigration. (See the temper tantrum John Podhoretz threw in NRO’s Corner when he discovered that there was a case for stopping legal immigration.)
Ed Koch had spoken against the proposition "Resolved: That All Immigration Should Be Drastically Reduced" in a Firing Line Debate in which featured Peter Brimelow, William F. Buckley, Dan Stein, and Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington speaking for the proposition and Bard College’s Leon Botstein, long-time immigration advocate Frank Sharry, and the ACLU’s Ira Glasser.
However, what Koch thought of as immigration enthusiasm would be a hate crime today, and might get him banned from Twitter, or fired from his job. See Peter Brimelow's obituary for Koch here.
I’ve added some current year updates below in red italics.
In Defense Of Immigration | Beware The Demagogues Who Would Close Off America’s Borders
By Ed Koch, NY Post, June 9, 1995
There is an ugliness abroad in the land—and its victim is the immigrant.
There is no question that our borders are porous. The federal government should be excoriated for allowing illegal immigrants to stream across like an army of ants.
They cross the Rio Grande; they land at our airports, claiming they are political refugees, when many are not.
Once again, this refugee denialism is perfectly true—the level of fraud is astounding—but attacking refugees for fraud is considered one of the notes of today’s far right—or Trumpian “rhetoric”.
Many Americans now support the demagogues who glibly say, “Close the borders to everyone. End all immigration" instead of directing their anger at the federal government, and demanding that reasonable, responsible and attainable measures he taken to protect the borders.
Here's an example of a “reasonable, responsible and attainable” measure—building a wall, or putting more and better guards on the border, and deporting people who are in the US illegally. All considered "white supremacist" today.
Peter Brimelow, author of the anti-immigration tome “Alien Nation," is one such zealot. While denouncing our immigration policy, he discloses that he himself came to this country as an immigrant. He and his foreign-born wife have raised a child here and reaped all the benefits our country provides.
Peter Brimelow pointed this out himself in the introduction to Alien Nation, saying that when his son was born in New York in 1991, he was an American by "birthright", in spite of the fact that Peter was still a British subject and his mother a Canadian at the time.
While delighted that his son was an American, Peter wrote “I do feel slightly, well, guilty that his fellow Americans had so little choice in the matter. But at least Maggy and I had applied for and been granted legal permission to live in the United States. There are currently an estimated 3.5 million to 4 million foreigners who have just arrived and settled here in defiance of American law. When these illegal immigrants have children in the United States, why, those children are automatically American citizens too.”
Denouncing our immigration policy, Brimelow says that if we allow immigration to continue undiminished—without the discriminatory conditions imposed pre-1965—this country will turn colors. He and others predict that sometime after the year 2050, instead of America being overwhelmingly white, it will have a majority of minorities made up of Hispanics, Asians and blacks. (He fails to note that half of all Hispanics identify themselves as white.)
Actually, he didn’t fail to note it. He didn’t believe it, but he noted it, saying (p. 67) that:
[T]he American official hang-up about race questions is making the “white” category increasingly problematic. Thus the proportion of “European Americans” in 1990 was arguably already a couple of percentage points lower than the Census figure because the Census Bureau counts all Middle Easterners and North Africans as “white.” On the other hand, some in the “Hispanic” category are clearly of European stock — for example most, but not all, of the Cubans. In 1990, just less than half of all Hispanics told the trusting Census Bureau that they were white. Since four fifths originate in Mexico or Central America, where the populations are overwhelmingly mestizo, this seems exaggerated.
As Steve Sailer has pointed out, the fact that you get benefits for being non-white discourages Hispanics from so identifying. Even Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, two of the (physically) whitest men I know, will act like minorities if they think it will benefit them.
What should a responsible person say when confronted with this “threat"? Reject it as unworthy. In 1924, we were threatened by the precursors of Peter Brimelow who said if we did not take action, we would become a country where the majority would no longer be Anglo-Saxon and Northern European, but instead would become the repository of the “great unwashed"—the Italians, the Greeks, the Jews, the Poles, the Russians, and other Southern and Eastern Europeans.
Prior to that, it was Benjamin Franklin who wanted to keep the Germans out, complaining they would never fit in. And when the Irish first arrived in Boston, the Brimelows of the day had signs on their houses, stores and factories: “No Irish need apply”.
In 1924, the law changed. Instead of accepting immigrants who wanted to come from all over the world, we imposed conditions effectively precluding Asians and Africans from coming at all. The “unwashed” from Southern and Eastern Europe were limited in numbers.
This was a very popular measure, passed by Congress, and signed by Calvin Coolidge. It led to the Great Pause in immigration that produced, among other things, Ed Koch.
The infamous McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, with its even more discriminatory provisions, was enacted despite President Truman's veto. Truman said at the time: "The idea behind this discriminatory policy was, to put it boldly, that Americans with English and Irish names were better people and better citizens than Americans with Italian or Greek or Polish names … Such a concept is utterly unworthy of our traditions and our ideals.”
This was also a very popular measure, passed by a Democratic Congress (both houses) over Truman's veto.
But that was the state of the law until 1965 when Congress, under the leadership of Sen, Edward Kennedy, enacted legislation which effectively said we do not care what your color, religion, ethnicity or nationhood is. This law anticipated an outside limit of almost 400,000 for annual immigration for permanent status, of which the major part was for the reunification of families—fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers—and a smaller number for those, irrespective of their country of origin, who had skills needed by the U.S. In the ’60s we were a nation of approximately 203 million.
As of today, 329,000,000, and every promise made by Kennedy at the time was was broken.
In 1990, the law was updated; we raised the total number of immigrant visas to 675, 000 and the nation now numbers 255 million. Moreover, the U.S.—as it did even under the McCarran-Walter Act—allowed bona fide political refugees to come in, so that last year the total number of legal immigrants was approximately 900,000.
Brimelow and his followers don’t like to distinguish between lawful immigrants and the illegals—it ruins their thesis. I am as tough as anyone on illegal immigrants. I want the federal government to take every responsible action to keep them out to begin with and to locate and ship back the 300, 000 illegal immigrants who it is estimated enter and stay each year.
I can only assume his reference to "every responsible action" means not shooting illegals with machine guns, but his plan to "locate and ship" back the illegals is the same plan that got Trump elected.
If they illegally cross the border a second time, they should be incarcerated for a reasonable period and then sent back. I also support binding legislation to require sponsors to provide for the legal immigrants they agreed to be responsible for until they are eligible to apply for citizenship.
But I still want to welcome legal immigrants and refugees. I still want America’s image to be that of the Lady in the Harbor with her golden torch. Brimelow will snicker at this reference. But when I return from a visit abroad, and the first sight I see in New York Harbor is that lady, my eyes tear.
I hope that by this point, everyone snickers at that reference. Although the statue does in fact grace the cover of Alien Nation, she was also pictured on the cover of the (pre-purge) National Review with her hand up saying “Try Australia!” But it’s a fact that Koch was born long enough ago that he actually voyaged to and from Europe by ocean liner—and during World War II, by troopship.
It makes no difference what color or shade the American citizen will be in 2050. That will not determine what our values are. Those values will be determined by what Americans are taught, now and in the future, and what traditions and culture are inculcated into America’s children.
Our current loss of values will not be stemmed by ending all immigration. It will only be stopped when the values and traditions we have already lost are restored through our educational system and a fostering of traditional moral values.
The idea that the country wouldn't change if everyone was a different color is nonsense, of course, but the idea that you can "assimilate" people through education, as happened to Koch and his schoolmates in the 1920s, can only happen if the forieign children are a minority. If they're numerous enough to overwhelm the entire school, or school district, then it's the district that assimilates.
The radicals who demand that multiculturalism be paramount and expanded, and who denigrate the European, democratic and Judeo-Christian ethics on which this republic was founded and which are a basic part of its makeup, are bizarrely the unintentional allies of Brimelow.
The success, dynamism and uniqueness of America is the result of its tradition of tolerance, the intelligence and the energy provided by the sons and daughters of every nation in the world who come here to make America their home. Yes. we are different. We should be proud of that difference and keep that tradition.
Are we sorry today that the refugees and immigrants that we welcomed included Albert Einstein, Arturo Toscanini, Madeleine Albright, I. M. Pei, Patrick Ewing, John Shalikashvili, Henry Kissinger, Martina Navratilova, A.M. Rosenthal [An illegal immigrant (long story) from Canada, not Eastern Europe.] Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma, Max Frankel, Sidney Poitier, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Roberto Goizueta, Angela Lansbury and Jaime Escalante? I glory in those names—Brimelow should squirm at their very mention.
My unsquirming answer, in part:
Sirhan [Sirhan, who shot Bobby Kennedy]; Giuseppe Esposito (founder of the Italian Mafia in the U.S.);. Meyer Lansky, "Lucky" Luciano, Al Capone (all organized crime); V. K. Ivankov (of the emerging "Russian Mafia"); Bruno Richard Hauptmann (Lindbergh kidnapper); Rosario Ames (wife and co-conspirator of traitor Aldrich Ames); Civil War Colonels John B. Turchin, USA, and Henry Wirz, CSA (respectively dismissed from U.S. Army for atrocities against Southern civilians and hung for atrocities against Union prisoners of war as camp commandant at Andersonville) . . .
And Charles Ponzi (inventor of the type of financial fraud named after him, whereby early investors are paid off with later investors' monies, luring more in—just like the immigration enthusiasts' fantasy of how immigrants will bail out the Social Security system.
Congress should not be afraid to take every responsible action it must in order to deter illegal immigration, including authorizing the monies needed for enforcement measures.
At the moment, Congress seems to be willing to shut down the government rather than authorize the monies needed for enforcement measures, specifically, any funding for the Wall.
At the same time, Congress should examine the existing system of legal immigration and, where problems or abuses are identified, correct them.
But it is not necessary to end or substantially reduce legal immigration. Let Congress not succumb to the pressures of the nativists, the descendants of the Know-Nothings and those responsible for whipping up xenophobia.
I still want to experience tears of joy when viewing the Lady in the harbor. I do not want to see tears of distress on her face.
Ed Koch (1924-2013) was Mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989.
Still, I have hope for Koch, who is sensible about illegal immigration and other things. It seems he was simply unable to focus on my book's content, a common failing, because of the memory of his own immigrant parents. One of my happiest moments in taping the three-part immigration debate television special for William F. Buckley's Firing Line is establishing through cross-examination that Koch did not realize his parents could not immigrate under current law anyway (because they came from European countries that have been shouldered aside by the family-reunification inflow triggered by the 1965 Act.)
Ed Koch was a liberal Democrat, a product of his era, which might have been a different era if there hadn't been an immigration pause around the year he was born. But his normal attitudes to illegal immigration would not only get him thrown out of the Democratic Party today, they would be savagely attacked by Republicans, as we saw in the 2016 elections. But they're still popular with Americans.