MELTING POT OR CIVIL WAR? by Reihan Salam

MELTING POT OR CIVIL WAR?

A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A vigorous, controversy-courting argument for limiting immigration, especially of low-skilled workers.

Salam (co-author: Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream, 2008), the son of Bangladeshi immigrants who is now the executive editor of the National Review, delivers a nuanced case for closing the border to all but a certain desired class of newcomers and restructuring immigration policy in order to stave off ever increasing Balkanization. By his account, when low-skilled immigrants arrive in America, they are shunted off to second-class status and not expected to take their part in a melting-pot ideal that has become more a series of separate-but-not-equal enclaves. Donald Trump and company are capitalizing on that separation in forging a racially and ethnically tinged nationalism. Their opposition, to which he himself seems opposed, notwithstanding, Salam reckons on the possibility of a future in which “we might even have to countenance the creation of a new class of guest workers who would be permanently barred from citizenship.” As it is, he argues, second-generation Americans are often at the barricades leading the fight against the gentrification of their run-down neighborhoods, foot soldiers in a race-based struggle over inequality that itself is a repudiation of the melting-pot ideal. The author’s suggestion (examined but then rejected) that immigrants be denied “the myriad…benefits for which low-income households are eligible” is among the more tendentious possibilities, while the scenario of wealthy Americans’ replacing air conditioners with “a rotating cast of earnest young people who would be willing to fan them around the clock” is absurd but makes a point. Mostly, Salam ventures a hard but reasonable case. Allowing that some level of amnesty is likely to be required as a compromise, and even endorsing the thought of a universal child benefit by way of welfare, he pushes for a skill-based visa that “gives some (slight) weight to family ties” and other reforms.

An intelligent and reasoned take on what has become a third-rail issue.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7352-1627-3
Page count: 230pp
Publisher: Sentinel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2018




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionOUR 50-STATE BORDER CRISIS by Howard G. Buffett
by Howard G. Buffett
NonfictionTHE AGE OF WALLS by Tim Marshall
by Tim Marshall
NonfictionVANISHING FRONTIERS by Andrew Selee
by Andrew Selee