Looking Back on Immigration

Writing six years after the grueling series of clashes with Congress on everything from tax reform to immigration, former President Coolidge would reflect on the national immigration policy as a whole in his daily article on December 13, 1930: “Immigration is not a simple question. The entire economic effect of restriction is unknown. Every immigrant is a consumer requiring food, clothing and shelter. To that extent work is made for wage earners. But when many are already idle, an influx of wage earners would aggravate the condition of unemployment. Every race and creed that has come here in numbers has shown examples of unsurpassed loyalty and devotion to our country. But only by coming slowly, avoiding city colonies and spreading over the land do they arrive in the real United States. The economic reasons for restricting immigration are not always the most important. We have certain standards of life that we believe are best for us. We do not ask other nations to discard theirs, but we do wish to preserve ours. Standards, government and culture under free institutions are not so much a matter of constitutions and laws as of public opinion, ways of thought and methods of life of the people. We reflect on no one in wanting immigrants who will be assimilated into our ways of thinking and living. Believing we can best serve the world in that way, we restrict immigration.” Our freedoms would be relinquished if we consign our sovereignty as a nation to an amorphous existence. We are a freer and more united people when we uphold standards of immigration.

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