New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is so bullish on immigration that bull-headed is the best way to describe it. Proportion and subtlety escape him when he speaks on the subject.
In a recent speech he lamented “a voice” in Washington which opposes immigration. But, said Cuomo, “There’s another voice, which is … the voice of New York that says don’t feel threatened and don’t be afraid. Immigration isn’t a bad thing. Immigration is a good thing. Immigration brings in new people with new talents, new cultures, and they add to society, they bring a new asset to society, they don’t detract, look at New York.”
|NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
He continued, “We made New York the greatest state on the planet by welcoming people and their strengths and using their strengths, and we are still doing it aggressively.”
The basic problem is that Cuomo leaves “immigration” undefined in terms of quantity, character or context. Essentially it’s like someone saying that fire and water are good. Well, that certainly depends on whether you’re talking about the reservoir that provides for a city’s needs, or the tidal wave from the sea that swamps and demolishes the city. With fire, it can be the cozy hearth fire that warms a house, or the out-of-control conflagration that burns it to the ground.
Another illustration is the saying among doctors that a single substance can be either a medicine or a poison, depending on the dosage. Arsenic, for example, is not necessarily a deadly poison. In the right amount and usage it may help fight cancer.
When Cuomo and his fellow enthusiasts insist that immigration is unequivocally good, they are dodging meaningful debate about immigration. Do they really believe that immigration at any “dosage” of numbers and duration is good, without any negative side effects? And are new talents and cultures always good, even ones that excel in corruption and disregard for the rule of law?
Cuomo understandably touts the virtues of the state he governs. But not everyone agrees that New York is the pinnacle of the world – and prominent among them are lots and lots of ex-New Yorkers. As Empire Center reports, citing the U.S. Census Bureau, New York saw an exodus of 153,921 residents to other states in a 12-month period ending July 2014, while “New York attracted 118,799 foreign immigrants … second only to California.”
This trend goes back five decades to the 1960s, the decade – incidentally – when the current wave of mass immigration began to take off. From then until 2011, 7.3 million people left the state. During the same period, 4.8 million immigrants settled in the state. New York City, no doubt, has much to do with this trend. It has 43 percent of the state’s population, and its metro area includes 63 percent of that population. Forty percent of NYC’s residents are immigrants.
One probable cause for natives leaving the metro area has been the high population density and crowding sustained by immigration. Another reason definitely has been high taxes, a situation brought on, at least to some degree, by the need to provide social services for immigrants. Under current immigration policy, immigrants are less educated and skilled than natives. In effect, we are importing poverty.
Wage levels have declined in the city, as immigration has surged, and the middle class is being pushed out. Increasingly, NYC is drifting toward a classic Third Word economic hierarchy, with a relatively few well-to-do folks on top, and many below them who struggle to make ends meet.
Gov. Cuomo may well be sincere in his belief that immigration is wonderful, no matter how massive. The reason, most likely, is that a man of his position and means can isolate himself from the consequences of what he advocates.
Living in a swank neighborhood with a net worth of around $2 million, Gov. Cuomo is far removed from the madding crowds of diversity. It’s easy to be bullish (and bull-headed) on immigration when you can afford to be. Just ask the ex-New Yorkers.