Mass Immigration to California: Creating Utopia or Dystopia?

Published on October 19th, 2013

Whether mass immigration is putting California on the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven all depends on whom you ask, apparently. And if you ask a card-carrying member of the liberal Hollywood elite like Bill Maher, the answer is pretty much what you would expect.

But first, a recent essay entitled “How Mass Immigration Drove California’s Decline”  cites California as Exhibit No. 1 for how a flood of immigration drowns the goose that laid the golden egg. The article cites fact after fact to prove his point that the erstwhile Golden State has lost its luster:

  • From 1990 to the present, the fraction of foreign-born in California skyrocketed to more than one in four state residents (27 percent) – 10.2 million immigrants in total, by far the highest in the nation.
  • After 1990, the historic flow of Americans (as opposed to foreigners) into California began to reverse, with more actually departing the state than entering. During the past two decades, nearly four million more Americans abandoned California than settled here — “A stronger indicator of dissatisfaction would be hard to imagine.”
  • Most of this net outflow was middle class and working class, those hit hardest by the tsunami of immigration.
  • According to a 1997 National Research Council study, in California, services used by immigrants over and above their own tax contributions annually cost each native taxpayer $1,178 in state and local taxes.
  • A 2005 RAND Corporation study of public education in California found that the state went from being “a national leader 30 years ago to its current ranking near the bottom in nearly every objective category.”

But from the perspective of the limousine liberals in Hollywood, every undereducated Californian is another prospective gardener, nanny or housekeeper. And for their public declarations of solidarity with immigrants, particularly illegals, celebrities get to bask in the sort of acclaim that induces a sense of smug self-satisfaction which more money just can’t buy.

Comedian and columnist Bill Maher is a case in point. In a recent piece at the hip Huffington Post, Maher gloats that California is “creating the kind of modern, liberal nation the country as a whole can only dream about.”

“Everything Republicans say can't or won't work – gun control, immigration reform, high-speed rail – California is making work,” writes Maher triumphantly.

He snorts: “…while Republicans in the rest of the country are threatening to deport every immigrant not named Ted Cruz, California just OK'd driver's licenses for undocumented aliens. That's right, we're letting them drive cars – just like white people!”

Maher can smirk all he wants, and bask in his own clever cosmopolitanism and conspicuous benevolence, but in fact, people of his ilk are responsible for what urban geographer Joel Kotkin calls California's new feudalism benefiting a few at the expense of the multitude.

According to Kotkin, California has one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the country, on a par with such unenviable global models as the Dominican Republic, Gambia and the Republic of the Congo.

Moreover, the once-golden state now suffers the highest level of poverty in America – 24 percent compared to 16 percent nationally, even higher than such traditional poverty pockets as Louisiana and Mississippi. Incredibly, one out of every three welfare recipients lives in California.

On balance, I’d have to say the “highway to hell” metaphor is more apposite than Maher’s stairway to liberal heaven.

But we’re not there yet.

California’s fabled if beleaguered natural beauty continues to inspire, as do its famous laid-back ethos and spirit of innovation, though these too are threatened by overpopulation.

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