The United States must deal with one of the most important questions facing nations. That question involves adding immigrants to our population. As in making any important decision, we should consider the need for new immigrants, the type of immigrant that would offer the most to the country and the economy, the number of immigrants needed, and the timing of their acquisition. The immigrant selection process should overshadow party politics, and mere proximity of a large pool of potential immigrants.
The process should be a deliberate and well informed undertaking about potential immigrants. Present location of potential new members of our society should not play an important role in the selection process because the pool of potential immigrants that would add the most to our society and economy may not be the closest. Close proximity of potential new residents does not necessarily imply that such people would make the greatest contribution to the host country. Certainly, the fact that a candidate already resides illegally in the host country would argue against the selection of such a person than a reason to grant resident status and potential citizenship. Past wrong doing does not speak well of potential immigrants.
The present process focuses on granting amnesty to a group of ten to twenty million foreigners who showed contempt for our laws in coming here. In fact, such disregard for legal entry requirements would seem to permanently disqualify such an individual from participation in the immigration process. After all, the failure to enforce law uniformly and impartially eventually encourages other people to break laws and demand forgiveness. Maintaining order within a country requires making the laws clear and understandable, and enforcing them impartially.
Admission of an immigrant requires the host country to assume an indeterminate degree of risk. For example, an immigrant could prove unable to earn a sufficient amount of money to support him or herself, which places a burden on taxpayers to subsidize the income of the immigrant, placing an unnecessary obligation on present taxpayers. Also, a person covered by grants of mass amnesty may suffer from poor health or the effects of old age, which again places a burden on taxpayers. For these reasons and others, it behooves the host country adopt standards of skills, health, age, language skills and education or training it requires of immigrants, rather than taking on potentially expensive responsibility for immigrants lacking the ability to support themselves.
Another matter discovered by scholars of cultures and the compatibility of different cultures identifies the probability of people from different cultures fitting in with the dominant culture of the host country. Cultural differences account for the nearly fifty wars going on among people of conflicting cultures around the world at any one time. Research reveals that countries having one large, dominant culture enjoy the most harmony and encounter little disruption from a mix of smaller cultures. A rough rule of thumb resulting from examining the cultural makeup of several countries suggests that a mix of about seventy to eighty percent of the dominant culture plus several smaller groups generally produces a relatively peaceful national environment. Examining the same country-culture data seems to indicate that conflict appears more often when the country lacks one clearly dominant culture, but consists of two or more roughly equal cultures. This conclusion follows from studies by Geert Hofstede and news reports of violent conflict in various countries.
Mexico and other Latin American societies obviously offer a major source of immigrants given their close proximity to the United States. China offers another potentially valuable source of immigrants for reasons that will become clear later.
Hofstede conducted a huge study of culture based on IBM locations all around the world in the 1970’s, and identified four major components of culture, adding a fifth dimension later. The factors include Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, and Uncertainty Avoidance, with Long Term Orientation added later.
Countries high on Power Distance accept that power is spread unevenly throughout the country, with an elite at the top enjoying greater influence on society and greater wealth than individuals progressively lower in terms of power and wealth. Individualism focuses on whether members of a society focus on in-group relationships, with kinship playing an important role, or whether the focus is on people as unique entities as opposed to group membership. Masculinity addresses the tendency of people to act assertively and competitively, or to adopt more feminine values such as nurturing and passivity. Uncertainty Avoidance measures the degree to which society accepts uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk. Long Term Orientation reflects a culture’s stress on accomplishment in the here and now as opposed to the more distant future.
China and Mexico place equally on Power Distance, scoring on the upper end of the scale. This indicates that they more readily accept the simultaneous presence of a wealthy and powerful minority along with a much poorer and powerless majority. In contrast the United States scores much lower on this dimension, somewhat below midpoint on the scale. This does not necessarily imply that extremely powerful and wealthy individuals do not exist in this country, or that there are no powerless and poor. Rather, it indicates that such differences gain less ready acceptance in this society. Indeed, various political parties, now and in the past, have focused strongly on reducing these inequalities, with varying success. Obviously, this dimension proves of little value in differentiating the suitability of Mexico and China as a source of immigrants.
China and Mexico both score relatively low on Individualism, with China somewhat lower. Conversely, the United States shows the highest scores in the sample on Individualism, which probably comes as no surprise. This does not necessarily pose a source of conflict between the United States and the potential immigrant countries. It does imply that the Chinese and Mexicans would probably prove more clannish and distant to outsiders, which would not necessarily portend conflict in the society, but rather that it may prove more difficult for outsiders to gain access to the groups. This could create some difficulty to marketers, social workers, and other outsiders in gaining access to the communities, but does not post much threat of conflict.
China scores about midpoint on Masculinity, while the United States and Mexico scoring medium-high on this dimension, with Mexico slightly higher. This indicates that Mexico and the United States may be relatively more aggressive competitors, while China could prove more wily and subtle competitors, choosing to “out-fox” competitors or potential partners rather than confront them aggressively.
The only really surprising result involves Uncertainty Avoidance. China scores the lowest of the three countries, which fits comfortably with the common perception of the Chinese as obsessive gamblers. The United States scores slightly below midpoint, which fits the common perception of Americans as thoughtfully cautions risk takers. Mexico offers the real surprise. It scores very much higher on this dimension than the other two countries. This implies that in general Mexicans are very reluctant risk takers, which doesn’t seem apparent to an outsider but may be obvious to someone imbedded in that society. Depending on the expectations of the United States as the host country, these findings may seem favorable to the Chinese and unfavorably to the Mexicans. If we want new residents to move relatively quickly upward from unskilled labor to self employed entrepreneurs, and therefore probably greater taxpayers, the Chinese would enjoy a huge advantage over the Mexicans. These findings imply that Mexicans may remain at the lower end of industrial society longer than the Chinese, and may consequently utilize more public services than the Chinese.
Hofstede reported no findings for Mexico on Long Term Orientation, but China scored extremely high on this dimension while the United States scored just the opposite. Americans may tend to “smash through” on projects while the Chinese may seem to let Nature take its course, but whether this indicates an advantage or a disadvantage would seem to depend on the situation. It might indicate that the Chinese would tend to be more deliberate, precise, and patient workers than Americans.
Another major decision variable would be the work ethic. Americans often feel superior for having the Protestant work ethic, although there are a lot of non-Protestants in the country. They might therefore favor the Chinese and their Confucian work ethic. A recent article quoted a Mexican leader as saying, “Americans live to work, while we work to live.” Aggressive Americans could take that as a negative. Also, the stereotype of Mexicans following a sort of animism-Catholicism non-work ethic could tell against them. True or not, the prevalent perception of Americans considering the Mexican work ethic is probably that Mexicans don’t have a work ethic. In my personal experience with Mexicans indicates that they are hard and persistent workers at low skilled tasks, but I have no basis to evaluate them on more sophisticated tasks.
Additionally, we need to look at the “need for achievement” as originally developed by Henry Murray in 1938 and popularized by David McClelland in “The Achieving Society.” The need for achievement focuses on an individual’s desire for significant accomplishment, mastering skills, control, and high standards. It is revealed by the difficulty of tasks undertaken. People with low need for achievement may choose very easy tasks, minimizing the risk of failure, or very difficult tasks, in which case a failure would not prove embarrassing. People with a high need for achievement often choose moderately difficult tasks, obviously challenging but reachable.
A search of the Internet revealed that both the United States and China have a high need for achievement, while showing Mexico as having a low need for achievement. In fact, some of the articles regarding Mexico explained various attempts to instill a higher need for achievement in school students at various grades. Most of the projects were not advanced enough to predict their success, although funding of these programs indicates that the Mexican government recognizes that an increased need for achievement represents a valuable and desirable asset.
Studies have also focused on differences in intelligence (IQ) between people of different races. According to Wikipedia, “In the US, intelligence quotient (IQ) test scores show statistical differences, with the average score of the African American population being lower – and that of the Asian American population being higher – than that of the White American population (based on the self-identification of those tested).” Other studies indicate that Hispanics are below whites but above blacks. The consensus, from high IQ to low IQ is Ashkenazi Jew, Asians, Whites, Hispanics, Blacks. As for the impact of genetics versus environment on IQ, findings are very mixed but seem to favor genetics as the prime actor on intelligence, although several studies indicate that environment can, to some extent, exert a modifying impact on IQ. One point of interest is that the University of California at Berkley, a very highly ranked university nationally, reports that 50% of its student body is Asian, primarily Chinese. Taken together, these findings would seem to favor Chinese as immigration candidates.
What this means regarding selection of people as potential immigrants depends on national goals. If the goal is to bring in people who are likely to serve a minimal time in the lower ranks of the work force and move up to becoming self-employed tradesmen, artisans, or professionals, possibly increasing employment for others, the Chinese clearly offer the better choice. Conversely, if the United States wishes to bring in a predominantly permanent low paid laborer class, perhaps it should think again. The Hispanics, especially Mexicans, are extremely nationalistic. Even third generation Mexican Americans wildly cheer Mexican teams at international sporting events.
A problem with Mexican immigrants is that they do not tend over time to identify with the United States. There exists a dominant belief among Mexicans that the United States stole the territory consisting of the western states from Mexico. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mexican General Santa Anna invaded United States territory in 1846. In the resulting war, one section of United States troops drove south through central Mexico while another performed an amphibious landing near Mexico City, which both forces soon occupied. Finally realizing that it could not govern the huge territory it had conquered, the U.S. offered the Mexican government sixty million dollars for portions of present day Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, parts of Nevada, and Colorado. When the President of Mexico refused the offer, the U.S. offered a lesser official thirty million dollars for the same property, which was accepted. Minor additions were added later.
Rejecting reality, Mexican nationalist political movements such as La Raza constantly harangue Mexicans in the United States to reclaim the western states through overwhelming immigration, legally or illegally. They explain how illegal immigrants can manage to vote in our elections, bus illegal immigrants from polling station to polling station, and constantly stress that the western United States must become part of Mexico. Pledges of allegiance to the United States are often not made in good faith by “Reconquistas.”
In a blatant attempt to assist the policy of massive illegal immigration, the Mexican government assists potential illegal immigrants with an illustrated guide on the best strategies to use when illegally crossing the border and subsisting in this country. It also tells illegal immigrants that the United States is their country. It advises that once in this country, illegal immigrants should, “Get Near to the Consulate. Embrace Mexico. It’s your home, fellow countryman!” [signed by] Secretariat of Foreign Relations, General Administration of Protection and Consular Matters, Consulates of Mexico in the United States. In addition, the President of Mexico has had the gall to challenge the law of a U.S. state, and joined in the lawsuit against Arizona’s law to protect its citizens. Many Americans see this as an official hostile act by the government of Mexico. Consequently, encouraging immigration from Mexico would seem to jeopardize U.S. sovereignty of this territory, and argue for emphasizing immigration from China.