Speaking Tuesday at a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., President Obama took the opportunity to lecture the newly minted Americans and subtly criticize Republican presidential candidates about immigration in general, and the issue of Muslim immigration in particular.
“In the Syrian refugee today, we should see the Jewish refugee of World War II,” Obama declared, in an obvious reference to the incident when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt refused to admit Jews into the United States, sealing their fate, as they were then returned to Europe and Hitler’s death camps.
The president's analogy fails, however, in one critical respect.
Not one person at the time believed that the Jews asking for admission into America in an effort to escape persecution of the Nazis in Germany were any threat whatsoever to commit murderous acts of terrorism inside the United States. On the other hand, not one person can assure us today that no ISIS terrorists would be among the genuine Syrian refugees fleeing persecution of those same terrorists in the Middle East.
“How quickly we forget,” Obama intoned in his speech Tuesday. “One generation passes, two generations pass and we don’t remember where we came from and suggest that there is ‘us’ and there is ‘them’ — not remembering that we used to be ‘them.’”
While immigrants have certainly made many positive contributions to America, Obama’s comments promote the commonly held view that all Americans are descended from immigrants. This is true only if one calls those present in the country at the time of the American Revolution (except for the American Indians) “immigrants.” When the first federal census was taken in 1790, the total white population was 80 percent British. Almost all the rise in population until the 1840s was what is referred to as a “natural,” or non-immigration, increase.
So, why does Obama so strongly favor ever increasing immigration? Before his election in 2008, he boldly predicted that his presidency would result in the “fundamental transformation” of America. One can safely infer that Obama sees open borders — or at least a massive increase in immigration — as an important element in effecting that transformation.
Obama appeared to make that connection clear to the new citizens: “We cannot say it loudly or often enough: Immigrants revitalize a new America." (Emphasis added.)
In September, Obama launched an effort to get the almost nine million legal immigrants in the country to apply for citizenship. Since he captured 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, with much of that coming from naturalized citizens, it is clear that there is a political motivation in the Democratic Party’s advocacy of a “path to citizenship”: The majority of virtually all immigrants of recent years vote for Democrats.
Actually, this is not totally new. With improvements in transportation after 1880, the source of immigration into the United States shifted from northern and western Europe to include millions from southern and eastern Europe and from Asia — principally Japan and China. These “new immigrants,” as they were called, from nations such as Italy and Poland, tended to swell the ranks of the Democratic Party and the growing cities of the North, such as Chicago and New York.
In the 1920s, the Republican Party won three consecutive presidential landslide elections. By 1928, some were even wondering if the Democratic Party would soon “go the way of the Whigs”— that is, cease to exist. But, in that 1928 election, while Democrat Al Smith of New York was drubbed nationally for the party’s third consecutive defeat, he did carry the 12 of the largest cities in the country. This laid the groundwork for the Democrats to emerge as the dominant political party in the country, winning five consecutive presidential elections, with huge majorities in Congress until 1947.
By the 1960s, the children and grandchildren of these immigrants had begun to shift their loyalties to the Republican Party. Beginning in 1968, the GOP was clearly in ascent, winning five of six presidential elections and taking control of Congress in the 1994 elections.
But the seeds of a Democratic comeback were sowed in 1965. Democratic consultant Patrick Reddy explained in 1988 what happened, and why the future looked so bright for his party, despite having just lost their third presidential election in a row, and five of the last six:
The 1965 Immigration Reform Act promoted by President Kennedy, drafted by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and pushed through the Senate by Ted Kennedy has resulted in a wave of immigration from the Third World that should shift the nation in a more liberal direction within a generation. It will go down as the Kennedy family’s greatest gift to the Democratic Party.
This explains why Obama is so intent on not only maintaining, but expanding, that flood of immigration from poor countries. The immigrants to America before the Great Society largely came to work — whether they were from Europe to work in the growing factories of the northeastern United States, or those from Asian nations such as China and Japan, who traded poverty for a job in America. And job prospects have drawn millions since the Great Society, as well.
However, the differences between the pre- and the post-Great Society immigrations are important to note. Immigrants before the Great Society had no choice but to work to survive. Today, the modern welfare state constructed by Lyndon Johnson and expanded since by Democrats and many Republicans, has created a large class dependent on government programs. This “underclass” of welfare dependents can be expected to continue to vote for the politicians who provide these social programs.
This, in a nutshell, is why Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other such “progressive” politicians support never-ending waves of immigration.
But even more ominous is that these hordes of immigrants will provide the votes to keep in power politicians who want to “fundamentally transform” America, including those shifting more power to international organizations by diminishing the patriotic resistance to the loss of American national sovereignty. Whereas the immigrants prior to the Great Society tended to assimilate and become patriotic Americans, the large numbers of the immigrants who have arrived in the country since have resisted assimilation. As Obama said, “Immigrants revitalize a new America.”
A new America, remade in the image created by Barack Obama, and those like him who favor the abandonment of the old America.
Steve Byas is a professor of history at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore, Oklahoma. His book, History’s Greatest Libels, is a challenge to some of the great lies of history.