No silver lining

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Increases in crime and poverty and strains on public services are just a few of the social problems associated with the influx of illegal aliens over the last two decades. These are sometimes said to be analogous to the troubles of slum-filled American cities during the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century immigration waves, problems which eventually vanished as immigrant families became established, assimilated and wealthy. But there are very good reasons to think that that pattern is not repeating itself today. Look no further than the comprehensive essay “Hispanic Family Values?” by Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald in the current issue of the City Journal to understand why.

People who think that conservative social values tend to predominate in this largely Hispanic population — and therefore should augur for better communities in the long run — might be surprised to learn that nearly half the children born to Hispanic mothers in the United States today are born out of wedlock, a rate three times that of whites and Asians and one and a half times that of blacks, in a context of a Hispanic birthrate twice as high as the national average. These factors are destined to sustain a Hispanic underclass for decades unless they begin to change dramatically. That’s because out-of-wedlock births are strong predictors of social and behavioral problems, criminal activity, future unemployment and drug abuse, among others.

“[T]he Hispanic baby boom is certain to produce more juvenile delinquents, more school failure, more welfare use, and more teen pregnancy in the future,” Miss MacDonald concludes.The “social-services complex,” as she terms it, will compound the problem because it considers these new arrivals clients and reasons for budgetary and programmatic expansion. So, too, will geography. The United States has never before withstood sustained mass migration from a neighboring country where assimilation is just one of many options — and one which much of the American elite has lost interest in promoting. That means fewer incentives to learn English and develop meaningful connections to non-Hispanic communities where many opportunities for employment and advancement are found.

In short, the influx of illegals in recent years appears to be creating not just a new and temporary economic underclass, but also a social underclass whose unmarried birth rates and rapid population growth are likely to create long-term social turmoil. These are just more reminders, were any needed, that the country needs to act against illegal immigration and endeavor for better control over the borders.

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