Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration isn’t exactly the “amnesty” that those in the reform movement feared: some five million people who are in the United States illegally won’t be deported, but won’t be granted citizenship either (at least not yet).
So, it’s not quite the “end of America,” for better and for worse. We should expect the current dispensation to slouch along for a few more decades.
Obama’s action does, however, punctuate the end of the immigration-reform movement, the point at which standard restriction has become truly irrelevant. We must be mature enough to recognize this reality.
Immigration reform, as it has been defined, was destined to lose, because, for at least the past five decades, it never held a high status in our imagination and self-understanding.
As Byron Roth has written, the immigration “debate” in the U.S. (if it’s taken place at all) has been between “assimilation” and “multiculturalism,” between those who demand that millions of people of other races and cultures adopt “American values” and those who encourage them to maintain some boundaries and loyalties.
The notion that there is a real American identity—which is derived from Europe and which is inseparable from European peoples—has been unspeakable, worse, unthinkable in the minds of most White Americans.
The fact that immigration reformers have been caught up on legality—“illegal immigrants” or the putative “un-Constitutionality” of Obama’s action—only reveals their inner feelings of illegitimacy.
A people with identity is not particularly concerned with whether or not a migrant filled out all the paperwork correctly or passed some civics exam.
A people with identity does not worry that an influx of foreigners might “change the culture.” Culture, in the deepest sense, is carried by people. Europa will exist so long as conscious, resolute Europeans walk the earth . . . or explore the stars. And Europa can flourish even if half the channels on cable are “en espaniol.”
Obama’s action marks an end and a beginning.
It marks the end of “immigration reform,” a movement that never had a soul.
We await the beginning of a movement of Identity.