In This Review

Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster

Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster
By Peter Brimelow
288 pp, Random House, 1995

Brimelow, a senior editor at Forbes and National Review and himself an immigrant from Britain, argues that the consequences of the last great revision of American immigration law in 1965 have been nothing short of catastrophic. Though he insists, implausibly, on defining American identity in racial as opposed to cultural terms, he does raise a range of objections against current immigration policies that, cumulatively, are powerful. The conjunction between recent immigration and multiculturalism is highly disturbing, as is the effective preference given to unskilled immigrants as a consequence of the family unification provisions of the 1965 law. There is, nevertheless, an extreme character to both his depiction of the problem and his suggested remedies. It is not true that immigration is "wholly and entirely the result of government policy," and it is absurd to suggest that Quebec's notorious language laws might form a model for the United States, however insistent Americans may be on assimilation. Brimelow confesses at one point to an "honest perplexity in the face of issues that are as difficult as any that have faced a free society." Had he held fast to that idea he would have written a better book.