BRANDON And SOKOL: The Left’s Attack On The American System Is Bad For Law-Abiding Immigrants

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America is uniquely appealing as a destination for immigrants for a few key reasons. These include our culture of meritocracy, our relatively low barrier to success, and our healthy respect for the rule of law. No other country embraces these concepts to the same degree as we do here in America. Sadly, all three are under threat in America today.

We should strive to defend these concepts, broadly. Combined, they are the reason why America has attracted and continues to attract the world’s brightest minds and most driven individuals. Put simply, these unique concepts are what attract people who want to contribute to a bright future that respects the American system; both immigrants and non-immigrant Americans benefit from this.

What can we do to ensure that we continue to make America the land of opportunity for future generations? To start, we must consider what we are up against in terms of threats to meritocracy in America.

Today’s media cycle is replete with naysayers who deem the American Dream dead, despite the countless stories that say otherwise and the millions who wish to come here for that very reason. Meritocracy is key to the American Dream because it is the foundation that enables it. When we start from an assumption that we are all equal — in keeping with the liberal ideals America was founded upon— it is easy to afford everyone equal opportunity.

The further removed we become from seeing each other as equals, the more our system of meritocracy is undermined. This was the case during slavery and the Jim Crow era — persons were not treated as equals, and the law treated groups as separate based on skin color.

The emphasis in higher education and workplaces on ideology stemming from critical theory undermines meritocracy in much the same way. A culture of low expectations and grievances based on race and background is toxic to a country that is founded upon meritocratic ideals.

If we want to preserve our culture of meritocracy, we need to return to the basics that all Americans are created equal. This begins in the classroom with primary education, and it needs to be incumbent upon those in positions of power — be they C-suite executives or public servants — to defend liberal ideals of equal opportunity, rather than equal outcomes. This is the opposite of what we have seen from the Biden administration, and it hurts immigrants worst of all.

When it comes to America’s low barriers of success, we must first remember that we are not a risk-averse nation. After all, those who founded our country crossed oceans and continents for a chance to forge a new life for themselves and their families. There was no guarantee of success.

Unfortunately, the past two years of Covid-19 restrictions have accelerated America’s descent into a risk-averse society. The arbitrary closure of small businesses and overreliance on government (taxpayer) stimulus came at the detriment of those who wanted a chance to succeed on their own accord. Again, these costs fell disproportionately on American immigrants who came here thinking that they would be free of state-imposed barriers to enterprise.

President Biden’s regulatory and tax policies have only raised the barrier to entry, despite his focus on “equity.” At even a basic level, Biden’s war on energy has made it harder for immigrants to find well paying jobs in oil and natural gas. His wish for higher corporate taxes and capital gains taxes risks turning away future entrepreneurs and start-ups. Biden’s America is not a climate that is conducive to free-enterprise, unless, of course, you have friends in Washington. Corporate welfare and cronyism pervade both sides of the aisle.

The further we become entrenched in a culture of risk mitigation, the further we move away from a culture friendly to entrepreneurship. The greatest breakthroughs and success stories in America have not come about through politicians; they have been achieved by private individuals who are willing to risk it all to succeed.

Finally, if we are to continue to attract immigrants who wish to contribute to America, we must reassert the rule of law. Rising crime rates as a result of soft-on-crime policies have threatened the decades-long urban peace we have come to know in America’s cities. Again, being soft on crime disproportionately impacts immigrants, many of whom come to ethnic enclaves in large cities to start businesses. The riots and property damage we witnessed in the Summer of 2020 came at the detriment of immigrants who came here seeking a better life, only to find their communities endangered.

That Democrats have begun to back track from their Defund the Police rhetoric shows that they recognize this is an issue, but we must also consider border security as well. By not enforcing the laws on the books when it comes to illegal immigration, we are doing a disservice to immigrants who have waited in line for years to enter America legally.

The American system works only if we uphold the central tenets our country was founded on: meritocracy, low barriers to success, and the rule of law. Immigrants come here because they want to be treated equally, they want to succeed, and because they value a society that respects laws and public safety. If you are coming to America, chances are you value these core tenets. We should do all we can to preserve them.

Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks. David Sokol is an American business executive and chairman emeritus of the Horatio Alger society. Both are co-authors of their new book America in Perspective: Defending the American Dream for the Next Generation.