It is not uncommon to hear about immigrants that “swarm” into our country and “herd together” while they “establish their language and manners to the exclusion of ours.” Some wonder why we should accept those who “will never adopt our language or customs.”

The above quotations come from Benjamin Franklin, who, like many of his day, feared German immigration into the United States. Franklin went as far as whining about Germans and others taking jobs from U.S. citizens!

That refrain should sound familiar. Despite what Walter Williams wants to believe, immigration today is NOT different from “the immigration of yesteryear,” and neither is public fear of immigrants. The same statements made about Hispanic immigrants today were made about German, Irish and Italian migrants then. In fact, southern Europeans, as well as the Irish and even Jews, were viewed as not having the same “complexion” as Americans. And laws were written implicitly to limit immigration from southern Europe, as well as from Asia.

Professor Williams’ fear of multiculturalism is ironic given that what makes the United States so great is our borrowing and mixing of cultures; that is Americanism! It is being proud of localized culture, whether it is African, Hispanic or Southern culture, while also uniting as “Americans.”

Polls indicate that most Americans regardless of political leaning support immigration reform. But misleading statements (or lies) like those stated by Professor Williams undermine real substantive discussion on the issues. He and others would probably be surprised to learn that over the last decade most “illegal immigrants” actually enter legally, but overstay their visa. Or, he may be shocked to know that today more immigrants arrive from Asia rather than Latin America.

Something tells me a border wall would not stop that; more comprehensive and rational immigration reform is needed.

Daniel McGowin