Post-9/11

Another argument, very much post-9/11, has been made by Samuel Huntington (2004) to the effect that one can be never sure of the immigrant’s loyalty to the culture he or she has decided to co-habit with. Even an immigrant country like America has limits to its capacity to assimilate, and thus cohesion requires limits on immigration. There is a tension here between tolerance of other cultures and the dangers of leaving the door open for citizens of countries who may harbour feelings of enmity towards the host country. This is the argument about national security and the fear of ‘the enemy within’ (see Box 4.4 ) A plethora of civil society groups in the US unite concerns about immigration (both legal and illegal) for job security, social cohesion and security of Americans. CitizensLobby.com (URL) campaigns for troops on the border, an end to amnesties for illegal immigrants and a scaling back of guest worker quotas. Its ‘America first foreign and trade policy’ also lobbies for a boycott of Chinese-made products and the abolition of ‘wasteful government programs like foreign aid’.

The rise of Regressive and Rejectionist civil society groups may have been influenced by right-wing political parties in Europe that are strident in their nationalism and anti-immigration stance. During the 1990s some parties, such as Le Pen’s National Front, the British National Party and Pim Fortuyn’s LPF, achieved electoral success (Kaldor and Muro 2003). Civil society groups and political parties that are anti-immigration deny they are racist. However, emboldened by the post-9/11 context, their rhetoric has hardened and their public profile has been enhanced. Rowthorn (2003: 63) argues that these concerns should not be dismissed lightly:

It is not surprising that the political parties most hostile to immigration are normally the most hostile to economic globalisation and to supra-national institutions. They are raising, albeit in xenophobic form, issues of community, identity and self-determination that should be of concern to all democrats.