Immigration: an informed look

There has been about 99% noise and 1% signal on the illegal immigration topic. This WSJ article [$] by Stephen Haber is all signal. Haber is a professor at Stanford and Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Included are references to research for those who wish to delve deeper.

The real issues are not those commonly discussed – in particular, one of the most substantive issues is the impact on Mexico of US policy:

What policy should America adopt toward illegal immigrants from Mexico? One view is that they drive down the wages of American workers, burden taxpayers and undermine the integrity of American culture. That view is embodied in the recent immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives: It seeks to seal off the border and treat immigrants who are already here as felons.

A second view is that Mexican immigrants increase the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. That view is embodied in draft legislation in the Senate that would make it possible for illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more than five years to obtain a visa and eventually citizenship — provided they learn English. The Senate bill also contains provisions for workers who have been here for less than five years to either obtain a green card or become a guest worker, after they return to Mexico and make the necessary applications.

Any serious attempt at reform needs to take account of facts regarding illegal immigrants that are often given a back seat to ideology by partisans on either side of the debate. Any serious attempt at immigration reform also needs to take account of facts about Mexico’s fragile economy and democracy — facts that both sides in the debate have tended to miss entirely. Indeed, most discussion about immigration reform implicitly assumes that its effects stop at the border. The truth is that our immigration policy is more consequential for what happens to Mexico’s political and social stability than it is for America’s economy or cultural integrity.

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2 thoughts on “Immigration: an informed look

  1. Are you kidding? That’s the “signal”? When has America considered other country’s position, ever?

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