The Case for Open Immigration: A Q&A With Philippe Legrain

Philippe Legrain

A British economist and journalist, Philippe Legrain has served as special adviser to the director-general of the World Trade Organization and worked as the trade and economics correspondent for the Economist. For his latest book, Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, he spent over six months interviewing immigrants across the globe and researching immigration policies in wealthy countries. (Click here for an earlier immigrant’s tale on this blog; and here to see what Fred Thompson had to say on the subject.) The book was just nominated for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. Legrain kindly agreed to answer our questions.

Q: You argue that immigration is a good thing, under almost any circumstances. Why? Are there any circumstances in which it isn’t good?

A: I think freedom of movement is one of the most basic human rights, as anyone who is denied it can confirm. It is abhorrent that the rich and the educated are allowed to circulate around the world more or less freely, while the poor are not — causing, in effect, a form of global apartheid. So I think the burden of proof lies with supporters of immigration controls to justify why they think letting people move freely would have such catastrophic consequences. And, frankly, I don’t think they can.

The economic case for open borders is as compelling as the moral one. No government, except perhaps North Korea’s, would dream of trying to ban the movement of goods and services across borders; trying to ban the movement of most people who produce goods and services is equally self-defeating. When it comes to the domestic economy, politicians and policymakers are forever urging people to be more mobile, and to move to where the jobs are. But if it is a good thing for people to move from Kentucky to California in search of a better job, why is it so terrible for people to move from Mexico to the U.S. to work?

We tend to think it’s fine that foreign financiers cluster together in New York, I.T. specialists in Silicon Valley, and actors in Hollywood, while American bankers ply their trade in London, Hong Kong, and China; surely the same logic should apply to Mexican construction workers, Filipino care workers, and Congolese cleaners coming to the U.S. After all, they are all simply service providers plying their trade abroad.

From a global perspective, freer migration could bring huge economic gains. When workers from poor countries move to rich ones, they can make use of the advanced economies’ superior capital, technologies, and institutions, making these economies much more productive. Economists calculate that removing immigration controls could more than double the size of the world economy. Even a small relaxation of immigration controls would yield disproportionately big gains.

From an ethical point of view, it seems hard to argue against a policy that would do so much to help people poorer than ourselves. A Rand study of recent immigrants to the U.S. finds that the typical immigrant ends up $20,000 per year better off. And it’s not just the migrants themselves who gain — it’s their countries of origin, too. Already, migrants born in poor countries and working in rich ones send home much more — some $200 billion a year officially, perhaps another $400 billion informally — than the miserly $100 billion that Western governments give in aid. These remittances are not wasted on weapons or siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts; they go straight into the pockets of local people. They pay for food, clean water, and medicines. They enable children to stay in school, fund small businesses, and benefit the local economy. What’s more, when migrants return home, they bring with them new skills, new ideas, and the money to start new businesses that can provide a huge boost to the local economy. For example, Africa’s first Internet cafés were started by migrants returning from Europe.

The World Bank calculates that, in countries where remittances account for a large share of the economy (11 percent of GDP on average), they slash the poverty rate by a third. Even in countries that receive relatively few (2.2 percent of GDP on average) remittances can cut the poverty rate by nearly a fifth. Since the true level of remittances is much higher than official figures, their impact on poverty is likely to be even greater. And, by keeping children in school, paying for them to see doctors, and funding new businesses, remittances can boost economic growth. One study finds that when remittances increase by one percentage point of GDP, growth rises by 0.2 percentage points.

From a cultural perspective, immigration is a win-win for the U.S. America needs immigrants because they add something extra to the mix, enriching the economy, culture, and society. For a start, they tend to be enterprising and hard-working people, because it takes courage to uproot yourself in search of a better life. Those who come from countries that offer fewer opportunities than the U.S. are more willing to do the low-skilled jobs that America’s aging and increasingly wealthy citizens rely on, but are unwilling to do — essential services that cannot readily be mechanized or imported, such as caring for the young and old, and cleaning homes, offices, and hospitals.

Some immigrants bring exceptional skills that American companies need if they are to compete in a global marketplace. Also, immigrants’ collective diversity and dynamism helps spur innovation and economic growth, because if people who think differently bounce ideas off each other, they can solve problems better and faster. Just look at Silicon Valley: Intel, Yahoo, Google, eBay, and others were all co-founded by immigrants who arrived in the U.S. not as highly-skilled graduates, but as children.

Q: What are the hidden costs of current immigration restrictions?

A: The biggest cost is the humanitarian crisis — the deaths and suffering in the desert; the detentions; the soaring expense of border controls and bureaucracy; a criminalized people-smuggling industry; an expanding shadow economy in which illegal migrants are vulnerable to exploitation, labor laws are broken and taxes go unpaid; an undermining of faith in government, because politicians cannot deliver on their promises to halt immigration; and a corrosion of attitudes towards immigrants, who are perceived as law-breakers rather than hard-working and enterprising people. Despite efforts to build a Fortress America, nearly a million foreigners bypass U.S. defenses each year: some enter covertly, while others overstay their visas and then work illicitly. Clearly, draconian policies do not prevent migration, but rather drive it underground — a result that has huge costs.

These consequences, both economic and humanitarian, are generally blamed on immigrants themselves, but they are actually due to misguided immigration controls. Even those who view immigration as a threat should recognize that current policies achieve the worst of both worlds: they are not just costly and cruel, but also ineffective and counterproductive. Far from protecting society, they undermine law and order.

Those who claim that tougher laws and restrictions could stop immigration are peddling a false prospectus. Even if, at a huge cost, the U.S. built a wall along its vast border with Mexico, deployed an armada to patrol its shores, searched every arriving vehicle and vessel, denied visas altogether to people from developing countries, and enforced stringent internal checks on people’s right to remain here, migrants would get through — documents can be forged or stolen, people smuggled, officials bribed. And by trying to protect the country from the phantom menace of immigration, officials could end up turning the U.S. into a police state.

Q: What are the biggest barriers to enacting open immigration policies in rich countries like the U.S., the U.K., and Australia?

A: Fear of change and fear of foreigners.

Critics worry that low-skilled immigration is harmful because the newcomers are poorer and less-educated than Americans. But that is precisely why they are willing to do low-paid, low-skilled jobs that Americans shun. In 1960, over half of American workers older than 25 were high school dropouts; now, only one in ten are. Understandably, high school graduates aspire to better things, while even those with no qualifications don’t want to do certain dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs. The only way to reconcile high aspirations for all with the reality of drudgery for some is through immigration.

It is also widely believed that immigrants take local workers’ jobs, with the assumption that only a fixed number of jobs exist to go around. This is nonsense. We heard similar scare stories when women began to enter the labor force in large numbers: many men thought that if women started working, there would be fewer jobs for them. In fact, of course, most women now work, as do most men. Why? Because people don’t just take jobs, they also create them. They create jobs as they spend their wages because they create extra demand for people to produce the goods and services they consume; and they create jobs as they work, because they stimulate demand for complementary workers. An influx of construction workers, for instance, boosts demand for those selling building supplies, as well as for interior designers. Thus, while the number of immigrants has risen sharply over the past twenty years, America’s unemployment rate has fallen.

But do some American workers lose out? The answer is: hardly any. In fact, most actually gain. Why? Because, as critics of immigration are the first to admit, immigrants are different than Americans, so they rarely compete directly with U.S. citizens in the labor market. Often, immigrants complement the efforts of native citizens — a foreign nanny may enable an American mother to go back to work, where her productivity may be enhanced — while also stimulating extra capital investment.

Study after study has failed to find evidence that immigrants harm American workers. Harvard’s George Borjas claims otherwise, but his partial approach is flawed because it neglects the broader similarities between immigrant labor, native labor and capital. A recent NBER study by Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri found that the influx of foreign workers between 1990 and 2004 raised the average wage of U.S.-born workers by 2 percent. Nine in ten American workers gained; only one in ten, (all high school dropouts), lost slightly, by 1 percent.

Another fear among citizens of wealthy countries is that their nations act as “welfare magnets” for poorer migrants. True, if people from poor countries are better off on welfare in the U.S. than they are working in Mexico, this could conceivably motivate them to migrate. But immigrants would still be even better off working in the U.S. than living on welfare. As such, immigrants would have to be enterprising enough to uproot themselves to start a new life in a foreign land, but then suddenly become sapped of enterprise once they arrive in the U.S. This outcome is highly improbable — and there is no evidence, as even Borjas concedes, that the U.S. actually does act as a welfare magnet.

In any case, migrants’ access to social benefits is increasingly restricted in most rich countries. America’s Welfare Reform Act of 1996, for instance, cut off immigrants’ access to federal public benefits. If rich countries allowed in more migrants from poor countries, they could at the same time further restrict the availability of welfare so that only citizens or long-term residents could claim it. The British government has allowed workers from Poland and the other ex-communist countries that joined the European Union in 2004 to come and work freely in the U.K., but barred them from claiming social benefits for two years.

Other fears are cultural, and, more recently, tied to worries about terrorism. Mostly, this fear is illogical: Christian Latinos are scarcely likely to be a fifth column of Al-Qaeda operatives, as Pat Buchanan has suggested. But psychological studies nonetheless confirm that opposition to immigration tends to stem from an emotional dislike of foreigners.

While it’s important to address people’s fears and consider people’s arguments, it is also important to see them for what they often are: a rationalization of xenophobia. Indeed, anti-immigrant rhetoric is one of the last forms of racism that is deemed acceptable. Seemingly-respectable politicians and pundits get away with voicing the most vile prejudice about a group dehumanized by the title “immigrants”, expressing opinions that they would never dare voice openly about a particular race.

Q: Are there any aspects of current immigration policies that we should keep? Or should they be scrapped entirely and new laws written fresh?

A: I think the U.S. would do well to emulate its own immigration policy of a century ago: its virtually open borders attracted the huddled masses whose efforts propelled the country from a post-Civil War provincial backwater to the leading world power that it became after the First World War. More recently, the U.S.’s largely open border with Mexico until the 1960s attracted mainly temporary migrants.

America should also take a leaf out of Europe’s book: Britain’s experience of opening its borders to the much poorer countries that joined the EU in 2004 has been overwhelmingly positive, so much so that most of the other rich EU countries have lifted their own restrictions on people from Eastern Europe. All 75 million people in those countries could conceivably have moved, but in fact only a small fraction have, and most of those have already left for home. Many are, in effect, international commuters, splitting their time between Britain and Poland. Of course, some will end up settling, but most won’t. Most migrants do not want to leave home forever; they want to go work abroad for a while, to earn enough to buy a house or set up a business back home.

Studies show that most Mexican migrants have similar aspirations. If they could come and go freely, most would move only temporarily. Perversely, U.S. border controls end up making many stay for good, since crossing the border is so risky and costly that once you have gotten across, you tend to stay.

Q: Tell us a story about one of the immigrants you interviewed for the book.

A: I met Inmer Omar Rivera at a hostel for migrants in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas. He had spent twenty days and traveled 1,250 miles by train across Guatemala and Mexico to reach the U.S. border. “There were around two thousand of us on the train initially. Only twenty of us made it this far,” he told me. “Getting here is a triumph.”
Along the way, he had to rely on the kindness of strangers for food. “Of the twenty days, we ate on eight and didn’t on twelve. Lots of people are good. They would help us and feed us. I didn’t want to ask for a taco. I was too ashamed to beg,” he explained.

But the biggest challenge for Inmer and his fellow illegal migrants was dodging the Mexican military, risking their lives as they leaped on and off moving trains. “Whenever the train approached a military checkpoint, we had to decide whether to jump off the train or stay on and hide. When we got off, we would go round the checkpoint and wait for the next train. I was lucky: sometimes I got off the train and the soldiers got on; other times I stayed on the train and the people who jumped off got caught. Some people got cut in two as they tried to get on a train. Others fell under the train as they jumped off and got cut in half.”

Back in Honduras, Inmer worked as an industrial electrician in a factory making car parts for a U.S. company called Empire Electronics. “They treated me well,” he said, but he earned only 658 lempiras ($33) a week. It was a struggle for him and his wife Patricia to provide for their twenty-month-old son, Derek. So, aged only twenty-five, he decided to take his chances and try to go to the U.S. to work. “It was a very tough decision. I miss my family and my kid a lot. But it’s a sacrifice I have to make so my kid can go to school and not have to suffer like me.”

Inmer is a model of what many think an American citizen should be: God-fearing, hard-working and devoted to his family. Dressed in jeans, a baseball cap and a blue hooded top, he would not look out of place in a U.S. city. That he is exceptionally courageous and enterprising is not in doubt. But, unfortunately, he is not allowed into the U.S. legally — because he is poor, from Honduras, and has no family in the U.S. He didn’t have the $2,000 needed to pay a smuggler to try to get him across the border, so he decided to take his chances on his own. But he was worried that all his efforts would be in vain. “I’m afraid I’ll get caught and be deported back to Honduras. I’ll have wasted twenty days’ suffering. But if God wants it I’ll find a way,” he said.

I asked him whether he thought the U.S. was right to control its border so strictly. “I think the United States should give an opportunity to those who need it. Because life is hard. The U.S. is one of the most developed countries. I know that some people come with bad intentions but I don’t have any vices. The U.S. should give us permits to come work from Honduras. We come to work hard, not to destroy.”

Unfortunately, I don’t know what has happened to Inmer since I interviewed him. I hope he made it across the border and is building a better life for himself and his family.

Q: Is there any validity to fears that Muslim immigrants are a threat to national security?

A: I think it is terrifying how the debate about immigration has gotten mixed up with fears about terrorism. Of course, it is worrying that certain disaffected young people — Muslims and converts to Islam — express their alienation and rejection through Islamic extremism and that a tiny minority actually want to blow themselves and others up, just as it is terrible that young people go on shooting sprees in schools. But we shouldn’t perceive Muslim immigrants in general as a threat, any more than we should feel threatened by all Christians because a handful of Christian fundamentalists bomb U.S. abortion clinics, or by all right-wingers because some extreme right-wing militia members caused the Oklahoma bombing.

I grew up in London with the ever-present reality of IRA bombings. That did not make us treat all Irish people as a potential threat, and the British government continued to let Irish citizens travel to Britain freely without a passport. It is grossly unfair to tar all Muslims with the same brush — and utterly counterproductive, since it can only breed resentment and antagonism.

In any case, tighter border security is perfectly compatible with freer immigration: the federal government could grant many more work visas to foreigners, while at the same time screening potential applicants for terrorist links. Conversely, even if the U.S. granted no immigrant visas at all, terrorists could still enter the country on tourist, student, or short-term business visas, or even under the U.S.’s visa-waiver program.

And whatever you think about the merits of building a wall along the border with Mexico, it certainly won’t keep out terrorists. When I visited the Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, they said their top priority was catching would-be terrorists. I asked them precisely how many terror suspects they had apprehended. The answer was zero. Does that mean al-Qaeda operatives are flooding into the U.S. across the New Mexico desert unnoticed? Of course not; they would most likely enter the country through a normal entry point using a false passport, or a genuine ID, if they are not yet suspects.

Governments need to combat terrorism through targeted, proportionate, and, above all, effective measures, such as intelligence work and surveillance. Attacking immigration is simply a dangerous diversion from that.

Leave A Comment

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COMMENTS: 221


  1. Kitt says:

    I can’t agree more with Mr. Legrain’s analysis. I’ve always felt that the one great advantage that America had over the other developed nations is that anyone can come to America and become an American. But the country needs very strong leadership to forward an agenda of opening our borders, as well as addressing other failed issues such as the war on drugs.

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  2. Kitt says:

    I can’t agree more with Mr. Legrain’s analysis. I’ve always felt that the one great advantage that America had over the other developed nations is that anyone can come to America and become an American. But the country needs very strong leadership to forward an agenda of opening our borders, as well as addressing other failed issues such as the war on drugs.

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  3. AK says:

    Excellent post, thanks.

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  4. AK says:

    Excellent post, thanks.

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  5. g p burdell says:

    As China ages (given their 1 child policy), immigration is going to play an even bigger role there than in the US. I think the US needs to anticipate that, because it could compound our current situation.

    The statement that the rich are able to move more freely couldn’t be more true. The problem is we convince ourselves that actors, athletes and engineers are more important to our economy than the every day worker.

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  6. g p burdell says:

    As China ages (given their 1 child policy), immigration is going to play an even bigger role there than in the US. I think the US needs to anticipate that, because it could compound our current situation.

    The statement that the rich are able to move more freely couldn’t be more true. The problem is we convince ourselves that actors, athletes and engineers are more important to our economy than the every day worker.

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  7. christopher says:

    I call shenanigans. A massive wave of immigration means straining existing infrastructure to keep up with demand for all basic services. I don’t know what parallel universe the author inhabits, but it is much more common to see municipal services being scaled back, rather than expanded. It is merely an article of faith that a magical influx of immigration will properly finance all that goes into keeping people fed, clothed, and sheltered while they purportedly fill all of these job vacancies.

    Nope, I just don’t see a convincing argument presented to a middle-class taxpayer, which is primarily who needs to be swayed.

    Furthermore, it’s a fallacy to shift burden of proof onto the people you are trying to convince of your proposition. I caught it, and I didn’t even need a Ph.D to do it.

    -C

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  8. christopher says:

    I call shenanigans. A massive wave of immigration means straining existing infrastructure to keep up with demand for all basic services. I don’t know what parallel universe the author inhabits, but it is much more common to see municipal services being scaled back, rather than expanded. It is merely an article of faith that a magical influx of immigration will properly finance all that goes into keeping people fed, clothed, and sheltered while they purportedly fill all of these job vacancies.

    Nope, I just don’t see a convincing argument presented to a middle-class taxpayer, which is primarily who needs to be swayed.

    Furthermore, it’s a fallacy to shift burden of proof onto the people you are trying to convince of your proposition. I caught it, and I didn’t even need a Ph.D to do it.

    -C

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  9. lergnom says:

    His points would be stronger if he deleted the personal opinions. For example, he says that some young Muslims “express their alienation and rejection” by embracing extremism. That is a Western-biased perspective not a fact. Muslims have their own perspective, which includes that Islamists are working for a better society as defined by their interpretation of their religion.

    He says at the beginning that freedom of movement is a basic human right, which again is opinion and certainly isn’t fact because free movement has almost never been allowed in any culture in any time.

    Conflating economic arguments with idealistic statements reduces the impact of the data. For example, he makes a decent point about EU policies but the EU is not much like the US and Latin America. The data indicates he has an argument but including personal opinion makes it easy to say “this is the social end he wants so the argument isn’t trustworthy.”

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  10. lergnom says:

    His points would be stronger if he deleted the personal opinions. For example, he says that some young Muslims “express their alienation and rejection” by embracing extremism. That is a Western-biased perspective not a fact. Muslims have their own perspective, which includes that Islamists are working for a better society as defined by their interpretation of their religion.

    He says at the beginning that freedom of movement is a basic human right, which again is opinion and certainly isn’t fact because free movement has almost never been allowed in any culture in any time.

    Conflating economic arguments with idealistic statements reduces the impact of the data. For example, he makes a decent point about EU policies but the EU is not much like the US and Latin America. The data indicates he has an argument but including personal opinion makes it easy to say “this is the social end he wants so the argument isn’t trustworthy.”

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  11. Chance says:

    “These remittances are not wasted on weapons or siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts; they go straight into the pockets of local people. They pay for food, clean water, and medicines.”

    Straight into their pockets, as he says, and then right back out of their pockets to pay bribes to corrupt bureacrats and police in order to survive. As long as corrupt and/or incompetant regimes can export their poor, and their country get remittances that keep the populace at least partly fed/clothed/etc in return, there will never be an incentive for that population to improve their own country. Why have a revolution (peaceful if possible) to overturn a non functioning government when you are busy traveling to the US, and working to feed your family?

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  12. Chance says:

    “These remittances are not wasted on weapons or siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts; they go straight into the pockets of local people. They pay for food, clean water, and medicines.”

    Straight into their pockets, as he says, and then right back out of their pockets to pay bribes to corrupt bureacrats and police in order to survive. As long as corrupt and/or incompetant regimes can export their poor, and their country get remittances that keep the populace at least partly fed/clothed/etc in return, there will never be an incentive for that population to improve their own country. Why have a revolution (peaceful if possible) to overturn a non functioning government when you are busy traveling to the US, and working to feed your family?

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  13. Tom Kelly says:

    Bravo. Immigration is every bit as good for us today as it was when my ancestors came after the potato famine.

    People are the real assets on this planet and a country that attracts them is adding wealth.

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  14. Tom Kelly says:

    Bravo. Immigration is every bit as good for us today as it was when my ancestors came after the potato famine.

    People are the real assets on this planet and a country that attracts them is adding wealth.

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  15. Mongo Aurelio says:

    This article makes a very important point:
    immigrants to the US se not asking for handouts. In the US, largely, he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.

    So we can safely assume the immense majority of the US undocumented population is honestly earning their living.

    So what is all this moaning about “the taxpayers being hit”?

    Mongo
    http://www.itsnofun.com

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  16. Mongo Aurelio says:

    This article makes a very important point:
    immigrants to the US se not asking for handouts. In the US, largely, he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.

    So we can safely assume the immense majority of the US undocumented population is honestly earning their living.

    So what is all this moaning about “the taxpayers being hit”?

    Mongo
    http://www.itsnofun.com

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  17. James says:

    Just a quick note to say that there’s an enormous difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration — legal immigrants pay taxes and are, for most intents and purposes, inconvenienced citizens. Illegal immigrants are often driven underground and do what they must to avoid getting detected by the authorities. Often they don’t pay taxes simply because they’re afraid of getting caught and deported. I’m certain that if all illegal immigrants were made legal as of tomorrow, the tax revenue from previously unpaying immigrants alone would generate enough income to pay for whatever frivolous govt program you currently want (I hear health care’s pretty popular lately).

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  18. James says:

    Just a quick note to say that there’s an enormous difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration — legal immigrants pay taxes and are, for most intents and purposes, inconvenienced citizens. Illegal immigrants are often driven underground and do what they must to avoid getting detected by the authorities. Often they don’t pay taxes simply because they’re afraid of getting caught and deported. I’m certain that if all illegal immigrants were made legal as of tomorrow, the tax revenue from previously unpaying immigrants alone would generate enough income to pay for whatever frivolous govt program you currently want (I hear health care’s pretty popular lately).

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  19. Chris V says:

    The author does not mention the effect of illegal immigrants on wages. Adding more workers always drives wages down. That is why after women entered the workforce, wages have gone down, and now almost all families require both the man and the woman to work.

    The decline in wages that a change in immigration policy would bring are not just limited to low-skilled work either. There are significant numbers of high-skilled workers in India, China, etc, who would come here if we did not limit immigration. As such, opening our borders would drive down wages for everyone.

    Economists want to make the world better by having everyone share their money. Or to translate that into everyday speech, they want Americans to share their money and send it to the third world. Nevermind the fact that the third world will never be fixed until they reduce the rampant corruption endemic in their societies. The money America sends may go to the poor in the third world, who will ultimately hand it to their corrupt businessmen or corrupt government.

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  20. Chris V says:

    The author does not mention the effect of illegal immigrants on wages. Adding more workers always drives wages down. That is why after women entered the workforce, wages have gone down, and now almost all families require both the man and the woman to work.

    The decline in wages that a change in immigration policy would bring are not just limited to low-skilled work either. There are significant numbers of high-skilled workers in India, China, etc, who would come here if we did not limit immigration. As such, opening our borders would drive down wages for everyone.

    Economists want to make the world better by having everyone share their money. Or to translate that into everyday speech, they want Americans to share their money and send it to the third world. Nevermind the fact that the third world will never be fixed until they reduce the rampant corruption endemic in their societies. The money America sends may go to the poor in the third world, who will ultimately hand it to their corrupt businessmen or corrupt government.

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  21. Idealist says:

    Quaint and idealistic! Quite droll, actually, considering…

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  22. Idealist says:

    Quaint and idealistic! Quite droll, actually, considering…

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  23. zoe says:

    I second Christopher’s shenanigans. I don’t think the issue is nearly as simple as Legrain makes it sound. Free immigration would cause massive upheavels not just in the US, but also in the countries of origin.

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  24. zoe says:

    I second Christopher’s shenanigans. I don’t think the issue is nearly as simple as Legrain makes it sound. Free immigration would cause massive upheavels not just in the US, but also in the countries of origin.

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  25. Pablito says:

    Chris V, there is much written on the wages topic (and consequently on prices) that is consistent with Mr. Legrain’s argument. If you do some research, the results could be astounding to you.

    Perhaps if taxes were changed to a regressive system, then immigration would be an easier conversation. I’m not sure, but it seems to be that way to me. Perhaps it would even solve the problem of lacking municipal basic services (through expanded funding) easy to solve.

    I’m not completely sure of this. If anyone has good literature on this last topic, it’d be nice if they posted links to it.

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  26. Pablito says:

    Chris V, there is much written on the wages topic (and consequently on prices) that is consistent with Mr. Legrain’s argument. If you do some research, the results could be astounding to you.

    Perhaps if taxes were changed to a regressive system, then immigration would be an easier conversation. I’m not sure, but it seems to be that way to me. Perhaps it would even solve the problem of lacking municipal basic services (through expanded funding) easy to solve.

    I’m not completely sure of this. If anyone has good literature on this last topic, it’d be nice if they posted links to it.

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  27. Victor Hugo says:

    James,
    Allow me to disagree with you and to point out that your statements reflect your lack of information regarding this issue. I urge you to pay more attention -when you go out- and look carefully at who is serving you or cooking your food, or picking up your tomatoes and cleaning your windows, or taking care of your precious kids… after that, if you feel like, thank them because they are doing a great job and at the same time saving you a few bucks! If some times they require medical attention, I think they deserve it. Don’t you think so?

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  28. Victor Hugo says:

    James,
    Allow me to disagree with you and to point out that your statements reflect your lack of information regarding this issue. I urge you to pay more attention -when you go out- and look carefully at who is serving you or cooking your food, or picking up your tomatoes and cleaning your windows, or taking care of your precious kids… after that, if you feel like, thank them because they are doing a great job and at the same time saving you a few bucks! If some times they require medical attention, I think they deserve it. Don’t you think so?

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  29. Sandya says:

    In the case of legal immigration- the boom of immigration in the 60s and 70s- largely white collar workers or students from Asia- has contributed a great deal to the economy, technology and science. Right now, in making immigration difficult for everyone we are making it difficult for the wrong people. It makes no sense to me that PhD and other graduate degree grads are not able to get visas to stay- or that their struggle to do so is great. Good for us- let’s send the best and brightest to their own countries or to Australia or the UK and see where it gets us. And as for the lower-wage workers– take them out of our history, our present wouldn’t look so good either.

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  30. Sandya says:

    In the case of legal immigration- the boom of immigration in the 60s and 70s- largely white collar workers or students from Asia- has contributed a great deal to the economy, technology and science. Right now, in making immigration difficult for everyone we are making it difficult for the wrong people. It makes no sense to me that PhD and other graduate degree grads are not able to get visas to stay- or that their struggle to do so is great. Good for us- let’s send the best and brightest to their own countries or to Australia or the UK and see where it gets us. And as for the lower-wage workers– take them out of our history, our present wouldn’t look so good either.

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  31. Charles says:

    Great article. Free movement of labor is convincing both economically and morally. This sounds like a classic libertarian argument – though they would add that it is also necessary to remove the welfare state. To me it works even without that caveat.

    Borders are an artificial human invention and a relatively recent one at that.

    Mr/Ms. Chance, if you are arguing against open borders until folks have “cleaned up their own mess” first, nobody should then ever move anywhere. The notion is quite condescending and patronizing that “we” know what is best for “them”. Also, with truly open borders no one needs to stay under the hand of a corrupt regime, making remittances moot.

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  32. Charles says:

    Great article. Free movement of labor is convincing both economically and morally. This sounds like a classic libertarian argument – though they would add that it is also necessary to remove the welfare state. To me it works even without that caveat.

    Borders are an artificial human invention and a relatively recent one at that.

    Mr/Ms. Chance, if you are arguing against open borders until folks have “cleaned up their own mess” first, nobody should then ever move anywhere. The notion is quite condescending and patronizing that “we” know what is best for “them”. Also, with truly open borders no one needs to stay under the hand of a corrupt regime, making remittances moot.

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  33. Beagle says:

    While by no means perfectly reasoned, LeGraine’s argument is the closest I’ve seen to reason-based as I’ve seen in recent years. Most arguments in favor of greater enforcement of existing immigration laws and the passage of newer, harsher restrictions focus on the cost of illegal immigration. Few even attempt to calculate the economic benefit, even for balancing purposes.

    Assume illegal immigrants do not pay taxes. That loss of revenue is a cost of illegal immigration. Assume the same worker earns less than an American would earn doing the same job. The wage differential is an economic benefit.

    Assume the same immigrant uses community funded health care services, like, a county hospital, and pays nothing for healthcare. That’s a cost. But if an American doing the same job would be afforded health insurance, that savings is a benefit.

    To truly understand the magnitude of the problem, we have to offset the costs by the benefits. There still might be a defecit — a greater cost than benefit — but I suspect that cost will be much less than the expenditures being proposed to control the “problem.” If the net annual cost of illegal immigration is $1 billion, does it make sense to spend $10 billion a year to correct it?

    This is the first article I’ve seen that attempts to address this issue. Well done.

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  34. Beagle says:

    While by no means perfectly reasoned, LeGraine’s argument is the closest I’ve seen to reason-based as I’ve seen in recent years. Most arguments in favor of greater enforcement of existing immigration laws and the passage of newer, harsher restrictions focus on the cost of illegal immigration. Few even attempt to calculate the economic benefit, even for balancing purposes.

    Assume illegal immigrants do not pay taxes. That loss of revenue is a cost of illegal immigration. Assume the same worker earns less than an American would earn doing the same job. The wage differential is an economic benefit.

    Assume the same immigrant uses community funded health care services, like, a county hospital, and pays nothing for healthcare. That’s a cost. But if an American doing the same job would be afforded health insurance, that savings is a benefit.

    To truly understand the magnitude of the problem, we have to offset the costs by the benefits. There still might be a defecit — a greater cost than benefit — but I suspect that cost will be much less than the expenditures being proposed to control the “problem.” If the net annual cost of illegal immigration is $1 billion, does it make sense to spend $10 billion a year to correct it?

    This is the first article I’ve seen that attempts to address this issue. Well done.

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  35. James says:

    Victor,

    I think you misunderstood me. What I meant was that if illegal immigrants who are currently afraid to pay taxes were to start paying them, the tax revenue generated would be enough to cover a great deal of social programs, one of which could be health care. Additionally, I am a recent legal immigrant from the UK (H1 to green card), so I have first hand experience of the nightmares of the current system. It certainly needs an overhaul in my opinion!

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  36. James says:

    Victor,

    I think you misunderstood me. What I meant was that if illegal immigrants who are currently afraid to pay taxes were to start paying them, the tax revenue generated would be enough to cover a great deal of social programs, one of which could be health care. Additionally, I am a recent legal immigrant from the UK (H1 to green card), so I have first hand experience of the nightmares of the current system. It certainly needs an overhaul in my opinion!

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  37. Lord says:

    Let him move. I won’t stop his leaving. I find his position morally contemptible. He is welcome to argue his case and persuade whoever he can of its rightness, but elevation of his opinion to social dictate is offensive. Worse, it is so often self serving fodder for those very elite and powerful.

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  38. Lord says:

    Let him move. I won’t stop his leaving. I find his position morally contemptible. He is welcome to argue his case and persuade whoever he can of its rightness, but elevation of his opinion to social dictate is offensive. Worse, it is so often self serving fodder for those very elite and powerful.

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  39. Bill McWilliams says:

    The real issue is the ever-increasing costs and burdens on middle/lower income Americans that OVERpopulation (of which immigration is a symptom) causes.

    Rents go up. Real estate costs more. Food costs are skyrocketing. Streets and roads are more crowded.
    Police perform more and more as revenue-generating functionaries.

    The costs far exceed any perceived benefits.

    U.S. foreign policy should focus on the “terrorism” inflicted on the third world by its own rulers and ruling classes. Let boosh strong-arm some of THEM to bring about democracy, social, and economic justice.

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  40. Bill McWilliams says:

    The real issue is the ever-increasing costs and burdens on middle/lower income Americans that OVERpopulation (of which immigration is a symptom) causes.

    Rents go up. Real estate costs more. Food costs are skyrocketing. Streets and roads are more crowded.
    Police perform more and more as revenue-generating functionaries.

    The costs far exceed any perceived benefits.

    U.S. foreign policy should focus on the “terrorism” inflicted on the third world by its own rulers and ruling classes. Let boosh strong-arm some of THEM to bring about democracy, social, and economic justice.

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  41. Chi says:

    I haven’t read another interview here where the subject missed the point so widely.

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  42. Chi says:

    I haven’t read another interview here where the subject missed the point so widely.

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  43. Andrew says:

    This analysis is spot on. If we allow people to immigrate freely, we have the oppurtunity to attract the best and the brightest, as well as the people to do the jobs most americans do not want to do.

    Our currently myopic and xenophobic immigration policy stands to put the U.S. at a long term economic disadvantage, a “brain drain” if you will.

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  44. Andrew says:

    This analysis is spot on. If we allow people to immigrate freely, we have the oppurtunity to attract the best and the brightest, as well as the people to do the jobs most americans do not want to do.

    Our currently myopic and xenophobic immigration policy stands to put the U.S. at a long term economic disadvantage, a “brain drain” if you will.

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  45. Xylo says:

    When the author says that remittances keep poor countries from getting poorer, doesn’t that also cause those countries to avoid fixing the economic problems that drive their citizens away in the first place?

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  46. Xylo says:

    When the author says that remittances keep poor countries from getting poorer, doesn’t that also cause those countries to avoid fixing the economic problems that drive their citizens away in the first place?

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  47. Pete says:

    i agree with posts 4 and 5. show me some real data, leave the opinions at home.

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  48. Pete says:

    i agree with posts 4 and 5. show me some real data, leave the opinions at home.

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  49. Tejas Geek says:

    About 3/4ths of illegal immigrants end up buying forged documents including a social security number and working jobs with all the withholdings, including income tax. They then don’t file income tax returns, don’t claim refunds, and don’t ever receive any Social Security benefits when they retire.

    In 2005, The New York Times reported that illegal immigrants subsidized social security with “as much as $7 billion a year”. They also said the total moneys taken in by the IRS for income taxes, medicaid, and social security that can’t be matched for certain to a citizen was about $56 billion in 2002.

    See http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/05/business/05immigration.html

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  50. Tejas Geek says:

    About 3/4ths of illegal immigrants end up buying forged documents including a social security number and working jobs with all the withholdings, including income tax. They then don’t file income tax returns, don’t claim refunds, and don’t ever receive any Social Security benefits when they retire.

    In 2005, The New York Times reported that illegal immigrants subsidized social security with “as much as $7 billion a year”. They also said the total moneys taken in by the IRS for income taxes, medicaid, and social security that can’t be matched for certain to a citizen was about $56 billion in 2002.

    See http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/05/business/05immigration.html

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  51. coolrepublica says:

    Free movement of labor is great if everybody gets a shot at coming here. If immigration policy was to become open, we all know who would get to come to this country.

    Would we let the millions of Africans who want a shot at doing my lawn for $5.75 and hour a chance to bid on the job along with our freinds from Mexico? I think not. Would Haitians get to bid on a chance to wash my car at the local car wash? I think not.
    Would Chinese citizens who want a crack at setting up their roach coach and sell me tacos? I think not.

    Unless we can garauntee that everyone around the world gets a chance to come here if they want to and not just the people who are closer to the border, I am going to have to pass on open immigration. It will just be not fair and really crazy. At that point I would have to apply for residency status in Canada.

    As someone who had to wait 14 years to get a visa to get into this country, I would be very, very upset if everybody else just had to flash a smile to get in.

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  52. coolrepublica says:

    Free movement of labor is great if everybody gets a shot at coming here. If immigration policy was to become open, we all know who would get to come to this country.

    Would we let the millions of Africans who want a shot at doing my lawn for $5.75 and hour a chance to bid on the job along with our freinds from Mexico? I think not. Would Haitians get to bid on a chance to wash my car at the local car wash? I think not.
    Would Chinese citizens who want a crack at setting up their roach coach and sell me tacos? I think not.

    Unless we can garauntee that everyone around the world gets a chance to come here if they want to and not just the people who are closer to the border, I am going to have to pass on open immigration. It will just be not fair and really crazy. At that point I would have to apply for residency status in Canada.

    As someone who had to wait 14 years to get a visa to get into this country, I would be very, very upset if everybody else just had to flash a smile to get in.

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  53. Katie says:

    Christopher,

    The interviewee specifically points out that easing border controls would NOT lead to a huge influx of immigrants, citing the UK and eastern Europe. He also points out that many immigrants who would otherwise be commuters and return to their home countries are discouraged from doing so by the difficulty of immigration.

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  54. Katie says:

    Christopher,

    The interviewee specifically points out that easing border controls would NOT lead to a huge influx of immigrants, citing the UK and eastern Europe. He also points out that many immigrants who would otherwise be commuters and return to their home countries are discouraged from doing so by the difficulty of immigration.

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  55. Chance says:

    “The notion is quite condescending and patronizing that “we” know what is best for “them”.

    But it isn’t condescending to assume that the only way these people could possibly improve their lot in life is to run here to the promised land? Come on, you’re guilty of the very thing you accuse me of.

    “Mr/Ms. Chance, if you are arguing against open borders until folks have “cleaned up their own mess” first, nobody should then ever move anywhere.”

    It’s just Chance, thanks. But to your point, I’m sure the Native Americans wish exactly that.

    Besides, I’m not necessarily against immigration, even large scale immigration, I just think that the idea that throwing open borders will be almost completely a good thing with few to no negative consequences is questionable at best. Can you name one major policy that doesn’t have significant downsides as well as up?

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  56. Chance says:

    “The notion is quite condescending and patronizing that “we” know what is best for “them”.

    But it isn’t condescending to assume that the only way these people could possibly improve their lot in life is to run here to the promised land? Come on, you’re guilty of the very thing you accuse me of.

    “Mr/Ms. Chance, if you are arguing against open borders until folks have “cleaned up their own mess” first, nobody should then ever move anywhere.”

    It’s just Chance, thanks. But to your point, I’m sure the Native Americans wish exactly that.

    Besides, I’m not necessarily against immigration, even large scale immigration, I just think that the idea that throwing open borders will be almost completely a good thing with few to no negative consequences is questionable at best. Can you name one major policy that doesn’t have significant downsides as well as up?

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  57. coolrepublica says:

    Katie,

    Don’t believe the hype. No one would go back even if the border was open. People from the country I come from have green cards. They all say that they would go back as soon as they make money. There is never seem to be enough money because they all die here.

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  58. coolrepublica says:

    Katie,

    Don’t believe the hype. No one would go back even if the border was open. People from the country I come from have green cards. They all say that they would go back as soon as they make money. There is never seem to be enough money because they all die here.

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  59. Alex says:

    Excellent article.

    Thank you Mr. Legrain for making such a compelling case for an open immigration policy. But, as the first poster has said, our country would need very strong leadership who can think outside the box.

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  60. Alex says:

    Excellent article.

    Thank you Mr. Legrain for making such a compelling case for an open immigration policy. But, as the first poster has said, our country would need very strong leadership who can think outside the box.

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  61. Chris V says:

    Katie (#27),

    The UK is hardly a comparable example to the US regarding the easing of border controls. The UK is an island country and does not border a third-world nation like the US. These two differences make the UK situation significantly different than the US.

    The comparison for eastern Europe hardly compares as well. These nations aren’t exactly on the first-world level. And their neighbors aren’t significantly poorer than they are. These two differences make their situation significantly different than the US.

    As for your last point regarding “commuters”, as you call them: every country in the world has the right to determine their own immigration policy. Every country has the right to require immigrants to go through border control. Were these “commuters” legally going through those border control in the first place instead of illegal entering or staying, then they wouldn’t have a problem going back and forth. The problem is that they are illegally entering, staying, and attempting to exit after breaking the law.

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  62. Chris V says:

    Katie (#27),

    The UK is hardly a comparable example to the US regarding the easing of border controls. The UK is an island country and does not border a third-world nation like the US. These two differences make the UK situation significantly different than the US.

    The comparison for eastern Europe hardly compares as well. These nations aren’t exactly on the first-world level. And their neighbors aren’t significantly poorer than they are. These two differences make their situation significantly different than the US.

    As for your last point regarding “commuters”, as you call them: every country in the world has the right to determine their own immigration policy. Every country has the right to require immigrants to go through border control. Were these “commuters” legally going through those border control in the first place instead of illegal entering or staying, then they wouldn’t have a problem going back and forth. The problem is that they are illegally entering, staying, and attempting to exit after breaking the law.

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  63. A.B. says:

    Beyond xenophobia:

    Of course, it the short run, anyone who has a job should be scared of immigration. Legrain tries to soften this point by pointing out that most people who come to the U.S. will take low-income jobs. But that is true with the caveat of “most”. Income competition will occur at all levels.

    Is that justification to keeping illegal immigrants out? If you think so, then you are justifying a form corruption, or at least case, a high barrier of entry. When searching for a price, or a service, we want as many people as we can to compete. we thus get the best product for the lowest price. When bidding on a contract though, or when we tender our services, we try to get as many advantages as possible, including: trying to exclude and intimidate or competitors, and trying to line/sweeten the pockets of those who are bidding on our services.

    This is purely self-interest. What’s fair? I don’t know. You need to decide for yourself. Economists will argue (and I believe, prove) that in the long run everyone is better off with the competition. If you’re not smart/hard-working enough to keep your job, then you’ll find another area in which you do have a competitive advantage. In the short run you are unemployed.

    It’s singularly ironic that the those who are most strongly against immigration, are of the same party that most often voices a desire for competitive “free” markets and those who decry third world governments as corrupt.

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  64. A.B. says:

    Beyond xenophobia:

    Of course, it the short run, anyone who has a job should be scared of immigration. Legrain tries to soften this point by pointing out that most people who come to the U.S. will take low-income jobs. But that is true with the caveat of “most”. Income competition will occur at all levels.

    Is that justification to keeping illegal immigrants out? If you think so, then you are justifying a form corruption, or at least case, a high barrier of entry. When searching for a price, or a service, we want as many people as we can to compete. we thus get the best product for the lowest price. When bidding on a contract though, or when we tender our services, we try to get as many advantages as possible, including: trying to exclude and intimidate or competitors, and trying to line/sweeten the pockets of those who are bidding on our services.

    This is purely self-interest. What’s fair? I don’t know. You need to decide for yourself. Economists will argue (and I believe, prove) that in the long run everyone is better off with the competition. If you’re not smart/hard-working enough to keep your job, then you’ll find another area in which you do have a competitive advantage. In the short run you are unemployed.

    It’s singularly ironic that the those who are most strongly against immigration, are of the same party that most often voices a desire for competitive “free” markets and those who decry third world governments as corrupt.

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  65. Toni says:

    I’ve never read so many comments biased because of personal prejudice and cultural brainwashing. Open your eyes! Every single one of you–EVERY ONE–is where you are now because one of your ancestors at some time said “I don’t like it here, I’m going there.” And then made it work. It might have been ancient migration or recent immigration, but it happened. That’s called the basic human right to move freely. If that occured, it could only improve the economy, not to mention cultures.

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  66. Toni says:

    I’ve never read so many comments biased because of personal prejudice and cultural brainwashing. Open your eyes! Every single one of you–EVERY ONE–is where you are now because one of your ancestors at some time said “I don’t like it here, I’m going there.” And then made it work. It might have been ancient migration or recent immigration, but it happened. That’s called the basic human right to move freely. If that occured, it could only improve the economy, not to mention cultures.

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  67. gwk says:

    I have nothing against immigration in theory but the real issue here is ecomically induced EMMIGRATION. The pro-immigration crowd are in some way just acting as paid shills for the corrupt governments that don’t give a rat’s hiney about thier poor. E.g. Mexico, a corrupt oligarchy that offers little or nothing in the way of basic civil rights or human services and the only reprive they offer from crushing povery is “if you don’t like it, vamanos”. Emmigration is the ruling class’s safety valve – “let the poor leave, lest they rise up and slit our throats.” I say, let them stay and have an amred insurrection – otherwise, when will they change? The Neo-Cons and Globalists have not lifted a finger to put pressure on corrupt governments like Mexico to get their own houses in order.

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  68. gwk says:

    I have nothing against immigration in theory but the real issue here is ecomically induced EMMIGRATION. The pro-immigration crowd are in some way just acting as paid shills for the corrupt governments that don’t give a rat’s hiney about thier poor. E.g. Mexico, a corrupt oligarchy that offers little or nothing in the way of basic civil rights or human services and the only reprive they offer from crushing povery is “if you don’t like it, vamanos”. Emmigration is the ruling class’s safety valve – “let the poor leave, lest they rise up and slit our throats.” I say, let them stay and have an amred insurrection – otherwise, when will they change? The Neo-Cons and Globalists have not lifted a finger to put pressure on corrupt governments like Mexico to get their own houses in order.

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  69. Cyril Morong says:

    John Kenneth Galbraith wrote a book in 1979 called The Nature of Mass Poverty. He devoted the entire last chapter to migration. One passage reads: “Migration, we have seen, is the oldest action against poverty. It selects those who most want help. It is good for the country to which they go; it helps to break the equilibrium of poverty in the country from which they come. What is the perversity in the human soul that causes people so to resist so obvious a good?”

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  70. Cyril Morong says:

    John Kenneth Galbraith wrote a book in 1979 called The Nature of Mass Poverty. He devoted the entire last chapter to migration. One passage reads: “Migration, we have seen, is the oldest action against poverty. It selects those who most want help. It is good for the country to which they go; it helps to break the equilibrium of poverty in the country from which they come. What is the perversity in the human soul that causes people so to resist so obvious a good?”

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  71. Gary G says:

    Mr. Legrain makes a strong economic case, but hurts his cause with unsupported statements on non-economic benefits: “America needs immigrants because they add something extra to the mix, enriching the economy, culture, and society.”

    It may or may not be true that the culture & society are “enriched”. Either back up these statements somewhat objectively – but I don’t think you can – or stick to the numbers, and make it plain that your argument is a purely economic one. Nothing wrong with that on an economics blog, but there are real-world considerations besides an increase in the mean wealth of a population. Mr. Legrain talks, I think dismissively, of “fear of change”. Valueing the present make-up of a society, irrationally or not, is as real & worthy of consideration as any other valuation, including that of filthy lucre itself. :)

    To mis-use an example brought up – the Native Americans have had reason to regret their open borders. Yes, in many ways this was an invasion as much as immigration – but I suspect the end-result would have been much the same if never a hand was raised in anger between Europeans and Natives. A bit more gradual, perhaps.

    Other examples – a small country next to a huge one has good reason to restrict immigration if it doesn’t want to face annexation. The citizens of the smaller country might even be financially wealthier after annexation, but they’d have lost something else they presumably valued. As usual, and as Eric Maskin has just said, “public goods” are poorly accounted for in dollars-only thinking.

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  72. Gary G says:

    Mr. Legrain makes a strong economic case, but hurts his cause with unsupported statements on non-economic benefits: “America needs immigrants because they add something extra to the mix, enriching the economy, culture, and society.”

    It may or may not be true that the culture & society are “enriched”. Either back up these statements somewhat objectively – but I don’t think you can – or stick to the numbers, and make it plain that your argument is a purely economic one. Nothing wrong with that on an economics blog, but there are real-world considerations besides an increase in the mean wealth of a population. Mr. Legrain talks, I think dismissively, of “fear of change”. Valueing the present make-up of a society, irrationally or not, is as real & worthy of consideration as any other valuation, including that of filthy lucre itself. :)

    To mis-use an example brought up – the Native Americans have had reason to regret their open borders. Yes, in many ways this was an invasion as much as immigration – but I suspect the end-result would have been much the same if never a hand was raised in anger between Europeans and Natives. A bit more gradual, perhaps.

    Other examples – a small country next to a huge one has good reason to restrict immigration if it doesn’t want to face annexation. The citizens of the smaller country might even be financially wealthier after annexation, but they’d have lost something else they presumably valued. As usual, and as Eric Maskin has just said, “public goods” are poorly accounted for in dollars-only thinking.

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  73. Hugh says:

    “Those who come from countries that offer fewer opportunities than the U.S. are more willing to do the low-skilled jobs that America’s aging and increasingly wealthy citizens rely on, but are unwilling to do — essential services that cannot readily be mechanized or imported, such as caring for the young and old, and cleaning homes, offices, and hospitals”

    This argument proves that immigration keeps wages down. If US citizens weren’t willing to do a particular job at some wage, that wage would go up until we were back to equilibrium. The reason that we observe wages being low and no Americans willing to do them is because of the immigrants already here.

    Ack, at least get your econ 101 right.

    You can wave your hands at long term economic growth and waves of immigration but last I checked in economic development was still pretty loosely understood.

    If a huge number of people come to the US wages in general will go/stay down and a handful will turn out to be super-successful geniuses. Does the existence of Google here in the US raise the wage of the average blue collar worker? I doubt it.

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  74. Hugh says:

    “Those who come from countries that offer fewer opportunities than the U.S. are more willing to do the low-skilled jobs that America’s aging and increasingly wealthy citizens rely on, but are unwilling to do – essential services that cannot readily be mechanized or imported, such as caring for the young and old, and cleaning homes, offices, and hospitals”

    This argument proves that immigration keeps wages down. If US citizens weren’t willing to do a particular job at some wage, that wage would go up until we were back to equilibrium. The reason that we observe wages being low and no Americans willing to do them is because of the immigrants already here.

    Ack, at least get your econ 101 right.

    You can wave your hands at long term economic growth and waves of immigration but last I checked in economic development was still pretty loosely understood.

    If a huge number of people come to the US wages in general will go/stay down and a handful will turn out to be super-successful geniuses. Does the existence of Google here in the US raise the wage of the average blue collar worker? I doubt it.

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  75. MannyV says:

    One thing that the author ignores is the impact of immigration on the country from which the immigrant is coming. In the Philippines, local nursing care quality is declining because high-quality nurses emigrate to other countries.

    It’s not just a brain drain – ambitious, upwardly-mobile individuals emigrate to countries with more opportunity. These individuals, who would generally add to the dynamicism of a poorer country, instead contribute to the wealth of the wealthier country.

    An interesting twist on the immigration debate…

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  76. MannyV says:

    One thing that the author ignores is the impact of immigration on the country from which the immigrant is coming. In the Philippines, local nursing care quality is declining because high-quality nurses emigrate to other countries.

    It’s not just a brain drain – ambitious, upwardly-mobile individuals emigrate to countries with more opportunity. These individuals, who would generally add to the dynamicism of a poorer country, instead contribute to the wealth of the wealthier country.

    An interesting twist on the immigration debate…

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  77. Charles says:

    Great post, one of the best lately. I think most of the points raised could be valid, particularly if applied globally and not only to just a handful of countries. If all developed countries would open their borders, I can see most of Mr Legrain’s reasoning working in the long term.

    What he didn’t addressed is the possible shortage of talented people in developing countries if vast numbers of nurses, doctors and teachers leave their countries for a better life. What would be the impact on their countries’ health and education?

    From a theoretical point of view, his ideas are well reasoned but I can’t see working unless certain initial restrictions are put in place to avoid strain to local services in developed countries and damage to basic services in developing ones.

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  78. Charles says:

    Great post, one of the best lately. I think most of the points raised could be valid, particularly if applied globally and not only to just a handful of countries. If all developed countries would open their borders, I can see most of Mr Legrain’s reasoning working in the long term.

    What he didn’t addressed is the possible shortage of talented people in developing countries if vast numbers of nurses, doctors and teachers leave their countries for a better life. What would be the impact on their countries’ health and education?

    From a theoretical point of view, his ideas are well reasoned but I can’t see working unless certain initial restrictions are put in place to avoid strain to local services in developed countries and damage to basic services in developing ones.

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  79. htb says:

    I’d keep some of our existing rules.

    I’d keep the 7% rule, which says that we’re dedicated to having immigrants from all over the world, not just a couple of places. The 7% rule says that no more than 7% of the legal immigrants in a given year can come from a single country.

    I’d keep most of the welfare restrictions that are already in place for the first five or so years. A person who immigrates to the U.S. and can’t keep a job gets sent home, not given free food, free housing, and free health care. (My notion of a “right” to the necessities of life does not extend to a right to force other people to pay for what an adult needs.)

    I’d make some changes, too.

    I’d dump the family member preferences. Those were put in place half a century ago to make it easier for the Irish (and other European groups) to boost their political power and unite their families. Now it’s a massive unintended force to make sure that only *certain* Mexican families — ones that have been moving to the U.S. over the last half-century — have a chance at immigrating. I’d give everyone a fair chance, even if their great-grandfather didn’t have the foresight to move to the U.S.

    I’d make temporary worker visas abundant.

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  80. htb says:

    I’d keep some of our existing rules.

    I’d keep the 7% rule, which says that we’re dedicated to having immigrants from all over the world, not just a couple of places. The 7% rule says that no more than 7% of the legal immigrants in a given year can come from a single country.

    I’d keep most of the welfare restrictions that are already in place for the first five or so years. A person who immigrates to the U.S. and can’t keep a job gets sent home, not given free food, free housing, and free health care. (My notion of a “right” to the necessities of life does not extend to a right to force other people to pay for what an adult needs.)

    I’d make some changes, too.

    I’d dump the family member preferences. Those were put in place half a century ago to make it easier for the Irish (and other European groups) to boost their political power and unite their families. Now it’s a massive unintended force to make sure that only *certain* Mexican families — ones that have been moving to the U.S. over the last half-century — have a chance at immigrating. I’d give everyone a fair chance, even if their great-grandfather didn’t have the foresight to move to the U.S.

    I’d make temporary worker visas abundant.

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  81. Chris Johnson says:

    I have no opinion about the economics of the immigration debate, but I do “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I find it hard to believe that those rights should in any way be affected by the Rio Grande or any other arbitrary boundary.

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  82. Chris Johnson says:

    I have no opinion about the economics of the immigration debate, but I do “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I find it hard to believe that those rights should in any way be affected by the Rio Grande or any other arbitrary boundary.

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  83. htb2 says:

    #38, you’re exactly right. Not every country wants to see young people get up and leave after they’ve invested years of care and education in them.

    I wanted to add that the primary problem that I see with Legrain’s goal is the transition to get there. Sure, we could arrange things — over the next century — so that there were an infinite number of visas available (although we’d probably still exclude violent felons and expensively sick people).

    An immediate transition, however, would be painful. ‘Throwing open the floodgates’ would mean massive construction of homes, roads, sewers, schools, and hospitals. We wouldn’t have enough school teachers or physicians or water.

    A controlled increase, however, would be much more manageable. I suspect that we could admit 10% more legal immigrants this year than we did last year without significantly changing the balance. That could probably go on for quite a number of decades, until open immigration had essentially arrived in practice.

    (I do wonder some times whether we could tie deportation of illegal immingrants to increases in legal immigration. You know, every time you kick out one undocumented person, you allow in one extra legal person, so that the total number of immigrants remained constant, but the proportion of legal immigrants increased over time.)

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  84. htb2 says:

    #38, you’re exactly right. Not every country wants to see young people get up and leave after they’ve invested years of care and education in them.

    I wanted to add that the primary problem that I see with Legrain’s goal is the transition to get there. Sure, we could arrange things — over the next century — so that there were an infinite number of visas available (although we’d probably still exclude violent felons and expensively sick people).

    An immediate transition, however, would be painful. ‘Throwing open the floodgates’ would mean massive construction of homes, roads, sewers, schools, and hospitals. We wouldn’t have enough school teachers or physicians or water.

    A controlled increase, however, would be much more manageable. I suspect that we could admit 10% more legal immigrants this year than we did last year without significantly changing the balance. That could probably go on for quite a number of decades, until open immigration had essentially arrived in practice.

    (I do wonder some times whether we could tie deportation of illegal immingrants to increases in legal immigration. You know, every time you kick out one undocumented person, you allow in one extra legal person, so that the total number of immigrants remained constant, but the proportion of legal immigrants increased over time.)

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  85. DGSaunders says:

    Legrain never answered part of the first question: “Are there circumstances in which it isn’t good?” The sidestepping of important questions and relevant concerns significantly diminishes the strength of his arguments.

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  86. DGSaunders says:

    Legrain never answered part of the first question: “Are there circumstances in which it isn’t good?” The sidestepping of important questions and relevant concerns significantly diminishes the strength of his arguments.

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  87. JPWinnon says:

    I am most amused by hypocrisy of everyone in the U.S. that is against immigration; as, none of them are 100% Native Americans. If it were not for immigration, we, as a nation, would not be here. That is one reason we used to have a slogan, “the great melting pot” — the mix of immigrants this country has.

    Those that have spoken against the freedom of movement forget our nation’s history. How we had the federal land grants in areas to encourage people to move there, stake out land claims, work the land, and make it something more.

    I have been saying that the best way to fix this issue is: A small fee ($50?) to process immigrants from Mexico. Give them an ID card that would allow them to work, pay taxes, receive a background check, and not be citizens. If they want citizenship, they can apply for it. This allows them to come into the country to work, separates them from normal citizens, identifies them for border security purposes, and increases tax revenues in multiple ways (spend less on border patrol, receive money from processing, receive taxes from workers, etc).

    Instead of helping others and ourselves, we continue to feed this country’s fears. FDR said it best, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”! FDR was correct and demonstrated by the fear of immigration that people have.

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  88. JPWinnon says:

    I am most amused by hypocrisy of everyone in the U.S. that is against immigration; as, none of them are 100% Native Americans. If it were not for immigration, we, as a nation, would not be here. That is one reason we used to have a slogan, “the great melting pot” — the mix of immigrants this country has.

    Those that have spoken against the freedom of movement forget our nation’s history. How we had the federal land grants in areas to encourage people to move there, stake out land claims, work the land, and make it something more.

    I have been saying that the best way to fix this issue is: A small fee ($50?) to process immigrants from Mexico. Give them an ID card that would allow them to work, pay taxes, receive a background check, and not be citizens. If they want citizenship, they can apply for it. This allows them to come into the country to work, separates them from normal citizens, identifies them for border security purposes, and increases tax revenues in multiple ways (spend less on border patrol, receive money from processing, receive taxes from workers, etc).

    Instead of helping others and ourselves, we continue to feed this country’s fears. FDR said it best, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”! FDR was correct and demonstrated by the fear of immigration that people have.

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  89. Greg Gentschev says:

    Legrain’s analysis is an interesting and valuable one, but I agree with other posters that he mixes in way too much opinion.

    It also doesn’t make sense, in my opinion, to decide immigration policy primarily based on what benefit it has on developing countries. While I do want to pull people out of poverty, we can’t base public policy based on charitable considerations above our national interest.

    Having said that, I think many people take a knee-jerk approach to immigration, and I see that in a lot of these posts. More immigrants might mean some more wage competition, but the overall benefit heavily outweighs the cost. There clearly aren’t enough non-immigrants in the US to do unskilled jobs like construction and house cleaning. Also, a more competitive labor market facilitates economic growth, similar to the way many technological advances do, by increasing efficiency. To cite Adam Smith, no one makes needles by hand any more because we now have needle-making machines, and that’s a good thing even though some manual needle-makers were thrown out of work during the industrial revolution.

    On the individual level, some people probably would be hurt by greater immigration, but that’s what the social safety net is for. The real drivers of economic growth are our capacity for hard work, innovation, and global comparitive advantage, and I think immigration strengthens all of those.

    So, perhaps we shouldn’t just throw the borders open tomorrow, but what’s so hard to accept about a compromise immigration policy that over time allows many more skilled immigrants (do away with the H1 quota) and provides for guest workers who can earn a living, pay taxes, fill jobs that hardly any US citizens want, and not live in fear like current illegal immigrants often do? It would improve our competitiveness as a country, raise tax revenue most likely more than costs (per the NY Times article cited @25), and as icing on the cake, spur economic development in poor countries.

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  90. Greg Gentschev says:

    Legrain’s analysis is an interesting and valuable one, but I agree with other posters that he mixes in way too much opinion.

    It also doesn’t make sense, in my opinion, to decide immigration policy primarily based on what benefit it has on developing countries. While I do want to pull people out of poverty, we can’t base public policy based on charitable considerations above our national interest.

    Having said that, I think many people take a knee-jerk approach to immigration, and I see that in a lot of these posts. More immigrants might mean some more wage competition, but the overall benefit heavily outweighs the cost. There clearly aren’t enough non-immigrants in the US to do unskilled jobs like construction and house cleaning. Also, a more competitive labor market facilitates economic growth, similar to the way many technological advances do, by increasing efficiency. To cite Adam Smith, no one makes needles by hand any more because we now have needle-making machines, and that’s a good thing even though some manual needle-makers were thrown out of work during the industrial revolution.

    On the individual level, some people probably would be hurt by greater immigration, but that’s what the social safety net is for. The real drivers of economic growth are our capacity for hard work, innovation, and global comparitive advantage, and I think immigration strengthens all of those.

    So, perhaps we shouldn’t just throw the borders open tomorrow, but what’s so hard to accept about a compromise immigration policy that over time allows many more skilled immigrants (do away with the H1 quota) and provides for guest workers who can earn a living, pay taxes, fill jobs that hardly any US citizens want, and not live in fear like current illegal immigrants often do? It would improve our competitiveness as a country, raise tax revenue most likely more than costs (per the NY Times article cited @25), and as icing on the cake, spur economic development in poor countries.

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  91. Abhinav says:

    An excellent article. The point that resonates with me most is when nearly all countries agree to free movement of money and goods, why do governments oppose free movement of people so much. The ultimate goal of humanity has to be the formation of a global community, divisions of humans into political/religous/racial divisions has only brought us misery.

    Regarding htb2 comment #42 above :
    “An immediate transition, however, would be painful. ‘Throwing open the floodgates’ would mean massive construction of homes, roads, sewers, schools, and hospitals. We wouldn’t have enough school teachers or physicians or water.”
    Transition might be uncomfortable, but dont forget that many of these immigrants will themselves bring skills which the community will need. There would be immigrant schoolteachers, physicians, farmers, engineers, labour, etc. Regarding building schools and doctors, most of these immigrants would be more than willing to pay from their earnings for these, they might themselves be builders!

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  92. Abhinav says:

    An excellent article. The point that resonates with me most is when nearly all countries agree to free movement of money and goods, why do governments oppose free movement of people so much. The ultimate goal of humanity has to be the formation of a global community, divisions of humans into political/religous/racial divisions has only brought us misery.

    Regarding htb2 comment #42 above :
    “An immediate transition, however, would be painful. ‘Throwing open the floodgates’ would mean massive construction of homes, roads, sewers, schools, and hospitals. We wouldn’t have enough school teachers or physicians or water.”
    Transition might be uncomfortable, but dont forget that many of these immigrants will themselves bring skills which the community will need. There would be immigrant schoolteachers, physicians, farmers, engineers, labour, etc. Regarding building schools and doctors, most of these immigrants would be more than willing to pay from their earnings for these, they might themselves be builders!

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  93. Kurt S. says:

    I think this quote from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazaruson the Statue of Liberty says enough:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Would it be better to live in a country that tried to live up to an ideal like that or would it be more honest for us to remove the poem (and perhaps the statue as well) in order to better align our current ideals with our actions?

    A long time ago this country was founded on a set of ideals that, when re-read today, sound as beautiful and inspirational as they were when first written. It is a privilege to live in such a country. Fear is a poor excuse for selling out our ideals.

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  94. Kurt S. says:

    I think this quote from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazaruson the Statue of Liberty says enough:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Would it be better to live in a country that tried to live up to an ideal like that or would it be more honest for us to remove the poem (and perhaps the statue as well) in order to better align our current ideals with our actions?

    A long time ago this country was founded on a set of ideals that, when re-read today, sound as beautiful and inspirational as they were when first written. It is a privilege to live in such a country. Fear is a poor excuse for selling out our ideals.

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  95. Edward says:

    This guy is a total idiot. Free reign of people only means disaster.

    What if the culture you embrace against your will means that you die because you don’t believe in it. Well, such cultures exist. I guess anybody can kill whomever they wish because they have different views on things.

    There are criminals in the U.S. breaking laws. They murder, they sell drugs, they rape kids, and it’s because such behavior is accepted in their culture. Why would any reasonable person think this is a good thing?

    As I said before, the guy is an idiot.

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  96. Edward says:

    This guy is a total idiot. Free reign of people only means disaster.

    What if the culture you embrace against your will means that you die because you don’t believe in it. Well, such cultures exist. I guess anybody can kill whomever they wish because they have different views on things.

    There are criminals in the U.S. breaking laws. They murder, they sell drugs, they rape kids, and it’s because such behavior is accepted in their culture. Why would any reasonable person think this is a good thing?

    As I said before, the guy is an idiot.

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  97. Lord says:

    Open borders – Isn’t that what China gave Tibet? What the US gave Irag?

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  98. Lord says:

    Open borders – Isn’t that what China gave Tibet? What the US gave Irag?

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  99. Chris V says:

    JPWinnon (#44)

    The English settlers who originally moved to North America were COLONISTS, not immigrants. They moved from England in Europe to the England in America.

    Your argument that everyone in the US, other than Native Americans, is an immigrant is disingenuous at best.

    Those original English colonists never crossed an international boundary, never moved to a foreign country, and thus were not immigrants.

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  100. Chris V says:

    JPWinnon (#44)

    The English settlers who originally moved to North America were COLONISTS, not immigrants. They moved from England in Europe to the England in America.

    Your argument that everyone in the US, other than Native Americans, is an immigrant is disingenuous at best.

    Those original English colonists never crossed an international boundary, never moved to a foreign country, and thus were not immigrants.

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  101. Dave says:

    Chris V.(#52) First off Colonists had to move (emigrate/immigrate its just semantics) from one location to another…Were there international boundaries? Maybe not in the modern sense, but in the late 1600′s the reasons to move were much the same as we see today — freedome to improve ones life condition.
    Also those first colonists were just a drop in the bucket compared to the immigration waves that occured in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. I am willing to wager that a majority of the current citizens of this country can claim roots to these later, much larger, waves…
    In response to someone above who wanted more data…read Mr. Legrains book. You really cannot expect what appears to amount to a 5-10 minute interview to be fully substantiated with data.

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  102. Dave says:

    Chris V.(#52) First off Colonists had to move (emigrate/immigrate its just semantics) from one location to another…Were there international boundaries? Maybe not in the modern sense, but in the late 1600′s the reasons to move were much the same as we see today — freedome to improve ones life condition.
    Also those first colonists were just a drop in the bucket compared to the immigration waves that occured in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. I am willing to wager that a majority of the current citizens of this country can claim roots to these later, much larger, waves…
    In response to someone above who wanted more data…read Mr. Legrains book. You really cannot expect what appears to amount to a 5-10 minute interview to be fully substantiated with data.

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  103. Colin says:

    A very well written article. If such a policy shift were to occur, however, I’d like to see some logic used with it, namely incrementalisation of new immigration policies rather then a ‘shock therapy’ style ‘lets open the flood gates!’. The EU model for this is working very well. I’d like to see a North America style immigration citizenship. Unlikely, however.

    Colin
    http://www.pineapplewatch.com

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  104. Colin says:

    A very well written article. If such a policy shift were to occur, however, I’d like to see some logic used with it, namely incrementalisation of new immigration policies rather then a ‘shock therapy’ style ‘lets open the flood gates!’. The EU model for this is working very well. I’d like to see a North America style immigration citizenship. Unlikely, however.

    Colin
    http://www.pineapplewatch.com

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  105. spider says:

    Here’s what we do to check this guys theory…

    Let’s let into the country 200,000 economists from Mexico. Yeah, every economist here now will be out of a job, but, the cost of economic theory will plummet. There will be an economist on every corner and boneheads like this will be out of a job.

    Maybe this guy can sweep floors.

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  106. spider says:

    Here’s what we do to check this guys theory…

    Let’s let into the country 200,000 economists from Mexico. Yeah, every economist here now will be out of a job, but, the cost of economic theory will plummet. There will be an economist on every corner and boneheads like this will be out of a job.

    Maybe this guy can sweep floors.

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  107. barca57 says:

    I think from a Christine perspective, it is plainly unjust to refuse people the right of escaping from unjust places…

    We obviously live in a very selfish society.

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  108. barca57 says:

    I think from a Christine perspective, it is plainly unjust to refuse people the right of escaping from unjust places…

    We obviously live in a very selfish society.

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  109. RG1 says:

    The risk of unlimited or uncontrolled immigration is that of “Conquest by Propinquity”. In Kosovo the majority were ethnic serbians until a vast tide of moslem immigrants from Albania arrived and began having many more children than the “native serbians”.Lo and behold the majority of the nation is now Moslem. And the serbians are being ethnically cleansed from Kosovo. In 1947 there were 700,000 palestinians in the area that is now Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. There were 600,000 jewish refugees from the arab countries (more ethnic cleansing) as well as population of
    european jews and native jewish palestinians. Now the population of the palestinians exceeds that of the jews in israell despite the influx of more than a million eastern european jews to israel.
    In Montgomery county where I live the percentage of latino children in the public schools is more than twice the proportion of latinos in the county.

    Because the people in poor countries have many children the population of those countries is exploding. More than half of Moslems are less that 20 years old.

    There is a magic to geometric progression of population that will change all the the population to the descendants of the poorer countries.

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  110. RG1 says:

    The risk of unlimited or uncontrolled immigration is that of “Conquest by Propinquity”. In Kosovo the majority were ethnic serbians until a vast tide of moslem immigrants from Albania arrived and began having many more children than the “native serbians”.Lo and behold the majority of the nation is now Moslem. And the serbians are being ethnically cleansed from Kosovo. In 1947 there were 700,000 palestinians in the area that is now Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. There were 600,000 jewish refugees from the arab countries (more ethnic cleansing) as well as population of
    european jews and native jewish palestinians. Now the population of the palestinians exceeds that of the jews in israell despite the influx of more than a million eastern european jews to israel.
    In Montgomery county where I live the percentage of latino children in the public schools is more than twice the proportion of latinos in the county.

    Because the people in poor countries have many children the population of those countries is exploding. More than half of Moslems are less that 20 years old.

    There is a magic to geometric progression of population that will change all the the population to the descendants of the poorer countries.

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  111. Andy says:

    I personally think that the cheap labor that the illegal immigrants is good for the economy. Those illegal immigrants make the companies that they work for more profitable. So, while the government loses the income taxes from those immigrants they make it up in the added revenue these small companies bring in. Let’s not make this issue more complicated than it is.

    p.s.- Barca57 spelled Christian “Christine”

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  112. Andy says:

    I personally think that the cheap labor that the illegal immigrants is good for the economy. Those illegal immigrants make the companies that they work for more profitable. So, while the government loses the income taxes from those immigrants they make it up in the added revenue these small companies bring in. Let’s not make this issue more complicated than it is.

    p.s.- Barca57 spelled Christian “Christine”

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  113. AC says:

    Bless you Mr. Legrain for your intelligence, humanity and grace.
    People love to bash immigrants, thank you for your courage and eloquence.

    #25 Tejas Geek your post is spot on. Illegal immigrants pay taxes!! And not just in the ways that you cited–they pay sales taxes, property taxes too. Interesting how all the bashers love to take the immigrants money and the fruits of their hard labor then turn around and bash. Shame!

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  114. AC says:

    Bless you Mr. Legrain for your intelligence, humanity and grace.
    People love to bash immigrants, thank you for your courage and eloquence.

    #25 Tejas Geek your post is spot on. Illegal immigrants pay taxes!! And not just in the ways that you cited–they pay sales taxes, property taxes too. Interesting how all the bashers love to take the immigrants money and the fruits of their hard labor then turn around and bash. Shame!

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  115. naresh verma says:

    it is best policy far poland workers

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  116. naresh verma says:

    it is best policy far poland workers

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  117. Tom says:

    The problem, however, as Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution Thomas Sowell points out, is that people are not the same as commodities. Commodities are consumed, while people generate more people, who become a permanent and expanding part of the electorate. Despite the value of their cultural diversity, immigrants cost a great deal to the U.S. government. In 2004, the Center for Immigration Studies compared the amount of benefits illegal immigrants receive from government services with the amount of taxes they pay. The largest costs were Medicaid ($2.5 billion), treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion), food assistance programs ($1.9 billion), the federal prison and court systems ($1.6 billion), and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion). Altogether, illegal immigrants used $26.3 billion in government services, but only paid $16 billion in taxes. As the study indicates, the cost of running schools, hospitals, and prisons among other public institutions increases, as more illegal immigrants demand access to their services, particularly with language barriers occurring.

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  118. Tom says:

    The problem, however, as Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution Thomas Sowell points out, is that people are not the same as commodities. Commodities are consumed, while people generate more people, who become a permanent and expanding part of the electorate. Despite the value of their cultural diversity, immigrants cost a great deal to the U.S. government. In 2004, the Center for Immigration Studies compared the amount of benefits illegal immigrants receive from government services with the amount of taxes they pay. The largest costs were Medicaid ($2.5 billion), treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion), food assistance programs ($1.9 billion), the federal prison and court systems ($1.6 billion), and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion). Altogether, illegal immigrants used $26.3 billion in government services, but only paid $16 billion in taxes. As the study indicates, the cost of running schools, hospitals, and prisons among other public institutions increases, as more illegal immigrants demand access to their services, particularly with language barriers occurring.

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  119. misterb says:

    Very interesting article. I don’t necessarily agree with the author, but I certainly see some very ugly sentiments among the responses opposing him. Without question, there’s a whole lot of “I got mine, Jack”. I also appreciate that the author didn’t try to couch his obvious biases in statistical dressing; when I hear someone claim to be objective; I’m instantly convinced they are lying. However, I can’t see allowing open borders for immigrants unless the countries from whence they come allow open borders for investment and capitalization. In other words, if we allow anyone from Mexico to move here, then any US resident should be allow to buy land, own businesses and move to Mexico. Within a generation, we would expect Mexico to look like us (with salsa flavoring) rather than vice versa.

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  120. misterb says:

    Very interesting article. I don’t necessarily agree with the author, but I certainly see some very ugly sentiments among the responses opposing him. Without question, there’s a whole lot of “I got mine, Jack”. I also appreciate that the author didn’t try to couch his obvious biases in statistical dressing; when I hear someone claim to be objective; I’m instantly convinced they are lying. However, I can’t see allowing open borders for immigrants unless the countries from whence they come allow open borders for investment and capitalization. In other words, if we allow anyone from Mexico to move here, then any US resident should be allow to buy land, own businesses and move to Mexico. Within a generation, we would expect Mexico to look like us (with salsa flavoring) rather than vice versa.

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  121. Jean says:

    I also agree mostly with Mr. Legrain’s perspective. Open-source has done wonders to the software industry for the people. Facebook opening up to developers has benefited immensely. Yahoo followed suit to open up. China’s economy has done great to open up, which is how I’m working now in China earning an expat wage to send home to the U.S. Like my friends and I have discussed, immigrants and refugees have a fire behind their behinds. They may be some of the most motivated, hard-working, industrious and ambitious people on our planet. If only they could find a place to unleash their potential.

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  122. Jean says:

    I also agree mostly with Mr. Legrain’s perspective. Open-source has done wonders to the software industry for the people. Facebook opening up to developers has benefited immensely. Yahoo followed suit to open up. China’s economy has done great to open up, which is how I’m working now in China earning an expat wage to send home to the U.S. Like my friends and I have discussed, immigrants and refugees have a fire behind their behinds. They may be some of the most motivated, hard-working, industrious and ambitious people on our planet. If only they could find a place to unleash their potential.

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  123. David says:

    5.lergnom,
    “free movement has almost never been allowed in any culture in any time.”

    If we’re talking historically and globally, nor has equality for women or freedom of movement of money and goods – so these things are also not basic rights?

    6.Chance,
    “right back out of their pockets to pay bribes to corrupt bureacrats and police in order to survive.”

    I think you over-(melo)dramatise. A lot will go on housing, health and food before any low-level bribes are necessary…
    …much better than selling your planes to dictators I think you’d have to agree…

    “Why have a revolution (peaceful if possible) to overturn a non functioning government when you are busy traveling to the US, and working to feed your family?”

    Ah yes, the long and distinguished list of successful third-world revolutions that brought about democratic governments – how does it go again?

    10.Chris V

    “The author does not mention the effect of illegal immigrants on wages. Adding more workers always drives wages down.”

    So does competition with cheap imports manufactured by low-wage workers abroad. And they don’t pay US taxes. So you want to stop trade AS WELL AS immigration?

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  124. David says:

    5.lergnom,
    “free movement has almost never been allowed in any culture in any time.”

    If we’re talking historically and globally, nor has equality for women or freedom of movement of money and goods – so these things are also not basic rights?

    6.Chance,
    “right back out of their pockets to pay bribes to corrupt bureacrats and police in order to survive.”

    I think you over-(melo)dramatise. A lot will go on housing, health and food before any low-level bribes are necessary…
    …much better than selling your planes to dictators I think you’d have to agree…

    “Why have a revolution (peaceful if possible) to overturn a non functioning government when you are busy traveling to the US, and working to feed your family?”

    Ah yes, the long and distinguished list of successful third-world revolutions that brought about democratic governments – how does it go again?

    10.Chris V

    “The author does not mention the effect of illegal immigrants on wages. Adding more workers always drives wages down.”

    So does competition with cheap imports manufactured by low-wage workers abroad. And they don’t pay US taxes. So you want to stop trade AS WELL AS immigration?

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  125. v9has says:

    Not sure I agree with the nay-sayers on their comments. Free borders does not cause mass upheaval. The EU model is a prime example of that.

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  126. v9has says:

    Not sure I agree with the nay-sayers on their comments. Free borders does not cause mass upheaval. The EU model is a prime example of that.

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  127. luke says:

    a wall and tougher border controls won’t stop people from getting in, just as abstinence-only education doesn’t stop kids from having sex, and gun control doesn’t prevent murders. it might be nice if it did, but it doesn’t.

    guns, teenage sex, and poor immigrants are facts of life, and we need to deal with them rationally instead of pretending we can just wish them out of existence.

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  128. luke says:

    a wall and tougher border controls won’t stop people from getting in, just as abstinence-only education doesn’t stop kids from having sex, and gun control doesn’t prevent murders. it might be nice if it did, but it doesn’t.

    guns, teenage sex, and poor immigrants are facts of life, and we need to deal with them rationally instead of pretending we can just wish them out of existence.

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  129. Michael Nahas says:

    First, I’ve always been taught that if you are well off, you share with those that are less well off, and I think immigration is the best way to share. That said…

    Cultural issues are important. In the 1800′s, U.S. citizens imigrated to Mexico, then declared their land, Texas, as independant of Mexico, then ran for cover into the arms of the USA. It shows that cultural integration of an immigrant community is important. I doubt that California is going to revolt and join Baja California, but integrating immigrant communities is important.

    Luckily, for America, anyone can become an American. This is less true in other countries, as Britian tries to integrate Pakastanis who know that no Pakastani will ever become Queen. Worse, German is having trouble integrating residents who came from Turkey. Integration does take place in a America, but it often takes time, with the younger generation learning to speak English and better accomidate American customs.

    Another, less often mentioned part of immigration, is human capital. An educated person can produce more than an uneducated person. And often nations invest a large amount of money in education. America benefits by a huge amount when the smartest people of every country come to our universities to learn and then stay here to work. Letting a smart person into our country is free money.

    One indirect factor of immigration is that America has the best sales people in the world. You want to order something from a factory in China, Vietnam, India, etc.? You are sure to find a second generation immigrant who speaks the language and understands the culture. Not only does the US have low import/export duties but the cultural connections smooth the way for trade.

    To conclude, I think the US should have a very loose immigration policy but one that prevents being overrun by any particular demographic. We should focus on people who understand our culture (e.g., democracies, speaking English, watch hollywood movies?) and who have valuable education (e.g., nurses, engineers).

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  130. Michael Nahas says:

    First, I’ve always been taught that if you are well off, you share with those that are less well off, and I think immigration is the best way to share. That said…

    Cultural issues are important. In the 1800′s, U.S. citizens imigrated to Mexico, then declared their land, Texas, as independant of Mexico, then ran for cover into the arms of the USA. It shows that cultural integration of an immigrant community is important. I doubt that California is going to revolt and join Baja California, but integrating immigrant communities is important.

    Luckily, for America, anyone can become an American. This is less true in other countries, as Britian tries to integrate Pakastanis who know that no Pakastani will ever become Queen. Worse, German is having trouble integrating residents who came from Turkey. Integration does take place in a America, but it often takes time, with the younger generation learning to speak English and better accomidate American customs.

    Another, less often mentioned part of immigration, is human capital. An educated person can produce more than an uneducated person. And often nations invest a large amount of money in education. America benefits by a huge amount when the smartest people of every country come to our universities to learn and then stay here to work. Letting a smart person into our country is free money.

    One indirect factor of immigration is that America has the best sales people in the world. You want to order something from a factory in China, Vietnam, India, etc.? You are sure to find a second generation immigrant who speaks the language and understands the culture. Not only does the US have low import/export duties but the cultural connections smooth the way for trade.

    To conclude, I think the US should have a very loose immigration policy but one that prevents being overrun by any particular demographic. We should focus on people who understand our culture (e.g., democracies, speaking English, watch hollywood movies?) and who have valuable education (e.g., nurses, engineers).

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  131. John David Stanway says:

    Does anyone know if there are estimates of what the numbers of immigrants to a given country would be if all restrictions were dropped?

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  132. John David Stanway says:

    Does anyone know if there are estimates of what the numbers of immigrants to a given country would be if all restrictions were dropped?

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  133. Toady says:

    barca57;

    I think also, from a Christian perspective, it’s unjust to force others to provide them with services, via taxes or other means.

    Mexicans are economic refugees, not political.

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  134. Toady says:

    barca57;

    I think also, from a Christian perspective, it’s unjust to force others to provide them with services, via taxes or other means.

    Mexicans are economic refugees, not political.

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  135. Chance says:

    @ #64 “I think you over-(melo)dramatise.”
    Perhaps I do, but I’ve been to a third world country or two, and know many others who’ve lived and worked overseas, and so can only go by what I have observed and heard from trusted sources. Corruption is so rampant in many countries that it almost defies belief. While not every country poor will have this problem, I think it can be demonstrated that a large number of immigrant exporting countries do.

    “Ah yes, the long and distinguished list of successful third-world revolutions that brought about democratic governments – how does it go again?”

    Let’s see, you have the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution, the Rose revolution, not to mention the general move from socialism to capitalism in much of Central America. I don’t claim they have been pure sucesses or are directly applicable to other countries, but they do provide examples of fairly peaceful transitions in recent years.

    I can’t help but wonder, what if Nelson Mandela or Lech Walesa or similiar notables through history had just left their countries to work in a richer country. I just don’t see how exporting poor gives corrupt regimes any incentive to change.

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  136. Chance says:

    @ #64 “I think you over-(melo)dramatise.”
    Perhaps I do, but I’ve been to a third world country or two, and know many others who’ve lived and worked overseas, and so can only go by what I have observed and heard from trusted sources. Corruption is so rampant in many countries that it almost defies belief. While not every country poor will have this problem, I think it can be demonstrated that a large number of immigrant exporting countries do.

    “Ah yes, the long and distinguished list of successful third-world revolutions that brought about democratic governments – how does it go again?”

    Let’s see, you have the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution, the Rose revolution, not to mention the general move from socialism to capitalism in much of Central America. I don’t claim they have been pure sucesses or are directly applicable to other countries, but they do provide examples of fairly peaceful transitions in recent years.

    I can’t help but wonder, what if Nelson Mandela or Lech WaÅ‚Ä™sa or similiar notables through history had just left their countries to work in a richer country. I just don’t see how exporting poor gives corrupt regimes any incentive to change.

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  137. mwm1331 says:

    While Mr legrain makes some valid points, I agree that he gives little attention to the counter arguments. I personally feel that the US can absorb a far larger amount of immigration than it currently does, however we must recognise some of the counter arguments.

    First of all, comparisons with the immigrant wave of the 1800-1900′s is largely inappropiate. The bulk of those immigrants came from europe, by sea, and as such, all came in through the same few ports. Whereas today we face a wave of imigration which enters through a large and porous border. As a result, rather than being able to identify, process, and keep track of immigration as we were able to at Ellis Island, we are unable to even accurately quantify this wave. One of the reason I believe we do need to invest in better border security is not to stop immigration, but to funnel it to specific areas where we can do the same.

    Second is the issue of culture. The lack of development in south and central america, is primarily due to cultural differences. To put it bluntly, latin immigrants come from countries whose culture hasn’t yet advanced to the point where they are capable of developing or sustaining the kind of politcal/social/economic structure that the US has. There is a reason that so many south american “democracies” elect dictators like chavez, who use thier “democratically” granted power to become tyrants, usually with the support of most of the people. This is not limited to south america nor latino’s, but is in fact indemic to all third world countries.

    The cultural issue can be overcome, and most immigrants do end up assimilating into our culture in order to succeed. The problem arises when so many immigrants cluster in the same place that they are able to survive without shedding thier culture and assimilating into ours. Theres a reason that the absolute poorest hispanic majority areas in the US are indistuinghible from mexico and the richest hispanic majority areas are indistinuishible from any other middle class or upper class neighborhood. At the very least, we need to ensure that we dont allow so many immigrants in from the same place that it allows them to retain their bad habits.

    As the EU clearly shows, when masses of immigrants from a primitive culture immigrate into the same areas, it has the effect of creating a mini-me type clone of that country in that area, with all of the problems the nation itself has. Theres a reason the residents of Paris’ banliues respond to things in the same exact way that the “arab street” does. For all intents and purposes, the banliues are an arab country within france.

    We can also see this just as clearly here in the states. Look at all the problems minneapolis has been having with muslims, this isn’t becasue muslims are inherantly bad, but because muslim culture has not yet made the advancements western culture has. As a result, when enough muslims group together to retain significant aspects of their own culture, they simply reproduce the problems faced by muslim countries on a smaller scale. Rapid assimilation of foreigners is the best for both sides of immigration, but unless the numbers are limited enough that the immigrants are forced to assimilate quickly, most will not. Given a choice, everyone prefers to retain their own culture, which is ironic given that it was that culture which created the very conditions the immigrant was fleeing in the first place.

    I was also quite surprised to see a economist use the phrase “jobs americans wont do”, as anyone who watches “Dirty Jobs” can plainly see, theres no such thing as a job americans “wont” do, merely jobs they aren’t willing to do at the offered pay. If picking oranges paid 100K per year, americans would do the job. This would undoubtably cause an increase in prices, at least in the effected industries, of course, but thats not the point.

    I would also point out that a true “open border” policy with mexico would be discriminatory, by proxy at least. Given that mexico’s immigration laws are draconian, and that they allow far less immigrants in than even we do, any policy which allowed for unfetered travel between the US and Mexico, would unfairly reward mexicans at the expense of everyone from a country south of mexico.

    Finally the idea of “guest workers” is one I am unsure of either way. WHile at first glance it does seem to make some sense, I have to admit the argument that it would create a permanent second class citizen status is also compelling. Personally I think a far better solution would be to simply increase the number of visa by a substansial factor, and enforce existing immigration laws, while plugginf the holes in our border so that it becomes easier to apply legally than it is to cross illegally. This would have to include both security at the border, as well as laws designed to “win via attrition” here at home. It should be impossible to get a Driver, license, bank account, phone service etc, unless you can prove you are here legally. BY making life as hard as posible on those here illegally, while making it easier and quicker to immigrate legally, and tightening up security at the border, we should be able to convert our illegal population into a legal immigrant population within a few years.

    However in order to overcome the culture issue I mentioned earlier, we will also need to pass laws designed to force immigrants to assimilate faster. Cheif among these would be making english the official language of the US, and requiring all offical fuctions be conducted only in english. If we lost the translators in our courts, capitol’s etc, then immigrants would be more likely to learn english quickly. Since learning english is the first prerquisite to assimilating into american culture, we need to ensure every immigrant does within a given period of time. I would reccomend testing immigrants on their english language skills once a year, with mandatory progress goals that must be met, under the penalty of deportation.

    In short, we have a responsibility, to ourselves, our nation, and immigrants, to ensure they assimilate as quickly as possible, and so long as we take steps to do so while properly managing immigration I see no reason why we could not allow far more people into this country.

    Oh and one last things, to post number 44. Yes I am 100% native american. i was born here in america. My parents were born here in America. My grandparents were born here, in America. I am not a member of any of the nations associated with the term “native american” (navaho, hopi etc.) yet I am a native of america. Yes The US is a nation of immigrants, but their descendents are natives. This is as much my country, my land, my home, as it is any Apache’s or Seminole’s.

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  138. mwm1331 says:

    While Mr legrain makes some valid points, I agree that he gives little attention to the counter arguments. I personally feel that the US can absorb a far larger amount of immigration than it currently does, however we must recognise some of the counter arguments.

    First of all, comparisons with the immigrant wave of the 1800-1900′s is largely inappropiate. The bulk of those immigrants came from europe, by sea, and as such, all came in through the same few ports. Whereas today we face a wave of imigration which enters through a large and porous border. As a result, rather than being able to identify, process, and keep track of immigration as we were able to at Ellis Island, we are unable to even accurately quantify this wave. One of the reason I believe we do need to invest in better border security is not to stop immigration, but to funnel it to specific areas where we can do the same.

    Second is the issue of culture. The lack of development in south and central america, is primarily due to cultural differences. To put it bluntly, latin immigrants come from countries whose culture hasn’t yet advanced to the point where they are capable of developing or sustaining the kind of politcal/social/economic structure that the US has. There is a reason that so many south american “democracies” elect dictators like chavez, who use thier “democratically” granted power to become tyrants, usually with the support of most of the people. This is not limited to south america nor latino’s, but is in fact indemic to all third world countries.

    The cultural issue can be overcome, and most immigrants do end up assimilating into our culture in order to succeed. The problem arises when so many immigrants cluster in the same place that they are able to survive without shedding thier culture and assimilating into ours. Theres a reason that the absolute poorest hispanic majority areas in the US are indistuinghible from mexico and the richest hispanic majority areas are indistinuishible from any other middle class or upper class neighborhood. At the very least, we need to ensure that we dont allow so many immigrants in from the same place that it allows them to retain their bad habits.

    As the EU clearly shows, when masses of immigrants from a primitive culture immigrate into the same areas, it has the effect of creating a mini-me type clone of that country in that area, with all of the problems the nation itself has. Theres a reason the residents of Paris’ banliues respond to things in the same exact way that the “arab street” does. For all intents and purposes, the banliues are an arab country within france.

    We can also see this just as clearly here in the states. Look at all the problems minneapolis has been having with muslims, this isn’t becasue muslims are inherantly bad, but because muslim culture has not yet made the advancements western culture has. As a result, when enough muslims group together to retain significant aspects of their own culture, they simply reproduce the problems faced by muslim countries on a smaller scale. Rapid assimilation of foreigners is the best for both sides of immigration, but unless the numbers are limited enough that the immigrants are forced to assimilate quickly, most will not. Given a choice, everyone prefers to retain their own culture, which is ironic given that it was that culture which created the very conditions the immigrant was fleeing in the first place.

    I was also quite surprised to see a economist use the phrase “jobs americans wont do”, as anyone who watches “Dirty Jobs” can plainly see, theres no such thing as a job americans “wont” do, merely jobs they aren’t willing to do at the offered pay. If picking oranges paid 100K per year, americans would do the job. This would undoubtably cause an increase in prices, at least in the effected industries, of course, but thats not the point.

    I would also point out that a true “open border” policy with mexico would be discriminatory, by proxy at least. Given that mexico’s immigration laws are draconian, and that they allow far less immigrants in than even we do, any policy which allowed for unfetered travel between the US and Mexico, would unfairly reward mexicans at the expense of everyone from a country south of mexico.

    Finally the idea of “guest workers” is one I am unsure of either way. WHile at first glance it does seem to make some sense, I have to admit the argument that it would create a permanent second class citizen status is also compelling. Personally I think a far better solution would be to simply increase the number of visa by a substansial factor, and enforce existing immigration laws, while plugginf the holes in our border so that it becomes easier to apply legally than it is to cross illegally. This would have to include both security at the border, as well as laws designed to “win via attrition” here at home. It should be impossible to get a Driver, license, bank account, phone service etc, unless you can prove you are here legally. BY making life as hard as posible on those here illegally, while making it easier and quicker to immigrate legally, and tightening up security at the border, we should be able to convert our illegal population into a legal immigrant population within a few years.

    However in order to overcome the culture issue I mentioned earlier, we will also need to pass laws designed to force immigrants to assimilate faster. Cheif among these would be making english the official language of the US, and requiring all offical fuctions be conducted only in english. If we lost the translators in our courts, capitol’s etc, then immigrants would be more likely to learn english quickly. Since learning english is the first prerquisite to assimilating into american culture, we need to ensure every immigrant does within a given period of time. I would reccomend testing immigrants on their english language skills once a year, with mandatory progress goals that must be met, under the penalty of deportation.

    In short, we have a responsibility, to ourselves, our nation, and immigrants, to ensure they assimilate as quickly as possible, and so long as we take steps to do so while properly managing immigration I see no reason why we could not allow far more people into this country.

    Oh and one last things, to post number 44. Yes I am 100% native american. i was born here in america. My parents were born here in America. My grandparents were born here, in America. I am not a member of any of the nations associated with the term “native american” (navaho, hopi etc.) yet I am a native of america. Yes The US is a nation of immigrants, but their descendents are natives. This is as much my country, my land, my home, as it is any Apache’s or Seminole’s.

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  139. Charles says:

    Opponents of immigration tend to view it as a net negative. If that were true, then richer states would be better off restricting newcomers from poorer states. While we’re at it, richer counties should disallow people moving in from poorer counties. America would be better off if state and local borders were walled!

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  140. Charles says:

    Opponents of immigration tend to view it as a net negative. If that were true, then richer states would be better off restricting newcomers from poorer states. While we’re at it, richer counties should disallow people moving in from poorer counties. America would be better off if state and local borders were walled!

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  141. Dan says:

    I’m surprised that readers of an enlightened blog would have such narrow-minded opinions when it comes to immigration (because I have yet to see anyone post something factual refuting LeGrain’s claims).

    Perhaps he editorializes some comments, such as the addition of culture, but that is also not his field of expertise so demanding that he back up the statement with facts is unfair (particularly when you have none of your own).

    His statement about shifting the burden of proof is exemplified by the comments on this article – no one has disproved his statements about the economic benefits of *legal* immigration – they’ve just opposed it with anecdotal statements (at best).

    The idea that we receive ‘fair and balanced’ immigration from all over the world is ludicrous. Proximity largely dictates immigration (Irish to the UK, Eastern Europeans to Western Europe, Mexicans to the U.S.) – if we try to restrict the Mexican percentage of our immigrant population that just means we’ll have greater number of illegal Mexican immigrants. The reality is that because Mexico is our neighbor, we will receive the most immigrants from their country.

    As for the arguments that these third-world citizens pull themselves up by their bootstraps, overthrow their corrupt governments, etc. are ridiculous – reform cannot occur without the political and financial backing that immigrants can provide. They might help contribute to the problem by funding corruption and bribes, but they’re also one of the only solutions.

    And to #71 (mwm1331) – You totally miss the point. Sure, your entire family tree (as far back as you’re willing to go – which says something about your personality) was born in the United States (not America, as America refers to North, Central, and South America) – yet their ANCESTRY is not Native American. For almost the entire U.S. population this is the case. Ergo, to suggest that those of us who have benefitted from historical immigration (this includes recent immigrants such as you, coolrepublica) DENY that benefit to others

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  142. Dan says:

    I’m surprised that readers of an enlightened blog would have such narrow-minded opinions when it comes to immigration (because I have yet to see anyone post something factual refuting LeGrain’s claims).

    Perhaps he editorializes some comments, such as the addition of culture, but that is also not his field of expertise so demanding that he back up the statement with facts is unfair (particularly when you have none of your own).

    His statement about shifting the burden of proof is exemplified by the comments on this article – no one has disproved his statements about the economic benefits of *legal* immigration – they’ve just opposed it with anecdotal statements (at best).

    The idea that we receive ‘fair and balanced’ immigration from all over the world is ludicrous. Proximity largely dictates immigration (Irish to the UK, Eastern Europeans to Western Europe, Mexicans to the U.S.) – if we try to restrict the Mexican percentage of our immigrant population that just means we’ll have greater number of illegal Mexican immigrants. The reality is that because Mexico is our neighbor, we will receive the most immigrants from their country.

    As for the arguments that these third-world citizens pull themselves up by their bootstraps, overthrow their corrupt governments, etc. are ridiculous – reform cannot occur without the political and financial backing that immigrants can provide. They might help contribute to the problem by funding corruption and bribes, but they’re also one of the only solutions.

    And to #71 (mwm1331) – You totally miss the point. Sure, your entire family tree (as far back as you’re willing to go – which says something about your personality) was born in the United States (not America, as America refers to North, Central, and South America) – yet their ANCESTRY is not Native American. For almost the entire U.S. population this is the case. Ergo, to suggest that those of us who have benefitted from historical immigration (this includes recent immigrants such as you, coolrepublica) DENY that benefit to others

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  143. J says:

    Illegal immigration is an economy killer

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  144. J says:

    Illegal immigration is an economy killer

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  145. mfw13 says:

    I find it interesting that Mr. LeGrain considers the issue only from an economic perspective and not from a social perspective.

    Open immigration inherently conflicts with the idea of private property rights. The fact that I own property (much as the United States government “owns” its territory) gives me the right to decide who may and may not enter my property. If you say that anyone who wants to can enter my property (which is what an open immigration would entail), then you are essentially taking away my ability to control something I own.

    So unless you are willing to take away the right of a person or country to control who enters their property (thereby ending the current system of private property ownership), open immigration is conceptually flawed.

    I think everyone would agree that while more immigration may be deisrable, there are quite a few valid reasons why somebody might want to keep somebody else from entering their property.

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  146. mfw13 says:

    I find it interesting that Mr. LeGrain considers the issue only from an economic perspective and not from a social perspective.

    Open immigration inherently conflicts with the idea of private property rights. The fact that I own property (much as the United States government “owns” its territory) gives me the right to decide who may and may not enter my property. If you say that anyone who wants to can enter my property (which is what an open immigration would entail), then you are essentially taking away my ability to control something I own.

    So unless you are willing to take away the right of a person or country to control who enters their property (thereby ending the current system of private property ownership), open immigration is conceptually flawed.

    I think everyone would agree that while more immigration may be deisrable, there are quite a few valid reasons why somebody might want to keep somebody else from entering their property.

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  147. well traveled says:

    Just a couple or thoughts:

    1. EU immigration has produced less immigration than feared for several reasons a)language barriers; b)cultural barriers that mean that just speaking French doesn’t make one French and c)even the poorer countries have better services than the LDP’s.

    2. I agree that colonization is not the same as immigration. But it provides lessons and warnings. Texas is much like English colonies. Move in in large numbers and appeal to the mother land for protection. We don’t have a conterfactual example for Native Americans as found in 1492, however, I would argue that Texas is better off on all economic indicators than similar people on similar land across the border. I have spoken to people in former colonial/now LDP countries on 3 continents. They all have complaints about colonialism as well as current government. I have not been able to ask people still living an indiginous lifestyle what they think – but statistics seem to show continued migration to the cities so they may be voting with their feet.

    3. LDP’s have some of the strictest immigration policies of all. They have no problem profiling to hassle the foreigners and imprison those who don’t have all the documents they need. If we allow free entry of people, will their home countries allow exit? Will Americans be allowed to retire to a beach in a poor country to live on their retirement without expensive hassles?

    4. I think the good news is most people like America the way it is and don’t want it to change.

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  148. well traveled says:

    Just a couple or thoughts:

    1. EU immigration has produced less immigration than feared for several reasons a)language barriers; b)cultural barriers that mean that just speaking French doesn’t make one French and c)even the poorer countries have better services than the LDP’s.

    2. I agree that colonization is not the same as immigration. But it provides lessons and warnings. Texas is much like English colonies. Move in in large numbers and appeal to the mother land for protection. We don’t have a conterfactual example for Native Americans as found in 1492, however, I would argue that Texas is better off on all economic indicators than similar people on similar land across the border. I have spoken to people in former colonial/now LDP countries on 3 continents. They all have complaints about colonialism as well as current government. I have not been able to ask people still living an indiginous lifestyle what they think – but statistics seem to show continued migration to the cities so they may be voting with their feet.

    3. LDP’s have some of the strictest immigration policies of all. They have no problem profiling to hassle the foreigners and imprison those who don’t have all the documents they need. If we allow free entry of people, will their home countries allow exit? Will Americans be allowed to retire to a beach in a poor country to live on their retirement without expensive hassles?

    4. I think the good news is most people like America the way it is and don’t want it to change.

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  149. Gary G says:

    It’s a pity commenters on both sides feel the need to label their opponents as “narrow-minded” (for those against open borders) or “Marxist” (for those in favour). Open-minded people can have differing opinions on an issue that can’t honestly be called “settled” at this point, I should think.

    Dan, I asked that the interviewee either refrain from making comments on the cultural benefits, or support those comments. I have no need to support my claim that there “may or may not” be benefits, because it’s not a positive assertion.

    As has been addressed, Mr. Legrain avoided the “Are there any circumstances in which it isn’t good?” question – one might infer his answer to be “no”, from what he did say in response. Any anecdotal evidence showing a circumstance where immigration is harmful to the receiving country is a valid counter-argument to that position.

    I don’t see the ‘anti-open-borders’ crowd as arguing for a zero-immigration policy – so to claim that this is nothing but “I’ve got mine, so nyah” is unfair. The argument is between open borders and some restriction of immigration. Of course we’re all* immigrants, if you look far enough back. That doesn’t mean we must argue for unrestricted immigration – it doesn’t even mean we can’t argue for building a wall and stopping immigration from now on, if someone wants to take that position. At one time, people chose to have a certain immigration policy because they felt it was in their best interests. If now people change their mind one way or another, they’re not bound by the policy decisions of their ancestors! (Certainly, the open-borders-proponents don’t wish to be so restricted!)

    (* all, except certain Africans)

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  150. Gary G says:

    It’s a pity commenters on both sides feel the need to label their opponents as “narrow-minded” (for those against open borders) or “Marxist” (for those in favour). Open-minded people can have differing opinions on an issue that can’t honestly be called “settled” at this point, I should think.

    Dan, I asked that the interviewee either refrain from making comments on the cultural benefits, or support those comments. I have no need to support my claim that there “may or may not” be benefits, because it’s not a positive assertion.

    As has been addressed, Mr. Legrain avoided the “Are there any circumstances in which it isn’t good?” question – one might infer his answer to be “no”, from what he did say in response. Any anecdotal evidence showing a circumstance where immigration is harmful to the receiving country is a valid counter-argument to that position.

    I don’t see the ‘anti-open-borders’ crowd as arguing for a zero-immigration policy – so to claim that this is nothing but “I’ve got mine, so nyah” is unfair. The argument is between open borders and some restriction of immigration. Of course we’re all* immigrants, if you look far enough back. That doesn’t mean we must argue for unrestricted immigration – it doesn’t even mean we can’t argue for building a wall and stopping immigration from now on, if someone wants to take that position. At one time, people chose to have a certain immigration policy because they felt it was in their best interests. If now people change their mind one way or another, they’re not bound by the policy decisions of their ancestors! (Certainly, the open-borders-proponents don’t wish to be so restricted!)

    (* all, except certain Africans)

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  151. Neppy says:

    Interesting that an economist would emote thusly: “It is abhorrent that the rich and the educated are allowed to circulate around the world more or less freely, while the poor are not.”

    Last time I checked, the rich can do all sorts of things (like dine at the Ritz) that the poor cannot do. Generally, only Marxists or other radical egalitarians find that “abhorrent.”

    The fact is that movement itself (travel from place to place) is a costly endeavor, and so, like just about everything else, the rich can afford much more of it than the poor.

    Of course, I’m not the first person here to note that Legrain has mixed emotional appeals in with his mostly sensible statements and recommendations.

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  152. Neppy says:

    Interesting that an economist would emote thusly: “It is abhorrent that the rich and the educated are allowed to circulate around the world more or less freely, while the poor are not.”

    Last time I checked, the rich can do all sorts of things (like dine at the Ritz) that the poor cannot do. Generally, only Marxists or other radical egalitarians find that “abhorrent.”

    The fact is that movement itself (travel from place to place) is a costly endeavor, and so, like just about everything else, the rich can afford much more of it than the poor.

    Of course, I’m not the first person here to note that Legrain has mixed emotional appeals in with his mostly sensible statements and recommendations.

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  153. mwm131 says:

    And to #71 (mwm1331) – You totally miss the point. Sure, your entire family tree (as far back as you’re willing to go – which says something about your personality) was born in the United States (not America, as America refers to North, Central, and South America) – yet their ANCESTRY is not Native American. For almost the entire U.S. population this is the case. Ergo, to suggest that those of us who have benefitted from historical immigration (this includes recent immigrants such as you, coolrepublica) DENY that benefit to others

    ==================================================

    Neither is the ancestry of so called “native americans” Going by their ancestry, they are actually russian. Further back, their european, further back they, like all of us, are african.
    So what?
    I went back two generations only because I didnt see the point of going back further. Regardless of where my pgrandparents, or even parents were born. I am a native American. This is my country, I was born here.
    To be frank, I’m rather sick of people playing the “we’re all immigrants” card. Its sophistry. No we are not. Many of us are the descendents of immigrants, but except for those born in and living in africa, everyone everywhere is an “immigrant” by that standard.

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  154. mwm131 says:

    And to #71 (mwm1331) – You totally miss the point. Sure, your entire family tree (as far back as you’re willing to go – which says something about your personality) was born in the United States (not America, as America refers to North, Central, and South America) – yet their ANCESTRY is not Native American. For almost the entire U.S. population this is the case. Ergo, to suggest that those of us who have benefitted from historical immigration (this includes recent immigrants such as you, coolrepublica) DENY that benefit to others

    ==================================================

    Neither is the ancestry of so called “native americans” Going by their ancestry, they are actually russian. Further back, their european, further back they, like all of us, are african.
    So what?
    I went back two generations only because I didnt see the point of going back further. Regardless of where my pgrandparents, or even parents were born. I am a native American. This is my country, I was born here.
    To be frank, I’m rather sick of people playing the “we’re all immigrants” card. Its sophistry. No we are not. Many of us are the descendents of immigrants, but except for those born in and living in africa, everyone everywhere is an “immigrant” by that standard.

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  155. Chris says:

    Bollocks on stilts.

    First, of course, let’s see all these other nations open their borders to us. No one but a nut believes in unilateral disarmament.

    The problem with Legrain’s argument is that it takes a narrow, one-dimensional view of humanity – we are Home economicus, and nothing more. Nothing else matters: not democracy, not culture, not family. Just maximizing economic output.

    He also ignores property rights. Every economist understands that a person has no incentive to exert effort unless he’s able to keep the rewards of his labor. That’s import nationally, too. As a citizen and a taxpayer I pay for good schools, good roads, public parks, and the rest because I believe that they will benefit me and my posterity. I served in the National Guard for 8 years because I believed I was defending MY country for MY family.

    But what incentive have I to do so if the rewards go to any random individual who chooses to come here? The fact is that America is property. It is property earned, fought for, died for, and improved by Americans because they believed it was theirs. It is property – for the average American the most valuable thing he will ever own. It is property that has been nationalized. If you then turn over that property to everyone in the world then that is nothing more than outright theft.

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  156. Chris says:

    Bollocks on stilts.

    First, of course, let’s see all these other nations open their borders to us. No one but a nut believes in unilateral disarmament.

    The problem with Legrain’s argument is that it takes a narrow, one-dimensional view of humanity – we are Home economicus, and nothing more. Nothing else matters: not democracy, not culture, not family. Just maximizing economic output.

    He also ignores property rights. Every economist understands that a person has no incentive to exert effort unless he’s able to keep the rewards of his labor. That’s import nationally, too. As a citizen and a taxpayer I pay for good schools, good roads, public parks, and the rest because I believe that they will benefit me and my posterity. I served in the National Guard for 8 years because I believed I was defending MY country for MY family.

    But what incentive have I to do so if the rewards go to any random individual who chooses to come here? The fact is that America is property. It is property earned, fought for, died for, and improved by Americans because they believed it was theirs. It is property – for the average American the most valuable thing he will ever own. It is property that has been nationalized. If you then turn over that property to everyone in the world then that is nothing more than outright theft.

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  157. Michael St. Paul says:

    I believe Mr. Legrain does a disservice to himself and his cause by calling for completely open borders. Better to move there in baby steps so that the advantages and consequences can be better studied and optimized.

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  158. Michael St. Paul says:

    I believe Mr. Legrain does a disservice to himself and his cause by calling for completely open borders. Better to move there in baby steps so that the advantages and consequences can be better studied and optimized.

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  159. chuck says:

    One of the contemporary ironies of American Politics is the conservative white middle-class fear and aversion to increased immigration and the coalition of blacks and recent immigrants who support increased immigration. Economic studies conducted by David Card, Giovanni Peri, George Borjas and other reveal a consensus that immigration, both legal and illegal, creates a net benefit to the US economy in output. Furthermore, wealthy and highly-educated Americans (many who are Republicans) benefit the most from immigration in terms of wage increases and decreases in the costs of goods and services. In contrast, immigration tends to decrease the wages of low-skill Americans, who are disproportionately previous immigrations and or black. Thus, white America fears immigration even through it is unlikely to threaten middle-class jobs and black and immigrant America’s supports even through it may negatively impact their economic situation.

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  160. chuck says:

    One of the contemporary ironies of American Politics is the conservative white middle-class fear and aversion to increased immigration and the coalition of blacks and recent immigrants who support increased immigration. Economic studies conducted by David Card, Giovanni Peri, George Borjas and other reveal a consensus that immigration, both legal and illegal, creates a net benefit to the US economy in output. Furthermore, wealthy and highly-educated Americans (many who are Republicans) benefit the most from immigration in terms of wage increases and decreases in the costs of goods and services. In contrast, immigration tends to decrease the wages of low-skill Americans, who are disproportionately previous immigrations and or black. Thus, white America fears immigration even through it is unlikely to threaten middle-class jobs and black and immigrant America’s supports even through it may negatively impact their economic situation.

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  161. Enrique says:

    Brillant!
    Legrain goes to the heart of the matter when he mentions that migration permits society to give better uses to resources to generate greater wealth: the example about how a migrant nanny allows the mother to go back to her job is perfect and very revealing.

    The problem I think is that although Legrain’s logic is impecable and evidence supports his conclusions, they are counterintuitive. Just as with trade, where comparative advantage is a beautiful but misunderstood and counterintuitive idea, the fact that migration creates more jobs, wealth and higher wages is difficult to grasp at first because intuition suggests otherwise.

    Of course, people who are willing to put their beliefs aside and embrace the evidence and rigorous method of economics will find that Mr. Legrain is hard to refute. And when arguments can’t be found, name-calling and blaming migrants for everything comes into play…
    http://orbitasinternacionales.blogspot.com

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  162. Enrique says:

    Brillant!
    Legrain goes to the heart of the matter when he mentions that migration permits society to give better uses to resources to generate greater wealth: the example about how a migrant nanny allows the mother to go back to her job is perfect and very revealing.

    The problem I think is that although Legrain’s logic is impecable and evidence supports his conclusions, they are counterintuitive. Just as with trade, where comparative advantage is a beautiful but misunderstood and counterintuitive idea, the fact that migration creates more jobs, wealth and higher wages is difficult to grasp at first because intuition suggests otherwise.

    Of course, people who are willing to put their beliefs aside and embrace the evidence and rigorous method of economics will find that Mr. Legrain is hard to refute. And when arguments can’t be found, name-calling and blaming migrants for everything comes into play…
    http://orbitasinternacionales.blogspot.com

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  163. MG says:

    Legrain makes a compelling argument for open borders but I could do without his personal opinions being presented under the guise of impartial reasoning. Legrain also fails to address a couple of issues with illegal immigration including dealing with law enforcement issues (which is a real problem in some communities) and infrastructure capacity limits (which Legrain conveniently overlooks and is potentially the most different area to address in regards to illegal and legal immigration).

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  164. MG says:

    Legrain makes a compelling argument for open borders but I could do without his personal opinions being presented under the guise of impartial reasoning. Legrain also fails to address a couple of issues with illegal immigration including dealing with law enforcement issues (which is a real problem in some communities) and infrastructure capacity limits (which Legrain conveniently overlooks and is potentially the most different area to address in regards to illegal and legal immigration).

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  165. RDK says:

    An antidote to some of Legrain’s idealistic delusions:

    Peter Brimelow On Philippe Legrain’s Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them

    “Legrain, who won’t concede any problems with immigration, reverts to an earlier enthusiast claim that it does not impact wages. Then he turns around and quotes ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s argument that the 1990s boom was prolonged because immigration prevented wages “spiraling upwards.”

    Well—which is it?

    Legrain particularly likes studies showing enormous overall economic gains if free migration were allowed world-wide. Of course, these are purely theoretical and take no account of accompanying political conflicts (see above). But it also seems never to have occurred to Legrain that Third World countries, some of them just emerging from colonialism, would never allow First World migration, as this theory requires. Try immigrating to Mexico.

    The bottom line on the economics of immigration was confirmed by the National Research Council’s 1997 metastudy The New Americans: immigration raises overall output, but the aggregate additional net benefit to the U.S. native-born is nugatory—and wiped out by taxpayer-funded transfer payments to immigrants. America is being transformed for nothing. Legrain simply doesn’t grasp this. He hopelessly garbles my statement of the underlying econometric principle in my own book Alien Nation (charmingly described as “that old stalwart”.)”

    http://www.vdare.com/pb/070807_immigration.htm

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  166. RDK says:

    An antidote to some of Legrain’s idealistic delusions:

    Peter Brimelow On Philippe Legrain’s Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them

    “Legrain, who won’t concede any problems with immigration, reverts to an earlier enthusiast claim that it does not impact wages. Then he turns around and quotes ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s argument that the 1990s boom was prolonged because immigration prevented wages “spiraling upwards.”

    Well-which is it?

    Legrain particularly likes studies showing enormous overall economic gains if free migration were allowed world-wide. Of course, these are purely theoretical and take no account of accompanying political conflicts (see above). But it also seems never to have occurred to Legrain that Third World countries, some of them just emerging from colonialism, would never allow First World migration, as this theory requires. Try immigrating to Mexico.

    The bottom line on the economics of immigration was confirmed by the National Research Council’s 1997 metastudy The New Americans: immigration raises overall output, but the aggregate additional net benefit to the U.S. native-born is nugatory-and wiped out by taxpayer-funded transfer payments to immigrants. America is being transformed for nothing. Legrain simply doesn’t grasp this. He hopelessly garbles my statement of the underlying econometric principle in my own book Alien Nation (charmingly described as “that old stalwart”.)”

    http://www.vdare.com/pb/070807_immigration.htm

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  167. Matt Birchall says:

    Exploitation of immigrants to do the grunge jobs is just a form of slavery. Taking nurses, doctors and engineers from poor countries to service rich countries allows the rich country to avoid the trouble of figuring out how to train its own workers to do these skilled jobs.
    Isn’t a better solution to allow temporary residence and contract the migrant to return home with their skills and savings to enrich their own countries when their time is complete?

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  168. Matt Birchall says:

    Exploitation of immigrants to do the grunge jobs is just a form of slavery. Taking nurses, doctors and engineers from poor countries to service rich countries allows the rich country to avoid the trouble of figuring out how to train its own workers to do these skilled jobs.
    Isn’t a better solution to allow temporary residence and contract the migrant to return home with their skills and savings to enrich their own countries when their time is complete?

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  169. lsg says:

    Melissa does a disservice to this post by referring to comments from Fred Thompson from May. I am no Thompson fan, but it seems a cheap shot at best and diverts attention from the important points made by Legrain. Stop using your opinions of candidates to start a post. It is beneath this blog to have someone who does that.

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  170. lsg says:

    Melissa does a disservice to this post by referring to comments from Fred Thompson from May. I am no Thompson fan, but it seems a cheap shot at best and diverts attention from the important points made by Legrain. Stop using your opinions of candidates to start a post. It is beneath this blog to have someone who does that.

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  171. Iiro Jantunen says:

    Philippe Legrain has discussed these thing s before in his own blog, also. I have also commented them before, without reply.

    There is a link between public security and shared value base. The freedoms we enjoy are based on the fact that the population accepts these freedoms (e.g., freedom of speech or faith). With the current flow of immigrants in Europe, we have a growing number of people who do not always share our perspective to these freedoms, as could be seen in the infamous Muhammad cartoon controversy.

    If there is a large enough group of (e.g., immigrant) people within a state who violently oppose freedom of speech, there is no number of policemen in the streets that could make it safe to speak freely. This is the basis of xenophobia that I can understand. This effective curb on freedom of speech has been visible in the last few years in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and many other countries – also in that of my own, Finland.

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  172. Iiro Jantunen says:

    Philippe Legrain has discussed these thing s before in his own blog, also. I have also commented them before, without reply.

    There is a link between public security and shared value base. The freedoms we enjoy are based on the fact that the population accepts these freedoms (e.g., freedom of speech or faith). With the current flow of immigrants in Europe, we have a growing number of people who do not always share our perspective to these freedoms, as could be seen in the infamous Muhammad cartoon controversy.

    If there is a large enough group of (e.g., immigrant) people within a state who violently oppose freedom of speech, there is no number of policemen in the streets that could make it safe to speak freely. This is the basis of xenophobia that I can understand. This effective curb on freedom of speech has been visible in the last few years in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and many other countries – also in that of my own, Finland.

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  173. Joe Castiner says:

    I agree with Chris-(Shenanigans)…This kid is idealistic in his thinking. I would like to hear his opinion when he’s 40 or 50 years old. The USA is like a life boat with thousnads of immigrants swimming to it. You know what happens when a life boat becomes too crowded.. It gets swamped and eventually sinks..

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  174. Joe Castiner says:

    I agree with Chris-(Shenanigans)…This kid is idealistic in his thinking. I would like to hear his opinion when he’s 40 or 50 years old. The USA is like a life boat with thousnads of immigrants swimming to it. You know what happens when a life boat becomes too crowded.. It gets swamped and eventually sinks..

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  175. Dave says:

    Mr. Legrain is the proverbial economist stranded on a desert Island with a crate of canned food and no can opener; “First lets imagine we have a can opener”. All you have do to see that immigrants lower wages is to look at what has happened now that some companies have been subject to enforcement, they have had to raise wages to hire Americans.

    Ok, so we allow free immigration. So does that mean if I want to got to some to other country to start a business, because I lost my job here, I won’t be encumbered with restrictions on ownership of assets and repatriation of my profits?

    The Mexican elites support immigration because its a safety valve. If poor Mexicans stayed home then I doubt the worlds richest man would be a Mexican today.

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  176. Dave says:

    Mr. Legrain is the proverbial economist stranded on a desert Island with a crate of canned food and no can opener; “First lets imagine we have a can opener”. All you have do to see that immigrants lower wages is to look at what has happened now that some companies have been subject to enforcement, they have had to raise wages to hire Americans.

    Ok, so we allow free immigration. So does that mean if I want to got to some to other country to start a business, because I lost my job here, I won’t be encumbered with restrictions on ownership of assets and repatriation of my profits?

    The Mexican elites support immigration because its a safety valve. If poor Mexicans stayed home then I doubt the worlds richest man would be a Mexican today.

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  177. Stefan Snaevarr says:

    A Norwegian weekly maintains that Legrain’s calculations are based his misundersanding of research made by Bjorn Letnes and Jonathon Moses. Actually, Moses and Letnes think that a completly free immigration world-wide would only increase world GDP by 9.6%, but that Letnes and Moses considered the possibilty of an 118% increase without taking that number seriously. I have not read their papers so I could not be a judge of that. But Legrain’s claims smack of a childish veneration of globalization and free market economics. He does not seem to understand that there is such a thing as transaction costs; such a cost is higher in a multicultural, immigrant society than in more monocultural societies, the reason being that there is less trust in the first named type of society and lack of trust is expensive. Professor Michael Dunford has shown that such transaction costs are much higher in the multicultural US than in the less multicultural countries of Western Europe. Further, Legrain’s claim that American workers are not suffering because of immigration is doubtful. Barbara Ehrenreich says in her book Nicled and Dimed that a vast increase in supply of unskilled, immigrant workers has lead to the worsening of the economic conditons for unskilled, American workers. To this it can be added that the Norwegian police estimates that three out of every four burglaries in Norwegian stores are performed by Polish and Lithunian gangsters. Only a few years ago, people from these country could hardly immigrate to Norway, let alone burglarize stores there. The situation is similar in other Western European countries. True,most Polish and Lithunian workers that work in Norway and other Western European countries make an excellent contribution to the economy but the activity of the gangsters is costing the country a fortune. To be sure, a multicultural, immigrant society has a lot of redeeming qualities, but do not forgot the dark side. As for Legrain, he suffers from globaltitis, a serious illness indeed.

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  178. Stefan Snaevarr says:

    A Norwegian weekly maintains that Legrain’s calculations are based his misundersanding of research made by Bjorn Letnes and Jonathon Moses. Actually, Moses and Letnes think that a completly free immigration world-wide would only increase world GDP by 9.6%, but that Letnes and Moses considered the possibilty of an 118% increase without taking that number seriously. I have not read their papers so I could not be a judge of that. But Legrain’s claims smack of a childish veneration of globalization and free market economics. He does not seem to understand that there is such a thing as transaction costs; such a cost is higher in a multicultural, immigrant society than in more monocultural societies, the reason being that there is less trust in the first named type of society and lack of trust is expensive. Professor Michael Dunford has shown that such transaction costs are much higher in the multicultural US than in the less multicultural countries of Western Europe. Further, Legrain’s claim that American workers are not suffering because of immigration is doubtful. Barbara Ehrenreich says in her book Nicled and Dimed that a vast increase in supply of unskilled, immigrant workers has lead to the worsening of the economic conditons for unskilled, American workers. To this it can be added that the Norwegian police estimates that three out of every four burglaries in Norwegian stores are performed by Polish and Lithunian gangsters. Only a few years ago, people from these country could hardly immigrate to Norway, let alone burglarize stores there. The situation is similar in other Western European countries. True,most Polish and Lithunian workers that work in Norway and other Western European countries make an excellent contribution to the economy but the activity of the gangsters is costing the country a fortune. To be sure, a multicultural, immigrant society has a lot of redeeming qualities, but do not forgot the dark side. As for Legrain, he suffers from globaltitis, a serious illness indeed.

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  179. Sunnyvale CA says:

    It is better to be poor in America than anywhere else.

    Does anyone remember the coast guard intercepting Haitians off of Florida? The Mariel boat lift when Castro emptied his jails? Open the borders and everyone in Haiti will move to Florida tomorrow.

    100 million people are ready to move to America tomorrow, I would rather pay more for tomatoes and fast food than the taxes to build 5000 schools, hospitals, and prisons to extend the American standard of living to the worlds poor,

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  180. Sunnyvale CA says:

    It is better to be poor in America than anywhere else.

    Does anyone remember the coast guard intercepting Haitians off of Florida? The Mariel boat lift when Castro emptied his jails? Open the borders and everyone in Haiti will move to Florida tomorrow.

    100 million people are ready to move to America tomorrow, I would rather pay more for tomatoes and fast food than the taxes to build 5000 schools, hospitals, and prisons to extend the American standard of living to the worlds poor,

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  181. nic says:

    I have only one problem with the examples given, with regards to this man growing up in London, under the reality of IRA bombings – I am from Northern Ireland, and I can tell you that to be in London is a far cry from the IRA bomb treats of the past from a Northern Irish perspective. And as for the British allowing Irish people to travel to Britain during those times without prejudice, The people from Northern Ireland are British! They are only travelling within their own country. It’s a little raw nerve being hit when I see such badly researched comments being posted. I feel this example does nothing to highlight the cause and effect, with regards to this person’s personal experience. His comment was a bit fuzzy on facts.

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  182. nic says:

    I have only one problem with the examples given, with regards to this man growing up in London, under the reality of IRA bombings – I am from Northern Ireland, and I can tell you that to be in London is a far cry from the IRA bomb treats of the past from a Northern Irish perspective. And as for the British allowing Irish people to travel to Britain during those times without prejudice, The people from Northern Ireland are British! They are only travelling within their own country. It’s a little raw nerve being hit when I see such badly researched comments being posted. I feel this example does nothing to highlight the cause and effect, with regards to this person’s personal experience. His comment was a bit fuzzy on facts.

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  183. Julio says:

    U.S. ecological sustainability requires LOWER immigration rates. If the U.S. declared unlimited immigration and 5% of the world took us up on that offer, our population would more than DOUBLE. Why do all these globalist economists completely fail to address obvious overpopulation issues? In their theoretical world, ‘unlimited growth’ makes perfect sense. Here on Planet Earth, it’s an oxymoron. Their economic utopia would be an environmental dystopia. Sometimes I’m a little jealous of guys like Legrain and Julian Simon because they don’t seem to have a worry in their rosy world.

    The U.S. has been such a failure as a nation-state! Let’s just throw it away and take Legrain’s one world gamble. After all, once you give up sovereignty, it’s so easy to get it back. Legrain is basically saying countries are immoral and thus we have a moral duty to exist merely as an open trading zone and world employment agency.

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  184. Julio says:

    U.S. ecological sustainability requires LOWER immigration rates. If the U.S. declared unlimited immigration and 5% of the world took us up on that offer, our population would more than DOUBLE. Why do all these globalist economists completely fail to address obvious overpopulation issues? In their theoretical world, ‘unlimited growth’ makes perfect sense. Here on Planet Earth, it’s an oxymoron. Their economic utopia would be an environmental dystopia. Sometimes I’m a little jealous of guys like Legrain and Julian Simon because they don’t seem to have a worry in their rosy world.

    The U.S. has been such a failure as a nation-state! Let’s just throw it away and take Legrain’s one world gamble. After all, once you give up sovereignty, it’s so easy to get it back. Legrain is basically saying countries are immoral and thus we have a moral duty to exist merely as an open trading zone and world employment agency.

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  185. Kurt Thialfad says:

    For “open borders” to work, they must be reciprocal. For example, if the US should open her borders to Mexicans, the Mexican government must open his borders to Americans. Not likely to happen in my lifetime.

    I think there are some myths about taxes that need to be pointed out here. For example, only state residents are obliged to pay state sales taxes. Residents of foreign nations are excused from paying US state sales taxes.

    Lagrain failed to adequately address the overpopulation/carbon-footprint dilemma. Because this issue is not only economic.

    And for Lagrain to state that the biggest barriers to enacting open immigration policies in rich countries is “fear of change and fear of foreigners” implies the people who inhabit these so-called “rich” countries are racists. I adore change – I mean I adore good change, while I detest bad change. Change is like the weather or gambling. I like the weather when it’s good; and I like gambling when I win.
    Same with this fear of foreigners. I would be just as fearful of an American taking my job than a foreign worker.

    There are many more compelling rational arguments to managing immigration than his.

    Overall, a terrible article. Very unbalanced.

    KT in San Francisco

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  186. Kurt Thialfad says:

    For “open borders” to work, they must be reciprocal. For example, if the US should open her borders to Mexicans, the Mexican government must open his borders to Americans. Not likely to happen in my lifetime.

    I think there are some myths about taxes that need to be pointed out here. For example, only state residents are obliged to pay state sales taxes. Residents of foreign nations are excused from paying US state sales taxes.

    Lagrain failed to adequately address the overpopulation/carbon-footprint dilemma. Because this issue is not only economic.

    And for Lagrain to state that the biggest barriers to enacting open immigration policies in rich countries is “fear of change and fear of foreigners” implies the people who inhabit these so-called “rich” countries are racists. I adore change – I mean I adore good change, while I detest bad change. Change is like the weather or gambling. I like the weather when it’s good; and I like gambling when I win.
    Same with this fear of foreigners. I would be just as fearful of an American taking my job than a foreign worker.

    There are many more compelling rational arguments to managing immigration than his.

    Overall, a terrible article. Very unbalanced.

    KT in San Francisco

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  187. lexis says:

    THER SHOULD NOT BE ANY IMMIGRATION ANY MORE!!!!!!!!!

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  188. lexis says:

    THER SHOULD NOT BE ANY IMMIGRATION ANY MORE!!!!!!!!!

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  189. Marisa Landau says:

    There’s no comparison between allowing the free movement of goods and the free movement of people. If a shirt made abroad arrives in the U.S. and you wear it, that’s the end of it. But if a person arrives, he or she will need a job,a home, a hospital, a school for their kids. In some border areas the infrastructure is already overstreched.
    The U.S. does need immigrants, but totally open borders seem to me a very naive proposition. It would be like opening wide the doors of your own house to all who need a home. Not even Mr. Legrain would do that, I assume, despite all his idealism and love for mankind. Temporary visas seem to be a much more sensible approach.

    Also, there’s something missing in this conversation: the race aspect. It’s not PC to say so, but the immigrants that people “fear” are the dark-skinned ones. I doubt people would “fear” an influx of tall, blond, blue-eyed Swedes.

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  190. Marisa Landau says:

    There’s no comparison between allowing the free movement of goods and the free movement of people. If a shirt made abroad arrives in the U.S. and you wear it, that’s the end of it. But if a person arrives, he or she will need a job,a home, a hospital, a school for their kids. In some border areas the infrastructure is already overstreched.
    The U.S. does need immigrants, but totally open borders seem to me a very naive proposition. It would be like opening wide the doors of your own house to all who need a home. Not even Mr. Legrain would do that, I assume, despite all his idealism and love for mankind. Temporary visas seem to be a much more sensible approach.

    Also, there’s something missing in this conversation: the race aspect. It’s not PC to say so, but the immigrants that people “fear” are the dark-skinned ones. I doubt people would “fear” an influx of tall, blond, blue-eyed Swedes.

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  191. Brittanicus says:

    Absolute Garbage! We have the agenda of the globalist, open border, free traders pushing for the free movement of cheap labor throughout the North American Continent Padlocks on closed premises reveal that thousands of American industries have closed down, because they cannot compete with cheap labor in other countries, because of this ugly treaty called NAFTA. The only people who appreciate the one-sided outcome of the free trade agreements are the wealthy, its not the hundreds of thousands of US citizen workers unemployed. Fair and harmonious free trade is good for the country, but not when this nation is paying 15% percent duty on importing goods into Mexico. Our country has been inundated with imported cheap labor of the illegal alien variety, that is not taking just unskilled jobs, but now have upgraded to more skilled work. This it is because its cheaper to hire illegal labor, no questions asked; no consequences at this time. Millions of good paying jobs have been sent to third world countries, where cheap labor are exploited and American laws have no influence. Whereas the cheap good are returned to our nation of poor quality, incomparable to American manufactured goods.

    The explosive rise in our nation’s trade deficit is another fundamental menace to this country and our economy. The trade deficit through the first 11 months of last year came in at $662 billion dollars, on pace to jump 17 percent from 2004′s record deficit. In fact, the trade deficit has nearly doubled since the president Bush took office.

    First we need to get our own citizens hired, instead of the 12 to 30 million foreign nationals that is catastrophic to our economy. Now right now, we need THE SAVE ACT. We need to remove by deportation or ATTRITION people who broke our immigration laws. Originally laughed at the super Mexican-Canadian highway was envisioned as a conspiracy theory. Ask the Texas land owners who have been holding town hall meetings and demonstrations against TXDOT. The NAFTA highway is to streamline goods across America, for Communist Chinese institutions like Walmart to speed their 18 wheelers of cheap inferior goods.

    NUMBERSUSA! AMERICAN PATROL! LIBERTY POST! UNIPAC! FAIRUS!

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  192. Brittanicus says:

    Absolute Garbage! We have the agenda of the globalist, open border, free traders pushing for the free movement of cheap labor throughout the North American Continent Padlocks on closed premises reveal that thousands of American industries have closed down, because they cannot compete with cheap labor in other countries, because of this ugly treaty called NAFTA. The only people who appreciate the one-sided outcome of the free trade agreements are the wealthy, its not the hundreds of thousands of US citizen workers unemployed. Fair and harmonious free trade is good for the country, but not when this nation is paying 15% percent duty on importing goods into Mexico. Our country has been inundated with imported cheap labor of the illegal alien variety, that is not taking just unskilled jobs, but now have upgraded to more skilled work. This it is because its cheaper to hire illegal labor, no questions asked; no consequences at this time. Millions of good paying jobs have been sent to third world countries, where cheap labor are exploited and American laws have no influence. Whereas the cheap good are returned to our nation of poor quality, incomparable to American manufactured goods.

    The explosive rise in our nation’s trade deficit is another fundamental menace to this country and our economy. The trade deficit through the first 11 months of last year came in at $662 billion dollars, on pace to jump 17 percent from 2004′s record deficit. In fact, the trade deficit has nearly doubled since the president Bush took office.

    First we need to get our own citizens hired, instead of the 12 to 30 million foreign nationals that is catastrophic to our economy. Now right now, we need THE SAVE ACT. We need to remove by deportation or ATTRITION people who broke our immigration laws. Originally laughed at the super Mexican-Canadian highway was envisioned as a conspiracy theory. Ask the Texas land owners who have been holding town hall meetings and demonstrations against TXDOT. The NAFTA highway is to streamline goods across America, for Communist Chinese institutions like Walmart to speed their 18 wheelers of cheap inferior goods.

    NUMBERSUSA! AMERICAN PATROL! LIBERTY POST! UNIPAC! FAIRUS!

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  193. D Cheung says:

    Excellent analysis/interview:

    I found that people who oppose the idea of the open immigration mostly concerns with the temporary influx of the immigrants rather than the overall long term effect (i.e., Infrastructure overload, spike in consumer prices, and lower wages). Without a doubt, every policy has a positive and a negative side effect, but those negative side effects are (relatively) easy to correct (add’l funding to infrastructure from new immigration taxes, market equilibrium, improved labor laws).

    On the other hand, the positive effects are invaluable and irreplaceable: increase in creativity from diverse communities, increase in service sector to support the aging baby boomers, reduction in Job outsourcing (businessmen will have harder time justifying outsourcing when many domestic workers available), and most of all, increase in Markets niches that will support our economy.

    My point is, don’t worry about the temporary market flux but focus on the positive long-term benefits! Open immigration is the way to go! With the declining economy right now, US can’t afford not to open its borders.

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  194. D Cheung says:

    Excellent analysis/interview:

    I found that people who oppose the idea of the open immigration mostly concerns with the temporary influx of the immigrants rather than the overall long term effect (i.e., Infrastructure overload, spike in consumer prices, and lower wages). Without a doubt, every policy has a positive and a negative side effect, but those negative side effects are (relatively) easy to correct (add’l funding to infrastructure from new immigration taxes, market equilibrium, improved labor laws).

    On the other hand, the positive effects are invaluable and irreplaceable: increase in creativity from diverse communities, increase in service sector to support the aging baby boomers, reduction in Job outsourcing (businessmen will have harder time justifying outsourcing when many domestic workers available), and most of all, increase in Markets niches that will support our economy.

    My point is, don’t worry about the temporary market flux but focus on the positive long-term benefits! Open immigration is the way to go! With the declining economy right now, US can’t afford not to open its borders.

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  195. Lawrence C. Marsh says:

    Moving Towards Labor Shortage

    Legrain is certainly right about our need for more immigration. Before long we will need to run advertisements to try to get more immigrants as 78 million baby boomers retire.

    As we enter the 21st Century, one of the most interesting emerging dynamics concerns world population growth.
    Ultimately, the most compelling fact for economics in the 21st century will not be the rise of the developing nations, nor will it be the growing scarcity of natural resources. The former will play itself out sooner than most imagine, and the latter will be overcome through human ingenuity. The most compelling fact will be the sudden drop in birth rates as incomes rise in the developing nations.

    The scarcity of humans will constrain the earth for some time to come. The so-called “race to the bottom” in wages is already proving itself to be a “race to the top” as shown in FT reporter Jan Cienski’s article on cheap labour in the Ukraine in today’s paper. Having run out of cheap labour in Hungary where wages have now risen almost to their levels in Germany. Textile firms have automated what they can and moved the rest to Ukraine where wages in such factories have already risen by thirty percent. There are no more cheap labour countries in Europe.

    Japan is trying to get around the need for immigrants by developing advanced robots, but for the foreseeable future we are going to need more people. In any event robots don’t have to pay the payroll taxes we need to ensure the continuation of social security and medicare here in the United States.

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  196. Lawrence C. Marsh says:

    Moving Towards Labor Shortage

    Legrain is certainly right about our need for more immigration. Before long we will need to run advertisements to try to get more immigrants as 78 million baby boomers retire.

    As we enter the 21st Century, one of the most interesting emerging dynamics concerns world population growth.
    Ultimately, the most compelling fact for economics in the 21st century will not be the rise of the developing nations, nor will it be the growing scarcity of natural resources. The former will play itself out sooner than most imagine, and the latter will be overcome through human ingenuity. The most compelling fact will be the sudden drop in birth rates as incomes rise in the developing nations.

    The scarcity of humans will constrain the earth for some time to come. The so-called “race to the bottom” in wages is already proving itself to be a “race to the top” as shown in FT reporter Jan Cienski’s article on cheap labour in the Ukraine in today’s paper. Having run out of cheap labour in Hungary where wages have now risen almost to their levels in Germany. Textile firms have automated what they can and moved the rest to Ukraine where wages in such factories have already risen by thirty percent. There are no more cheap labour countries in Europe.

    Japan is trying to get around the need for immigrants by developing advanced robots, but for the foreseeable future we are going to need more people. In any event robots don’t have to pay the payroll taxes we need to ensure the continuation of social security and medicare here in the United States.

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  197. kerthialfad says:

    I think immigration should be used sparingly and according to economic necessity. When the unemployment level rises above a certain percentage, say 8%, then immigration should be cut back. When the unemployment rate drops to say 2%, then immigration can be expanded. Immigration should always be for the benefit of the American people, and in the national interest. Otherwise, what’s the point?
    I don’t believe the US can solve Mexico’s problems, any more than the US can solve Iraq’s problems.

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  198. kerthialfad says:

    I think immigration should be used sparingly and according to economic necessity. When the unemployment level rises above a certain percentage, say 8%, then immigration should be cut back. When the unemployment rate drops to say 2%, then immigration can be expanded. Immigration should always be for the benefit of the American people, and in the national interest. Otherwise, what’s the point?
    I don’t believe the US can solve Mexico’s problems, any more than the US can solve Iraq’s problems.

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  199. Kenneth Gilpin says:

    I wouldn’t just leave it to human ingenuity to expand the supply of natural resources. We must also conserve existing sources, eliminate waste, and stabilize the growth of our populations. A multi-pronged approach touching on the demand as well as the supply side of the equation.

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  200. Kenneth Gilpin says:

    I wouldn’t just leave it to human ingenuity to expand the supply of natural resources. We must also conserve existing sources, eliminate waste, and stabilize the growth of our populations. A multi-pronged approach touching on the demand as well as the supply side of the equation.

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  201. Miriam says:

    Neither do i believe that the US can and should solve Mexico or Iraq’s economic and political problems, however, there are already 12 million illegal immigrants here whether we like it or not, not to mention at least a good 30% of those 12 million are students who have lived here their entire lives without setting foot outside the US. So what do we do about them? They are part–illegal or not–of the future of America; the children who have studied in our universities and can be a powerful contribution to the state of the US. So why not let them?
    SUPPORT THE DREAM ACT.

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  202. Miriam says:

    Neither do i believe that the US can and should solve Mexico or Iraq’s economic and political problems, however, there are already 12 million illegal immigrants here whether we like it or not, not to mention at least a good 30% of those 12 million are students who have lived here their entire lives without setting foot outside the US. So what do we do about them? They are part–illegal or not–of the future of America; the children who have studied in our universities and can be a powerful contribution to the state of the US. So why not let them?
    SUPPORT THE DREAM ACT.

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  203. Kerthialfad says:

    To Miriam;
    I don’t understand why we must “do” something with our illegal population. They can take care of themselves, and have been since the 1990′s as this crisis has been allowed to fester.
    There are many foreign students who study at our universities without any intention of contributing to the state, and I truly doubt that illegal students will be denied enrollment. What the Dream Act does is provide taxpayer-funded subsidies for illegal students. Subsidizing criminal behavior is not the way to control it.
    As to what to “do” about our large illegal population, simply remove the subsidies and incentives that cause them to come illegally.
    I’m curious as to where you get your numbers. 12 million, or maybe it’s really 30 million – as some have suggested. How can the impact be measured when we don’t have accurate data? This brings up another aspect of the Dream Act, in that there’s no “cap”, and no way to control costs.

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  204. Kerthialfad says:

    To Miriam;
    I don’t understand why we must “do” something with our illegal population. They can take care of themselves, and have been since the 1990′s as this crisis has been allowed to fester.
    There are many foreign students who study at our universities without any intention of contributing to the state, and I truly doubt that illegal students will be denied enrollment. What the Dream Act does is provide taxpayer-funded subsidies for illegal students. Subsidizing criminal behavior is not the way to control it.
    As to what to “do” about our large illegal population, simply remove the subsidies and incentives that cause them to come illegally.
    I’m curious as to where you get your numbers. 12 million, or maybe it’s really 30 million – as some have suggested. How can the impact be measured when we don’t have accurate data? This brings up another aspect of the Dream Act, in that there’s no “cap”, and no way to control costs.

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  205. SLai says:

    Americans worry too much about immigrants, legal or illegal landing on her shores. With the way the U.S. economy is heading, i see in a not too distance future, large # of Americans themselves
    would need to become immigrants seeking employment
    (not necessarily in the top & senior posts) in other overseas countries in Europe, M.E., and Asia, taking up also blue-collar work.

    They would certainly be welcome to add to the economic base of the destined countries.

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  206. SLai says:

    Americans worry too much about immigrants, legal or illegal landing on her shores. With the way the U.S. economy is heading, i see in a not too distance future, large # of Americans themselves
    would need to become immigrants seeking employment
    (not necessarily in the top & senior posts) in other overseas countries in Europe, M.E., and Asia, taking up also blue-collar work.

    They would certainly be welcome to add to the economic base of the destined countries.

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  207. Dana Benedict says:

    I disagree, and believe that Americans worry least about immigrants that most any other nation. As a case in point, see how upset the Irish people are getting about a few Poles and Lithuanians settling in their country. And these immigrants are coming in legally. The are more restrictions on immigrants in other countries, that there are restrictions on immigrants in the US.

    The Americans would do well to worry more about immigrants like the people of other nations do. American takes in by far the lion’s share of immigrants, it would be to her benefit to take in fewer. Moderation is always a good thing.

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  208. Dana Benedict says:

    I disagree, and believe that Americans worry least about immigrants that most any other nation. As a case in point, see how upset the Irish people are getting about a few Poles and Lithuanians settling in their country. And these immigrants are coming in legally. The are more restrictions on immigrants in other countries, that there are restrictions on immigrants in the US.

    The Americans would do well to worry more about immigrants like the people of other nations do. American takes in by far the lion’s share of immigrants, it would be to her benefit to take in fewer. Moderation is always a good thing.

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  209. Thomas Gant says:

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I adore your work, brilliant, marvelous etc. My burning wish is that me, a rather tall boy will one day become as great as you are.

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  210. Thomas Gant says:

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I adore your work, brilliant, marvelous etc. My burning wish is that me, a rather tall boy will one day become as great as you are.

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  211. amer manzanero says:

    i just wanna know how can i get my sons immigration case number so i can re open his case. my lawyer is asking me what is his case number because it was deleted after 5 years.
    can you help me the easiest way to get the case number. do you think immigration will provide me the case number?

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  212. amer manzanero says:

    i just wanna know how can i get my sons immigration case number so i can re open his case. my lawyer is asking me what is his case number because it was deleted after 5 years.
    can you help me the easiest way to get the case number. do you think immigration will provide me the case number?

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  213. jamarz says:

    what if i come from US as a tourist in 3 months and exit to macau and they question my visa in macau that they don’t believe that i did not work in US in 3 months and they have information that i work there,is it possible that they tell to the US immigration that i work there?Please reply..

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  214. jamarz says:

    what if i come from US as a tourist in 3 months and exit to macau and they question my visa in macau that they don’t believe that i did not work in US in 3 months and they have information that i work there,is it possible that they tell to the US immigration that i work there?Please reply..

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  215. TomT says:

    Argument is built on equivocation, false logic and subterfuge. Just the 1.5b Chinese plus 1b Indians plus 200m Pakistanis plus 200m Bengalis plus 200m Brazilians plus 100m Mexicans adds up to over 3b people, or more than 3x the population of the West. Quite easily 3rd World peoples could overwhelm the West. But this argument makes no sense? Nor the national identity argument? Nope. They are all just a bunch of racists.

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  216. TomT says:

    Argument is built on equivocation, false logic and subterfuge. Just the 1.5b Chinese plus 1b Indians plus 200m Pakistanis plus 200m Bengalis plus 200m Brazilians plus 100m Mexicans adds up to over 3b people, or more than 3x the population of the West. Quite easily 3rd World peoples could overwhelm the West. But this argument makes no sense? Nor the national identity argument? Nope. They are all just a bunch of racists.

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  217. Jose says:

    These are ideas have so many flaws, they are hard to enumerate…but let me try…

    (1) our people are too lazy to work, so lets bring in people to work for them.
    (2) a guy claims he is a good person, therefore he is…therefore all the people he represents are.
    (3) if most countries are messed up…it is better to allow unsatisfied citizens out than to force the Consent Theory to work.

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  218. Jose says:

    These are ideas have so many flaws, they are hard to enumerate…but let me try…

    (1) our people are too lazy to work, so lets bring in people to work for them.
    (2) a guy claims he is a good person, therefore he is…therefore all the people he represents are.
    (3) if most countries are messed up…it is better to allow unsatisfied citizens out than to force the Consent Theory to work.

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  219. David says:

    There are so many things to say, but most will fall on deaf ears. Those that do not have to deal with the higher costs (vehicle insurance, health insurance, housing, etc.) of living among the illegal immigrants will have no concept of the impact they create.
    There is a divide in the state of California for vehicle and health insurance. The company that I work for has a $15 co-pay and 5% of the bill for the North. In the south you have to pay $5000 out-of-pocket before the insurance takes over, then you have to pay 20% of the medical bills. Why? Illegals take there kids to the hospital for everything, then don’t pay the bills.
    I spoke to a CHP officer about the driver who had caused the accident. He had no license or insurance (both are required by the state). He then got into another vehicle and drove away. When I questioned the Officer about this, he said “What are we going to do? Cite him? He won’t show up or pay the fine. We post a bench warrant and he bails out of the country.”
    The argument that they are doing jobs that others won’t is bull! I have been across this country and seen every race doing every job. They are just willing to do the job for less pay. When I was younger I worked as a dish washer and at fast food jobs. It was an entry level job, not a career.

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  220. Nate says:

    Can it be thought, that the terrorist attacks against the U.S on Sept. 11th, have caused a larger ripple effect than the easily seen death and destruction mixed with the economic panic caused by these attacks. But in fact I agree that immigration is a great source of growth for any country. If birth rates have slightly declined over the past 30 years or so, only to slightly bounce back by a .1 or so in the past few years, economic growth can’t grow if we don’t supply more people to consume goods. The U.S was built on a “melting pot” of immigration that lead to what is now argued to be the greatest country. People now feel we need to shut the borders off, because maybe they’re scared of who may cross the border. Fear struck by terrorism across the country and shut people off from accepting “unknown people” into their country. We can only grow both economically and socially if we let others in. It’s to easy to make a living in the U.S now without competition from rivals. Let immigrants in and watch people fight to keep their jobs, produce better product and more people will consume more and keep driving the engine.

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