May 30, 2010


Legalize Immigration (Steve Chapman, 5/30/10, Real Clear Politics)

There is a simple way to stop the lawless stream, protect Americans living on the border, improve adherence to law and reduce the costs of accommodating people who have no right to be here.

The solution? Stop focusing on trying to keep illegal immigrants out and start focusing on letting legal immigrants in.

Enforcement-only advocates often say they are not opposed to foreigners coming here as long as they follow the rules and obey the law. They should take a number and wait their turn, we are told, like the teeming masses of yore. It makes perfect sense until you discover that for most of those who want to come, legal admission is just about impossible.

"A peaceful, hardworking 24-year-old in Mexico or Central America who knows of a job in the United States for which no Americans are available simply has no legal means of entering the United States," writes policy analyst Daniel Griswold of the libertarian Cato Institute.

Foreigners with in-demand skills, like computer scientists, may get work visas. Close relatives of legal immigrants can also be admitted, though they often have to wait years. But if you don't fit in one of those slots -- well, how do you say "fugheddaboutit" in Spanish?

Griswold suggests a big boost in the number of temporary worker visas, which would mean Mexicans and Nicaraguans would no longer have to undertake a death-defying trek across the Sonoran Desert, or squeeze into the trunk of a smuggler's car, for the privilege of working at a sweaty, low-wage job.

They wouldn't need to swipe Social Security numbers to get counterfeit documents. They would be far more likely to work on the books and pay taxes. They would come under the cover of federal and state labor regulations, so they would no longer undercut native employees.

They would stop enriching Mexican criminal organizations that make a business of human trafficking. They would gain more of a stake in participating in and preserving our way of life.

Xenophobes might fear that expanding legal immigration would produce a big jump in the foreign-born population.

...when you turn their claim upon them, the nativists actually don't favor legal immigration as a solution precisely because it increases immigration. They are anti-immigrant, not anti-illegality.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2010 8:49 AM
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