Sunday, May 27, 2007


Andrew Samwick, from Dartmouth, makes three important points regarding the immigration debate over at his blog, Vox Baby:

1) Is immigration from Mexico just like any other wave of immigration?The historical success of immigration in this country has been based on immigrants who left the old country behind, to assimilate and to blend their culture with the existing American culture. Mexico is right next door. The presumption that most immigrants will assimilate is much weaker, if not plain wrong. We should be very wary of absorbing so many immigrants, even legal immigrants, from a neighboring country whose objectives may not coincide with our own.

2) Is a guest worker program a good idea?I regard a guest worker program as a form of second-class citizenry, and I do not support the creation of a second-class citizenry. Citizenship to me is not incidental to an economic relationship. Once we legitimize a second-class citizenry, their pleas to be elevated to first-class citizenry will be difficult to ignore, particularly given our national history of inclusion and equality. Once we legitimize frequent border crossings, we take ownership of the social problems that result from explicitly transitory populations NOT rooted to family relationships in a particular place. Show me the shining examples of guest worker programs in other large industrialized countries and I'll change my mind.

3) Are there jobs that Americans won’t do (this one is straight from an earlier post)?There are no jobs that Americans refuse to perform. There may be jobs that Americans refuse to perform at the prevailing wage rates. This simply means that the wage rates should rise and the number of jobs should fall, until the number of jobs matches the number of people authorized to work in the country who are willing to perform them. If it turns out that with these higher prevailing wage rates, the employer can no longer operate at a profit, then the employer should cease operations--or relocate to a place where labor and other costs are sufficiently cheap as to allow a profitable business.

Points one and two address fundamental problems with the current immigration bill. The third point, although it could be interpreted as anti-immigration, highlights why low skilled Americans lose with increased immigration.

I support immigration, particularly high-skilled immigration. However, America does not adequately protecting its poor and sick, its disenfranchised and marginalized; it is wrong of us to simply replace them with a new wave of immigrants.

Any immigration package must first help those citizens who have been left behind. After that, as Andrew suggests, we must be careful to ensure that future citizens come for more than just financial prosperity. American ideals are larger than that and we must keep it that way.

Posted by Peter


Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the first comment: Yes that is right I can tell old immigrants left their country and culture behind, just like those Italians that keep going to the catholic church and those Irish playing the pipe on St. Patrick’s day.
About the second comment: Mexicans are all ready second-class citizens, so what would be the difference then?
Finally the third comment: Yea sure, paying American born citizens (white of course) three times or more what is paid to an illegal immigrant for cleaning the toilet would be a great idea, specially to keep inflation low, and competitiveness high.

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