As the U.S. continues to deal with immigration issues, this article summarizes some recent points.
Not All Immigration is the Same
The difference between legal and illegal immigration is an important one, as is the difference between low and high skill immigration. Illegal immigration involves individuals who have a higher propensity to engage in illegal activity including crime.
Illegal immigrants can also put a drain on government finance as they can take more in benefits than they pay in. Illegal immigrants also create an equity issue, in other words a fairness issue, because they are getting in even before those immigrants who have chosen to do things legally. They are like the kids in a school cafeteria who jump to the front of the lunch line. In short, illegal immigration can be a net loss for the economy, and it should also be a problem with anyone concerned about fairness – oddly, liberals don’t seemed to concerned in this case.
Low skill immigration, even if legal, concerns some people because it can displace American workers. While I agree that this is factually the case, I don’t agree it means low skill immigration is bad. While I am usually sympathetic to the idea of American Exceptionalism, it is that very idea which says that people should be judged on their merit alone. If you are displaced by an immigrant in a free market it is because they won the competition fair and square. Moreover, the competition fosters economic efficiency which can end up creating jobs and lowering prices, so it’s no where near a 1-for-1 loss. In fact, even low skill workers are a large net benefit to the overall economy, in particular when they are paying taxes.
Now we get to high skill immigration. High-skill industries have virtually no unemployment. Demand is so high for this labor that American jobs are not displaced. These immigrants can sometimes cause slowed wage growth rates for American worker, but this comes no where close to a justification for wanting to restrict their inflow to the United States. Growing an economy is not about maximizing wages. If it was then minimum wages would be a great idea.
These skills provide much needed services which are worth huge amounts of money and would otherwise be very difficult to generate at all. As a result, they represent enormous net benefits to the economy. Even if you are an American in an industry where your wage is most directly affected, you may still be better off due to increased firm viability leading to job security and growth, reduced prices, or even reduced workload. When there is such an immense shortage of labor it sometimes results in firms making current workers take on more work than they would actually like. Even if they are paid more as a result, that doesn’t make it efficient or good.
In conclusion, we need to encourage H1B Visas and also consider how we might foster legal immigration while reducing illegal immigration. One option would be to reduce legal immigration weight times.Building a Fence
Another thing we could do to suppress illegal immigration would be to build a border fence. I have heard the idea often, but the video above was the first place I saw actual price data. As James Lankford points out, however, building a fence might involve ceding part of the border of Mexico to Mexico due to difficulty building inside a stream. As Ron Paul points out, this fence might be used to keep people in rather than out down the road.