Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor. Really. We Mean It.
Economists are making the case politicians are afraid to: Immigration is great for the U.S.
By James Ledbetter
If you pay attention only to politics, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the current debate about immigration in America is limited to how severely it should be restricted—whether we need only to seal the border or actually change the birthright citizenship clause in the Constitution.
But among economic pundits, the discussion is heading in exactly the opposite direction. Pro-immigration arguments are booming, and reached a zenith this week with the publication of a paper by the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank [i.e., Giovanni Peri], arguing among other things that immigrants, despite popular misconception, do not displace American workers. This has led a number [Felix Salmon] of economic bloggers [Kevin Drum] to make the very rational argument that one of the best things America could do now to fix our sagging economy is to encourage more people to come here and work.
According to the econo-blogosphere lately, immigration is a cure-all for America's economic ills. We'll get to the question of whether anyone is listening, but here is a guide to the virtues-of-immigration arguments that have been making the rounds in recent weeks.
Immigrants will solve our housing crisis. ...
Immigrants are needed to replenish the American workforce. ...
Immigrants make the economy better. ...
I'm always getting accused of being obsessed with IQ, but it seems an awful lot of people are obsessed with showing off how smart they are. In general, that would be a good thing, except that our culture has got itself into a culdesac whereby a proof of being "thoughtful" is by how little thought you give to crucial topics such as immigration, and by how mindlessly you sneer at those who actually have thought hard on the subject.