The most disheartening part of the YouTube Republican Debate was the discourse on immigration. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s only that, by not really keeping tabs on the Republican party, I’ve forgotten how bad our stance on immigration is. (I get my news mostly from the economist blogs I read.) The subject came up at the office and I was inspired to declare: I think illegal immigrants are good for America. Alas, this is a minority opinion.
Here is a Freakonomics interview with Philippe Legrain. He does a much better job than I at outlining the case for open immigration. I’ve considered addressing the common complaints against immigration but there are just too many. That’s not to say that they are correct. If there are any arguments you’d like me to address, let me know and I’ll babble some more about them.
My personal opinion is that most of the arguments against immigration stem from our evolved sense of xenophobia. We had more genetically in common with our tribe than their tribe, so it payed to guard our resources. The viewpoint also plays on our zero sum game assumption. For most of human history, things were pretty static. TDP (tribe domestic product) didn’t grow very much, so any gain I had was at the expense of someone else. Or, if my tribe had a gain, it was typically at the expense of another tribe. Thus, if it’s good for an immigrant to move to the US, it must be bad for the US. Needless to say, I think this is misguided.
Finally, here’s an interesting article about guest worker programs.