Some time ago, I wrote a piece (Do Illegal Immigrants Hurt the Economy?) arguing that immigration is not a net drag on the economy–that immigrants do not, in the long term, “steal jobs and depress wages”, as the myth often goes. Unfortunately, some readers took this to mean I was advocating illegal immigration. In fact, I was merely addressing the economics of the issue, with an eye toward changing the laws, not breaking them. The post led to some spirited debate, for which we of course thank our readers.
Now, the Obama administration’s new deportation policy has returned the immigration issue to center stage. Certainly, the president’s decision not to enforce the rules agreed upon by Congress–his decision to, in effect, pass the DREAM Act by executive fiat–raises serious rule of law issues. President Obama’s blatant disregard of the people’s elected representatives and his constitutional responsibility to enforce the law is certainly a dereliction of duty, and may be an executive overreach rising beyond the level of simple prosecutorial discretion. Nevertheless, the president’s recent actions provide an excellent opportunity to discuss what a duly enacted immigration policy should look like. What kinds of laws should be on the books for the president to enforce?
Any discussion of immigration policy should start by addressing two issues: national security and economics.
The demands of national security are clear: only a secure border will suffice.
In terms of economics, the question is whether legal immigration policy should be welcoming or restrictive. Here’s economist Ben Powell on the economics of immigration, courtesy of the Foundation for Economic Education:
Our Newest Articles