No Skills? No Problem!

The economic case for welcoming low-skilled immigrants

(Page 2 of 2)

As Dalmia explains, this is $230 billion more than the money spent by the developed world on foreign aid. While foreign aid often only serves to enrich corrupt governments, open immigration would confer benefits directly to those who need it by allowing them to seek their own fortunes. Better yet, according to the World Bank study, these welcoming countries would gain $51 billion by boosting returns to capital and reducing the cost of production. This is a true win-win scenario.

Since the very beginning of the United States, immigration has been an issue that has inflamed passions and anxieties. Benjamin Franklin famously feared the influx of Germans into his adopted home state of Pennsylvania. After decades of heavy immigration from southern and central Europe, restrictionists in the 1920s openly invoked fears of racial degeneration if yet more Italians, Jews, and Poles arrived “direct from the slums of Europe.” 

Now it’s non-English-speaking migrants from Latin America who are pushing the panic buttons. This kind of emotional response may never go away, but the economic case for immigration, both high-skilled and low-skilled, is stronger than nativists’ fears. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • el Diablo Gigante||

    the saturation point of low skilled workers was reached years ago. they simply are no longer needed. the current crops won't assimilate or even move up the chain.

    there is simply no case for more unskilled workers to immigrate here anymore.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    there is simply no case for more unskilled workers to immigrate here anymore.

    Other than the case for making a better life for themselves and their families, none whatsoever.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    He's not talking about a case for them...

  • Libertarius||

    Because Americans have no right to exist for themselves (without being the community welfare breadbasket of the west), nor do Americans have any right to stop their country from being overrun by third world scum.

    Do you people not see the disaster of Britain's suicide, how she has reduced herself to a pathetic ghetto?

    For allegedly being the voice of Reason, reasonoids are long on rationalism and short on objectivity.

  • MoreFreedom||

    I'd like more people competing to take care of my yard and clean my house. And I see a lot of signs looking for entry level workers - more immigration would help them, and their customers.

  • MWG||

    Well it's good that we have you together with our political overlords to tell us when we've reached the optimal amount of low skilled immigrants as it's the one thing the actual labor market could never tell us.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: el Diablo Gigante,

    the saturation point of low skilled workers was reached years ago.


    That's an interesting conclusion. Would you happen to have the economic analysis that can back up your assertion? I mean, you wouldn't want people to think that you pulled that one from your ass, or would you?

    there is simply no case for more unskilled workers to immigrate here anymore.


    That's like saying we have plenty of flat-screen TVs, thank you very much. Except, YOU don't get to say that - the Market does, through the Law of Demand.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Would you happen to have the economic analysis that can back up your assertion? "

    See chronic unemployment rates for details.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    For pete sake, Dalmia, give it a rest already! Oh, this is de Rugy.

    I think there is a significant portion of the anti-immigrant labor crowd who would be more accepting of the idea if the immigrants weren't so darned brown. And I don't necessarily mean racism, but the culture thing. People here see Mexico ruining their country and it's not really the geography that's doing that; it's the people. Talking to opponents I know, I think that opposition would fade if there was more effort made toward cultural integration.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I think that opposition would fade if there was more effort made toward cultural integration.

    By whom?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I think you might be itching for a fight but I can't give you one because I doubt we're on very dissimilar pages. I'm talking about what I can see from discussions with conservatives is the problem they have with immigrant labor and how to get them past it (if you wanted to).

    I suppose you could call it racism, but immigrants who don't appear to adapt culturally as would be liked by the kind of person I'm talking about often have a rough time gaining acceptance.

    Personally, I wish everyone would assimilate into my culture of not really caring, leave me alone, but I don't make it a condition of my acceptance.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I think you might be itching for a fight but I can't give you one because I doubt we're on very dissimilar pages. I'm talking about what I can see from discussions with conservatives is the problem they have with immigrant labor and how to get them past it (if you wanted to).

    Nah, I'm not looking for a fight. I'm just pointing out that cultural assimilation is a two-way street. Those who bitch about Mexicans preferring to watch Univision while dining on menudo instead of watching CBS while dining on a Sloppy Joe, need to never eat another taco, or spaghetti and meatballs, or a corned beef on rye sandwich, or pork fried rice, or coq au vin, etc.

  • Harun||

    I think a more diversified immigrant base would help in this regard.

    We should match the legal immigration slots with amnesty. 8 million Mexicans...just allow in 8 million Russians, Africans, Indians, Vietnamese, Turks etc.

    This way you would get less of a bias towards a lucky handful of countries near the USA, and you'd force a bit more of a cultural mix up.

    Perhaps we should rate countries for the foods they will bring though. (Actually, we should prioritize good cooks somehow.)

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I think you have a good point about opposition because of a lack of integration. In my county, that (and the schools being clogged with ESL students, and ER rooms being turned into primary care centers) is the biggest bone of contention.
    If (a big if) the current generation's kids do assimilate/integrate, this should help, a lot.
    Of course we had a lot of "self-deportation" when the crash hit, and O!conomy has not recovered.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    On the other hand, there are plenty of people against birthright citizenship or amnesty for people who were here since they were young kids. Culturally, those people are just as "American" as any citizen, having grown up in the country, but that doesn't seem to matter.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Yeah, that particular opposition will never be mellowed with time.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    and the schools being clogged with ESL students

    "Clogged" Really? I wasn't aware that children who wanted to learn something was an educational "obstruction".

  • Virginian||

    Come on now, you're honest, you know why people resent ESL students. They soak up the teacher's attention, they hold the class back, etc.

    You and I know that in a free market, people could choose to send their kids to English only schools if they wished.

    But the reason immigration is such a controversy nowadays is because so many things are funded by taxpayers. The taxpayers do not want more people using the services without paying taxes*.

    *Yes I know that the amount of taxes illegals pay is somewhere between "some" and "the same" as citizens. But I'm talking about the public perception.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    you know why people resent ESL students. They soak up the teacher's attention, they hold the class back, etc.

    Umm...that's not how ESL has worked since the 1950s.
    Sink-or-swim has been replaced by sheltered instruction. For those kids who have mainstreamed, if a teacher isn't competent enough to provide scaffolded instruction for a student who's first language isn't English, that's the teacher's fault, not the student.

    Let me ask you, when you took a Spanish, French, or German class in high school, where you "clogging" up the school? ESL is just another subject, the kids aren't retarded. No offense, but your understanding of the reality of ESL is nil.

    You and I know that in a free market, people could choose to send their kids to English only schools if they wished

    Absolutely, and immigrants could once again afford to send their children to a bilingual immersion school, as they did in the late-19th century and early 20th centuries when American parochial schools in various ethnic enclaves pioneered bilingual education before the Progressive movement eviscerated them because, OMG Popery!

  • Virginian||

    I mean, I just remember when I was in school having kids in class who couldn't speak English at all, and they did suck up a lot of the time.

    Maybe you need to sign your kid up for ESL and these parents didn't know to? Maybe my school system was the exception?

  • KDN||

    That's they way it worked in my elementary school roughly twenty years ago. It was especially funny when the teacher tried to use the Peruvian kid to interpret for the Brazilian since they're both South American.

    ESL is just another subject, the kids aren't retarded.

    This is true, but judging from my halfhearted secondhand experience (the wife being a teacher in an immigrant-heavy district) they're treated in a similar manner to those with learning disabilities and psychological issues; having a school full of them does tend to suck up more of their teachers' effort than equivalent native speakers.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    This is true, but judging from my halfhearted secondhand experience (the wife being a teacher in an immigrant-heavy district) they're treated in a similar manner to those with learning disabilities and psychological issues; having a school full of them does tend to suck up more of their teachers' effort than equivalent native speakers.

    Unfortunately, your experience is true for too many districts. The warehousing, non-tracked model of public education, though, makes any student who is too smart, too dumb, or anything "not average" a "distraction" for the typical teacher.

  • KDN||

    Unless we're speaking about different concepts, she does teach in a tracked district (She has 3 honors algebra and one Special Ed inclusion math class). The district apparently does a good job with them since these kids all end up going to top tier colleges (the first language of her ESL kids is typically Mandarin), but getting them there is more effort than it is with the natives in the equivalent tracks.

    Anything "not average" makes a teacher's job harder, the good ones acknowledge that and deal with it, the bad ones bitch about it and wish they never existed. It's the same as any other profession when you get down to it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Unless we're speaking about different concepts, she does teach in a tracked district

    I was thinking more elementary school when I wrote that.

    Anything "not average" makes a teacher's job harder, the good ones acknowledge that and deal with it, the bad ones bitch about it and wish they never existed.

    Unfortunately, the bad ones often fill the rank-and-file of teachers' unions.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    HM,

    My town is mostly encompassed by a school district that is depressingly and accurately described by your 12:19 post. Thank YWVH I am in the next district over, that still tries to educate rather than warehouse.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But...but...Mangu-Ward told us that the purpose of schooling is warehousing, so women like her can stay in the Reason offices until the PM links are posted.

    She just thinks private robots should do it. And if you disagree, you're not a real libertarian.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    What time-frame are we talking about? Pre-1990's ESL was vastly different than to how we do things now. (the ACCESS test and NCLB changed things quite a bit)

    Again, if the kids were placed in a sink-or-swim situation and the language used the in the classroom was way above them, that's the schools fault for placing them in there, not the students.

    I'm sure the sink-or-swim situation wasn't fun for the ESL students either. How would you like to be trapped in a room for 6 hours while someone yammers at you and you only understand 1 word out of 20? And then you had to take a test on whatever that person was yammering about? Wouldn't you be frustrated and bored? Perhaps being a kid, you might act out in class due to being so frustrated and bored.

    Maybe you need to sign your kid up for ESL and these parents didn't know to?

    Perhaps. Federal law requires public schools to provide ESL instruction (Title VI, I think?), however, state and municipal law can determine the specific ESL methodology used by the school districts.

  • Harun||

    The kids are one issue. The parents are another. I was at open house one night and realized that several of the parents had no idea what was going on.

    And note, mentioning that this is a problem does not mean we should not have immigrants or that there is an actual solution to the problem...except time.

  • Jordan||

    ESL classes are separate from regular classes. Maybe what you say is true once they leave the ESL class and integrate into the regular classes, but I doubt it. In my experience, the ones causing the most problems were the native born jackasses.

  • wareagle||

    I would settle for putting the kids through a year-long English immersion program. Make sure they know the language then put them back on track. In the long run, everyone is better served.

    The same thing happens in schools overseas where native-English speakers are brought in to teach the locals. My stepdaughter did it in South Korea for 3 years. She had a Korean assistant to help with Hangool/English translations and vice-versa, but the class was all English. Young kids pick up languages pretty quickly.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I would settle for putting the kids through a year-long English immersion program.

    I'm curious as to what you mean by "English immersion program".

    See, I study this stuff and make recommendations for a living, so the general public's perception is always useful to me.

  • wareagle||

    I'm curious as to what you mean by "English immersion program".

    classes that are exclusively done in English, with perhaps a Spanish speaker to help with some translations. A long time ago, that was my intro to US schools; I didn't speak English at all but got thrown into a first-grade class and picked it up pretty fast.

    Kids are much better at quickly learning new languages than adults. It may mean a student's progress is slowed by a year or half a year while he/she learns that language, but in the long run, those kids are going to be ahead.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The sheltered instruction that I mentioned before, which is the most common model in America, is English-only. The minute you bring another language in there, it's "bilingual education", which isn't common in the States. Your example wouldn't be helpful in my daughter's school district, because the ESL students are not just Spanish-speaking, indeed Spanish is a slight minority, in that most ESL students come here speaking Somali, Dzongkha, Nepali, Kurdish, or Arabic. We can't have translators for all those languages per class.

    I didn't speak English at all but got thrown into a first-grade class and picked it up pretty fast.

    For first-grade, sink-or-swim works because, as you say, at that age all kids are language sponges, but what of the kid who comes here when he/she is 14?

  • wareagle||

    but what of the kid who comes here when he/she is 14?

    accepting that there is no perfect system, I still think the immersion approach is the best one, the sheltered model you describe. The goal is first, learn the language and second, tend to the other subjects. It may delay the 14 year old's graduation by a year but it's a net gain over the long haul.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It may delay the 14 year old's graduation by a year

    A year would be a miracle. Remember there is a difference between basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS), which can be mastered in about a year or two, and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP), which is the language skill needed to study an academically rigorous subject in a classroom. (You don't write a research essay using the same languager you use talking to your friend on the phone) CALP takes about 5 to 7 years of study to master. This is the problem.

  • Marla Singer||

    AFAIK, the statistics do not back up the claim that "those kids are going to be ahead," at least not for Hispanic students.

  • ||

    She had a Korean assistant to help with Hangool/English translations and vice-versa, but the class was all English. Young kids pick up languages pretty quickly.

    This is the key. I did a similar stint in Japan as an English teacher. They start as young as 4th or 5th grade having regular English classes. That's a far cry from the majority of schools in America where you don't *have* to take a foreign language until high school.

    But it's also different here because there are so many languages that it doesn't make much sense to force students to start learning one other than the native language. English is generally accepted as the business language of the world (could be changing, but that's how I've always seen it), so most people outside the U.S. learn English. But what should the U.S. students learn? Mandarin?

  • Virginian||

    I mean, whatever they want to honestly. People are not forced to learn English elsewhere. They choose to because that way they can consume English language media, and because it is the lingua franca of the world at this point, in large part due to Hollywood.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    The official language of the Swiss Multinational I work for is English - if you want documents in German, you have to request them.

    If that doesn't say something about the ubiquity of English, nothing does.

  • CbadCAMom||

    I have to agree on the lack of integration and cultural differences. I live in a fairly wealthy California city. My son's elementary school is pretty much equally split 30% white kids, 30% Mexican kids and 30% "other" kids, with a mix of Asian, black, and Pacific Islander. The white kids test out at the top for everything, as do the Asian kids, the Mexican kids, no so much. The differences is in what happens at home.

  • $park¥||

    I think that opposition would fade if there was more effort made toward cultural integration.

    I tend to agree with this. It's not the Mexicans that are the problem, it's their refusal to become Americans. Obviously you can't classify all Mexicans this way, or any nationality really, but sometimes it takes a generation or two.

  • John||

    Yeah. I don't think the "Fuck You it is still Mexico" bumper stickers help their cause. But liberals, the very people who want immigration, are also the ones who do everything they can to make sure integration doesn't happen. Gee, it is almost like they don't want immigrants so much as a permanent, alienated underclass.

  • ||

    Obviously you can't classify all Mexicans this way, or any nationality really

    Cubans, you can. There is a reason Miami is "Little Havana", and it's not because of the proximity or the food of choice. These people (Cubans) left Cuba and proceeded to turn south Florida into the Cuba substitute.

    I don't really have a problem with it, beyond Spanish drivers being second only to Asians as THE WORST DRIVERS IN THIS STATE, and it is one of the reasons I avoid Miami as much as possible.

    I love the food; I hate the language.

  • KDN||

    second only to Asians as THE WORST DRIVERS IN THIS STATE

    What, there's no Hasidim in South Florida?

  • ||

    I think that opposition would fade if there was more effort made toward cultural integration.

    One of my high school teachers had a copy of Go After The Women: Americanization and the Mexican immigrant woman, 1915-1929 which presents the very interesting case study of the American government forcing an American cultural identity on Mexican-American families by convincing them that bread was healthier than tortillas and teaching them English and encouraging them to only speak English to their children. It was a successful but ultimately...messy project.

    I can't find a decent digitization of it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Was it forcing forcing or convincing forcing? Because Spanish flu era me is slightly better with my tax dollar being used for propaganda than A Clockwork Orange Ludovico technique type scenarios.

  • ||

    I don't remember the details, we're now 15 years out from me reading the excerpt. I recall there was a very strong incentive structure for them to participate in the program and it was only ended because of the mass deportations once the Great Depression hit.

    My thoughts at the time were that I a) really liked Mexican food and thought it was retarded to tell them tortillas were worse than bread, b) elements of the program were extremely effective and could be implemented in a far less racist way.

    I'd actually really like to reread it with another decade-and-a-half of life experience under my belt including having worked abroad teaching English.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • ||

    Yes, that's the one. The first couple of pages are familiar, I don't remember how much of the document we actually got.

    Bah, now I have self-assigned homework.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And then maybe you can come back better prepared.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    HM, you are a resource, man!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Immigrants. Why did it have to be immigrants?"

  • LTC(ret) John||

    You'd rather it were snakes?! I thought you hated snakes?

  • John||

    These are jobs that the average American simply doesn’t want;

    I bet if we got rid of unemployment and welfare Americans would want those jobs. And if we make the Mexicans legal, they will then be eligible for unemployment and welfare and won't want those jobs either. It seems a bit nuts to pay Americans welfare and then import Mexicans to do the jobs Americans used to do before welfare.

  • wareagle||

    I've never bought that line either. The reality is more like "jobs Americans are not willing to do for the $5/hr you can get away with paying illegals."

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    I bet if we got rid of unemployment and welfare Americans would want those jobs. And if we make the Mexicans legal, they will then be eligible for unemployment and welfare and won't want those jobs either.

    So let me get this straight; you're saying incentives matter? Strange how some people seem to forget this basic fact.

  • ||

    I am reminded of this article from a few years back.

    Six hours was enough, between the 6 a.m. start time and noon lunch break, for the first wave of local workers to quit. Some simply never came back and gave no reason. Twenty-five of them said specifically, according to farm records, that the work was too hard.

    I definitely agree that distortions in the labor market made by unemployment, welfare and wage controls affect how this plays out though.

  • SKR||

    That article sort of blows the whole, "Americans won't take jobs at the $5/hr they pay immigrants," argument. He was paying those people $10.50/hr.

  • JeremyR||

    Then pay them more.

    That's the thing - the labor market follows supply and demand. If people aren't willing to do work for X amount, the answer should be to pay them more, until they do the work. Not ship in people from other countries willing to work for less.

    Why should farmers (or anyone else) be free from the laws of supply & demand?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: John,

    I bet if we got rid of unemployment and welfare Americans would want those jobs.


    Yeah. It's just be a question of whether the EMPLOYERS want to give Americans those jobs. Wouldn't it?

    I mean, it's not like its THEIR MONEY to begin with! Right?

    It seems a bit nuts[...]


    American politics in a nutshell - no pun intended.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Yeah. It's just be a question of whether the EMPLOYERS want to give Americans those jobs. Wouldn't it?

    If an employer is offering a job at a certain remuneration, why wouldn't they want to give Americans those jobs, as long as the Americans are willing and able to do the job? If you increase the supply of labor, by ending welfare, etc, the price of labor will decline, correct?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Ptah-Hotep,

    If an employer is offering a job at a certain remuneration, why wouldn't they want to give Americans those jobs, as long as the Americans are willing and able to do the job?


    It will depend on with whom the employer prefers to work, if with Americans or with immigrants.

    I am not saying that eliminating the welfare state and other barriers of entry for American labor will not make a difference, quite the contrary. I am saying that you cannot rely on a Nirvana fallacy to argue that American labor will be prefered all the time once the impediments are gone.

  • Harun||

    You forgot machines. If you raise the labor costs enough, machines will be invented and used instead. Which is actually a good thing. Eventually, when the entire earth has a roughly equal economic balance, this is what will occur.

  • MWG||

    Yeah, if it weren't for the welfare state, all those single mother welfare queens would picking the fields and building homes in no time, right John?

  • wareagle||

    this argument has long past tedious and remains a bit dishonest. The subject is not immigration, per se, it's what to do about immigrants from south of the border.

    Immigration works better when newcomers work to assimilate into their new surroundings rather than expect the reverse. It helps, too, when people don't sneak in and stay under the radar for years.

  • Jordan||

    It helps, too, when people don't sneak in and stay under the radar for years.

    And why might they do that?

  • wareagle||

    they do that because the current system enables it. These people are not stupid; might be nice if we didn't treat them differently from the Ukrainians, Asians, or other immigrants who come here.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That's funny, because I personally know both formerly illegally resident Ukrainians and Asians who came here on either tourist visas or summer work visas and overstayed.

  • wareagle||

    HM,
    the Latinos this legislation seeks to address are not overstaying visas. They came without visas and never left. That the system more or less ignores expired visas is just another facet of its sorry shape.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    HM,
    the Latinos this legislation seeks to address are not overstaying visas. They came without visas and never left.

    Well, one advantage Latinos and Hispanics have over other immigrants in this respect is that it's possible to have a guest-worker program where it's not very expensive for them to go back.

  • wareagle||

    and i don't see a reason why a guest worker program is not both logistically and politically palatable. Latinos are close by, they're willing to do the work, employers have jobs for them; it's so damn easy no wonder the political class seems unable to do it.

  • SKR||

    I know Canadians and Asians that did that too.

  • SKR||

    except on education visas.

  • Harun||

    I think we will be surprised by the number of non-Mexicans who apply for amnesty.

  • ||

    I think it's less that the system enables it and more that the system encourages it. By going all fortress America we've created a scenario that minimizes cyclical immigration and encourages people to risk quite a bit to sneak across the border and stay.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I don't think we have gone all "Fortress America".

    More like a single 3 strand barbed wire fence America.

  • ||

    I just meant American attitudes about immigration. I don't think many people in border states really feel that building a massive fence is an effective way to keep people out, but our immigration policy is footed in the idea that we can keep immigrants out and let them in a few at a time. It's been like trying to stop water flowing through a sieve. Since it's functionally impossible to keep people from crossing the border we should have a reality-based system that undermines the market for coyotes.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: wareagle,

    Immigration works better when newcomers work to assimilate into their new surroundings rather than expect the reverse.


    Yes. I hate Chinatown. What's up with those people?????

    It's interesting that you would argue such a thing when the first generation of poor immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe ghettoed themselves with people they knew and with little interest in "assimilating" themselves quickly like secret agents. Their offspring would later become the workers, technicians and scientists that would participate in the economic and technical progress of the country, with most of the 3rd and 4th generation having nary a memory of the "Old Country" or the "old ways."

    It's a specious argument, to be more succinct.

  • Calidissident||

    wareagle, I hope you don't just get your impression of Latinos from television or the 3 Mexicans you've met living in Alabama. I volunteer at a preschool in South Central LA where 90% of the kids are Hispanic, and the vast majority speak English well. The number of Latinos that speak just English is more than double the number that speak just Spanish. Over a quarter of Latinos marry non-Latinos. This notion that Hispanic immigrants don't assimilate, unlike the immigrants of the past (as if the immigrants from Europe back in the day would just totally leave their language and culture completely behind once they stepped off the boat) is BS. It doesn't happen overnight, but it is happening

  • OldMexican||

    One of the most compelling arguments for opening immigration to low-skilled workers is the impact it would have on world poverty.


    Please refrain from making such esoteric arguments, Ms. de Rugy. Few here in the U.S. care about "world poverty."

    The fact is that immigration is a net gain for the American economy for two very good economic reasons: Division of Labor and Comparative Advantage.

    Division of Labor is what allows people to be much more productive with their lives than if they had to do most things themselves, like sewing their own clothing or gathering their own food.

    Comparative Advantage is what allows people to be more productive in certain endeavors, leaving other endeavors to other people of lesser skills or different skills. Again, you don't have to sew your own shirts because there's a person already doing that for a living, which means you can employ your time to more productive things, like designing engines or managing a factory.

    If in the process, the poor of the world are better of, great! Good for us and the Terran Way! But don't use it as argument for immigration in front of the rubes and hicks.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "There is one clear cost of low-skilled immigration: the pressure placed on state and local governments by swelling Medicaid and public school spending, two types of social spending immigrants generally receive if eligible. But this is an argument for reforming the welfare state, not for keeping people out. "

    First, a lot of Medicaid is paid for by federal tax dollars so it's not just state and local government's that's paying for it.

    Second, it is an argument for keeping people out if you believe that there's no political chance that the welfare state will be curtailed and that allowing an ever inceasing number of immigrants to get benefits from it (whether they are legal or illegal) isn't moving anything in the right direction to get rid of it.

  • OldMexican||

    As Shikha Dalmia notes in a November 2012 Reason Foundation paper, "the 2010 labor participation rate of foreign men is 80%—10 points higher than of native men — this rate was even higher for unauthorized foreign men (94%)."


    Just as you find leftists repeating already-debunked falsehoods meant to demonize their perceived enemies and paint themselves in a different light (man of the people, savior of the poor and helpless, etc.) the right is keen on doing the same by repeating the whopper that immigrants come here for the welfare.

    People have to brave abuse and horrors the kind of which Americans would see only in their nightmares, just to come here. Do you really think they take those risks for the welfare? For the "free medical care"? I, as an immigrant, had the choice of going to live in Canada or the U.S. It would cost me less to go to Canada in terms of time spent obtaining the necessary documents, as Canada is much more immigrant-friendly than the U.S. Yet I chose the U.S. and, I can tell you, it wasn't because of the "free healthcare."

  • Harun||

    1) We do advertise welfare now. That might influence some people to immigrate, just as tax subsidies attract businesses to move.

    2) But more importantly, the work-minded immigrant may arrive in America and find hordes of non-profit interns armed with clipboards telling to sign up for this and that. This is essentially what Acorn did. Now with Obamacare, the facilitators will be doing it. This is not the fault of the immigrant, but it could lead to massive use of the welfare system. Then they can get trapped in the system where any better job cannot beat the bennies.

    Anecdotal evidence: my wife was an ESL student and many, many of the students asked her why she was not on EBT, Section 8, etc. They all had excellent tips like "don't buy a nice car, they count that as an asset." I doubt these people came to America with this in mind, but retail government cronyism exists, too.

  • NealAppeal||

    can clean bedpans or change sheets in a hotel

    Those aren't bedpans, they're dresser drawers.

  • Finchster||

    Why hasn't my hometown of Detroit benefited from its vast population of low-skilled, barely literate residents? They should actually be more beneficial to the economy than their Mexican brethren, since at least they speak English (after a fashion).

  • buybuydandavis||

    Supply and demand.

    It's sad when Reason is in the business of denying reality.

    Yes, people in the market for cheap labor benefit from importing more of it. Those people in the market to sell their labor do not. "Freeing them to seek higher paying jobs." Indeed, every illiterate day laborer is now freed to apply for CEO of GE. If they are starving for bread, let them eat cake!

    And given the now chronically high levels of unemployment, it's hard to see how importing more people at the bottom of the ladder will improve the general condition, as much as it might make it cheaper for the ruling class to hire gardeners.

    And when these people have children that are US citizens, won't the open the spigot to public benefits? Will these new Americans be any different than the old, and do the jobs "American's won't do"?

    Open borders. Gay Marriage. 80% of Reason these days.

  • XM||

    When I was younger, I was one of those immigration advocates. Probably no different than the Latinos clamoring for amnesty or whatnot. Asian pride WHOOO!

    But the racial identity politics sort washes away when you leave the left. I've worked for Asian owned companies that runs on Latino labor, and witness the drama and tactics that enables them to "benefit" consumer. I never apply to a job if I know the employer is Asian. NEVER.

    What's funny to me is that every immigrant have fond memories of their homeland. Oh, Korea and Japan has faster internet that America. Their healthcare and public education is better. People are smarter. You can walk in the street at night. Cost of living is lower (I call BS on that). On and on.

    I don't bother asking them "then how come you're here" because the answer is so obvious. What's tragic is that they're helping this place become more like the bitchy, human sardine can that is Seoul.

  • Homple||

    Here's the deal: Unregistered Democrats come here to work because they have no access to welfare benefits at home and not much chance for jobs, either. Ergo - migrate.

    Here in the USA we have plenty of welfare and hence many find no need to take available jobs. Welfare and the social pathologies that follow it cost us lots of working people's resources.

    So we let in lots of Unregistered Democrats and they work until they and their descendants discover that welfare is easier on the back than labor. Hence, even more welfare recipients and voters to vote for a bigger more generous state. Lather, rinse, repeat. Don't think this will happen? I hope not, but it looks like we are going to run the experiment so let's wait for the results.

  • Homple||

    Can't even sling my own inuendo; I should have said "Undocumented Democrats"

  • timmay||

    The fact of the matter is that the majority of Latinos are too lazy, stupid, and angry to learn English. If I had a burning desire to immigrate to China I would learn to speak Mandarin. It's not only intelligent but the right thing to do out of respect for my new country. These slimy river crossers despise Anglos and the country (USA) they have illegally and immorally invaded and unfortunately conquered. History will prove that our politicians have ruined what could have been a great nation, but is now just a 3rd world dumping ground!

  • bellaaedvard||

    my co-worker's step-mother makes $63/hour on the internet. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her pay was $20086 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site

    HTTP://WWW.BIG76.COM

  • Conrad97||

    just as Lois said I am inspired that any one can make $9193 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you look at this website http://www.wow92.com

  • Dona Marina||

    Gee, Veroni, if unskilled, uneducated laborers were a boon to an economy, what happened in the countries illegals come from?

    You use the word "nativist" as if it is a bad word. Sorry, Veroni, patriots are nativists.

    You offer no evidence whatsoever to refute the statement illegal immigration "will push down wages and limit employment opportunities."
    You only offered the consolation, "Immigrants don’t just do the jobs Americans won’t do, they also allow Americans to seek even better work."
    What a crock. There's "better work" out there in this economy for America's low-skilled workers?

    You're willing to sell out unskilled American workers with your logic, "By working for less, low-skilled workers help produce goods and services at a much lower cost. This means lower prices for everyone."
    Wow, Veroni, you sell out Americans cheap.

    You find it acceptable illegals lower American high-school dropouts' wages by 5%. That's $754/year for a minimum wage American, Veroni.

    You claim absorbing the budget-busting cost of educating the offspring of illegals is worth it because the offspring will grow up and pay taxes.
    Holy crap, Veroni - and I do mean crap.
    (cont’d)

  • Dona Marina||

    (cont’d)
    "And ever since the 1996 federal welfare reform package, illegal immigrants have been denied access to all non-emergency room welfare."
    Bull Shit, Veroni. With a qualifying anchor baby, illegals qualify for ALL American low/no-income benefits. Welfare-receiving illegals don't even have to sign up for required-employment programs because it is illegal for them to work in our country.

    Don't you want to discuss the cost of "emergency room welfare" for illegals?

    You speak of the economic benefits to the illegals by illegally coming to our country. As is your modus operandi, you dismiss the negative impact that adding 12-20 million unskilled, uneducated illegals has on Americans.
    Veroni, “Supply and Demand.” You don’t seem to fully understand it. When you increase our labor supply by millions, you decrease the demand for workers, i.e. unemployment and lower wages.

    Veroni, take your socialist, open-borders bull shit and shove it up your ass.

    “If a nation is a sovereign community of persons who have the right and human obligation to protect their common good, then they have the right and human obligation — all the while being generous in their welcome — to control the influx of persons into the community, so not excessively to disturb the community socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally.”
    Fr. Dominique Peridans

  • SteveTX||

    As long as the government school system programs American kids to believe a college education is the path to happiness for everyone there will be a disconnect with reality in this country. Because statistics show people with higher education generally earn more it has been extrapolated that if all Americans had college education everyone would make more money and the jobs that require less formal education can be filled with uneducated foreign workers.

    Unfortunately US colleges are turning out huge numbers of kids with degrees that are of dubious value. The best they can hope for is government employment as a clerk. These positions hardly require a degree aside from to get the pre-employment interview.

    Now with all governments being broke these jobs have dried up. Statistics are that as many as half the kids graduating from college today will not get jobs. They will still have large amounts of student debt. Most of these kids would have been good painters, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, etc.

    I realize all parents want the best future for their children. Most think their kids are intelligent and can be educated to fill a high paying job. What I don't understand is how America has allowed the educational system to program kids to think working with one's hands is somehow less honorable or fulfilling.

  • Jagiela||

    There is much truth to what you have written But a further extrapolation, if everyone in America had a college degree, it doesn't follow that our incomes would rise.

    The simple truth is that the economy has lots of jobs that are low skilled but need to be done. Take truck driving. A truck driver needs about a month of training but provides a very useful service. If everyone had college degrees, someone would still need to drive the truck.

  • Aaron867||

    til I looked at the check which was of $4878, I accept ...that...my mom in-law trully bringing home money parttime from there computar.. there aunt had bean doing this for only about 19 months and just repaid the dept on there appartment and got a top of the range Ariel Atom. this is where I went, http://www.wow92.com

  • helenarther||

    my neighbor's ex-wife makes $81 every hour on the internet. She has been without work for six months but last month her check was $19008 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this web site
    http://big76.com

  • Federale||

    And then what do we do with all the unemployable blacks if all the menial jobs go to Mexican immigrants? They still live off the welfare state, which libertarians are still unwilling to confront.

    The other problem is that the children of Mexican immigrants don't do that well either. The other problem is that low skilled immigrants never pay enough in taxes to support their welfare benefits, including the massive subsidy they get in Social Security.

    Yes, Mexican males work more than black males, but they still don't pay off in the end. It is also noticable that the author did not mention the labor participation rate of immigrant females, which is lower and the more welfare dependant, especially since the Hispanic out of wedlock birth rate is almost as high as that of blacks.

    It is also very noticable that the labor force participation rate of illegal immigrants is higher than legal immigrants. You just admitted the point. But comparing immigrants to the total labor force participation rate is misleading. It should be compared to the white and Asian labor force participation rates, as the black labor force participation rate is so low.

    The other issue is that Hispanics are overwhelmingly against the right to own guns. So, you can have lots of unskilled immigrants or you can have gun rights, not both.

    In any event, libertarians should first eliminate the welfare state, then deal with illegals. Immigrants overwhelmingly support the welfare state.

  • J_West||

    Here's a question I would like to see pro-immigration advocates answer:

    Can you explain why immigration has suddenly become such a critical issue for a sector of libertarians?

    Exactly why do you want to de facto open the borders? Will these immigrants then join the Libertarian Party or become members of Cato? Will they start demanding less government from the GOP and Dems? Will they oppose high taxes, gun control, affirmative action and speech codes?

    Thing is, when people start advocating for immigration, especially when the immigrants are from the third world, they often get these stars in their eyes as if the newcomers are going to somehow liberate America. Certainly this is so with various leftwingers I know, who see third world immigrants as a sort of mobile international proletariat who can be used against the old guard in America.

    Anyway, how about an answer to my question?

  • MoreFreedom||

    DeRugy writes regarding welfare programs and immigration, that "this is an argument for reforming the welfare state, not for keeping people out."

    I agree, but until we end the welfare state, many would immigrate to take advantage of our welfare state. And even if they do pay other taxes (property taxes even if they rent, sales taxes, license fees, etc.) it's not fair that they get benefits at the expense of others. Government welfare is immoral since the money is taken from others, while private charity is moral because no force is used.

    What if Republicans wrote legislation to end the welfare state, and then to allow lots more immigration? Certainly it would appeal to a lot of folks, but not Democrats or much of the 47% of the population who'd lose their welfare benefits.

  • mynet sohbet||

  • mynet sohbet||

    I agree along with you. This post is actually inspiring. Nice post and many types of a person tell you is up to mynet date as well as really enlightening, i mynet sohbet must book mark the actual web page in order to can come right here just as before to study anyone, as you've performed a great employment

  • Jagiela||

    Why should we take a large number of unskilled laborers? We have plenty of unused labor here at home. Why not instead take a larger number of skilled workers? After all, if someone has earned a college degree abroad, importing him spares us the cost of educating him and we get an educated worker who would add far more to the economy.

    Simply allow anyone with a college degree who can pass a professional licensing exam into the country. These people are also likely to already be profecient in English. Look at the huge benefits. We could attract tens of thousands of nurses which would drive down the cost of health care. Spanish teachers? How about all the Mexican teachers who teach English, they could come here and teach Spanish and they'll work for a third of what an American teacher wants.

    Doing this would balance the workforce so that the educated elites relative salaries would decline while the high school graduates and dropouts wages would increase. It would lower poverty so we wouldn't have to pay all those welfare benefits.

    Immigration reform should help all of us not just the elite who want cheap lawn mowers.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement