"A Sign of Desperation" in the Immigration Debate


In the New York Sun (via Arts & Letters Daily), Diana Furchtgott-Roth picks apart the latest anti-immigrant argument by the restrictionists' favorite numbers-cruncher, Harvard economist George Borjas. After substantially reducing his own estimate of low-skilled immigrants' effect on the wages of high-school dropouts, Borjas now charges that foreign-born newcomers jack up incarceration rates among African Americans. Explains Furchtgott-Roth:

George Borjas of Harvard University, a Cuban immigrant, writes in his latest National Bureau of Economic Research paper that "As immigrants disproportionately increased the supply of workers in a particular skill group, we find a reduction in the wage of black workers in that group, a reduction in the employment rate, and a corresponding increase in the incarceration rate."…

Let's for the moment ignore the insulting assumption that African-Americans are more likely than others to turn to crime if they cannot find work. The major problem with Mr. Borjas's argument is that young black men began withdrawing from the labor force in the 1960s, when the share of immigrants in the labor force was less than 1%….

Mr. Borjas, careful as always, hedges his bets by saying that "much of the decline in employment and increase in incarceration observed in the low-skill black population would have taken place even if the immigrant influx had been far smaller." Given this conclusion, it is surprising that Mr. Borjas published this paper at all….

Blaming immigrants for the incarceration rates of African-Americans is a sign of desperation.Will they next be held responsible for Iraq and Hurricane Katrina?

Whole piece here.

In a related and equally unconvincing attack on low-skilled immigrants, the Heather Locklear-lovin' bully boys and girls over at VDare.com attribute the e. coli breakout to dirty Mexicans and implore the U.S. to

…stop turning over all jobs in food handling and harvesting to people who don't understand sanitation. People who likely have less than a sixth-grade education.

How is that you yourself know about the Germ Theory of disease? Because you learned about it in health class in school, or your parents told you.

Mexican immigrants didn't have those classes, or those parents. How would they know?

More in that jugular vein here.

Bad news for that theory: As Reason's Ron Bailey has pointed out, such outbreaks are declining even as the number of immigrant laborers is growing.

Reason's reality-based guide to immigration policy online here.