The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
My recently published op ed in the Austin American-Statesman focuses on an oft-neglected aspect of the debate over immigration: the many ways in which which restrictionism harms native-born Americans, as well as potential immigrants. Here is an excerpt:
Americans living along the Mexican border have begun to receive notices that their property will be condemned by the government in order to build President Donald Trump's border wall. The greatest damage likely to be inflicted by the Trump administration's severely restrictionist approach to immigration will probably fall on immigrants themselves. Trump advocates drastic cuts in legal and illegal migration alike. But the wall takings are a reminder that American citizens will suffer, too.
The most obvious harm is economic. Immigration restrictions interfere with the free market more than almost any other U.S. government policy. They literally prevent millions of people from freely seeking jobs and engaging in other market transactions. Free migration throughout the world could potentially double world gross domestic product and grow the economy more than almost any other policy change.
Many of those economic benefits will accrue to native-born Americans who hire immigrants, buy the goods they produce, or engage in other transactions with them….
Immigration restrictionism also threatens the liberty and property rights of Americans…..
There is no way to deport large numbers of undocumented immigrants—as the administration seeks to do—without also imperiling the civil liberties of natives….
The world is not a zero-sum game where natives must lose out in order for immigrants to gain—or vice versa. If we truly want to make America great again, we must remember the many ways that immigrants and natives benefit each other. That is a big part of what made the nation great in the first place.