Milton Friedman

What Milton Friedman Really Said About Immigration and Welfare

Restrictionists have distorted and weaponized the late, great economist's views


Crops are rotting in the fields. Developers can't find workers to hang dry wall. Summer tourist hotspots (such as Michigan's Mackinac Island) are unable to fully function because they can't find enough seasonal help. Help wanted signs are proliferating everywhere. Yet one of the biggest barriers to alleviating America's labor scarcity and enacting humane, rational, and pro-growth immigration reform is a statement by the late, great, free market economist Milton Friedman that "free immigration" was incompatible with the welfare state.

"Free" immigration might be as distant a goal for mankind as flying at the speed of light and no one is talking about it. Yet Friedman's vague and general statement has become a potent weapon in the arsenal of restricitonists to thwart any loosening of America's insanely restrictive immigration laws. Worse, Friedman's comment has become a way for justifying Trump's draconian immigration crackdown.

But all of this is a terrible misuse of Friedman's real views on immigration and welfare. If he were still alive, I note in my column at The Week, he would denounce Trump's immigration policies. He'd never be on the restrictionist side.

Go here to read the piece.