The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

My new "US News and World Report" column on harm caused by immigration restrictions


"US News and World Report" recently published my new op ed on the harm immigration restrictions inflict on American citizens, as well as potential immigrants. Here's an excerpt:

As the Trump administration seeks to cut H-1B visas for skilled workers and ramps up arrests of immigrants without legal status, including thousands who do not have a criminal record, it is worth remembering that immigrants are not the only ones harmed by the new administration's harshly restrictionist immigration policies. Severe restrictions on migration condemn hundreds of thousands of potential immigrants to lives of poverty and oppression in underdeveloped nations, yet such policies… harm American citizens, as well….

Restrictions prevent millions of people from freely seeking employment and other opportunities. Economists estimate that abolishing migration restrictions around the world could potentially double world GDP. No other potential policy change is likely to have anything like the same massive beneficial effects…..

Immigration restrictions also threaten the liberty and property rights of Americans. Most obviously, they curtail American citizens' freedom to associate with immigrants. Jim Crow segregation laws restricted the freedom of association of whites as well as African-Americans. Similarly, immigration restrictions curtail the freedom of natives as well as immigrants. In both cases, laws that classify people based on conditions of birth dictate where they are allowed to live and work and who they can interact with….

Building Trump's much-ballyhooed wall across the Mexican border would require using eminent domain to seize the property of thousands of Americans. Numerous homeowners and businesses are likely to suffer….

The deportations advocated by Trump would cost far more. According to the conservative American Action Forum, mass deportations on the scale envisioned by the administration would cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, a figure that does not include the cost of losing the goods and services that would have been produced by deported workers….