I am not a fan of Tom Friedman and the NYT but in this case, with illegal immigration, he is right and Trump is right. If anything, the last four years is proof that walls does work if given the chance.
Henryk, your arguments makes sense but you make the same mistake either unconsciously or deliberately, by lumping both legal and illegal immigrants into one bucket.
The validity of your arguments is based on having more immigrants which we all agree is desired and a win win for all. Our country has been open to all immigrants for the good part of our history. We are a nation of immigrants.
The problem is we are no longer the same country back in the early 1900s. We did not have a robust social welfare system as we do now. We were a growing and developing country and needed new immigrants to help build our vast country.
As the Nobel winning economist Milton Friedman commented: (no relations to Tom Friedman)
“Immigration is a particularly difficult subject. There is no doubt that free and open immigration is the right policy in a libertarian state, but in a welfare state it is a different story: the supply of immigrants will become infinite. Your proposal that someone only be able to come for employment is a good one but it would not solve the problem completely. The real hitch is in denying social benefits to the immigrants who are here. That is very hard to do, much harder than you would think as we have found out in California. But nonetheless, we clearly want to move in the direction that you are talking about so this is a question of nitpicking, not of serious objection.”
What he is saying we cannot have both at this juncture. Other advanced countries have came up with “legal” ways to deal with labor shortages such as guest worker programs. These programs help reduce the illegal immigrant population and create economic opportunities that benefit both the guest worker and the host nation.
To deny the problem that exist today is just like sticking one’s head in the sand. You need to look no further than the State of California.
The other misconception is the number of illegal population are small. You cited 13 million but that is only an estimate and that number have not changed for a few decades. Common sense tells us it cannot be true. We have on average 1 million legal immigrants that enter our country each year, and on top of that 700k-800k illegals that come here either through our southern border or by over staying their visa or smuggled here by containers…and then we also have refugees which seek asylum from their home country.
The problem gets bigger with each passing year and yet, the official numbers remain the same. How can that be?
We just completed a census in 2020. It is in our Constitution to count our population every 10 years. And yet, we were not allowed to ask the question of citizenship? Some oppose it thinking it would discourage respondent, even though the survey is completely confidential.
Since the bulk of the illegals are coming from our southern borders, it makes sense to focus on that portion. However, those on the left are using race as an argument against the wall saying it is based on racism. Trump is accused of being a racist for trying to stop the flow of illegals into our country from Mexico since those are non-white people.
My main argument against the current immigration system is based on three issues.
We need to know who is here. That is the main reason for having an immigration system. In an era of terrorism, we need to know who is coming here and for what purpose.
In an era of the pandemic, we also need to know the health of the individual coming here. Legal immigrants have to pass a physical checkup and be immunized for certain diseases. This is standard practice for all nations and it is just common sense.
Finally, the economic impact cannot be overstated. Our economy works in a free enterprise system. Supply and demand is what set wages and almost everything else. When you have an unlimited supply of low skilled cheap labor, you end up with a depressed wage structure which will only get worst with each passing year.
The irony is the people who advocate for equity and complains about income inequality are the same people who advocate for open borders. Don’t they realize their policies is what contribute to this inequality of having a two-tier workers system. One that is legal and the other is “undocumented”.
The solution is not hard but it takes courage and discipline which is lacking in our Congress.
Three steps to solving this problem.
- Finish building the wall.
- Adopt a guest worker program.
- Fix the legal immigration process to be more efficient. It should not take 4–5 years to process legal immigration applications.
If we did those three things, it would go a long way to end this perpetual and growing problem.