A Note On My Anti-Anti-Immigration Argument

by Don Boudreaux on September 15, 2007

in Immigration

Since the appearance of this column of mine, on immigration, several friends (as well as non-friends) have accused me of ignoring the fact that Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, and some other free-market advocates oppose more-open immigration.

Fact is, I mentioned no names in my column.

I have long been aware that that Friedman, Sowell, and others whose positions I generally respect have spoken out against immigration.

But let’s be clear.  In the case of Milton Friedman, his only reason for opposing more-open borders was the existence in the U.S. of a welfare state.  Friedman emphatically did not make the anti-immigration argument that I criticize in my column.  (And he would not have made that argument.   Just before he died, I asked him by e-mail if he’d favor a return to  the pre-1920s immigration regime if the U.S. abolished its welfare state.  He wrote back saying yes.)

Nor is Thomas Sowell’s opposition to more-open immigration based upon the argument that I take issue with in my column.

There are, of course, many different possible reasons for opposing immigration, some more plausible than others.  The alleged reason that I challenged in my column is just one such reason — a reason that I continue to find illogical and downright bizarre.


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