John Cochrane, writing in Friday’s Wall Street Journal (available here without a gate and with additional commentary) explains both the dangers and the stupidity (especially the Republican stupidity) of so-called “border security” and E-Verify. A slice (the bracketed comment is from Cochrane at his blog):
Perhaps some Republicans worry that immigrants will vote Democratic. But then limiting entrepreneurs and workers makes even less sense. These Republicans should have confidence that their ideas on freedom will attract ambitious, hard-working migrants.
Others say they want to protect the wages of American workers. Like all protectionism, that is demonstrably ineffective. Migrants come for jobs Americans won’t or can’t do, and businesses build factories abroad if workers can’t come here.
The Senate bill promises higher caps for “guest workers.” Ponder what “guest worker” really means. Come to America, pick our vegetables, clean our bathrooms and tend our gardens at the invitation of a powerful employer. Pay taxes. And when your visa runs out, go back where you came from—there is no place for you here. This is how Middle East sheikdoms treat Filipino maids and Palestinian construction workers. Is this America?
In the current vision of immigration reform, millions will still be trying to sneak in, and millions more will remain here working illegally. E-Verify and the border security wall prove it. If people could work legally, there would be no need for a system that endangers everyone’s liberty to “verify” them. And there would be no need to build a $45-billion monument to imperial decline— our bid to outdo the walls of Hadrian, China and Berlin—to stop them. [Only the ruins won’t be pretty enough to attract Chinese tourists a few centuries from now.]
(I’ll pick a nit with one passage above, namely, the one that reads “Migrants come for jobs Americans won’t or can’t do.” I’d prefer that Cochrane had instead written, for it would have more accurately conveyed what I’m sure is his meaning, “Migrants come for jobs for which Americans have a comparative disadvantage – jobs that too few Americans can or will perform at wages acceptable to immigrants.”)
American immigration policy in the 1930s – the policy that trapped millions of Jews in Nazi territory – wasn’t a weird aberration of a by-gone era. It epitomized the misanthropic mind-set that continues to drive immigration policy around the globe.