Thursday, March 30, 2006


The New York Times has an article on the political implications of immigration.
The battle among Republicans over immigration policy and border security is threatening to undercut a decade-long effort by President Bush and his party to court Hispanic voters.
I hope the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot.

I'm more interested in a possible approach to immigration: open borders. Europe has open borders for all the EU countries. It seems to be working. What would happen if we tried it here? The apparent fears are that (a) a flood of Mexican workers would take away the jobs of Americans and (b) a flood of Mexican non-workers would over-burden our welfare system. Remember the Polish plumber scare in France, that a flood of Polish plumbers would take all the plumbing jobs in France from the French plumbers? It doesn't seem to have happened. It would be useful to find out what has happened. My sense is that the EU countries that have been most accepting of foreign workers have been most economically successful. As for over-burdening the welfare system, I don't know how things have worked out in the EU.

A longer term larger solution would be a United States of North America. Think of the opportunities available in Mexico if it were to become as open and transparent as the US. Canada and Mexico are far less developed than the US. More openness and economic integration among all three countries would benefit everyone.

The conservative Linda Chavez makes the case that Latino immigrants are good for the US.
Mexican-born men, for example, are more likely to be in the labor force than any other racial or ethnic group, according to the Census Bureau. Nearly half of Latino immigrants own their own homes. While most immigrants from Latin America, especially Mexico and Central America, lag in educational attainment, their children are far more likely to stay in school: according to research by the Pew Hispanic Center, 80 percent of second-generation Latinos graduate from high school. Almost half of second-generation Latinos ages 25 to 44 have attended college, and those who graduate earn more on average than non-Hispanic white workers.

Latino immigrants are also starting their own businesses at a rapid pace. The Census Bureau reported that entrepreneurship among Latinos is increasing at a rate three times faster than that of other Americans. Americans of Hispanic descent now own 1.6 million businesses generating $222 billion annually; and while Census data didn't distinguish between immigrants and American-born Hispanics, it suggested that much of this growth occurred in heavily immigrant communities.

Like every generation of immigrants before them, Latinos start out on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, but they don't stay there. They are learning English as quickly as their predecessors, perhaps more quickly thanks to television (a majority of third-generation Latinos speak only English). They are intermarrying at faster rates than earlier ethnic groups, too, with about one-third of married American-born Latinos having a non-Hispanic spouse.

These facts, if they were more widely known, would go a long way to calming fears about Latino immigration.

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