2.21.2007

Krikorian-Jacoby Immigration Debate Part II

Today's immigration debate question for Mark Krikorian and Tamar Jacoby is: Does the U.S. economy need all those illegal immigrants to stay or are they taking jobs away from Americans?

Again, Jacoby in Wanna work hunched over in a field? Knock yourself out! gets the better of Krikorian. Here's an excerpt:

And immigrants don't just keep the economy going, they grow it, making us all richer and more productive. You can't grow a business without new workers—and not only do most native-born workers already have jobs, but with most of us having smaller families and baby-boomers retiring en masse, the native-born workforce will soon be shrinking—shrinking dramatically.
In Bring in all the Bangladeshis, why don'tcha?, Kritkorian admits that immigration makes the U.S. richer, but he argues that it also makes American workers poorer. Strange logic? Would worker wages be higher in an America with sealed borders and less wealth?

Upon acknowledging that immigration enriches the country, Kritkorian is left arguing that our actual immigrants are a drag. Claiming that they cost of money--a dubious claim based on the research--he suggests his preference for upper crust immigrants.

Of course, the truth is that upper crust immigrants--as is the case with middle and upper-middle class Americans, cost government a great deal of money, too. The only difference is that unlike the overblown costs estimates of lower-wage workers, nobody ever bothers to calculate their costs in terms of infrastructure and services.

Think about it this way, what percentage of the trillions spent by local, state and federal government goes to support the activities, life-style and demands of the middle and upper classes in the country? Would anybody dare to say that that per capital amount is small or than what lower wage "unauthorized" immigrant workers receive?

But the silliness of Kritkorian's implied preference for foreign elites, is that Americans would resent the emergence of an immigrant class that is likely to be better educated and economically more prosperous.

BTW: This type of elite immigration already exists in some countries--and it's creating deep resentment among the locals.

For example, baby-boomer Americans are moving in growing numbers to countries such as Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico. While they're creating new economic opportunity for some in those countries, they're causing local prices inreal estate and services to rise out of proportion to what many locals can pay. Americans are quickly becoming the overdogs in societies across the Caribbean and Central America--and resentment is growing.

Again, Jacoby wins!