Monday, June 23, 2014

The Moral Imperative of Allowing Immigrants to Come to the U.S.

(Photo: US House of Representatives) 

By Blake Skolnick

EDITORS NOTE: Here is a piece submitted by a friend of the show, Blake Skolnick, regarding his views on immigration. 
The writings of Blake do not represent the views of The Vito and Vito Show.

Many critics of immigration used various attacks on the quality of immigrants who come, the amount of immigrants we let in, and the brain drain effect on immigrant-source countries. However, most of these arguments are misleading and steer us away from the reality of immigration.

Some people claim that we can’t let the whole world come to the U.S. We can’t reasonably bring everyone to the U.S. who wants to come. Sure, that may be true, but few are arguing for a completely open U.S. border. This tends to be a straw man attack on pro-immigration advocates. A Gallup Poll from 2012 showed that 150 million adults worldwide would move permanently to the U.S. if given the chance. That’s nothing close to the numbers claimed by David Brat.

A reasonable immigration system would screen migrants for criminal background, drug use, terrorist links, psychological disorders that may threaten others, etc. Not many immigration advocates would oppose this.
Some claim that allowing skilled migrants to enter the U.S. will hurt American workers. Others claim that skill migrants will create a brain drain effect on their home country. The latter point also doesn't address low-skilled immigration. Study after study shows that immigrants have little negative effect on workers’ wages. Any negative push can probably be compensated for through productivity increases. This is generally true of both high-skilled and low-skilled

The brain drain effect can be real but is commonly over-exaggerated. Bringing 100,000 skilled workers a year from countries such as India or China will likely have minimal effects on these countries of over 1 billion inhabitants. Many who claim that immigration hurts these source countries try to use a moral argument to defend protectionism. However, there is another moral argument here. Limiting skilled workers from migrating to the U.S. essentially blocks thousands of people from enjoying a better and more productive life here. These intelligent skilled workers may not be using their skills to the best of their ability in their home countries, and coming to the U.S. would be a huge boost for their careers and the lives of their families. We should not force people to stay in a country that is not well suited for them.

Allowing freer trade without the freer movement of labor is essentially giving more rights to products than to people.

Low-skilled immigration is generally a tougher issue and faces different criticisms.
Issues of criminal activity are usually exaggerated but can indeed pose real problems. Immigrants should always be screened, and those who break the law should be deported.
Many bring up the mass immigration from Mexico and Central America as a problem linked to crime. Mexican immigrants commit less violent crime on average than U.S. born folks.
When controlling for age we generally see that Latinos don’t commit significantly more crime than White Americans, and they commit less crime than African Americans. When controlling for poverty rates among groups, crime rates among Latinos and Whites is very similar, and lower than crime rates among Blacks. This is the rather controversial part of the immigration debate.

Low-skilled immigrants legally residing here can go on welfare, and this can be stopped. Non-citizens should be made ineligible for welfare benefits.

Low-skilled immigrants generally come here to work hard and support their families. They should be screened and selected to ensure that they are going to be successful migrants in the U.S. Those without employment for a long period of time should be deported (unless it is due to lack of jobs or recession).
Many people are trapped in poor countries without opportunities to succeed, and immigration greatly helps. Even if we can’t admit everyone, many in their countries benefit. Immigrants tend to send remittances back to friends and relatives in their home countries, which can help boost foreign economies and lift people out of poverty across the globe. Even if we selected only the best low-skilled workers, many others in source countries could potentially benefit.

The same can be true of high-skilled workers. Even if they are creating a “brain-drain effect”, they will likely assist people back in their home countries even if their skills have departed to another country.

Problems in our immigration system exist. We pour millions of dollars into the refugee resettlement program, and even more into the welfare benefits these unskilled refugees receive. While we should grant people asylum who need help, we cannot flood the country with refugees who don’t necessarily want to settle here permanently. Refugees tend to be very poor and uneducated, and can have greater risks of criminality and terrorist links. We can have a fairly open immigration system while preventing those who threaten American interests from settling here.

Allowing certain groups to be granted asylum is reasonable if they pass all background checks. If they have skills than asylum should be more easily attained. Allowing Jews, Christians, and other religious minorities from Middle Eastern countries would be fairly reasonable. Stateless ethnic groups can also be granted asylum, and those fleeing conflict and war-torn countries if they have no links to rebels and other groups.
The major issue we currently face as a nation is a crisis on the border. With over 11 million illegal immigrants in our country, we have shown incompetence in regulating entry into the U.S. The border must be secured. Whether that means more ground troops or building a wall, it doesn't matter. We can’t continue to allow so many people to have a free pass into the U.S. It’s not just hard-working immigrants coming over the border. Drug smugglers and other criminals can make their way into our country. The issue of child migrants flocking into the country is an embarrassment to our nation. We must work to end illegal immigration, and then work to fix our broken legal system.

There are countless problems with our legal immigration system. Many Americans don’t understand how the legal immigration system actually operates. Many claim that illegal immigrants have skipped the line, when there is no line for most of them to actually get on. Our system is not based on employer needs or skills, but on family relationships. Foreigners with close relatives in the country can be sponsored by their family members. Those without relatives in the U.S. can apply for asylum, enter the Green Card Lottery, or try to earn one of the very few employment green cards available. Most of the immigrants coming across the border would not be eligible for asylum status, nor would they be eligible for the Green Card Lottery. The Green Card Lottery, also known as the Diversity Visa, is only eligible to countries which have sent less than 50,000 immigrants in the past 5 years. Many Latin American countries are ineligible. This leaves very little options for those searching for a better life in the U.S. With such an easy way to come in and work, can you really blame them for staying here illegally?

Our immigration system clearly needs reforms. We need to cut from the Refugee Resettlement Program, end the Green Card Lottery, and establish a legitimate way for immigrants to come here and work. We should allow more immigrants with education and skills to enter the country. Some low-skilled migrants should be able to work in the U.S., but it needs to be well-regulated and capped.

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