Sunday, February 29, 2004

Huntington challenges immigration

Foreign Policy has published an excerpt from Samuel Huntington's new book as an article on immigration. I must admit I'm predisposed to believe some of his rhetoric, but, to make a long post short, the statistics he gives don't actually help his case that much. Maybe his book will have more statistics, but the numbers in his FP article are too few and too fuzzy to convince me of anything beyond what the generalities of Huntington's prose already made convincing.

So what of his prose did I find convincing? First, until the rate of Mexican immigration significantly decrease, it will prevent many Mexican immigrant communities from assimilating. Unfortunately, there aren't enough numbers for me to approximate what the threshold for "significant" is. Second, the emergence of a bilingual America continues apace.

Of course, I already knew these things. What I want to know is what to do about them. Huntington's article doesn't have enough numbers to give me the answers. Thus, I am sticking with my default position: actually try to enforce our immigration laws inside our borders, instead of just at our borders. For example, require employers to call some government-run hotline to verify social security numbers before making a new hire. Of course, the libertarian and business wings of the Republican party would mightily howl against such a proposal. (See here and here.) The Democrats would howl even louder, with calumnious charges of racism. Also, some businesses will just pay under the table, so my example isn't perfect.

On the other hand, the perfect is sometimes the enemy of the good. We don't have deport every illegal immigrant tomorrow, nor do we want to. Just making it significantly harder for future illegal immigrants to earn a living here could significantly reduce immigration rates, and thus rebalance the socioeconomic forces back toward assimilation in many communities. I think the right set of incentives for businesses could accomplish this. Moreover, I think we should focus on the incentives for businesses, not on incentives for immigrants. As long the jobs are available, people everywhere will want to live the American dream, and I don't think we're up for the distasteful task of stopping them. The relevant factor is whether our businesses work for or against our immigration policies.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home