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Friday, December 07, 2007

Legal vs. Illegal Immigration Isn't the Real Issue

Michael Kinsley on immigration:

Kidding Ourselves About Immigration, by Michael Kinsley, Commentary, Time: What you are supposed to say about immigration--what most of the presidential candidates say, what the radio talk jocks say--is that you are not against immigration. Not at all. You salute the hard work and noble aspirations of those who are lining up at American consulates around the world. But that is legal immigration. What you oppose is illegal immigration.

This formula is not very helpful. We all oppose breaking the law, or we ought to. Saying that you oppose illegal immigration is like saying you oppose illegal drug use or illegal speeding. Of course you do, or should. The question is whether you think the law draws the line in the right place. Should using marijuana be illegal? Should the speed limit be raised--or lowered? The fact that you believe in obeying the law reveals nothing about what you think the law ought to be, or why.

Another question: Why are you so upset about this particular form of lawbreaking? After all, there are lots of laws, not all of them enforced with vigor. The suspicion naturally arises that the illegality is not what bothers you. What bothers you is the immigration. ... So in the end, this is not really a debate about illegal immigration. This is a debate about immigration. ... [...more...]

Update: Andrew Samwick disagrees with Kinsley. Update: knzn disagrees with Andrew.

    Posted by on Friday, December 7, 2007 at 06:48 PM in Economics, Immigration, Unemployment | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (125)

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