Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Your Storied Pomp

As I was writing this in the Slate discussion boards, I Googled the labor economist George Borjas, who recently argued that the use of low-skilled immigrant workers depresses wages for low-skilled native workers, and thus "Immigration policy is just another redistribution program. In the short run, it transfers wealth from one group (workers) to another (employers). Whether or not such transfers are desirable is one of the central questions in the immigration debate."

In the mid 90s, he wrote that

Because the gains from immigration depend on the skill level of immigrants, other host countries (Australia and Canada, for instance) now use a "point system" to allocate visas. Applicants are graded on the basis of such factors as education and occupation, and only those applicants who "pass the test" are awarded entry visas. It is not surprising that people migrating to those countries are more skilled than those admitted by the United States. The United States, in effect, is losing the competition for skilled workers in the immigration market.
As lovely British friends of mine have complained about how nearly impossible it is to immigrate to the US, I have often thought that there's something unfair and irrational about the way our immigration policy discourages high-skill immigrants (or, really, medium-skill).

But, as Antid Oto recently pointed out, since 1903 one of our most important national texts has been the Emma Lazarus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
There's really nothing equivocal about that statement of our national priorities. We're not "losing the competition for skilled workers in the immigration market." We forfeited that competition a long time ago. Which is a good thing.

>Tags: news and politics, immigration, economics, borjas


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