11/15/2019

A Graphic Case For Open Borders

"Most Americans, not all. And Caplan, to his credit, looks boldly at the strongest objection that immigration critic George Borjas, an economics professor at Harvard, has made. Borjas and his Harvard colleague Lawrence Katz reported in 2007 that in the long run increased immigration from Mexico had reduced the wages of native U.S. dropouts by 4.8 percent. That’s a small change. But it also leads to my one substantive criticism. The 4.8 percent number is the result of about 1 million legal immigrants a year and about 11 million illegal immigrants. What would the number look like with the tens of millions of new relatively unskilled immigrants who would likely come here in just a few years? It might be a bigger drop; it might even be an increase as U.S. dropouts find that their English-language skills give them a leg up. We simply don’t know.


Caplan makes the point that U.S. immigration policy shouldn’t be hostage to the small effects on a relatively small number of Americans. But in a later chapter to address people who are not satisfied with allowing even a 4.8 percent drop to the wages of U.S. dropouts, he proposes what he calls a “keyhole solution:” focus on that issue rather than scrapping immigration. Among the policies he proposes are charging immigrants “higher taxes, an admission fee, or both” and then using the proceeds to cut taxes for U.S. natives or provide better services or both. Those ideas make sense, assuming they are constitutional. Indeed, although Caplan doesn't mention this, if the U.S. government doubled the number of immigrants allowed annually to 2 million and charged each a one-time $50,000 admission fee, the $100 billion annually to the feds would make a serious dent in the federal budget deficit."