Immigration policy is hard

That is the title and topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is the central analytical point, one that people are not so keen on discussing right now:

If we apply a simple economic model to the migration calculus, for the potential migrant, the expected return of trying to cross the border must exceed the overall return of staying at home. So if we improve conditions for those arriving from, say, Guatemala, more will try to come. That will result in higher prices to the border-crossing coyotes, more coercion and predation on the Mexican route along the way, bad treatment or lower wages in the U.S., or other compensating negative factors.

Basically, more and more people will leave Guatemala until the costs of leaving and staying are roughly equal.

This explains why even desirable changes to immigration policy may not have their intended effect. Improving how migrants are treated by the U.S. legal system, for example, may help those who reach the U.S., but it won’t be of much help to migrants as a group. We should still improve the immigration process, because parent-child separation is immoral, dehumanizing and, not incidentally, terrible publicity. Still, the costs of trying to migrate, and possibly failing, will negate a lot of the gains of those who make it.

I set out my proposed immigration compromise, and I argue also that current asylum law needs to be rethought, a topic to which I may return soon.


Getting right immigration policy is not the goal. Anyhow they had over 30 since Reagan's immigration amnesty bill. And, didn't get immigration policy right.

Guns couldn't do it.

Paris climate accords veto couldn't do it.

Stormie Daniels couldn't do it.

The FBI higher-duty/insurance policy guys couldn't do it.

Tax cuts couldn't do it.

So, they must needs resort screeching about immigrants' abused (by their parents and human smugglers) alleged offspring.

It appears this latest fake catastrophe isn't doing it.

Deposing Trump is hard.

So that is what America has become: a bittlerly divided country...

Nobody deposes a president.

Which basically means that deposing Trump is not hard, it is impossible.

Somebody deposed Kennedy.

Another asylum reform is a Safe Third Country agreement with Mexico, like the US has with Canada. If a refugee is fleeing danger, they must stop and make their claims in the first place they are safe. If they keep moving after that, it's not about the danger. That was the thrust of the EU's "Dublin Regulation", which helped to stabilize the European migration situation somewhat, and which Merkel effectively abrogated on a unilateral basis.

"Safe Third Country agreement with Mexico"... this seems to be making a pretty big assumption about safety in Mexico.

Mexico is safer than DC by homicide rate (22.7 vs 24.1). Your joke falls flat anyway, asylum is not about general crime conditions in a country, and requires persecution on account of characteristics of identity or opinion. As soon as one is out of the reach of that persecution, further movement cannot be for the purpose of seeking refuge.

How about comparing violence in Boise, ID with violence in Mexico, the country?

Where is the OAS? The problems should be tackled at the source and not at the U.S. border. No one, except Cubans, flee to the failing Socialist paragons of Venezuela or Nicaragua.

Tackling problems at their source is pretty hard for foreigners to do outside the context of providing aid to an otherwise good local government that is merely short of resources and expertise.

Still, you expect to see a revival of the "Northern Triangle Marshall Plan" US PR campaign idea (recycled from the last wave of claimed juveniles about four years ago) in which local prominent politicians and businessmen will have lots of flashy pep-rally press events announcing that they're going to dramtically boost prosperity through ... um ... enthusiasm and easy loans ... or something.

Just heard this morning that a lot of gang related violence in El Salvador (probably the worst situation in Central America) is from people who were deported in the 90s, who basically "migrated" gangs back to their origins. So that's another unintended consequence for you. Overall, I am very skeptical about the whole "let's end the war on drugs" argument. What does that mean? Legalize Heroin??? I remember hearing that legalizing pot would solve this, and it clearly has not. In general, I agree we need more legal immigration but I think this should be skill based (like Canada and Australia) and not demand based. So would that even address the current problem? Not likely. We could expand H1-A visas for agricultural jobs but I don't even know if that would help too much.

I don't know if fully legalizing pot will destroy the cartels, but I do know that we (the USA) have not legalized pot. It's legal with a number of qualifications in a number of states. But, for example, the DoJ is hardly on board, and the regulatory environment is shaky in general. To me pot is legal when its manufacture, transport, and sale is indistinguishable from, say, liquor. That's when we'll see real corporate muscle and economies of scale in the business, and that's when prices will fall low enough to really hurt the cartels (I imagine).

Well, that is why I am so skeptical of this "legalize it" approach. First, pot is one of many drugs dealt by cartels. Second, there's this idea that legalization means low prices. Yes, alcohol is one example (with terrible consequences by the way) but we have *a lot* of other drugs which are legal but are expensive (think about all Methamphetamines). Furthermore, if consumption gets out of hand (i.e. cigarettes) prices do go up. So exactly how would all of this kill cartels? Are we thinking they would just go ahead and leave crime or would they be still be selling cheaper versions of these drugs?

"*a lot* of other drugs which are legal but are expensive (think about all Methamphetamines)"


The cartels don't sell beer. They don't sell cigarettes. They're not all going to open bodegas if the drug trade is shut down. They'll do the best they can to survive but their power would be broken.

This is why there is no violence around control of oil, gas or diamonds.

The Mexican gangs are pretty smart business owners. Now that marijuana has become common place and is being legalized in the US, they will increase movement of far more dangerous drugs: heroin; cocaine; fentanyl; meth etc. I do not think that even the most liberal country would want fentanyl or meth to be legalized.

Another alternative is to recognize that America is not facing a major immigration crisis and assimilation is proceeding at acceptable rates, and therefore can afford to take in more people. That is my preferred approach, but I recognize it is likely to result in more mishaps, danger and bad treatment along migration routes.

If more immigration is legal, there will be less danger on migration routes because more immigrants will be able to use normal legal transportation. I assume you weren't talking about car accidents. There's no reason to hire a coyote to sneak you across the border if you can just take the bus. it's a lot cheaper too. Many of these people may be riding the roofs of trains because they are saving their money for the coyote when they get to the border.

The coyotes or smugglers could then hold up the buses, patrol the routes and charge protection or a fee for passing. They aren't going to lose a major source of revenue without a fight.

Just like a government.
Maybe there will be secret casinos where shady coyotes will hang out offering to sell exit visas to desperate emigrants.

Well done, Hazel.

illigel immigration would go up with rising legal immigration

Citation needed.
Labor markets are set by demand. There isn't an infinite amount of demand for cheap labor in the US, nor are there infinite supplies of housing and food. At some point wages would fall and costs of living for those workers would rise until there is a stable equilibrium. Allowing more legal immigration might encourage more illegal immigrants, but it might also satisfy the labor demand so that there is less opportunity for illegal migrants to get jobs. Moreover, it doesn't even need to be permanent settlement - you could have a large guest-worker program to dry up demand for low-wage labor, and then send them home after 5 years or something.

*send them home*... ?

Would we not get the same handwringing over separating people - whose fertility rates don't suggest they will avoid procreating whilst here ... Or perhaps even just the thought of separating people from their uncles and second cousins will prompt tears.

People who marry Americans can legally immigrate already. That would not change.

The whole guest worker thing is exactly what the farmers in the San Joaquin valley have lusted over for years. Cheap, exploitable labor that performs back-breaking labor in horrible conditions with minimal protections. Yeah, that's the ticket.

How 'bout we implement E Verify ? Reduce the jobs available and thus limit illegal immigration. I rarely see that solution offered.

There is not infinite demand, but any increase in demand driven by productivity gains for unskilled labor will only result in more immigration, never increased wages for our most vulnerable citizens.

" will only result in more immigration, never increased wages for our most vulnerable citizens."

+1, Yes, if the supply is essentially infinite, then that is correct.

Thankfully though, trade wars are easy - 'President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened Harley-Davidson with a “big tax” and said the motorbike company’s decision to shift some motorcycle production overseas, “will be the beginning of the end”.

A day after the company announced it was moving some production overseas to mitigate the impact of Trump’s tariffs on European steel and aluminium Trump used Twitter to say the company is using “Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse” to hide previously announced plans to move jobs to Asia.

The Milwaukee-based company said on Monday it came to its decision because of retaliatory tariffs it faces in an escalating trade dispute between the US and the European Union.

Trump warned Harley-Davidson that any shift in production “will be the beginning of the end”.

“The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!” Trump said in one of several tweets on Tuesday. He was referring to tariffs Harley-Davidson would face on motorcycles produced overseas and shipped back to the US for sale.'

And how long ago was it that Prof. Cowen was fretting about a vindictive president? Two years ago, in this case - 'I hope we always will have non-vindictive Presidents in this country.'

The US plant closure and the opening of foreign plants were announced last year. Trump is obviously vindictive, but Harley Davidson is just trying to put pressure on Trump to decrease its taxes while also covering the widely known decision to move production to other countries.

Well, it is the EU that is putting pressure on Harley, actually, having raised the tariff on its American made motorcycles from 6% to 31%. Harley is eating the 2200 dollar cost for the moment, but it basically cannot afford to lose out in its second biggest market, with revenue of around a half billion dollars or so.

But let us not ignore why Harley made that decision last year - 'Already, Harley had announced plans to close a factory in Missouri and build one in Thailand, after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the free-trade agreement with a bloc of Asian countries that would have lowered barriers to key markets.'

And from further in that article - 'The EU’s levies are only the latest blowback Harley has faced from Trump’s trade policies. A year after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP in January 2017, Harley announced it would close its factory in Kansas City and consolidate production in York, Pennsylvania, eliminating about 260 jobs.'

But according to a very stable genius, 'Trade wars are good, and easy to win.'

right. Harley Davidson doesn't build plants in Thailand for lower cost labor, or to get around Thai tarriffs...nope its because Trump wouldn't do XYZ.

You guys need to realize foreigners have agency.

'Harley Davidson doesn't build plants in Thailand for lower cost labor, or to get around Thai tarriffs'

Labor costs is its own discussion, but the original plan to get around a number of Asian (not only) Thai tariffs was likely encompassed by three letters - TPP.

'You guys need to realize foreigners have agency.'

Which guys? I started this off by pointing out just how effectively the EU has responded to Trump, and on a level that obviously touched him at a personal level. But this certainly shows someone unaware that foreigners have agency, even as they demonstrate that fact to the entire world - '"Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag. I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the EU, which has hurt us badly on trade, down $US151 billion ($204 billion). Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient!"'

Clinton opposed the TPP too. It would have been ended no matter who won the electIon.

She was for it, until she saw how unpopular it was [thus hurting her chances]

This is on top of the move announced earlier.

Besides, what difference does it make? Do you think the tariffs and a trade war are not destructive. The man is a blustering imbecile, and his advisor, Peter Navarro, is a dishonest con man.

I remember those far gone time when Conservatives believed governments should not interfere with business. You know, 2016.

Immigration policy isn't hard if you think a government should act in the best interest of its citizens.

It is hard if you want to replace the native citizens with foreigners to drive down their wages (wages at a bakery went from $10 to $14 after the illegal aliens were rounded up) or defeat them politically. It is hard if you want to signal your moral virtue of helping foreigners, without actually spending your own money or experiencing life in a Third World country and helping people where they need it most.

It's hard if you want to avoid causing a lot of suffering of innocent people for the sake of a $4 wage difference.

The U.S. government is not 'causing suffering' in Honduras. People in Honduras are suffering for all the reasons people have suffered for centuries.

It is causing suffering of people trapped in legal limbo because they came here illegally as children. It is ruining their lives.

They're not in legal limbo. They're here unlawfully. Their lives aren't ruined. They are in suboptimal circumstances. They are such because relatives of theirs have attempted to smuggle them into the United States. Which isn't the fault of our police services.

It's not the fault of the people themselves either, Art. And who are you to say how being deported from the only country they've ever known equals having a ruined life or not?

Only a 40% wage difference!

Regardless of the percentage - is raising wages for low-skilled US workers really worth the kinds of things we have to do to enforce the immigration laws to keep out unskilled laborers? You look at some of the things we're doing: deporting people who have been here since childhood, deporting mothers who have US citizen children, breaking up families, having our thugs raid factories to round up illegal workers, having internal checkpoints where you have to show papers, having all the violence and criminal networks that arise wherever black markets exist. I could go on. The immigration laws do inflict all sorts of misery on all sorts of innocent people.

Black unemployment rate in Illinois: 9.1%

184 Blacks killed in Chicago so far this year.

By whom? (Sorry, politically incorrect.)

Those things are only necessary because the government refuses to build a wall or do e-verify, which would work in a more humane way. However, yes it is worth all of those things. Everyone goes into it with their eyes open. Every illegal immigrant knows they may be deported, and should be. Of course they try to use their suffering as a wedge so they can stay, but in their heart they know the suffering is the result of their own decisions.

This argument does not apply to the Dreamers. Honestly there is no other side to this argument. It is monstrous to send people brought here as children back if they don't want to go back, if they have built productive lives, etc. Sure send back the felons. Everyone else MUST stay.

"Did you get replaced by a mexican (sic)?"

Translation: "I have nothing."

Back to the claim that with another couple dollars an hour Americans will be strong enough and hard working enough to pick oranges?

This smug attitude reaks to those of us who weren't born in to coastal privilege. Most of the roofing crews in my city are native to the area, to give one example. Just because you couldn't imagine wrapping your effete hands around the steering wheel of an old ford or baking in the sun lifting 100lbs repeatedly doesn't mean that everyone else thinks that they are too good for that sort of work...

You are completely upside down. I am remembering this:

"lifting 100lbs repeatedly doesn't mean that everyone else thinks that they are too good for that sort of work..."
I mean, if it weren't for those meddling Mexicans... The far-right is getting funnier and funnier.

Great plan. Let's have CBO score and then come up with some offsets.

Potential immigrants will respond to their perceived costs and benefits, which may differ from actual costs and benefits. An optimal strategy might therefore seek to raise perceived costs and lower perceived benefits without actually doing so.

If we apply a simple economic model to the migration calculus, for the potential migrant, the expected return of trying to cross the border must exceed the overall return of staying at home.

Pretty much like the bargain struck between students and universities.

To be fair, James T. Hodgkinson didn't need immigration to get his "juices flowing."

For sane people, immigration policy is not hard.

For the left, immigration hysteria is highly useful to incite violence among its lunatics.

“A criminal complaint shows Key is accused of telling an intern who answered the phone, “I’m going to find the Congressman’s kids and kill them. If you’re going to separate kids at the border, I’m going to kill his kids. Don’t try to find me because you won’t.’[…]Key’s social media pages show he is very politically active. He volunteers regularly for the Democratic Party of Martin County and has volunteered many hours for Planned Parenthood, according to a friend of Key’s.”

That makes a lot of sense. PP is among the World's leaders in murdering children.

It's not hard if you don't care what happens to other people as the result of your policies.

Same for other things. If you don't care about locking up people in prison for victimless crimes, drug policy isn't hard. If you don't care about the effect of your policies on human beings, you just do what you want, and enforce it, vigorously, with as much violence as necessary.

It's not hard if you don't care what happens to other people as the result of your policies.

Nothing's happening to other people 'as a result of [Trump's] policies". Living conditions are highly variable in this world and you have loci in this world where there is a large differential in living standards exist in countries adjacent to each other. That reality is not a result of Trump's policies or Victor Orban's. The implication of their actual policies is that the differences in living standards will be ameliorated by action undertaken in source countries rather than by resettling populations of source countries on the land of destination countries.

Nothing's happening to other people 'as a result of [Trump's] policies".

Tell that to Jorge Garcia. And it's not just Trump's policies. It's the history of our immigration policies over the last 60-70 years. The fact that we have people in their 40s and 50s living here in legal limbo because they came here as children isn't the result of Trump's policy. He's just the asshole who has decided to respond to that terrible situation by doubling down on it with stricter enforcement. Whenever markets, including those involving labor, refuse to obey the whims of the state, the state always responds to it by stomping the jackboots harder.

And the notion that the left is somehow deliberately trying to "replace the population" of the US is really just the modern right-wing equivalent of "wreckers and saboteurs".

You're complaint Hazel is that people who defied the law to come here and who defy the law in remaining here are inconvenienced by it. That tends to be an ineluctable consequence of electing to live in defiance to the law. You're preferred assessment of this situation is to blame law enforcement for the decisions of others because those others are your mascot group. Why do you expect functional adults to take that sort of moral reasoning seriously?

Dreamers didn't defy the law to come here.


I care about my children and grandchildren. The lunatics are screwing their futures.

The criminal parents didn't care about their kids. People that killed 63 million babies don't have the right to lecture anybody over, "What about the children!?"

Apparently, either you didn't read the comment or have serious issues with reading comprehension.

I guess the causes are excessive Neanderthal DNA in the typical progressive.

If you are worried about your kids and grandkids, maybe you should encourage them to learn some skills so that they don't have to compete with illiterate central american migrants for jobs.

Hazel said, "so that they don't have to compete with illiterate central American migrants ..."

Why are you so enamored with illiterate low IQ foreigners? What is the attraction?

Few or no cousins or family to speak of?

What is the source of your self-loathing, I'm guessing the New York Times and Washing Post.

Do you also hate the Danes and Italians for wanting to preserve Denmark and Italy into their children's future, like I want to conserve America for my children?

'Conserve America'? You want to freeze the country in amber. That is not how it works, nor is it ever how it has worked. Your children will be fine, and will adapt to and be part of the ever-changing story of America.

Tyler, how come your three objectives for immigration policy don't include protecting the value of citizenship and preserving the common weal for extant US citizens? Does that not even merit consideration? Places like Israel, Japan and Switzerland seem to weigh such factors carefully. Are they wrong to do so?

How come Mexico isn't taking advantage of all this incredible migrant flow by encouraging them to settle in Mexico?

I'm confused. Why would anyone want to emigrate - legal or otherwise - to a country overrun by anti-abortionists, climate-change-deniers, free-market extremists, homophobes, Nazis, racists, two-gender fundamentalists, and Donald J. Trump?

OMG! I inadvertently omitted 5 million NRA terrorists!

Tyler is becoming careless about keeping his real agenda hidden.

Very good column and proposal by Cowen. How did we get here. First, in Europe, the refugee crisis in Europe is the result of the Iraq War and the ensuing sectarian war that has engulfed Syria. Here, the lesser refugee crisis is the result of oppressive regimes in south and central America, for which we share some of the blame. The wave of immigration, however, owes much to the adverse economic conditions down there, for which we bear some but little responsibility. But that's the past, and we need to focus on the future, which is what Cowen does in his column in Bloomberg. This isn't a popular position outside the community of economists, but we actually need more immigration not less. I have a home in a growing area with lots of new construction. If not for all of the immigrants working construction, I'm not sure how the construction could keep pace with the demand. And the immigrants are willing to work long hours, and seven days a week! From my perspective, immigrants aren't taking jobs from Americans, they are filling jobs that Americans don't want. That too is an unpopular view, but it's true.

As a Southerner, surely you are aware of the historical proof that there's no such thing as "cheap labor."

Yes it would be crazy to apply market-based solutions to an allocation problem. Silly thought. Let’s just maintain the status quo. Seems to be functioning well.

Oops. Wrong box

Rayward: “And the immigrants are willing to work long hours, and seven days a week! ”

They’ll work hard, long hours, for peanuts! So let’s bring in more! Rayward, you have cruel, maybe even neo-fascist streak.

Immigration policy is not 'hard'. It requires assiduous attention, however, and requires politicians be immune to contrived media sh!tstorms.

Why not take it one step further and sell visas or immigration permits in a market.

It could work something like this... a potential immigrant could purchase a visa at a market rate in return for on-demand access to the U.S. labor market.

This visa could be set up any way that is palatable. It could provide citizenship, temporary citizenship, or start by providing no citizenship or any rights to any social programs in the U.S. and just would allow the conduct of daily business, for example: opening bank and mobile phone accounts, renting or purchasing property and allowing holders to obtain U.S. driver’s licenses.

Some existing estimates I have seen for something like this put the value of such a permit around $10 per day, representing an effective tax rate of 13 percent for the typical unskilled immigrant worker. Fees from such visas would net the federal budget billions annually.

The market would be managed by matching the price to the volumes of visas issued. If the price goes down, the number of visas could be reduced. If the value goes up, more visas could be issued.

Brilliant. A sub-tier, imported helot class. What could possibly go wrong?

Yes it would be crazy to apply market-based solutions to an allocation problem. Silly thought. Let’s just maintain the status quo. Seems to be functioning well.

In the real world as opposed to libertarian thought experiments, importing cheaper, browner people to pick your cotton doesn't work out so well.

Are you suggesting immigration has been a negative from the US over than last 400 years?

Or are you suggesting that a modern form of indentured servitude is slavery? Or that it was a bust in the colonial days?

I'm saying importing a workforce with far less bargaining power and sub-tier legal status is a recipe for social unrest--including Civil War-- and at the least, will require increasingly overbearing government power to keep the lid on things.

Their legal status could be whatever is the least problematic. Whatever works.

I fail to see how the status quo is any better.

You can just set the price high enough so that's impossible. If you view the effect of large scale immigration as particularly negative, just set a price such that it cannot occur.

Or price discriminate, so that attractive immigrants pay less than likely-problematic ones.

Citizens have something of value in the ability to create new citizenships and other visa slots. It's lunacy to give it away. That's the zero-price option, and it's mad in the same way that the closed border zero-quantity option is mad. It should be priced to maximize the welfare of existing citizens.

+1. Selling the VISAs is so obvious I'm wondering why it's not talked about more.

Actually, Action, you can play this game by setting price OR quantity. Select the number of visas you felt "safe" and then just auction them off.

There's an easy solution to their having "sub-tier legal status": make them legal.

Or charge a lower price for sub-tier status and a higher-price for premium immigration.

Zero-price is stupid.

Antinomian lefterarana like crocodile tears Meade sputter in rage at the thought that American citizens as opposed to robber barons benefiting from immigration.

Easier solution a 500K fee payable half up front (they can borrow the amount from their employer) and half in 250 monthly installments. Miss a payment you get sent home forfeiting all payments.

$10 a day seems really cheap for indefinite stay and work rights. I'd be quite tempted to emigrate at that level.

Alt rright types... Let’s sweeten the deal.

What if we did this and we used the initial proceeds to fund the construction of a border wall?

Deal or no deal and why?

The problem for the foreseeable future with immigration is that the parties are currently locked in a zero sum cultural-political war.

We cannot enact very basic voter ID laws because Democrats believe it will deprive them of votes due to a very marginal increase in the "cost" of voting. Despite the fact that super-majorities of Americans and those groups Democrats claim to protect support voter ID laws, the Democratic party is unwilling to risk losing some marginal votes.

Republicans view immigration in a similar fashion. Each new immigrant represents some non-trivial fraction of an additional vote for Democrats. Aside from business interests wanting cheap labor, Republicans are looking at a similar diminishment of electoral clout so I suspect they will never be able to manage a high immigration regime - their core voters do not want their influence diluted.

This fear of losing electoral power pretty much damns any deal from the start. In the past, the government was weak enough that losing once did not mean losing forever. But we live in a world where 30 odd successful constitutional amendment campaigns to ban same sex marriage and dozens of successful legal defenses of banning same sex marriage are swept away forever by a single 5 - 4 vote that only was possible thanks to successful blocking of Bork. Today, partisans see quite well that small margins of control in the Senate and House are vital so their toleration of anything which might diminish those are very small.

Getting immigration compromise to move forward has to deal with this reality - immigration compromises are not about immigration, they are about who gets the electoral spoils. I have yet to hear of anything the left values enough being offered up to offset the likely loss of a senate seat or two and maybe a half dozen house seats. Absent something of value comparable to that, I suspect there will never be the Republican base votes for anything other than public relations legislation.

Demography isn't just destiny. Demography is democracy.

It would be nice if Republicans could view immigrants as potential Republican voters. There is no particular reason why they need to be seen as guarenteed Democrats, except for the fact that Republicans so obviously hate immigrants so much that few immigrants are willing to vote for them. if the R's had historically had a more welcoming attitude towards immigrants over the last 30 years, you might not see such disparities in voting patterns.

Yes Hazel.

Latin America has a long and storied history of Burkean conservatism, respect for property rights, and respect for the law over clannishness.

Natural Republicans to be sure.

Your state must have legalized marijuana already?

Clannishness? I thought the Catholic Church suppressed that.

Seriously, show me evidence that Mexican culture is clannish. They may have bigger extended families but no more so than Italians. They don't practice arranged cousin marriages or have "tribes" like Arabs do.

Clannishness as in extended patronage networks and corruption fueled by loyalty that starts with the family, then extended family, and pretty much fades at that point into nothingness.

Maybe we live on magic dirt.

Or maybe culture is real and affects how well society can function. Maybe if you turn a high trust society into a low trust society it breaks down. Maybe immigration without pauses for assimilation is a form of entropy which degrades capacity for trust and functional government.

Is there any Latin American country that has functioned well over the last 100 years?

Costa Rica maybe.

Any others ?

Because extended patronage networks don't exist in Europe or America?
The relative failure might have something to do with Spanish institutions versus the institutions of other Western countries, but it's not because those institutions are not "western". Hispanics are merely a different branch of Western Civilization. Let's also point out the failures of communism in Eastern Europe. Their political institutions don't even go back to the Western Roman Empire. They go back to the Eastern Empire and the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern orthodox Church. But nobody seems to think that Eastern Europeans are incapable of assimilating or adopting Western democratic values. May I also mention that the specific disease that many Latin American countries have suffered from: Marxism, is exactly the same disease that most of the dysfunctional European (West and East) countries have suffered from. They are US. And they have all the same problems as us. Half of America's white population votes for exactly the same policies already.

Who said Western?

You're going off the rails with mentioning the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Europeans.

Latin America is dysfunctional. We need to assimilate immigrants to our culture and our way of life. This goes extremely well when given time and cultural pressure.

Chicanos from California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico (born 1975 to 1995) make up a disproportionate percentage of our combat arms soldiers and Marines. Assimilation success!

But maybe, just maybe, we need to pause illegal immigration until the current crop of Central Americans assimilates. What you advocate is open borders which would be millions a year. There will be no assimilation if we accept millions a year. Maybe you have no cultural affinity for the society we have forged, but most of us do.

Thought experiment: If the entire population of South and Central America moved to the US would they assimilate? Because if you answer no, then there IS a limit and we're arguing over the number.

Um no they don't.

And if Democrats had not sought to govern outside of the traditional legislative process on everything from gay marriage to DACA we also would not see such a death grip fear of losing elections because elections can tip the Supreme Court for generations.

All such pleading is basically irrelevant blame casting.

We live in a world where Republicans expect, with reason, that they are net losers of power with more immigration. Any change in the status quo has to reflect this power dynamic or be abandoned as politically impractical. Compromises that fail to understand how the stakes are perceived by the parties are useless.

So the human rights of millions of innocent people must be sacrificed on the alter of appeasing Republican's terror of having to bake cakes for gay weddings.


And now you begin to understand the mental calculus of Trump's reactionary base.

I was unaware that people had a human right to reside in any country they desire nor that they had a human right to the social welfare services of that country.

If you want a high immigration compromise political reality requires you give commensurately valuable concessions to the Republicans. Virtue signaling, blaming, and everything else does not change this essential political fact. In fact, such things make a high immigration compromise less likely. From this we can deduce that you care less about "human rights" than scoring cheap political points, but that was not unexpected.

When the number of actual fraudulent voters is less than 10, nationally, the demand for ID is not about excluding them, it *IS* about excluding Democrats.

According to Gallop during the election year, 58% of self-identified *Democrats* supported voter ID laws.

Like I said, when the people you are "protecting" reject your position it looks an awful lot less like representative democracy and an awful lot more like political spoil seeking. Again, by forgoing compromise and ratcheting up rhetoric Democrats make it more likely that people will be excluded by these laws.

And it is particularly specious of the Democratic party to just reject the whole concept rather than work out a simple compromise that does not exclude the voters about whom they protest to care. Something like Voter ID Law + free IDs & mobile ID facilities is most likely an election winner and vastly less damaging to Democrats. But, as always, virtue signally and base mobilization are vastly more important. Thus it should not surprise us that Republicans respond similarly to their base.

So maybe even some Democrats are not fully educated on the reality of the risk?

While a large majority of Democrats support voter ID laws, every other demographic supports these measures by greater margins: African Americans, Hispanics, and Women all back these policies at super-majority levels.

When not a single group you are "protecting" agrees with you we are getting pretty far outside of representative democracy territory and much more into partisan spoils. This is particularly true as the Democratic party has abandoned any effort to give the people what they want in a less "risky" fashion.

After all, if Democratic politicians believed these policies carried real risks then bipartisanship to limit those risk is far healthier than letting Republicans pursue maximalist gains. Instead we see Democratic politician launching into futile jerimiads about a risk they could likely diminish. I mean this is not going to be a terribly hard sell, you give a "concession" to the Republican base, some moderate Republican will be most grateful for the cover of "bipartisan" and you could actually protect more people.

This does not happen because actually enfranchising people is of secondary concern. The most important concern for Democratic politicians is to win races and pursue political spoils. So they will never compromise on something they fear could cost a couple of Senate seats and small haul of house seats.

Republicans just mirror image these exact concerns about immigration.

Any compromise that actually is going to result in legislative compromise has to face the reality that the parties are locked in a political-culture war which they believe to be winner-take-all. Not doing so leads to moral posturing and other things ineffective at actual governance.

Studies show that tens of thousands of voters in national elections are not eligible to vote

Studies show that anonymous internet commenters make up shit and claim it's supported by 'studies' without links or attribution.

Totally wrong about skilled immigration. The immigrants who are still permitted to stay in the US under a Canada/Australia-style policy vote roughly 70/30 Democrat today. I have every reason to believe that if the Democrats had simply made a credible commitment to bring about that policy, without decreasing overall immigration volume, they would have easily won the Presidency in 2016. (Note that Bernie had the strategic flexibility to take this position in the general if he had won the primary; only Hillary had burned her bridges in advance.)

The revealed preference of current Democrat (and media) leadership is that victory + prosperity + diversity is not good enough for them. Canada-style liberal good government is unacceptable. Actually-competent-and-culturally-compatible nonwhite foreigners from poor countries are only barely tolerated and not who they want; especially not at places like Harvard. Only policies that promise to inflict more damage to their hated tribal enemies are even worth considering.

"Only policies that promise to inflict more damage to their hated tribal enemies are even worth considering."

This of course applies to both tribes.

"...and, not incidentally, terrible publicity."

Unsurprising when the media lies on an epic scale.

"TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The Honduran toddler pictured sobbing in a pink jacket before U.S. President Donald Trump on an upcoming cover of Time magazine was not separated from her mother at the U.S. border, according to a man who says he is the girl’s father. "


"The images, which the Associated Press first published in 2014, resurfaced recently for reasons that remain unclear, and quickly prompted viral outrage on Twitter. One particularly disturbing image showed two children sleeping on mattresses on the floor inside what appeared to be a cage. "

Her father is a ship captain who owns a car in Honduras.

Not exactly a destitute refugee fleeing a civil war.

it's simple, increase the returns of staying at home

Each new immigrant from the 3rd world is another vote (or 3) for a future American Hugo Chavez or Jacob Zuma.

Remember Canada? A lot of illegal immigration comes thru the Canadian border. I know for a fact that Slovaks that entered the USA illegally came thru Canada in fact there are known spots (among Eastern Europeans ) where they enter.

Why would conservatives fear immigrants? They are hard-working, self-supporting, and ambitious. Conservatives, in other words. They recognize a demagogue when they see and hear one, whether a demagogue on the right or a demagogue on the left. By aligning with a demagogue on the right who insults immigrants, conservatives are alienating a natural constituency, immigrants.

What about annexing part of Mexico?

Why don't the citizens of the US have a right to restrict or reduce immigration? Tyler advocates much larger immigration, while knowing that the citizens want less. Why can't citizens have less immigration. If US citizens are expected to forfeit sovereignty for the interests of others, it seems reasonable that other countries make sacrifices as well.

It would help Mexico, no? Honestly, I'd like an answer from open borders on this: if borders do not matter, then why do they suddenly matter?

A candidate in Mexico is saying its a human right to come to America...okay, we'll bring America to you, sir. Same thing.

Speaking of the marginal revolution in analysis, I can recall explaining to a college friend in 1976 that life in California was better than in most other states due to the weather, but that so many people would move to California that it would decline until it was the same quality as everywhere else in the USA.

That seems pretty obvious when we talk about the 50 states, but apparently it's immoral to grasp that same logic when talking about America versus the rest of the world.

Are you suggesting that US states restrict migration from other states? Should CA build a wall around the state to keep our hippies and other miscreants?

Are you arguing that we ought fight equilibration?

You could be right though... look how immigrants destroyed NYC, San Fran, LA, Miami, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, etc. over the past 400 years.

It's a simple solution. Abolish the welfare state and we can easily have a much greater immigration rate than we currently have. But you can't import people that pay less than the average rate of taxes without lowering spending, which effectively means lowering spending on SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

"NYC, San Fran, LA, Miami, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans"

DAE network effects, first mover advantage, and geographic advantages don't real?

Can we finally conclude that Kansas need only invest in high speed rail, endow the Kansas art scene, and stop enforcing public defecation laws to become the next San Francisco?

Actually, what happened in California was that about seven years before my 1976 observation, the property owners of the most paradise-like places in California, such as Santa Barbara, Marin, Malibu, Beverly Hills etc. discovered how their newfound concern for The Environment mandated that they stop letting developers build homes in their locales.

So the population of many of these places hasn't changed much since 1970. The population of Beverly Hills for example was 33, 416 in 1970 and 34,109 in 2010.

It's almost as if rich people in California are pretty logical about preserving their own self-interest, but don't see much reason to apply similar logic to helping preserve the self-interests of their fellow American citizens. In fact, the denizens of Beverly Hills tend to not use logic at all when thinking about the needs of Americans who don't live in Beverly Hills: they just react with mindless revulsion toward those white supremacist hordes who want to drive up the wages of servants in Beverly Hills.

Why does Los Angeles suffer from *overpopulation* while New York City does not?

Overpopulation like this?,_Manhattan

Glad they built that wall around New York to solve that problem...

That would be a good question to ask the straphangers of a stalled subway train in a tunnel under the East River.

Just letting potential migrants fly here seems like an easy way to eliminate the dangerous journey, and it wouldn’t make a difference for us whether we detain them at the border or at an airport while their asylum claims are judged.

In 1960, the US was ~90% non-hispanic white.

In 2010, it was 63% and falling fast.

I can assure you, the 1960 US population would not have voted for this outcome, which was only made possible with the heavy abuse of birthright citizenship by illegal aliens.

We're witnessing one of the largest natural experiments in human history - what happens when a prosperous, successful group of people (white Christians) aids and abets its own cultural and demographic displacement?

Trump is only the first stirring of the pushback against this. Expect it to get ugly.

The 20th century was an age of ideology. We're moving into an age of identity.

Ugly like this?

Good thing we kept all those people out. Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t...

Ah, the old false equivalence argument. "Muh Irish immigrants were seen in the exact same light!"

What open borders advocates don't understand is that immigration from broadly West European countries and immigration from elsewhere is quite different. The former are much easier to assimilate and share a more or less similar epistemic foundation forged through centuries of geographically isolated gene-culture coevolution. Not to mention the average temperamental and IQ differences.

Why do I bring up the importance of shared epistemology? Because if you can't agree on how to arrive at the truth, you end up with this:

Yes, the assimilation of those Western European Irish immigrants went so well it only took 5,000 militia and artillery placed at churches around the city.

Sure seems to me like the current influx of immigrants are assimilating much more peaceful and that skin tone has nothing to do with it.

It also seems like the problem was bigotry rather than culture to me.

What's with this "assimilation" BS? What's really desired is conformity. Blacks that have been in the US for generations aren't assimilated and have no wish to be. They have their own values and conform to their own cultural mores. That's their "problem". They're not assimilated. No other individual or group wants to desert their own culture at a moments notice either. If you took a well-paid job in New Guinea would you immediately start wearing a bone in your nose?

Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Hip Hop, sports, BBQ, etc...

They assimilated well enough to be cultural trend setters and normal everyday Americans participating and adding value to society.

Conformity is the death of innovation.

It's true that blacks have made huge, almost immeasurable contributions to American life and culture. It wouldn't be America without them.

That is, however, little consolation to a black teenager on the south side of Chicago who is shot by another black teenager. While I think a majority of American blacks are middle class, those who are not are having great difficulties and would do well to assimilate a little better.

There are two sides to this story.

Just acknowledging that there are two sides to the story marks you as more intelligent than the tribal masses.

Hispanics ARE "broadly Western European". Spain is a country in Western Europe. Mexican culture and it's political institutions are derived from Spanish institutions, which are in turn derived from the Catholic Church and the Western Roman Empire, which are definitionally "Western Culture".

Of course, Spain is a western European country, but its history since the XVth century makes it a pretty different country with a pretty different culture, much more "reactionnary", than other European countries, even the fellow Catholic countries such as France, the various Italian states, etc.
In Spain, the power of aristocratic landlords was not curtailed as early as in France or northern Italy, in what would become Belgium, or even in Portugal. In Spain, it continued well into the 20th century. The interaction of the catholic church with the Spanish aristocracy and monarchy gave birth to pretty monstrous outcomes, such as the inquisition, which among many other niceties invented racial antisemitism, as opposed as the religious anti-Judaism that existed before. Even nowadays, the way the Spaniards react to independence claims from Catalonia, by putting everyone they can catch in prison without any trial, is shocking for all democrats in Europe.

So even if the culture of Spanish-speaking Latin-America was entirely derived from that of Spain (which it is not) we should expect some greater difficulty to assimilate then for people from other European countries.

"Trump is only the first stirring of the pushback against this. Expect it to get ugly."

I don't agree with a lot of your points, but I really wish liberals would take this comment to heart. Trump is a fairly benign response to great deal of understandable resentment. If Trumpism fails, the alternative is likely far worse.

Better let Trump do whatever he wants or his people will RESENT you!

In what way are Hispanics not "white Christians"?
Last time I checked, Spaniards were white, and Catholics were Christian.
Oh, I know, a portion of Native American blood makes you non-white, and therefore somehow not entitled to live in America. because white people have always been here, unlike Native Americans.

"because white people have always been here, unlike Native Americans."


What a non-sequitur

It was a joke.

lets look at our history in 1789 congress passed and president Adams signed the alien act which gave the president unmitigated power to arrest hold and deport any foreigner The law was a reaction to the increasing influence of the French of which our govt at the time equated that with the possibility that we (Americans) would be controlled by the Vatican (most French are Catholics) Last time I checked France was western Europe. “History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes,” attributed to Mark Twain

Perhaps the US should insist on immigrants pass an examination like Denmark does. Suggestions: Those seeking US citizenship should be able to 1 sing the full national anthem .I know even Americans can't but that is their privilege not to know the full anthem 2. Memorise the locations of all the McDonald outlets in the country 3 name all the states along with their capitals and they should be able to draw their flags all from memory. 4 name thepriets who misbehaved with kids with the date and time of the said acts. And so on. You will ensure some good quality stuff even among the scum

If you want to rethink asylum law, start with the UN's 1951 convention, the definitions of which are outdated and contributing mightily to the problem.

re: "If we apply a simple economic model to the migration calculus, for the potential migrant, the expected return of trying to cross the border must exceed the overall return of staying at home."

I guess I'm not sure about the premise. If we apply this same simple economic principle to the lottery, nobody plays.

Obviously wrong. People have different risk preferences. Some pay for risk. The lottery is also a fun and accepted way of saving money.

Too bad Tyler decided to have his always thought provoking columns published on Bloomberg, where they are mucked up with sentimental photos and pointless videos and behind a paywall

Where is the Organization of American States (OAS)? The depraved, criminal, dysfunctional societies south of the border need to be cleaned up. Safe, economic renaissance zones need to be established in those countries affected by the chaotic living confitions. No one except the Cubans are immigrating to those Socialist paragons in Venezuela or Nicaragua. Those societies are falling apart and may result in millions of more refugees.
The U.S. has no problem with legal immigrants. The U.S. should not be expected to bear the burden of illegal immigration. We have laws said to be less restrictive than the majority of countries south and north of our borders. Our laws should be followed until Congress enacts changes. The courts should not make law.
The problems should be tackled at the source, not at the U.S. border.

Posting again my Solution for Immigration:
1. Feel free to come to the US for 6 months free. If you’re not on a watch list, not a known criminal, terrorist etc. Come and enjoy.
2. At the end of 6 months go back for 3 months or pay $2500. You can then enjoy another 6 months free.
2.1 Turn in someone violating the 6-month in 3-month out system and you get $500 off your ‘re-up’ fee or an extra 3 months here.
3. ICE’s staff and technology will be no greater than the BATF has to enforce gun control laws. We should do to ICE what Republicans did to BATF, in other words. Also it should be moved from Homeland Security to Commerce. The job should be 40% enforcement and 60% promotion of tourism and trade.
4. Have the IRS target businesses the employ anyone ‘undocumented’. Since seasonal business like agriculture can easily pull from seasonal ‘6 month’ workers there’s really no excuse. ICE’s prime enforcement will be spot checking people who break the ‘6 month’ policy without paying $2500.
4.1 Like with Medicare/caid fraud, an individual can file a private lawsuit on behalf of the gov’t for hiring workers ‘off the books’. If proven the company must pay the gov’t the $5K per person fine and the person who sues gets a cut of it.
5. Break the 6 month rule and you either pay $5000 immediately or get deported. Get yourself deported for this and you either have to wait 3 years to come back or pay $3500 going forward to come back in the US for 6 month terms.
6. If you follow the 6 months on 3 months off pattern for ten years, you can apply for citizenship. If you pay the $2500 option for 5 years you can apply for citizenship. You can also express yourself to citizenship if you serve in the armed forces (some people aren’t aware that non-citizens can and do serve in the US armed forces).
7. Asylum claims would be easier to process. Asylum would just mean you wouldn’t be deported but you’d still have to pay the 6 month fee. If your home country is so horrible $2500 every 6 months is a small price to pay to avoid tyranny.
Here is why this would work. If you lay down roots here and are reasonably successful, paying $2500 and keeping yourself updated ‘in the system’ is not a bad price to pay. Having to cough up $5000 or $3200 going forward is something you’d want to avoid. If your pay is very modest the 6 months on and 3 months off option makes a lot of sense. In the 70’s and before the US border with Mexico was about was well guarded as a highway deep in rural Alabama at 2:30 AM. Most migrants, though, were seasonal. The men would earn US dollars for a few months during harvest in the US and then return to Mexico to be with their families where living expenses were much lower.
What doesn’t work is the East Berlin model we are trying to toy with now. The more you make enforcement heavy handed the more you make it appealing to live ‘off the grid’ like an ‘outlaw’. Think about debt, why does credit work in the US? For centuries before we had ‘debtors prisons’ for people who didn’t pay their bills. Today we just have credit scores. Don’t pay your bills doesn’t mean you go to jail but it does mean you have to pay a $1000 deposit to get a cell phone and things like renting a car become a huge headache.

What you don't seem to understand is that to the left, any enforcement of immigration law is inherently racist. Having to pay to stay here and offering rewards to anyone who reports you for failing to do so? That sounds like something straight out of Jeff "Adolph Hitler" Session's wet dream.

So there were no deportations or immigration enforcement actions of any type under Obama?

I am close to someone who did escape the communist dictatorship in Vietnam. After being robbed by pirates three times they made landfall in Malaysia. They took them to a refugee camp on an island. Since she was 18, they asked her if she wanted to be independent or stay with her brothers. She stayed with her bothers. When the storms came the supply boat wouldn't come, and they wouldn't eat. They stayed there about a year before getting visas for the US.

Do you know what she asks this week?

Why can't America be that good. As good as the Malaysians who keep you together, and feed you, at least when there is no storm, until they can find a place for you.

Instead of ripping apart families to create a disincentive.

As I read Tyler he'd like us to be better than that, but I'd say we need to step up to be even at that level.

Not a problem. Lower social spending to the same level as Malaysia and we can enormously increase our immigration rate.

You misunderstood that. Malaysia didn't welcome Vietnamese in as citizens at all. They caught them, but then took care of them before finding someplace else to take them.

Their level of social spending had nothing to do with it.

Similarly, if Guatemalans are fleeing something, we can actually help them find a home, without it being here. Does Japan still have a demographic problem? Guatemalans work hard.

Did they keep the families in a camp more than 20 days?

The point being that in the US you have to separate the children from the adults or let the group out of a detention facility after 20 days. Which is the reason for the catch and release policy that has made our immigration system such a joke for the past few decades.


"The Trump administration filed a motion in a California federal court on Thursday to amend the Flores settlement so that children can remain in detention with their parents as they await immigration proceedings. The status of that case is in limbo."

I agree that the 20-day ruling is unhelpful, but remember that the hated Obama worked around it without splitting up families.

He used ankle monitors and Social Services to track families. Of those release that way something like 90% were tracked.

That is not actually the segment that runs away and hides.

Something like 40% of asylum applicants disappear

That's from the proportion on their own recognisances. If you included the ones who would disappear if not detained, the number rises further.

Oh yeah, for a little more contrast:

"Border agent threatened to put immigrant woman's daughter up for adoption unless she agreed to be deported, according to her ACLU attorney"

You are probably a fairly decent guy JWatts, watch out for what you are defending.

He didn't defend that, nor is it close to being proven

Yes, when the US asylum system debates whether to grant refugee status to my countrymen, who are EU citizens, current asylum laws need to be rethought:
Although I do appreciate the system’s sense of humor at resettling the asylum seekers in California, Pennsylvania instead of the probably sought-after State of California while a final determination is made.

Stating the obvious. People are fleeing the corrupt, socialist paradises of Latin America. But all we do is blame the United States of America. Leftist propaganda wins out in the end.

Who cares what they are fleeing. War, oppression, gangs, disease... doesn’t matter. Do onto others as you would want them to do onto you.

And blame America... more like celebrate America and tell it’s leaders not to turn off a big part of that which made us great.

"Do onto others as you would want them to do onto you."

We're much nicer to immigrants than just about any other country. So we are nicer to others than they are to us. I don't think anyone is proposing things they wouldn't want to apply to themselves.

" celebrate America and tell it’s leaders not to turn off a big part of that which made us great."

Illegal immigration???

Fortunately, I have solved the illegal immigration problem.

Justin Trudeau wrote “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,”

All we need to do is to give every illegal immigrant family $5000 and a free limo drive to the Canadian border. It sounds extravagant, but it will save hundreds of billions in the long run.

I know what you're thinking, Canada will eventually tire of this. At that point, we give every illegal immigrant family a free one-way cruise ship vacation to Europe (and $5000).

Please. I would love to see the look on Trudeau's smug face. There's something despicable about striking moral poses whilst being protected from their consequences by better people (and larger neighbours).

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