A new “ideal” proposal for immigration reform

The IDEAL policy creates a long-term visa program in which 3mm immigrants are selected to live in the U.S. per year.

The IDEAL policy is simple and includes the following details:

  • Immigrants pay $30,000 for a five-year live/work visa renewable for an additional five years at no additional cost contingent upon each IDEAL immigrant proving to be a net asset to the U.S. economy.
  • At the end of ten years, immigrants whose impact to the U.S. is net positive are eligible for citizenship. Immigrants with a net negative impact will be asked to leave the U.S. Acceptance and impact will be determined by a pre-determined scoring system.
  • IDEAL visa-holders are ineligible for any government benefits until attaining full citizenship and IDEAL visa-holders will be required to secure health insurance through an employer or through other means during those ten years.

Each applicant is given an acceptance score and ranking based on the following criteria:

  • Age;
  • Education level;
  • English language proficiency;
  • Existing job offers from one or more U.S. companies;
  • Previous successful U.S. work history; and
  • Willingness to live in a IWC (Immigrant Welcoming Community).

An Immigrant Welcoming Community meets all of the following criteria:

  • An urban or rural community in the bottom 25% of U.S. income;
  • A community that has suffered population losses over the preceding decade; and
  • A community that opts-in to the IDEAL program via local government consent.

Here is the full website.


What immigrant would risk $30,000 and 5 years by moving to Owlsley County KY? I just don't see it.

Kentucky offers a wealth of opportunity compared to many parts of the world.

The current residents of Owlsley County can't even get off welfare.

increased population= increased demand for goods=industry expands to accommodate=increased need for labor

'industry expands to accommodate'

What industry? That is not a theoretical question, by the way.

Seriously, what industry will show up in somewhere like Bristol, VA?

A better proposal is to end all immigration. A total moratorium until all the illegal immigrants are found and deported. Then once that is achieved hold a national election and ask the citizens if they even want immigration. Our present system has been forced on us by the elites and not chosen by the citizens. We don't "need" immigrants we have too many people now and our welfare system is bankrupting us. Lets take 10 to 20 years to get our house in order, get prior immigrants working and speaking English and get rid of those who came here illegally and get our feet on the ground before we make this decision.

'A total moratorium until all the illegal immigrants are found and deported.'

That may be a bit harder than you think - the Irish and Canadians are surprisingly good at blending in.

'ask the citizens if they even want immigration'

Currently, the majority would say yes.

'we have too many people now'

Well, no, if one looks at all the shrunken small towns throughout the U.S.

Why do you think the small towns are shrunken? Immigrants are not going to shrunken towns.

"... the Irish and Canadians are surprisingly good at blending in ..."

Let's deported them too. That said, they blend in because they are educated, speak English, and come from cultures similar to ours. In other words, they blend in because they blend in, which is good.

Russian trolls with questionable English writing skills are on MR now.

A great idea!

Personally, I don't want to expand the population of the US by 3 million per year. No thanks. We already have too many people.
We also need to start assimilating the many millions already here.

Now suppose we had this forced upon us, as so many of these policies are, to whom do these people pay the $30,000? The federal government or the communities that have to absorb the impact of these migration shocks. The elites live in apartheid neighborhoods and rarely have to endure the crowding, crime, noise, pollution, and dumbed-down schools caused by the policies they force upon us.

I have had enough of that.

Then we need to gut SS. There may be too many people but they are increasingly older retired

Tens of millions would. Easily.

And after a few years, rotate back out again. It isn't as if there are not actual reasons that many of the poor communities in America are poor.

Having 10mm+ migrants help shore up the tax base wouldn’t hurt.

Except many of those poor places are poor across the board - and considering that when it comes to something like health services in poor rural communities we don't bother funding much as it is, why do you think that any additional generated taxes will be fed back into a poor community - where much of the hopefully increased tax base participants will not be able to vote.

Are there still libertarians out there who don't know that more immigrants = more government?

This seems overly complicated and ignorant of what immigration actually looks like. I'm an immigrant to Canada. We have a point system (like they have) that scores you on all the aspects they said, and if you have enough points you're practically in. People who won't contribute to the economy are mostly screened off at that stage.
I think paying 30K is a little ridiculous - immigrating is already expansive and it looks like a much larger burden on the immigrant relative to the additional funding it will give the state (30K is nothing for a multibillion dollar entity)
I think Immigrant Welcoming Communities are counterproductive: immigrants do need some resources when they arrive (ESL teachers for the children, and having a small community of immigrants from your home country are really helpful in helping you to assimilate: this is how we got a family doctor, and learned how to do our taxes and where to get equipment to participate in local sports) so putting them in those communities can make immigrants a larger burden.
If they are intent on bringing immigrant only to increase the welfare of a poor community, it will be much more effective to recruit immigrants who hold specific professions - which is also something they do in Canada. Due to competition these immigrants often naturally move to communities where they're needed most.
Also, moving someone to aid a specific community is really difficult to reinforce - once someone is in your country with a visa it's hard to track where they went. I know multiple people from this one immigration program in Manitoba who 'escaped' to better cities the minute they got their citizenship.

Most would agree that Canadian immigration is expansive, but I think you meant expensive.

IDEAL is far LESS complicated than the current US system, and less expensive when all costs are considered. I think the vast majority of immigrants would agree on both these points.

And again, there is also a lower cost guest worker program if you read the entire proposal.

That I agree with, but better isn’t best.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Australia has 'points' system for immigration.

We get the 'creme de la creme': young people with post graduate education/degrees.

Guess what? With all the $ they've invested in their educations, they want to go to two cities to live: Melbourne, Sydney.

RESULT: Cage housing, crush loading of public transport, congestion of roads & pedestrian traffic & loss of public amenity.

No one voted for our insane immigration volumes, no one likes it in these cities, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it, as both political parties support it.

Why have a democracy again?

At some level of density does more density not increase congestion due to more things being closer?

Employers may be willing to front the fee in exchange for an immigrant committing to a multi-year employment term. Talent and turnover are inextricably linked, and eliminating turnover by having a captive employee for some period of time would be worth the up front cost -- even in blue collar industries such as meat processing.

Employer-sponsored immigration programs are/were valued in Canada because the employees cannot turn over.

Screw the employers, they already cheat by hiring illegals, destroying low income working class American communities. The elites get cheap nannies and gardeners and low income American communities get crowding, poor schools (non English speaking students are expensive to educate, sucking resources from the rest of the community), and crime, gang bangers, traffic, noise, pollution, and a degraded quality of life.

Indentured servitude is illegal in the U.S. Everyone not in the military is allowed to quit their job. This does not mean it is without consequences - they could be required to leave the country - but the employer would not get their money back.

With immigration, alas, the only thing to do is to get REAL.

Untethered idealism has made itself objectionable for centuries already: far too late now to open doors to it, even back doors.

That's racis. Why should we get hi resource people, when there are plenty of deserving souls on the way from Honduras?

As a serious answer to a troll, while it is true that all applicants are equally deserving, it is also true that any country may design any immigration policy it sees fit. If you believe in self-determination, immigration policy is just part of that. IDEAL is one possible choice.

And at the end of the day sympathy for Hondurans, is probably better than making fun of them.

I don't think Trump is going to welcome the caravan with open arms and you are correct at the base of most political arguments against immigration is racism.
This policy aims to takes racism out of the equation. There is no policy that can make people less racist. The policy is a start, a path and just one of hopefully many solutions to realistically deal with immigration in the current political climate. It will not solve hundreds of years of oppression and racism, but it will begin to open doors and eventually help sway the US toward the understanding that immigration benefits everyone.

Robertgf, the US, a country entirely built on recent immigration (three centuries is recent by any standard), has understood better and before any other country how immigration can be, and is often, beneficial to the host country. Now the debate is about how many immigrants to accept every year and how should they be selected and if or not they are are allowed to stay for life. By saying simplistic things like "understanding that immigration benefits everyone", you show that you do not have the intellectual level (or honesty) to be useful in
this debate.

Interesting that you address Robertgf rather than OneGuy (12:33PM).

My counter from https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/06/immigration-policy-hard.html

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 I don't like about this is things like:
"Each applicant is given an acceptance score and ranking based on the following criteria:"

Why? This is not how markets work or should work. If someone can come up with $2500 every 6 months without doing anything criminal they are being economically productive. Why should an office worker with lots of college credits but who is just photocopying stuff all day long count more because of his education than a high school drop out that has started a landscaping business that he is successfully franchising?

Likewise if you want to establish a subsidy for doing stuff in a more rural community or a community with a higher level of poverty then just do that. Why is a landscaping business started by an immigrant in an "IWC" more valuable to that community than a non-immigrant?

I recall a study estimating that if the US were to open it’s borders today something like 150mm migrants would come tomorrow. With a pool of applicants half the size of our population, it seems that filters are necessary, more beneficial to America, and more meritocratic than a lottery.

The poorest county in the US is Buffalo SD with a median income of $21,668. The richest county is Loudoun County VA at around $118K.

The borders inside the US are perfectly open. You don't need any passport or visa to move from SD to VA. Why hasn't the entire population of all the poorer areas migrated to the Loundon Counties, the Manhattans, etc?

Because it doesn't work. The costs of such a move are high and it isn't like the moment you arrive in Manhattan you are given a job at a hedge fund for $110K a year starting. For most people, the 'slot' they are in is better than trying to push into a different slot. This happens in nature as well. Rain forests have plenty of water, deserts little. Why aren't all the animals in the deserts migrating to the rain forests?

Another way to look at it who eats better, a person who makes $2 a day in a poor 3rd world village where the average is $1 a day or a person who gets $100 a month in food stamps and has to shop in Manhattan? For most, the effort to go from $1 a day to $2 a day is easier to pull off than going from $1 a day in village to $100 food stamps plus maybe $1000 a month in low wage work in Manhattan, which is probably what you'd need to see a dramatic lifestyle improvement.

Careful - the very availability of clean water at all is far too easily overlooked in such discussions.

If you live in a dollar a day village you probably know how to get clean water. At the moment bottled water in NYC probably can't be found for less than $1+

Boonton, your proposal to have an indefinitely-extendable visa-for-cash strikes me as interesting. Some thoughts.

1) Firstly, it may require a sufficiently large bond or insurance to stop some defectors immediately disappearing into the grey economy. Many would take this option once through the front door; they would need to be screened out by cost. I like your bounty for turning in illegals; this seems an obvious win....
2) Presumably gives no entitlements to any benefits?
3) Might this be usefully split into residence-only visas and work visas?

Overall, simple payment-visa systems are to be preferred to points based ones, and point-based ones are vastly preferable to the current mess.

1. What exactly is the value of 'disappearing' into the grey economy? To save $2500 every 6 months? Can't say it won't happen but then there are people who never bring back their library books.

1.1 Keep in mind the current system expands the grey economy. Normally 'off the books' work happens when people just do not want to commit to a formal relationship (you paint my house, say. You aren't going to register as a contractor, I'm not going to 'hire' you and withhold taxes, I just want it done and you want cash). Some people can live their whole lives in that cash zone (say you're on the run from warrants) but naturally it should be a small sector. The current system enlarges the sector by telling business we'll have a huge pool of labor but no legal way to tap it. Life, errrr, finds a way, so do markets.

2. Entitlements would be whatever any other resident would be entitled too. Residents who aren't citizens, for example, can get social security but they have to work at least ten years and the benefits are linked to how much they paid into the system overall.

3. Maybe but why? If someone wanted to just live in the US then pay $2500 every 6 months. Maybe you're thinking something like a rich French retiree or a non-working spouse. This is only for 5 years then the person could become a citizen.

If you made residence visas that cost little or nothing but work visas cost $2500/6mo then you create an incentive to come in on residence visa and work under the table. if they both cost the same then what's the difference?

1. I suspect $2500 may be sufficient to disappear off the books for many people. Also, TBH, (and on the other hand) it's too low. $5,000 a year is far too low a price to pay for the privilege of living/working in the US. You'll get 10's of millions of applicants per annum at that level. Hell, even as a reasonably well-off European I would consider finding the $50k tomorrow to get me to citizenship.

3. See above. Your prices are too cheap for your social optima.

I meant $25k. Good grief; US citizenship pretty much for the price of a new car...

You'll get 10's of millions of applicants per annum

1. You don't apply. You can come to the US for 6 months free. Want to stay another pay $2500. Stay another, pay $2500.

2. Again who cares if some 'disappear from the books'? People are born in the US without birth certificates or social security numbers. I'm sorry but the Constitution doesn't empower the Federal gov't to create a perfect grid in that sense.

3. Well let's do the math. If 10M people take the US up on this idea they will contribute $50B per year to the Federal gov't off the bat. They will add GDP of about $300B (assuming they make about $30K). If the Fed. gov't taxes about 20% of GDP that's another $60B. We aren't even considering any type of additional expansions caused by people just going about their business using their pay to pay bills and buy things.

4. "I meant $25k. Good grief; US citizenship pretty much for the price of a new car.."

What did you pay for yours? And it isn't really $24K. It's $24K plus a demonstrated ability to pay bills and taxes and live a normal life in the US. What more qualification should there be? The Alt-right would appoint culture czars that would purport to plan the society decades in advance by strategically trying to manage culture via immigration. I see little reason to trust a planned culture anymore than I would trust a planned economy. At least the USSR had the humility to make 5 year plans while our would be Richard Spencer's pretend they can give us 50 year plans.

But note I threw in a perfectly functioning guest worker program in there as well. If making it in the US is hard then don't bother. Come for a few months as seasonal worker then go back home. It's the immigration nazis who gave us the cultural shift in the US by trying to close the border. Before the border was more or less open and rather than fully assimilate to the US many Mexicans only worked in the US temporarily and then returned home where living expenses were much lower. It was the insane efforts to micro-manage immigration and uber enforce it that set the stage for those who are here already to feel they have to dig in as much as possible. The fetish for tight control is the cause for there being no control at all.

True story, my friend was placed in the next county over, Winner South Dakota, as a refugee from communism.

She hated the winter, cried, wanted to go home. Luckily she escaped to California.

She made $2.10 an hour cleaning the Winner bowling alley, but rent was only $50 a month.

The irony is that Loudoun County is almost 25% foreign born. Buffalo SD is basically an Indian reservation so may be a bad example.

Doesn't really address the economic modeling question. Why live in Buffalo SD and not move to Loudoun County?

Sounds great BUT
2. 5. 6. Who's going to keep track of the immigrants at the end of six months and every 3-6 months thereafter? We don't follow up on people who overstay visas or refugee claimants who miss their court appointments. According to Yale, we may have been understating the number of people without papers by 100 percent in recent years. Do we have a bureaucracy that can/will manage this better than it has to date?
4.1 Who's going to rat out the neighbors who pay nannies cheap under the table or the contractors who pay day laborers in cash or the mow-blow teams and window washers who go door to door? All these people benefit from things the way they are, and they are not about to start keeping detailed records for this on top of the IRS/FICA/workers comp reports that they are already not keeping and filing.

Why does anyone have to keep track here? Whose keeping track of all the library books I borrow? If I don't return them and pay the fines, I can't borrow more books. If I get real pig headed about it I could get sued, maybe even a criminal charge if I really push it hard but ultimately it's cheaper for me to play along with the library than not. Might someone go totally off the grid, live off the land and cash day labor, and never use banking services, drive, or otherwise be noticeable for the rest of their lives to save $2500? Sure, and why would we care?

4.1 I'm not really sure what stops citizens from doing this too? There's always going to be a black market of sorts for 'off the books labor'. There's a reason most businesses go 'on books' before they get very big.

Is there a problem with sending people "back?"

What do you do with people who are decline-to-state?

Not to mention countries who are decline-to-accept.

Solving for the equilibrium you got a Guantanamo situation where you end up paying 3rd-party countries to take people off your hands.

And just try "asking" anyone to leave who has a good sob story, sad-eyed kids and an activist advocate

I, too, support open borders. The sooner we get to Brazil the better. Ideally I’d like a live in housekeeper/nanny and chef for less than 1% of my annual bonus. I know this is in the cards eventually but I worry at times that my own small American dream may have to wait another generation.

At least I’m honest about it.

To play the Turing game, let’s see what a conservative would say:

American Progressives refuse to enforce the immigration laws on the books as it is. Obama (rightly) signed the DACA order allowing up to 1.5 million illegal immigrants (undocumented Americans) to stay and receive benefits/work legally (they don’t receive federal benefits). Democrats are already calling for the literal abolishment of ICE and are now openly advocating for open borders (they are, de facto, but I agree for once and support the disinformation campaign).

As always there will be no political will to enforce the law once the migrants ( Americans) are in the country. Dems will be quick to do as they’ve always done and sign executive orders, protest, and leverage the media to demonize any agency that enforces immigration law. There will be a new DREAM act, this time to allow any “temporary” migrants (burgeoning Americans) to apply for citizenship (anyone who lives here deserves the right to vote, legal or not). And as soon as any have children Dems will be rioting when ICE tries to deport a convicted felon (they’re Americans and should be released). This is a Trojan horse to allow 3 million Democrat voters a year (which is my only problem with the scheme).


Your bullshit is too complicated and while it will lead to my desired outcome over time, it will also allow unprecedented government intrusion into private transactions and turn immigrant communities into East Germany circa 1955.

The border is 100% open and the US lacks the political will (thank god) to enforce the law. Let’s just kill ICE and neuter the border patrol. I’m very thankful to Trump. He’s made immigration enforcement politically untenable. No respectable person born in the 80s-00s will ever think immigration enforcement is valid.

We’re on the right track. The borders are open and we’re legally prevented from stopping any immigration. I’d like to pay less than $9 an hour..

Try again, what was a serious answer for percentage openness on the border.

Here is my attempt at a numeric approach:

"Visa Overstays Outnumber Illegal Border Crossings, Trend Expected to Continue"

"That figure represents only 1.15 percent of the more than 52 million foreigners who legally entered the U.S. through air and seaports in 2017, and is down from 1.25 percent the year before. "

.. so our borders are about 98% closed

There are approximately 22 million illegal immigrants in the US right now. Not very closed.


If the major source of those is overstayed visas it is not the border that created the problem.

It's just that overstayed visas are not as visual, and not has overtly Hispanic as video of border.

They say less than 41% overstays. 41 was the old number, but their data says its about 10% less. These are the ones who bother me tough. They went through a vetting process at least.

1. The government is going to decide who meets the minimum 'net impact'? Well, there is a system ripe for lobbying abuses.

2. Mandatory healthcare? $5,000 fee. Who will pick strawberries?

3. The government is going to score peoples net benefit to society?? Sounds like China's new system for rating citizens. I've never heard an American not react with revulsion when confronted with China's new system, which is an affront to the basic idea of liberty. This is not something the government should ever do.

The "real idea" immigration plan - The government should provide better education, another hundred billion / year (drop the b2 bomber system to pay for it). And then let the market hire who it wants.

I think net benefit to society is intended to be a diplomatic way of saying “did this person pay more in taxes than they received in government benefits.” Fairly easy to determine without the draconian implications of China’s citizen rank.

That plus they probably add the person's income to the equation as that would be a benefit to total GDP of the US.

Who has the incentive to even lobby in this context?

"2. Mandatory healthcare? $5,000 fee. Who will pick strawberries?"

We don't make many sneakers in the US anymore, why should we be concerned with making strawberries? Just let the manpower intensive crops either automate or outsource.

Better yet, issue VR goggles to all the oldsters in these dying backwaters so they can indulge in fantasies about having exotic servants right up until we bulldoze their communities.

Better yet, Let's develop 'Trump Goggles' for his supporters. You put them on and all the brown people will look like Roddy Piper.

First of all, my sincere and heartfelt thanks to Tyler for posting on the IDEAL Immigration proposal and for linking to our site.

Second, I would ask that commenters check out the full proposal at www.idealimmigration.us

There is both a better and expanded long term visa program (largely for higher skilled workers) and a guest worker program (for workers of varying skill levels).

We on the IDEAL Immigration team are trying to craft a proposal that will make America stronger (wealthier, safer) while improving the lives of immigrants and of the world more broadly. The gains from immigration are large and IDEAL is an effort to increase these gains and to spread them broadly so that as many as people as possible benefit from these gains. Hence the encouragement (but not the requirement) that immigrants locate in communities that have been in population decline. Baltimore, for example, has been a leader among cities seeking immigrants to build a stronger tax base and community.

Please read the entire proposal!

Thank you

From this American: no thank you.

This is elitist globalism by another name, the same identical elitist globalism still being rejected by local, non-globalist populations and by nativist and nationalist populations around the world.

(Why are we not being explicitly invited here to defer to American representative democracy? Anything amiss with our polity?)

If "neo-globalism" is being proffered at this stage: the retreat of our effete elites remains incomplete.

Ironically 'opposing elitist globalism' means little more than opposing whatever Putin happens to be against at the moment.

Early or late for Putin to be cast as a Hallowe'en spook.

If our effete elite globalists want a globe to rule, perhaps a Bezos or a Musk could host a planet-wide symposium for all of them at some lunar mountain retreat on the far side of this planet's moon: that might prove a safe spot for them to spin all the lunacies they care to concoct for themselves, let them abide by their own rational lunacies as long it suits.

I remain persuaded I got it right the first time: the retreat of our effete elites remains incomplete.

Just noting it is interesting how people who rile against a global elite and local rule in the US will, the next day, show up in Poland, Italy, the UK or Eastern Europe supporting this or that local 'populist leader'.

I mean you would probably consider me a 'globalist' by my positions yet I'd have no idea who Poland should elect. Yet quite a few of the 'fuck globalists' people seem surprisingly well informed about non-local politics and their positions are surprisingly well aligned.

We on the IDEAL Immigration team are trying to craft a proposal that will make America stronger (wealthier, safer) while improving the lives of immigrants and of the world more broadly.

1. Try harder. The proposal is ridiculous. You are expecting high-skilled immigrants - the kind who might actually be able to pay $30K - to live in communities where there is little or no demand for their skills. Among other problems.

2. What do you have against agricultural workers and other low-skilled individuals?

3. Why should they be denied benefits like say, unemployment insurance?

4. Tell us who you are. Anonymity does not signal sincerity.

1. Long Term visa holders (and their potential employers) are given incentives to move to IWCs, but no one is forced to do so.

2. The full proposal includes an expanded guest worker program. I am all for more agricultural and workers of various education and skill levels.

3. I feel that in building a coalition for passage, this is an important rule. The alternative (current policy) is more cruel in that there is no legal access to the US for most workers.

4. Trust me I am sincere, but I really don't want discussion of the policy to be a discussion of me or the rest of the folks helping me design the IDEAL proposal. I assume if this policy gains traction my identity will be widely known. Tyler knows who I am.

Thank you.

How does the program calculate who had a "net positive impact", and who calculates it?

My interpretation is that “net positive impact” is intended as a diplomatic way of saying “did this person pay more in taxes than they received in government benefits.”

They are forbidden from receiving any benefits.

Yes. I am sympathetic with the goal as I perceive it (a reasonable immigration proposal, favoring the most active individuals), but this particular set of propositions doesn't make any sense.

"My interpretation is that “net positive impact” is intended as a diplomatic way of saying “did this person pay more in taxes than they received in government benefits.”"

Does it include implicit government benefits? IE what the median tax payer pays in taxes? (Or maybe even what the average tax payer pays in taxes?)

Few people want to deal with the reality that if you enlarge the population of below average tax payers, then taxes have to be raised to compensate for the difference.

Granted, you can argue that not all taxes need to go up, that it's a marginal rate issue. However, I haven't seen a serious analysis of what the actual marginal tax rate is for 25 million additional people vs 1 additional person. The only arguments I've read in the past on the marginal tax rate issue seem to hand wave away a lot of governmental costs.

EXCELLENT (Very Libertarian) PLAN.
Assuming also: (a) Eliminate anchor babies. (b) Eliminate Family Immigration Rights. (c) Repeal 64 Immigration Act.
Otherwise it's futile.

and (d) End all asylum.

Not to mention anchor First Ladies, right?


Why? The increase in people apparently able to hold inherently contradictory positions is disturbing, so no reason not to be amused at what is actually a growing problem.

For all the talk of chain migration, and the need to end it by many of those who consider Trump America's salvation, the truth is that President Trump, through his (second) marriage to a person born outside of the U.S., is the currently most public example of how chain migration works in practice.

The really odd thing is that as president, Trump probably has the legal authority to prevent Melania's parents from visiting the U.S., much less become legal residents. As seen in his restriction of travel from a number of countries, after finally figuring out how to make his travel ban comply to the law.

Tell me if you haven't heard this one, what's the difference between Melania's parents and an older Honduran couple?

Oh look the Leftwing racists are posting.

What are you going to say that you aren't racists at all? That your comments have nothing to do with racism.

But those Right wingers who don't want millions of illegal immigrants are really objecting on purely racists grounds, amirite?

Why? What is the goal that is being accomplished by any of this?

So, libertarian policy involves massive government control over immigration?

I heard Trump demanding other nations implement Soviet policy and build walls to keep people from leaving.

I'm old enough to remember the Soviet era wall building to keep people in the Soviet Union, the Berlin air lift, not to mention the US government later funding right wing terrorists in much of Latin America, training death squads, to fight ckmmies, but then the US policy welcomed those fleeing commies.

"Libertarian" immigration policy is a complicated question. In the libertarian extreme, you just have private property owners who can admit or exclude people from their property according to private contractual agreements. The usual immigration discussion isn't really applicable to this situation.

Immigration in the context of a welfare state with anti-discrimination laws is a very different thing. It amounts to forced integration and subsidization of people you may or may not wish to interact with. Not very libertarian.

'Immigrants pay $30,000 for a five-year live/work visa renewable for an additional five years at no additional cost contingent upon each IDEAL immigrant proving to be a net asset to the U.S. economy.'

So, since a child born in the U.S. is automatically an American citizen, how are these IDEAL visa holders handled in terms of being 'ineligible for any government benefits until attaining full citizenship'?

And is having American citizen children put on the plus side of the ledger, or is it the sort of thing that IDEAL immigrants will need to abandon?

The complete lack of any mention of the sort of immigration that involves the First Lady and her parents is probably not really an accident. Admittedly, since a fair amount of immigration actually involves human relationships, and not job seeking per se, this make be covered. But then, it would be 3 million, plus a few hundred thousand non-IDEAL immigrants.

Simpler yet


That's 75 million over the next 25 years, plus family - a ridiculously large number.

How about a common sense policy, say 5000 total individuals per year, merit based, for a reasonable period (40 years), to allow integration and assimilation of the very, very large number of legal immigrants we already have now.

Of course the citizens of other countries who are currently illegally present in the US should be offered expedited repatriation. It would be churlish indeed to continue to deny the benefits of their presence to the countries where they have actual citizenship.

Just two large Silicon Valley companies would want 5000 people a year. Therefore, such limitations would just make them move more of their highest paid positions overseas. This would also do quite the number to US research universities, which are chock full of foreign students, often enough paying for their ride.

Therefore, your plan would get much support from countries like India and China, who would love the US shooting its future in the face.

The fact that Google and Microsoft want a larger pool of relatively low cost labor for software maintenance and testing does not provide a basis for setting national immigration policy. There is plenty of room in the 5000 cap for the truly exceptional stars.

The top tier research universities can fill their slots with primarily American citizens, and there is again plenty of room in the 5000 cap. They can also well afford to do so. Take a look at the endowments of those schools.

That directional state wants a free STEM teaching assistant, which they get with the self-funding graduate student, should hardly serve as a basis for national immigration policy.

The Mexican Migration Project ( https://mmp.opr.princeton.edu/
) which has been collecting more data longer than any other study, has empirically shown that more strict border controls *increased* *permanent* immigration. When the border was porous migration was seasonal, and workers left their families south of the border and returned bi-annually, knowing they could return temporarily for work. As the risk of crossing the border increased, so did permanent immigration.

The most American solution is to have an "open" border (open as in it's easy get get across for work, not smuggling drugs), let the market decide who gets work and at what price. This would *reduce* demand for permanent illegal status. The government role is to finally provide great education for every American who wants it. Another 100 billion a year should do it. No skimping on this or open borders don't work. It's the cheapest program all in, most market friendly, and increases the skills of American workers.

learn more here: http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/25-general-chapman's-last-stand

Why $30k per work visa. Why not just:

a) Set the number annually
b) Auction them off to any eligible (ie, pass security screening) prospective immigrant - let the market set the price
c) Allow a secondary market where the immigrant can sell the remaining time on their visa to another eligible immigrant the selling immigrant is not in the US at the time of the finalization of the sale.
d) Allow borrowing against the visa like other property, with reasonable rules (similar to property foreclosure) to handle repossession upon non-payment of loan payments. (this requires some careful work to avoid abuse by employers etc). This way an immigrant could borrow in the anticipation of improved future earnings to buy a visa.

+1. Also I would extend the IDEAL system, as modified by Quadrupole, to ALL US citizens. Prove you are worthy every year of your life or get out. I would make exceptions for infants, the elderly, and people born with disabilities.

Bonus trivia: existing law in the UK states that any 'naturalized' UK citizen is sent back to her home country if her husband makes less than 20k pounds every year. A few years ago they wanted to deport an Indian woman since her husband dropped below that threshold. They had been married for something like 15 years. Too harsh but that's the law there.


Thanks for your thoughts. All are interesting. Let me address a few of them (and a few other common critiques of the $30k long term visa fee).

The $30k number was chosen with the following reasons in mind:

$30k is less than the true cost of the vast majority of H-1B visas currently if you include the costs to the HR department, costs in lost time of the H-1B applicant and their company as well as delays, etc.

To those who say $30k is too high, I would suggest that they underestimate the costs of the current system. Many immigrants have commented that they would have preferred to simply pay 30k and they support the IDEAL proposal.

The $30k could come from a hiring firm, it could come from family savings, or perhaps states could offer loan terms to attract immigrants and gain from their tax payments (Dan Griswold at Mercatus estimates the average PhD immigrant provides a net fiscal gain of over $1mm). California and New York (high state income tax) would, for example, likely offer such programs.

$30k is also similar to the cost in terms of share annual income that immigrants faced in previous eras. It was expensive (not to mention risky) to travel across the Atlantic during the Ellis Island era, for example.

As far not auctioning, the $30k is only part (a small part) of the total fiscal and other benefits these immigrants will provide. We feel it is better to have a real but fundable visa fee that allows the most talented, not just the wealthiest, immigrants access to the long term visa program. Allowing transfer could also reduce this total fiscal benefit.

Also, remember the program offers a lower cost guest worker option.

@IDEAL Immigration - you don't address how "most talented" is decided--is it the whim of an ICE bureaucrat? You've got to be kidding me. I recently tried to get a fiancee visa, and the ICE bureaucrat said, despite me producing affidavits and mountains of evidence on paper, that since I did not produce a photograph (!) of me and my girl, they cannot be sure we've ever met, despite me showing them an extensive paper trail that we've lived together for years (and btw the 'photograph' is not in their rules, and was offered ex post after they rejected my application). Their decision is not reviewable unless you spend a lot of money and time, and even then they can come up with something else. An immigration lawyer I spoke to said sometimes they even say the relationship is a sham, on no evidence, if the age difference between the US citizen and the foreign fiancee is more than 20 years. Again, not reviewable easily. These are the clowns that IDEAL Immigration wants in charge? Essentially they are low-level bureaucrats (possibly even racists) who will approve whoever they feel like approving, just to met their quota. I've seen this kind of bureaucrat at the US Patent Office, and again with tenure their decisions are not easily appealable, unless you spend lots of money and years of your life.

Bonus trivia: the liberal Northern VA congressperson's laison office was of no help to me, I won't mention their name, but so much for "liberal pols helping immigrants". It's more like: pols doing as little as possible and hoping name recognition from clueless suburbanites and inertia help the incombent get reelected, which happens 80-90% of the time.


I sympathize with your story and IDEAL is designed to be a simpler and more objective system that what is in place currently. Canada has a similar point system that most consider to be working well:

"Canada admits about 300,000 new permanent residents a year—a much higher proportion, relative to population, than the U.S.—and all its major political parties tout the economic and cultural benefits of immigration. Polls consistently show similar attitudes among the public."

@IDEAL Immigration - Thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful reply :) I tend to see prices as a way to match supply to demand, and to prioritize the distribution of resources, in this case work visas.

Your proposal to fix both the price and the supply, in the presence of a demand that presumably exceeds the supply, requires some sort of bureaucratic means to prioritize distribution.

My proposal is to let the market set the price, thus abrogating the need for bureaucratic decision making.

Your point about the value-add of immigrants being greater than simply the fee being paid, I agree. I tend to think about it in terms of the differential value of an immigrant being in the US vs in their country of origin. Obviously, as in most economic situations, the immigrant captures a portion of that value, and a portion is captured by others: employers, governments (via taxes), suppliers of good consumed in the US etc. We can presume that the fee paid represents a floor on the value created by a particular immigrant immigrating to the US, as the immigrant themselves must capture at least the value of the fee in compensation, for example via increased wages.

Taking wages as an example, most of the non-immigrant captured value increases with the wages earned of immigrants. So while imperfect, setting prices by auction is most likely to maximize the total value-add of the immigrant to the economy.

I admit, this approach presumes that maximizing the value-add of the immigrant to the US is the goal. If it is not, could you explain what other goals you are seeking to maximize?

There are several problems with Ideal's approach, although we have been calling for a market-based approach for two years.

Let's start with the $2,500 fee, and apply it to the caravan heading north from Honduras.

The economic decision to come to the US looks as follows:

Local Honduran wage: $1 / hour
Relocation premium to come to the US (60%): $0.60 / hr
Higher cost of US living: $2.50 / hr
Subtotal to come to US: cc $4.00 / hr
Plus IDEAL visa fee ($2500 / yr): $1.25 / hr
'Relocation Wage': $5.50 / hour

Now, let's consider this from the perspective of a US working mother with one child. Monthly cost of childcare is $917 on average.

Now, let's assume we bring up a Honduran woman to be a live-in maid / housekeeper / nanny. She will live with the family, such that the food and lodging costs are included.

Therefore, the cash outlay to the family is
Relocation cost: $5.50 / hr
minus: food and lodging: -$2.50 / hr
Cash wages to Honduran live in help: $3.00 / hour
Annual cost: $6,000, or about $500 / month v $917 for childcare.

About 40% of US households have children under the age of 18. The potential market, for day care type services alone, is well into the many millions. And that's excluding the 25 million Americans turning 65 before 2030.

Thus, a program with an annual cost of $2500 against unlimited visa quantities would see the low wage, migrant community increasing by perhaps 500k per year, with an upper limit of perhaps 3-4 million from Latin America.

If this program were extended to south and southeast Asia, well, that's 2 billion people right there. The numbers could be huge.

For this reason, conservatives would never support it. The proposal is stillborn as conceived.

We have a better articulated proposal here:

And a much better articulated website here:

And a blog with actual data, here:

Quadrupole has the right idea about letting the market set the price. However, I'd suggest that instead of issuing a hatful of new rights to live in the U.S., we make those in the possession of current U.S. citizens and legal immigrants transferrable and tradeable.

If a bright young software engineer in Bangalore thinks that she can do better in the U.S., she can try to come up with the cash to buy a current resident's right to live here. If an angry young Sandersista wants to get the hell out of a country where health care is treated as a privilege for the rich rather than a universal human right, he can sell his right of residence and use the proceeds to grubstake a move to Denmark.

Unlike the proposal under discussion in this post, this would leave all current legal U.S. residents in possession of a valuable asset. This would allow us to cut out much government spending on the impecunious, since they'd be able to liquidate this asset and use the proceeds to move. Wouldn't it be a better world if, say, Michael Brown had been able to sell his right of residence and move away from this fortress of institutional racism, to someplace where his contributions to society would be valued?


It would have the nice side effect of putting a market value on being "American" and making the ingrates realise what they have.

Three MILLION? Are they high?

The number is absurd.

Apart from that, they could not avail themselves of public schools of existing children, and they'd have to commit to having no children while in America. Since that isn't a promise we can enforce, the whole thing is impossible unless they accept temporary sterilization for both male and female. Seems unworkable.

But without it, children make the whole thing impossible. Which is what you'd expect from anyone who thinks three million people is a good number.

Better to use funds to encourage Americans to relocate. https://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/why-not-move-to-where-the-jobs-are/

The Guestworker program seems very workable. Except I might include a $2,000 charge for employers of the guest worker (or a sliding scale). (With exemptions for some communities) I would also require a check-in provision every 3-6 months, certified by the employer. I might also require a $2,000 performance bond (payable or split by an employer or applicant) that can be returned if they meet reporting requirements during the Visa period.

Problems with chain migration, what if they have children, how can you enforce them staying in a community. What if after arrival they switch to seeking asylum?

Employers who have a high rate of employees "disappearing" banned from the system.

Might allow limited government benefits after 5 years. Many may try to falsely apply for benefits, what are penalties? What benefits do children get?

Poor communities that see an influx of foreign workers may see downward pressure on wages. Congress would seek protection.

Not sure Congress would leave this simple, or workable.

Why not require a payment of $30,000 for the permission to allow a US citizen to be born?

It's not like the States with the fewest immigrants contribute a lot to the US economy.

For example, the five States with fewest immigrants are Mississippi, Montana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama.

The five States with the most immigrants are California,, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Nevada.

Note, the State's with the highest immigration have high immigration of non-US born, but also high immigration of US born, plus those born in these States stay in the state more than those born in the low immigration States for both US and non-US born.

Ie, West Virginia is populated by 70% native born, but 45% of those born in West Virginia emimigrat to other States.

In contrast, 75% of those born in California still live and work in California, but native born Californians are only 55% of its population.

Note, the only State that retains more of those born in the State is Texas, and probably the rate is higher for those seen by Trump as Mexicans, and his supporters likely agree. (Remember Trump called the US born judge a "Mexican" and thus against him in the case against Trump.)

Better yet, set the price for the right to have a US citizen born based on how much the State contributes to the US economy. Low for Texas and California, but very high in States like West Virginia and Kentucky.

Reproductive Rights of US Citizens > Migration Rights of Foreigners.

It's an incredibly stupid and offensive argument that Americans should suffer in order to make room for foreigners. There's zero political support for such a policy outside of a handful of leftist circles.

If you want to run on that policy, go ahead. It will only guarantee an entire Congress full of Trumps who will vote to build a 50 foot, razor wire tipped wall and forcibly deport every undocumented immigrant.

This is all well and good but what's ahead will not accommodate the "ideal". We need to be prepared for something far less than the "ideal"; otherwise, we are burying our head in the sand and when the inevitable arrives, we won't be prepared.

Who paid for this garbage? Why is Tyler sharing websites paid for by completely nameless authors?

>....completely nameless authors?

Whines the guy who is posting anonymously.

I, too, found this odd.

Aside from coming up with 30K cash, the average immigrant farmworker/ meatpacker/dishwasher who is here right now could easily fit into this framework.

And I can see how plenty of corporations would be happy to front the 30K in exchange for an indentured servant.

So what this boils down to, is exactly the status quo, except with a slave labor force.

Again, if you read the entire proposal on www.idealimmigration.us you will see there is lower cost guest worker program in addition to the long term visa.

>Immigrants pay $30,000

Well, congrats on making it three words into this proposal before saying something that will fill Dems with outrage (and laughter).

That is further than I thought you would get.

Why are so many latin americans trying to emigrate to the US? Because the living conditions in their home countries are so bad. Why are the living conditions in their home country so bad? At least partly because of United States actions. For instance: the drug war which produces lots of gangs and violence. For instance: the overthrow of elected leaders like in Honduras in 2009.

Perhaps the real secret to the immigration problem is for the United States to stop acting to disrupt government and societies in Latin America and start acting to help build better governments and societies in Latin America.

There would be no immigration problem if good lives were attainable in latin american countries.

Perhaps step 1 would be to end the drug war.

Another one that some site is NAFTA opening Mexican markets to US agricultural products, in the process undermining the economics of small family farming.

Muh strawberries!!!

Bringing in coolie labor only makes sense if you limit their rights. Otherwise it gets expensive. In the context of modern liberalism with equality and welfare, you inevitably end up giving full citizenship to a lot of these people (and all their low-achieving descendants). This peasant labor will almost by definition be a drain on public finances.

Intended for Collin below.

You may have noticed that Latin America was a mess even BEFORE the Monroe Doctrine. And it wasn't exactly converging in 1970.

But yeah, blame it all on US policy, not dysfunctional Latin American polities and their population/culture.

I didn't blame it all on the US. But we have certainly contributed significantly. Go read about the banana wars. Go read about our attempted assassinations of Castro. Not to mention the blockade of Cuba. Go read about Trump's financial walls around Venezuela. Go read about the over throw of an elected Chilean government. Go read about how we trained latin american military to kill. (School of the Americas)

I've only touched the surface here. Lot's more to find.

America has not been a good actor. But that's hard for some folks to see. Like you.

I know America has often been a lousy neighbour. I am Not A Fool.

But I can do cross-country ordinal regression on historical data in my head....can you?

There's almost no correlation between "level of US involvement" and "level of Latin America Polity screw up", however you want to measure involvement. Almost none At All. Well-known satrapies like Cuba and Venezuala top the list of dysfunction, and distant self-determining powers like Argentina and Brazil have been just as messed up as Guatemala under the United Fruit Company.

When a variable doesn't make for useful predictions, reasonable political science types conclude it just isn't that important. Inductive Modus Tollens, you know. I guess its flattering to believe Uncle Sam controls everything that happens in the hemisphere, but it just ain't so. At least, not in a scientific sense. What do you think - wilcoxin signed rank test or straight to a Somers' D statistic?

Anyway, this was fun. I think it's fun when people think they are being terribly clever and educated, don't you?

Just remember we created MS-13.

You can close your eyes all you want but it doesn't change history. The US has repeatedly interfered in Latin American affairs and hurt Latin Americans.

Are American actions the only actions hurting Latin Americans? Certainly not. But that is no excuse for damaging American actions, though many people, yourself included, would like to think so.

The US should be working to build Latin American governments that are good for their populations, not trying to destroy them.

You do, of course, remember the Sandinistas and the American backed Contras who fought them. The Sandinistas were fighting to get rid of a brutal dictator. The dictator Somoza was a US ally. So we sent money and arms for the Contras. We didn't give a damn about the people of Nicaragua.

Forty years later, now, Nicaragua's government is in trouble and doing bad things to its people. The US still doesn't give a damn about the people of Nicaragua.

Your central claim was US actions were a (the) major determinant of Latin American polity dysfunction.

Your central claim is false, q.v. inductive modus tollens.

The rest of your post is just Fallacies of Relevance / Distraction related to the above. I particularly liked the ad hominem.

One of the important metacognitive indicators for people is whether they can conceive (a priori) that what they think is Terribly Clever and Sophisticated may actually be laughably simplistic to a sufficiently superior position. The next level of fail is when they don't notice the problem even when confronted with it. I think it's sweet.

Excellent name calling!

But your argument comes down to saying "I know better than you."

My point is US actions have contributed to the illegal immigrant problem. Maybe it's time to clean up our act instead of just making the problem worse and taking no responsibility for it

Living in SoCal, I still don't understand exactly how only high end immigration benefits the natives? It still seems to me that having a good share of immigrants that work the fields for low wages both:

1) Keeps prices down that control inflation. Right now inflation is rising above wage increases the last 2 years.
2) Small business creation increases. It is small businesses that benefit the most from low wage immigration not the large businesses.

At the heart of the 2016, I never understood how immigrants picking strawberries in California directly hurt WWC in Ohio.


I have yet to meet someone who can credibly explain to me how, absent immigrants, white male steelworkers and coal miners suddenly return to the good times.

Let Me Explain It Very Simply.

1. Marginal immigrant worker generates $5k in taxes
2. Marginal immigrant worker consumes $20k in benefits
3. Taxes rise for everyone to pay for that $15k consumption. Everyone is now $15k/n worse off. Simples!

And don't get me started on the externalities that the immigrant imposes in housing, education, social cohesion, crime, and displacement of native labour.

+1, the simple facts that everyone likes to ignore.

I know a lot of people who might like to immigrate here. Usually it's because the opportunities where they are are scarce. In that context, "$30,000" is about as accessible to them as "$500k" would be to someone here, which is to say, "not" for most people. So I don't think this would do much good; the intersection of "people who could scrape together that kind of money" and "people for whom the opportunities in the lowest end of the US economy are an improvement" is tiny.

I actually sort of like the "you come live someplace where we have population shortages and the economy needs a boost" idea, but the people for whom that's appealing are not gonna have that kind of money lying around.

Why not just encourage them to come here, get jobs, and pay taxes?

See above the various ways I believe applicants will receive funding. Immigration has historically been costly, and it still is. But currently that cost is in legal blls, paperwork delays and uncertainty.

And again, there is a lower cost guest worker program. Please read the entire proposal.

It seems noteworthy that the data to support any of these criteria/rules isn't provided/discussed. I don't see how mandating a place of residence is consistent with all US residents' RIGHT to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also don't see why Federal Law should be concerned with local wealth inequities - isn't that a matter for the States to determine? Shouldn't immigrants be steered to communities with low unemployment rather than high poverty? Don't immigrants face enough hurdles to success without adding impoverished location? Isn't that just admitting these areas are "throw away" America?

The goal is to help these areas, and if you read the entire proposal at
www.idealimmigration.us you will see that only communities that opt in will be included.

Also, immigrants have incentives to move to these areas, but are not forced to do so. Immigrants face far more hurdles to immigration the US currently than they would under the IDEAL proposal.

This is a pretty interesting proposal, even if it's just reducing bureaucracy and increasing tax revenue.

Has anyone thought about the ancillary microfinance industry that could arise as a result of this? Meaning using services like kiva, etc to fund the payments. Or maybe income-share-agreements? Particularly, income share agreements are showing decent promise in the nearly-equally-inaccessible world that is higher education, which is another potential tool in the toolbox of social mobility along with immigration.

"Net positive" is earnings of at least 100k per year. GDP is about 50k/capita/year, people work half their lives, so 100k/year is needed to not decrease per capital GDP. Tough bar.

A better approach is to say that average governmental spending in the US is $23K per person. As long as the immigrant pays that much in spending then they are pulling their weight.

I don't understand how such an ill-defined proposition has attracted nearly 100 comments so fast. Of course, an essential point is "At the end of ten years, immigrants whose impact to the U.S. is net positive are eligible for citizenship. Immigrants with a net negative impact will be asked to leave the U.S. Acceptance and impact will be determined by a pre-determined scoring system." Since absolutely nothing is said on this pre-determined scoring system, an essential element to understand this proposition (and to assess it) is missing.

This missing information is essential both to understand the motivation of immigrants coming (they will look
attentively to what they have to do not get expelled after 10 years, before entering this program), and for the macro-implication of this program (what proportion of the immigrant in the program are expected to pass the "net impact" test after 10 years? 90%, 50 %, 10%.
Without knowing what the test is, there is no way to even make a wild guess.

In part it's because of the political history of this topic. No one (on either side) believes that any agreed future constraints (like the "net impact" tests) will be enforced. No one believes that "temporary" is actually temporary. That's largely been the crystal clear lived experience over the past generation or two. So there isn't much point in negotiating the fine details.

Yawn. Back in the 70's the US-Mexico border was a ho-hum affair. Since then we've had billions spent on walls, guards, fences, drones, electronic surveillance and domestically Bush had the 2nd highest number of deportations than any other President (about 2M), second only to Obama (2.5M+).

But the problem is nothing is being enforced? No one ever kept promises? Isn't the reality that the people making the most noise about immigration are dominated by emotions, anecdotes and are generally indifferent to data and facts?

Engineer. Agreed. One of the most grievous obstacles to "reform" is the total failure of enforcement/abuse on previous "reforms". The elites have developed an astonishing reputation for not keeping their end of the deal in letter or spirit. (Memo to Tyler - repeated defection has consequences for credibility - who knew?!)

But hey, I'm sure we can trust them this time, right?

Not unlike the war on drugs, the problem is enforcement...not lack of enforcement.

It's entirely because of the political history of this topic. No one (on either side politically) is doing cost benefit analysis. They just strawman extreme positions.

So I approach it as "sure you could do IDEAL," but I see it or any other rationalist, solutionist, plan as long odds.

And if they can't afford the $30k, they can have a sponsoring employer, who is also legally responsible for them and to which they owe labor for a period of time.

Congrats, you reinvented indentured servitude.

Ha! A mere branding bagatelle, hardly beyond the imagination of our good lords and corporate masters.

"Sponsored Employee Regulatory Framework" or SERF.

That sounds suitably anodyne for Tyler and the Davos crowd to get behind.

The people who can afford the $30k are already here under another program. The problem is the jobs no American want to perform. This will not solve it. These people will only take high paying jobs from Americans and depress these wages. We need to spend on skills training to upgrade our people's job skills. Anything else is just a delay.

It's a little thin, but I kind of like it. I think that the government would probably have to either loan most migrants the $30k or take it as a special tax on wages instead.
My main beef with the proposal is moving people to communities in the bottom 25% of earnings. I come from a dying mid-western town. Those places are from a different time and I don't think we should try to save very many of them. Rather than pumping in new people to prolong the decline, why not help the people in those towns to move to a higher income, lower unemployment region?

"A net positive?"

If you take the annual federal budget and divide it by the population, than a family of 4 would need to pay $28,000 in Federal taxes just to not be "takers".

Only the top 5% of Americans right now--immigrants or otherwise--are a "net positive."

Exactly. It's slightly better if you allow for no benefits, healthcare, and education and relative immigrant youth, (but they will grow old, and have kids), but it's staggering how much an immigrant has to earn before becoming a net fiscal positive. And don't get me started on the housing externality.

Most of the "analysis" of immigrant fiscal contributions has really pulled it's punches; I mean it's simplistically bad and pro-immigrant. I'm as willing to hold the door open for IQ 140 Chinese Software entrepreneur as anyone, but the bad faith of the globalists on this one has really shaken me.

I can honestly not figure out if they've fooled themselves or not. Matthew Yglesias is a pretty reasonable guy in my opinion and not prone to arguing in bad faith, but he is fully on board the pro low skill immigration doesn't hurt anyone bandwagon (except maybe for recent similar unskilled immigrants). The refusal to even put fiscal impact in mind is really amazing.

1. The Fed. Budget is probably not a stepwise function. In other words if the US gets one additional family of 4, it isn't like the budget automatically jumps $28,000.

2. Why is the impact to the Fed. budget the end all of evaluating a social good? What does the family of 4 do to the US's GDP?

1. It's a first order linear model of aggregate social behaviour, Boonton.

Saying "But the response surface isn't smooth!" really isn't a clever objection; it just shows you aren't familiar with the inductive logic structure for this class of technique, which isn't good.

The US builds about 1.2 million housing units a year. I do not know how many become decrepit. Due to property zoning and other structural impediments this appears to be the maximum we can produce.

Where will all the immigrants live?

So many problems in the US economy go back to property zoning.

We have a similar problem in the UK.

Supply side restrictions limit effective growth to about 100-150k household units per annum. But immigration adds 120k household-units per year, and natural population growth another 80k. The result is....well...obvious. People "squeeze in"; houses convert to multiple residences and flats, kids stay with parents, and garden sheds are found to house a half dozen Albanian labourers (true). It's slightly worse than the raw numbers suggest, as most immigration falls into areas with lower-than-average house-building.

Obviously, this drives house and rents prices through the roof. We are then told how much immigration enriches us.

From a previous comment:
"For example, the five States with fewest immigrants are Mississippi, Montana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama."

If you think low immigration is enriching why don't you try to immigrate to one of our low immigration states in the US? If you think declining property values and rents are a positive, I encourage you to join the Detroit Homeowners Association.

Why Boonton, think how much more valuable your car will become if we banned the production of new vehicles!

High House Prices are Not A Net Social Good. This is so obvious, but you still have people defending it. On an economics blog, no less.

Bit of a network effect there. If no one had a car it wouldn't be too long before there'd be almost no where I could drive the car.

I agree high home prices in themselves are not a social good but they are an indicator of demand to live in a particular place. Even with housing supply restrictions removed, there is still a space restriction to new housing. I may be allowed to build a 50 story apt building on a lot but the 45th floor isn't the same as the 1st.

The point I was trying to make was that, in the presence of the acknowledged supply side restrictions immigration imposes sizable additional externality on natives via the housing market.

If I may take your point and run with it, "there is still a space restriction on new housing". We do live in a finite physical space, after all. So even in the complete absence of supply-side regulation immigrants would still impose this externality on natives. In practise, of course, it is much worse.

You don't see that externality being budgeted for in the pro-immigration fiscal arguments.

Maybe my analogy mis-carried; I didn't intend all cars to disappear overnight (with attendant network effects); merely for new cars to cease to arrive to increase the value of the existing capital stock.

Think of Cuban Cars. All those genteel 1950's relics of pre-communism; kept running in the absence of alternatives. Incredibly valuable to their owners, of course. In fact, they are now much more valuable in aggregate than in 1950 when the import of new cars was possible. But....Cubans have lost out, haven't they?

Cuba is our housing policy for cars.

Not bad, but this proposal seems to presuppose that its rules will be followed. There's xenophobia aplenty in the US, but I think most of it is directed at illegal immigration, not legal immigration. Even Trump says that his target is the illegal immigrants.

So debating whether the fee should be $30K or some other figure seems to be beside the point, when 5K Hondurans are caravanning for the US. I think that sort of thing is what the key immigration debates are about.

So debating whether the fee should be $30K or some other figure seems to be beside the point, when 5K Hondurans are caravanning for the US. I think that sort of thing is what the key immigration debates are about.

5,000 people while the US population is 325 Million. You might as well alert us that a truck load of bottled water is about to be dumped into the Atlantic Ocean.

Wow, just wow. This is basically a xenophobic brain fart. But ok, just humour me for a sec.

Just run the most basic most expected non-creative scenario.

First, a poor or otherwise economic migrant decides to apply for the Ideal visa. Assume that in the best case scenario, he or she is granted a loan by the scheme to be repaid within the first 5 years of the term.

Then she is moved to a bottom 25% community of Ideal's choosing and let loose, where she is expected to fully integrate, find and keep a local job, secure health insurance and foremost earn enough to repay the loan as well as to became a net positive contributor to the state within those full 5 years.

Now, this community, of not her choosing, is mired in a whole range of idiosyncrasies, of not her doing, such as high unemployment, high crime, highly homogeneous population, highly biased and potentially racist and homophobic towards immigrants, with understandably many local problems of its own. Most of the local (and able) population has left for better pastures and for sure there are not many employers left in the vicinity.

So, in this context she is expected to do much more than just simply survive in there.

LOL. Talk about hitting the ground running. Better odds in Vegas.

From what I understand working in a IWC is just a point on the evaluation system. Presumably if she couldn't find work in OpiodVille North Dakota as, say, a maid and house cleaner she could shake the dust from her shoes and go to Los Angeles where there is plenty of work she could take and she meet her point for being 'willing to work in an 'IWC'".

I'm skeptical about the IWC. These communities are not suffering from a lack of a labor force

If this loan system was in place then presumably the lenders are betting she will make enough to pay them back. Kind of a market decision there if you think about it.

The IWC is an honest effort to address the problem in the US that in the most productive cities, housing growth is limited for a variety of reasons. But I think you could do a much better job of finding locations that are housing rich but the economy is still functioning. Ironically, most of these are in Texas and the medium to large cities of the south. If you are going to divert immigrants somewhere, this should be the goal.

Why should we be diverting immigrants anywhere? Suppose we did this in the US generally? Not let people move to certain areas deemed 'too dense' or giving them credits to move other places. Perhaps suspending people's licenses if they try to move to a prohibited space 'too soon'. Yawn. The assumption here seems to be if you send people to small communities, jobs will magically go with them. That may or may not be the case but better to do it with market forces and carve out subsidies or incentives via general policy.

We don't do this in the US generally because it would be a violation of constitutional rights of US citizens. This policy effort takes as a given that immigration occurs on the conditions of the host nation without respect for the rights that would normally apply to actual citizens. If you don't agree with that, then you're just taking the open borders position.

But within that context, I definitely would not force immigrants to move to 'small communities'. But how about Minneapolis instead of SF? Using market forces means driving up rents in SF until some current residents choose to move. On the margin, you are taking something away from existing residents if this happens. It is really an orthogonal problem in the US economy that a handful of cities are major employment drivers and also incapable of providing sufficient housing, but other policy discussions should take this circumstance into account, since we are nowhere near a policy fix for it.

Would it be a violation of constitutional rights? Possibly not. Interstate commerce and drivers licenses. States that went to restrict immigration could require new residents to wait 6 months for drivers licenses unless they sign up ahead of time on a 'wait list'. The Federal gov't could probably set up a system of tax credits for moving expenses that favor some areas but not others. It wouldn't make it impossible to move but you could have a highly regulated system of internal movement in the US that would feel very foreign to most of us but nonetheless not break the Constitution.

"We don't do this in the US generally because it would be a violation of constitutional rights of US citizens."

Well we probably could do it without violating rights of citizens so we come back to the question of why don't we? Perhaps for the same reason Congress deregulated the airlines and trucking industries in the 70's and 80's. Because such attempts to 'internally balance' trade from on high end up causing problems rather than solving them.

I applaud the proposal for at least having the correct premise: that immigration policy should be set primarily to benefit America. That itself is a very controversial point even though it shouldn't be. This proposal at the very least gets away from viewing immigration as a nonnegotiable moral and humanitarian duty to global humanity, the dominant liberal viewpoint (under that view, the lower the quality of the immigrants, the better). That said, in the particulars, it's not a good proposal at all.
1) 3M is pretty crazy. That is triple the current level. It says they're going to send some of them back, but politically we've seen how practically difficult that is.
2) High IQ immigrants are in some ways worse than low IQ immigrants, or at least higher risk. Low IQ immigrants create very visible problems: they commit crime, destroy the public schools, and burden state welfare programs, plus they dilute the franchise. As bad as that all is, high IQ types are a greater if less visible threat to a society because, unlike low IQ types, they more easily break into positions of authority and influence and reorient essential institutions. NW European societies are particularly vulnerable to this since they are very open and individualist which leaves them blind to ethnic group strategies and parasitic behavior. The risk here is that your foreign elites will indifferent or even hostile to the common good.
3) Importing high IQ people is not a good solution to the problem of dysgenic fertility. And it is self-evidently bad for the countries that are getting brain-drained. It's somewhat similar to "raising productivity" with cheap labor as opposed to true technological advancement.
4) It will do nothing to solve the problem of burgeoning third world populations (minus the right-tail of the IQ distribution) trying to avail themselves of our civilizational capital.

I would like the USA to return to the free immigration policies of the past (like when my grandparents immigrated). Then incoming immigrants where checked for communicable diseases and if clean they were granted entry.

BUT seeing that:

There is a large percent of voters who are anti-immigration and a larger percent who are against illegal immigration.
It seems absurd to have a law that you have no intention of enforcing.
The illegal immigrants who have been here the longest are better off than those who would have wanted to come but did not come because they did not want to come illegally.
The illegal immigrants who have been here the longest are better off because they have had a chance to earn more money than those in Mexico.
The illegal immigrants who have been here the longest are better off because they have had a chance to learn some English which might help them get a better job in Mexico.

So suppose we deport illegal immigrants starting with those who have been here the longest and for each one deported we let in a person from the queue. Or maybe we let in two people from the queue for each illegal deported.

This seems to be a reasonable compromise between pro and anti immigration voters.

Also, perhaps we should start a guest worker program. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guest_worker_program

"In the presidential election, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 26 percentage points in Tennessee. It is Trump country.

"So what do Tennessee voters say about illegal immigration?

"Incredibly, only 1/3 of Tennessee registered voters think undocumented immigrants in general -- the 11 million of them -- should be required to leave the US. Even Trump supporters only seek deportation by 1 percentage point. Notwithstanding ICE raids here or there, the public does not support any large scale removal of undocumented aliens. And that's in Trump country."

The country has no stomach for mass deportations.


Too late to deport. Must control future immigration. Why not do what Canada does? Deport those with chronic health conditions?

Why don't we just get rid of the socialist dictatorships in Latin America so they don't dump their social problems on the US taxpayer?

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