Clear Thinking on Immigration

A short compassionate conservative opinion on immigration reform. Let's start with internal enforcement of employers. It's not about money but about law.
Immigration benefits employers who hire cheaper labor, and consumers who buy products made with that labor. The benefits are small, though – less than one half of one percent of national income. Neither are the education and healthcare burdens on states and cities particularly large -$10 billion, compared to state and local budgets of $1.5 trillion – but they are unfairly concentrated on a handful of states and localities.

The argument that the U.S economy will grind to a halt without immigration is simply not true. Neither is the argument that immigration is ruining the economy. Although it does put modest downward pressure on unskilled wages, the numbers are too small (3-4 percent over 20 years) to require a policy response. If immigration ceased tomorrow, some of the jobs immigrants do would disappear – farmers and businesses would find ways to produce without cheap labor, and more homeowners would mow their own lawns (or pay my kids to do it!). Some of the jobs would be taken by native workers, at modestly higher wages. Anyone looking for burdens from immigration will have to look outside of the economy.


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