Tamar Jacoby from the Manhattan Institute has a compelling article entitled “Immigration Nation” in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, one which argues for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform and border security consistent with the legislation that passed the Senate in mid-2006. It’s a convincing piece, one that carefully weighs each of the key issues within this broader debate, and provides reasoned choices for her proposed course of action. The key paragraph in the story:
This, then, is the essential architecture of comprehensive reform: more immigrant worker visas, tougher and more effective enforcement, and a one-time transitional measure that allows the illegal immigrants already here to earn their way out of the shadows. Together, these three elements add up to a blueprint, not a policy, and many questions and disagreements remain. But on one thing everyone who shares the vision agrees: all three elements are necessary, and all three must be implemented together if the overhaul is to be successful. Think of them as the three moving parts of a single engine. There is no tradeoff between enforcement and legalization or between enforcement and higher visa limits. On the contrary, just as enforcement is pointless if the law is unrealistic, so even the best crafted of laws will accomplish little if it has no teeth, and neither one will work unless the ground is prepared properly.
The one disagreement I would have with Jacoby’s analysis is her assumption that an illegal immigration flow of 400-500 thousand people per year is representative of the natural condition of the supply-demand equation. That amount is based in part on the labor demand pull in the U.S., but it’s also a reflection of the relative openness of the U.S. border. If the border were more open, those numbers would increase, and if it were tighter, those numbers would decrease, and the cost of labor would increase, reducing demand.
But other than that one point, it’s a very well-argued piece that argues convincingly in favor of a comprehensive approach for immigration and border security.