Out of Control Policy Blog

Our Strange and Counterproductive Immigation Policy

Few policies make less sense than current immigation policy. It simply doesn't make sense to throw out people who are productive members of US society.

Despite promising to address the terrible state of US immigation laws, the Bush Administration has made things even worse. Our own Shikha Dalmia, writing in the LA Business Journal, observes:

It is not like it [the Bush Administration] does not understand that the "problem" of illegal immigration is purely a function of existing immigration laws, not "evil doers." These laws don't exactly roll out the welcome mat for high-skilled immigrants that California's Silicon Valley badly needs. But they are downright hostile toward "unskilled" workers who form the backbone of the agricultural, landscaping and hotel industry in the Golden State and elsewhere.

Everyone knows our economy is desperately short of workers in these occupations, yet official poilcy is to throw them out and not even give them an opportunity to become legal US citizens.

What explains this strange and twisted policy of throwing productive workers out? Unfortunately, Shikha's conclusion is hard to dismiss:

The only plausible reason is that the administration has not just abandoned rational immigration reform, which would be understandable under the circumstances. It has actually made a conscious decision to embrace its opposite to win back its lost base before next year's elections. In short, its immigration policy now is driven neither by conviction, nor the needs of the economy - but naked political calculation, even if that involves targeting "willing employers" and "willing foreign workers," the very victims of that policy.

Shikha's article deserves to be widely read.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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