Towards an Intelligent Immigration Policy
Foreigners with strong minds or strong backs should be welcomed, not hounded.


Robert Zubrin

Furthermore, the idea that by excluding immigrant talent from the U.S. work force we can prevent it from competing with Americans is risible. Rather, by excluding skilled or educated foreigners, we guarantee that they will compete with American workers and businesses from other countries. As a result, the jobs, industrial capabilities, and tax revenue that they could have created here will instead be created elsewhere, and America’s position in the world market will be further eroded. To cap it all, by giving up the effort to compete for such talent without a fight, we effectively build a Berlin Wall for the benefit of our foreign competition, allowing them to retain skilled people without making the concessions to both liberty and living standards that would otherwise be forced upon them.

Vaughan objects to American universities’ financing themselves by charging out-of-state tuition to foreign students. But why? Foreign students who come to the U.S. and pay triple the tuition of their American counterparts provide a subsidy to our educational system. If we were to add the incentive of a green card to the degree, the numbers of such people would expand considerably, and make university education much more affordable for Americans.

And education is not the only area where Americans could reap enormous savings by rejecting the arguments of the labor protectionists. Another is health care. Because of the limited numbers of American medical-school graduates, many specialist doctors are currently taking home salaries above $400,000 per year. That may be nice for them, but it imposes high medical-care costs on everyone else, and because these costs are typically passed on via health insurance to employers, it is making American industry less competitive internationally and thereby contributing to unemployment. Furthermore, because such specialist salaries are so high, they attract doctors away from providing primary care, and thereby strip many Americans — whether covered with insurance or not — of their access to timely medical assistance. These problems could be readily solved by opening our doors wider to foreign medical talent.

Very well, say some, let’s let in educated foreigners, but what about Mexican laborers? Do we need them too? You bet we do. Currently, over half of U.S. farm workers are illegal immigrants from Mexico. American agriculture simply could not function without them. True, they are breaking the law, but if they did not do so, we would not have food. So where does the problem lie — with the illegals, or with the system that makes it illegal for people to do good and necessary work?


Let us consider this problem by imagining a country, which may well be the United States in the not too different future, where federal bureaucracy intrudes itself into the hiring process of all companies, and thus for the purpose of assuring “fairness,” or other noble goals, demands several years’ worth of paperwork before any private hiring decision can be legally approved. Say you are a businessman living under this regime, and you are running a company that must respond to market conditions with frequent and timely hiring operations. What would you do?

The answer is clear; you would seek to evade the overweening bureaucracy by hiring people off the books, paying them as consultants, or engaging in other tricks. If you did not do so, you would not stay in business. And regardless of those who might denounce you for giving away American jobs to illegal workers, in point of fact, without you and your illegal employees’ willingness to brave doing what is necessary to function despite the bureaucracy, no one would get any jobs or products from your company.

While this scenario may seem like an anti-utopian future fantasy, in point of fact it is essentially the situation faced by American farmers and farm workers today. The problem is not with the illegal farm workers, who are willing to work long hours in the hot sun to put food on our tables, but with the dysfunctional federal immigration bureaucracy, which has failed to do its job of providing a means for swift and efficient processing and approval of entry and work permits for people who wish to come to the United States for mutually beneficial purposes. That is the problem that a Republican immigration policy needs to fix. The nation needs a fence, but it also needs a well-functioning door.

Those who defend the current situation of bureaucratic overregulation of immigration and hiring claim that they are defending the rule of law. In fact, just the opposite is true. By keeping Mexican farm workers in an illegal status, they are creating a community within the United States that cannot talk to the police, thus providing a safe harbor for real criminal elements, with a large part of the brutal actions of such dangerous criminals being committed against the Hispanic community itself. Such a situation makes effective law enforcement impossible.