The Corner

Immigration Economics

Steven Landsburg proves, to his own satisfaction, that immigration restrictionists must value the life of an immigrant at one-fifth the value of a native-born American. “[T]here was a time when the U.S. Constitution counted a black slave as three-fifths of a full-fledged citizen. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has recently apologized for the ravages of slavery. How long till politicians apologize for the ravages of our restrictive immigration policies?” There is, however, an alternative to the hypothesis that restrictionists place a low value of immigrants’ lives, which is that we don’t think about the issue in the narrow terms Landsburg wants to confine us to, and which seem contrived to puff up his moral vanity.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.