The Corner

Immigration Is the Health of the State

Veronique: I agree that it’s not “a good idea to use ‘preference for redistribution’ as a criterion for granting U.S. citizenship or U.S. residency.” The point is not that we test for statist preferences in a micro sense, but that in a macro sense mass immigration will inevitably lead to increases in the power and intrusiveness of the state. Even apart from the voting preferences of immigrants, denser population leads to more government, and if left unchanged current immigration policy will engineer in a population 100 million larger than it would be otherwise 50 years from now. Even with zero immigration, we’ll grow by more than 60 million people in 50 years, but that’s Americans making private decisions, not the government engaging in social engineering. And since immigration is just another discretionary federal government program, like farm subsidies or the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it is incumbent on us to try to understand its long-term impacts.

And Ramesh is right that Jason Riley’s book — the subtitle of which is “The Case for Open Borders” — is not a serious case for open borders.

Jerry: While it’s obvious that decisions “should be made on the basis of whether those policies are good for America, not whether they are good for the GOP”, these are not necessarily contradictory goals. Even if you judged mass immigration to be a plus because it reduces the cost of servants, if in the long run creates a political climate significantly more receptive to statism, then the cheaper servants weren’t worth it.

And we do get to judge policy in terms of its political impact, just as the other team does. Barney Frank, in fact, has been quite open about it; here’s what he told told National Journal a couple of years ago:

Top Democratic leaders and activists see Hispanic migration as a long-term opportunity for the party. The arrival of additional immigrant workers is “bad for blue-collars,” Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told National Journal late last year. But immigrants can help elect Democratic majorities, and “if [a Democratic Congress] were to significantly strengthen unions, then you would offset the negative effect on the income of workers,” he said.

The statists get it. Why don’t we?

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