The Corner

Let Them In

J.J.:   Interesting talk there with Jason Riley. I thought some of his answers were a bit odd, though. For example:

[1]  On your question as to how many people the U.S.A. can bear, he seemed to say “the more, the better,” and cited Hong Kong as a place that’s rich by virtue of having high population density, versus “countries in sub-Saharan Africa” that have low density and are poor.  O…K, but surely he’s not positing a correlation between population density and national prosperity. There isn’t one. Population-density-wise, Sweden, Finland, and New Zealand (ranked 195, 201, and 204 respectively) are in the same zone as Equatorial Guinea, Paraguay, and Sudan (197, 203, 205). And anyway, of sub-Saharan African countries, I counted 28 as more densely populated than the U.S.A. (which has 31 people per sq. km.), against only 11 less densely populated, though it was a fast count, and “sub-Saharan” is fuzzy. Rwanda (343 people per sq. km.) is over 11 times denser than the U.S.A. How come they’re not 11 times richer? No, this won’t fly.

[2]  He said, as open-borders types are wont to do: “We need a guest-worker program.” You should have jumped in and asked him which of the following current visa categories is not a guest-worker program: H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, R-1, R-2.

[3]  If increased legal immigration is such a good idea, how come those who argue for it, as Riley does, seem unable to persuade the U.S. public. In a 2003 Zogby poll, only 12 percent of respondents supported increases in immigration. That’s practically a lunatic fringe. Obviously Riley is working hard at persuasion, but why is it such hard work? Isn’t open borders in fact an obsession restricted to gated-community elites and a few ethnocentric lobbies, with little traction among Americans at large?

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