Saturday, June 11, 2016

The conservative case for libertarian immigration policy

Conservatives Should Adopt Libertarian Immigration Policy - Alex Nowrasteh, The Federalist:

June 7, 2016 - "Former Republican governor of New Mexico and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has a vision for America fundamentally different from Donald Trump’s. Perhaps the most striking difference is on immigration. Johnson’s mantra of more visas and legalization lie in stark contrast to Trump’s call for less immigration, a huge wall, and a 'deportation force.'

"Johnson’s support for immigration is fully consistent with libertarian principles, of course. The tragedy is that people have forgotten it is also consistent with conservative principles.

"American conservatives can find their pro-immigration roots in the American Founding. The Declaration of Independence complained that King George III '[H]as endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither.'

"That dislike of immigration barriers carried over to the Constitutional Convention. As Antonin Scalia Law School professor Ilya Somin has pointed out, there is no enumerated power in the Constitution that grants Congress the power to regulate most immigration....

"[Q]uantitative research that shows steady immigrant assimilation.... The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s “Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015” finds successful and rapid economic and educational assimilation of immigrants in the United States, especially compared to Europe.... Economist Jacob Vigdor finds that modern immigrant civic and cultural assimilation is very similar to that of early twentieth-century immigrants and are if anything stronger now than they were a century ago'.... Immigrants and their children are assimilating well into American society and culture ... fears over assimilation are not good arguments to limit immigration or to create a large-scale government assimilation program that will likely backfire if our experience with other government programs is any indication.

"The labor market adapts well to immigration and, at worst, the vast majority of American workers either benefit or face no difference in wages. That’s true for three big reasons. First, most immigrants are either less skilled or most skilled than Americans, so there isn’t much competition. Second, because immigrants and American have different skills, many of the newcomers are actually complementary — meaning that more of them actually increase Americans’ wages. Third, immigrants buy goods and services in America, boosting demand for employers. Those three effects largely offset the potential drop in wages.

"Welfare is another concern but one vastly overblown.... When they do sign up, poor immigrant adults consume $941 less on average than similar natives and typically have better health outcomes. Poor immigrant children consume $565 fewer dollars than similar native-born children.

"Immigrants have a positive long-run fiscal impact on Medicare and Social Security. From 2002 to 2009, immigrants made 14.7 percent of contributions to Medicare Part A while only consuming 7.9 percent of all expenditures, contributing a net $13.8 billion annually to Medicare Part A. Natives took out a net $30.9 billion more from Medicare Part A than they paid in. Among Medicare enrollees, average expenditures were $1,465 lower for immigrants....

"Estimated impacts on the Social Security system vary widely. Based on actuarial information provided by the Social Security Administration, Stuart Anderson found that an increase in legal immigration by 33 percent would reduce the actuarial debt by 10 percent over 50 years, boosting revenues to Social Security by a present value of $216 billion over 75 years. Interestingly, a moratorium on immigration would increase the Social Security debt by almost a third.

"The taxes immigrants pay directly or indirectly by growing the economy combined with their lower consumption of government services and demographics make immigrants a fiscal wash. Basically, they come very close to covering their own government consumption or maybe even produce a slight surplus.

"Immigrants are less crime-prone than Americans, despite what the mainstream media may portray.

"The most interesting conservative restrictionist complaint is that immigrants will overturn American political and economic institutions.... I spend a lot of time working on and studying this issue. In a recent academic paper, we compared economic freedom scores with immigrant populations across 100 countries over 21 years. We found that the larger a country’s immigrant population was in 1990, the more economic freedom increased in the same country by 2011. The immigrant’s country of origin, and whether they came from a poor nation or a rich one, didn’t affect the outcome....

"Every concern about immigrants ruining American life, our prosperity, or overturning our culture and institutions are as old as this country. Each time those concerns have turned out to be wrong.... A legal means for workers of all skill levels to work, live, and eventually become citizens will return our immigration system to its traditional roots, crush the black market, restore law and order, and grow the economy at little cost."

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