Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Immigration support: practical and principled

The names of prominent political and social commentators can be found on both sides of the immigration debate, but there is nevertheless a substantial consensus of scholarly opinion of whether or not immigrants constitute a net economic gain for the U.S. Among distinguished economists there appears to be little doubt that immigration into this country does more good than harm.

"In 1990 the Cato Institute surveyed 38 prominent economists, including past presidents of the American Economics Association, former members of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, and seven Nobel laureates in economics. Of these distinguished economists, 70 percent said that illegal immigrants 'have a positive economic impact,' and 63 percent supported raising immigration quotas. This pro-immigration consensus didn't split along traditional lines; both Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith favor liberalized immigration quotas.

Martin Morse Wooster, "Coming to America," Reason magazine, Nov. 1991.

The freedom to immigrate can be defended not only on practical economic grounds but also can be defended as a matter of principle. The following excerpt suggests that immigration should be considered a basic human right:

"Because it is missing from the list of recognized human rights, immigration has almost no rules of acceptable discourse. With the partial exception of the right to political asylym, it is not illegitimate for a minister to say that he or she advocates 'zero immigration'-as did French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua last year.

"[Y]ou do not have to believe in the unfettered power of ideology or logic to believe that part of the problem is the almost universal failure to regard the freedom to move as a basic human right. If there existed a country in which various ethnic groups lived and in which the richest and most powerful group divided the country into ethnic areas and forbade the poorer, less powerful groups to enter the provileged groups' areas, then there is a good chance that it would be declared a pariah by other nations for its denial of human rights. Such a country did, until very recently, exist: South Africa under apartheid. And it was universally condemned. Yet viewed as a whole, the world is worse in these respects than South Africa under apartheid. The freedom to migrate would be an essential plank in an anti-apartheid movement for the world."

Bob Sutcliffe, "Index on Censorship" (human-rights bimonthly), London, as quoted in World Press Review, October 1994.

Source: Libertarian Party News Archive March 1995

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