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Is our immigration policy in need of an overhaul?

Ezra Klein argues that revamping our immigration policy would lead to higher wages, lower prices and may increase the nation's stock of innovators like entrepreneurs and engineers. To that end, he favors a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

By Jodi Westrick  |  September 24, 2010; 9:27 AM ET  | Category:  National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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No, our immigration policy doesn't need an overhaul, the majority of well qualified applicants spend a lot of time filling paperwork like I did, providing financial information, like I did, and meeting language and professional requirements, like I did. They also enter the country legally. If you allow a flood of unqualified people to flood in all you permit is the invasion of less qualified applicants. This will not ensue in higher wages or innovators or entrepeneurs. If your intent is to get free maid service, gardeners and farm "pickers" then yes, continue the asimine policies which will ultimatelly will provide you with the less qualified aspirants who will do nothing to further the future of this nation.

Posted by: minuramsey | September 24, 2010 1:33 PM

America is swamped with illegal "immigrants". This is an intolerable situation and must be stopped.

The aiding and abetting of outlaw "immigrants" by the Obamacrats is just another reason they are in deep doo-doo with the voters.

We have perfectly good immigration laws. It's the illegals that are the problem. They seem to hate obeying American law.

Obama's "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" is simply more AMNESTY. That was tried back in the 1980s and was a total failure.

Never again!

Posted by: battleground51 | September 24, 2010 2:00 PM

I am not even going to do the poll because it does not get to the heart of the matter.

We are swamped with illegals and we want our laws enforced and these illiterate illegal social service freeloaders sent home.

They are a burden on us and we are broke and can barely take care of our own people.


Posted by: PennyWisetheClown | September 24, 2010 2:05 PM

With about 20 million US CITIZENS already unemployed or underemployed, the LAST thing we need is to import more cheap labor from overseas to undercut citizens' ability to land jobs at livable wages.

The Dems are suicidal in their pursuit of amnesty for illegals, and THAT was the nail in the coffin of their slimy attempt to attach the DREAM Act to the Defense Bill.

The only immigration reform that the majority of American citizens want is reform that finally funds border enforcement, stepped-up and sped-up deportations, prosecution of employers of illegals. THAT is all the reform that is needed for the current immigration laws already on the books.

There already is a "pathway to citizenship." You start from your country of origin, you then apply to migrate LEGALLY into the USA. Then, you wait while you are checked out, verified, and if and only if approved, THEN you may enter the USA and become a citizen. THAT is the pathway to citizenship. If you are in the USA illegally, go back home to your country of origin, get back to the end of the line. MAYBE then you can earn the right to be a citizen.

Enforce CURRENT immigration laws already on the books. Arrest and deport every illegal immigrant. Deny anchor babies the right to citizenship if both parents are not legal citizens. 12-20 million people living in the USA illegally are not immigrants, they are invaders.

Secure the border, and you will stop the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants. The Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and the current security walls in Israel/West Bank all PROVE that if you are serious about securing your borders, it CAN BE DONE. To those who say "you can't expect all 12-20 million illegal immigrants to leave:" YES WE CAN, if we want to. It's been done before, Mexican Repatriation it was called, back then. See: Wikipedia entry for Mexican Repatriation:

There is an endless pot of taxpayer money to throw at Iraq, Afganistan, and policing the oil industries' (and China's export cargo ships') safe passage. I say it's time to use our tax dollars to DEFEND the USA. It is time for us to use the National Guard literally, to guard the nation's borders.

Please spare me the sob story of breaking up families; if parents are here illegally, they can take their children back home to the parent's country of origin when deported. If you wed an illegal immigrant, you most likely knew that going into it, and if not, then your marriage is based on lies and deception. No family need be broken up; keep the family together by having them ALL go at once when the illegal is deported.

Mark Pepp
Chicago IL

Posted by: pobox10275 | September 24, 2010 3:07 PM

Our immigration system doesn't need an overhaul; the law just needs to be enforced. Seems like no one wants to obey the law and lawmakers, i.e., Congress, wants to bend and change the law to accomodate those who've broken the law. Giving lawbreakers amnesty only encourages more people to slip over the border or overstay their visas, with no punishment. The country can't absorb all these people and with unemployment high, these people need to go back home and help their own countries. Republicans need to stop make excuses and Democrats need to support enforcing the law.

Posted by: cricket35 | September 24, 2010 9:48 PM

Many of the current crop of illegal or undocumented people in the US could be encouraged to self-deport themselves with the addition of just two things to the current immigration policy. Actually one is just an enforcement issue the other would require legislation. First, make it a no if, ands, or buts, jail time offense to knowingly hire an illegal. Second, shut down the remittances which are sent by illegals out of the US to prop up economies in Mexico, and other countries in Central America and around the world. This is money that for the most part is not taxed, and does zero for our economy. In Mexico I believe remittances is the second largest source of income to the economy there after the oil revenue. And the administration needs to make Temporary Protected Status just that, Temporary. The Liberians came here into the US temporarily because of the civil war, well the war is over and they are still here. Same for the El Salvadorians, TPS after the earthquake, well they are still here. The list goes on. Biggest reason for not ending it is the foreign government pleading that 1. they need the money they send back, and 2. It would depress their economy. Neither of these should be the concern of our immigration/foreign policy.

Posted by: hc01 | September 25, 2010 11:35 AM

I Do not favor a pathway to citezenship for illegal aliens without marketable jobs skills. I do favor totally revamping our immigration plan to model the Canadian, German or Australian model which only allows work visas to educated, skilled immigrants who can improve the host countries economy. Our current policies are destructive. Having an open border with Mexico is burdening our states welfare and criminal justice systems. It has to be stopped. citi

Posted by: jkk1943 | September 25, 2010 7:21 PM

The article leading into this by Ezra Klein is so full of errors that it is hard to correct them all short of writing an article longer than his.

First of all, if immigration raised overall wages, then the last 10 years - in which rates of immigration have been at about the level of the last great wave of immigration in the 1880's - should have produced soaring wages for all workers. As we know, other than for about the top 5%, wages either stagnated or dropped for the vast majority of workers. This fact alone shuts down EK's primary argument.

There are 2 groups that tend to benefit economically from immigration : the immigrants themselves and the companies or individuals who hire them for cheaper wages. That leaves out most of us. With about 6 unemployed people chasing each job that opens, one would have to be remarkably oblivious to suggest that more immigration is a good thing. Construction work has about a 20% unemployment rate now so there are far more than 6 people chasing each of these jobs.

One final thing that must be considered in the immigration issue is this: We can't repeal people. We can raise taxes or lower them, pass laws or repeal them, but, once legalized, people and their descendants are forever.

Although I supported the 1986 amnesty when it occurred, I have come to the conclusion that it was a grave mistake, largely because we are still waiting for the enforcement that we were promised. In the 24 years since then, the nearly 3 million people granted amnesty have brought in millions more via family reunification and both groups have in turn produced millions of native-born US citizens. Even if 99% of the US decided that allowing this was a huge mistake - whether for environmental reasons, employment reasons or any other reason - there is nothing we can do to correct it. We can't repeal people.

What we must do is stop making the same mistake again and/or over and over. We need to enforce our laws to remove illegal aliens and declare an immigration moratorium.

Posted by: dflinchum | September 26, 2010 7:19 AM

It's so amusing that the WP removed the comment option from the Klein article. That's because the comments were running 95% anti-illegal. I'm a liberal, pro-gay marriage, pro-union, pro-single payer. I am totally against illegals, and against H-1Bs and other job stealing visa programs. We need JOBS for Americans, not for undeserving immigrants who have their own country to work in. NO AMNESTY FOR ILLEGALS.

Here's the ICE number (Immigration and Customs Enforcement):


If you have a suspicion, call it in. Citizen action will result in illegals being sent home.

Posted by: snortz_the_cat | September 26, 2010 9:39 AM

Gee, Ezra. Trying to touch all the uber-liberal bases on your last few laps around the diamond before November makes you TOTALLY irrelevant, I see!
Well, now you can scratch,"Advocate Open Borders" off your to-do list.

Posted by: OttoDog | September 26, 2010 9:39 AM

Brilliant Ezra, your idea of moving away from 'family reunification' as the core rationale for immigration.
But a F- in delivery.

The millions of US citizens, who are out of work (and obviously online) are hurting and are justified in their real, but misplaced anger, at any suggestion to 'increase immigration'. With all the pain they are facing each day they are completely blind to the benefits of what you are proposing.

As a person invited to live in the USA on the basis of "national interest" - I understand exactly what you are saying. And I applaud it.

Posted by: rexsolomon | September 26, 2010 10:22 AM

As an aging society, we do need immigrants. Those from Mexico and further south are excellent. I say "If you want to retire, Thank a Mexican."

But do end this old system of letting workers in and holding them captive with seldom enforced laws. That is slavery - de facto.

How about another "Bracero Program?"

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 26, 2010 12:59 PM

", I have come to the conclusion that it was a grave mistake, largely because we are still waiting for the enforcement that we were promised."


Make me a joke. It was just more of the old system.

Have you see the buses sent to Laredo to pick people up to work in the heartland? We have a system. It is old and honored in some places. It robs Mexicans of their labor and keeps them under control with seldom enforced laws.

If we are to grow our economy, we will need these workers.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 26, 2010 1:04 PM

Klein is spot on. Contrary to many of the claims made by posters here, there is no "kick those nasty illegals out" route to prosperity. Klein has already made the case for immigration, I'll concentrate on the alternative. We are no sooner going to deport 11 million people than we are going to turn the color of sky purple. To do so would require a police state, something the public would not support, including many of those demanding a pogrom against immigrants.

To be conducted effectively, it would take far more than a secure ID card, which would only make more people resort to working without papers. To combat that, you'd need regular workplace sweeps, and to avoid charges of racial profiling, many native borne "100% Americans" would have to be inconvenienced. People who want to run immigrants out of the country tend to think it could be done easily, but it would not.

Posted by: RealChoices | September 26, 2010 4:05 PM

First of all, the prosperity that we tend to associate with the middle class arose after WW II when the restrictions that had been placed on immigration after the last great wave were still in effect prior to the 1965 'invite the world' immigration laws. When those laws really started to kick in from the late 70's on was when we started to see stagnating wages etc. This would have been even worse if most families didn't start to have 2 wage-earners instead of one.

Second, we don't have to deport 11 million illegal aliens. We simply have to deny them employment. Most will leave on their own. E-Verify followed by no-match letters from IRS and SSA will take care of most of that. I say let's try it. The reason that Obama and Co are fighting this in SCOTUS is that they know it will work. Can't have that, can we?

As for inconveniencing people, so what? Most laws inconvenience somebody, usually to the benefit of more people.

And as I said, if we continue to allow the massive immigration that is now going on, followed by amnesty after amnesty and more chain migration, we can't go back and correct this later. We can't repeal people.

Enforce our laws now and institute an immigration moratorium.

Posted by: dflinchum | September 26, 2010 6:25 PM

MINURAMSEY | SEPTEMBER 24, 2010 1:33 PM got it in one.

If we shut down the illegal immigration the demand for LEGAL immigrants would skyrocket and the backlog of dutiful would-be immigrants who followed the rules would get taken care of. Sting operations to fine illegal employers will snuff out illegal immigration. No jobs, no money, they'll deport themselves, no tax money needed.

H1-B visas would be okay if they weren't locked to any specific employer. If that foreign citizen's skills are needed THAT bad, let the companies bid for his or her services. The program is currently treated as indentured servitude to a specific corporation. H1-B's that could move from one company to the next like highly skilled Americans would not be in nearly the demand that they are now. H1-B's trade at a deep discount to similarly trained Americans. I'm fine with companies paying a Brit or Indian the same pay as a high priced American. What makes me mad is they can send the guy packing if he refuses to work overtime while earning 20% less than his American colleagues.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage | September 26, 2010 10:14 PM

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