by Fergus Hodgson
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
There continues to be plenty of attention on illegal immigration and the inability (or unwillingness) of the federal government to address it. But what about the experience of legal immigrants—those who wait in line and remain in compliance with federal laws?
As an immigrant from New Zealand, by way of Canada, I can attest that the complex, onerous, and bizarre legal process is not helping the situation. Naturally, the more expensive and bureaucratic the legal process becomes, the more likely people will be to shirk it.
Yesterday, Rick and Donna Martinez of WPTF News Radio 680 invited me on to share my story.
Click here to listen (15 minutes).
We also discussed whether immigrants help or hinder the economy and the implications of Obama’s latest executive order relating to targeted deportations. My reflections on the deportation announcement are on the Locker Room, for those curious, “Immigration enforcement already impotent.”
One question that caught me a little unexpected was regarding the impact of imported labor on local people. Many people fear that foreigners are stealing their jobs. As with all interviews, there are additional points one regrets not making, and this was one instance. While I said that this fear is based on economic fallacy, unfortunately I did not justify my assertion clearly. (I also did not get into the ethical problems with nativism, but we can save that for another day.)
An easy way to think about imported laborers is to compare them to technology. Just imagine if we were able to import a machine to replace a worker (except the machine happens to be a foreign worker). We would all agree, except a few remnant Luddites, that technology displacement has a net beneficial effect. The money saved by using the machine can be diverted to the purchase of other items, creating jobs elsewhere, and the more productive import increases the total stock available in the marketplace.