Saturday, December 23, 2006

Immigration System Reform

Given that immigration is a hot button issue for Volunteer Voters' A.C. Kleinheider, it is not surprising that he responded to this post yesterday. Kleinheider says that The Oracle's position "scares" him. He also associates The Oracle with "elites in this country." I wish someone would tell my banker.

Nonetheless, Kleinheider strikes me as being on the wrong side of an argument that has raged throughout American history. Our nation has always had an undercurrent of hostility toward immigrants, especially those who did not share various aspects of the American cultural consensus. In the 19th century, troublesome immigrants came from central and eastern Europe and China. In the last couple of decades, they have come largely from Latin America. In all instances, the concerns have been overblown.

Unfortunately, Kleinheider, with some sloppiness, associates my argument with advocacy of "open immigration," a position that I have never favored. I only suggest that our system accommodate "needed levels" of immigration. This implies a rational determination as to what is needed, and an allocation of resources based on that determination. That does not occur under the present system. Anyone who knows about the bureaucratic nightmare that exists under the name INS knows that the status quo is not sufficient for accommodating any level of immigration. Operationally and policy-wise, the current system fails, and fixing it should be a part of real immigration reform. Enforcement should be a part, as well.

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