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OpenMarket: Immigration

  • DOMA Decision: Win for the Rights of U.S. Citizens to Freely Associate with Foreigners

    June 27, 2013
    Gay marriage“We received a cold, brief letter from the Immigration Service notifying us that our petition had been denied. Why? Because we’re both men.” That was Brandon Melchiorre, explaining late last year his failed-attempt to get a green card for his spouse, Luke. “The denial letter from Immigration Services clearly stated in an unapologetic, discriminatory tone that we are still, in fact, second-class citizens.” Under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), gay Americans cannot sponsor their partners to enter and reside in the United States. But thanks to the Supreme...
  • Border Security Doesn't Require "Invading" the Border

    June 26, 2013
    When President Bush left office in January 2009, there were about 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. If the Senate immigration bill (S. 744) passes, this military-style mobilization will come to the U.S.-Mexico border -- and then some. Under the Hoeven-Corker border security amendment, approved Monday, the bill would now pour in at least 38,405 Border Patrol personnel along America’s Southern border -- more than double the original amount. At the same time, it would increase total border security funding more than five-fold -- from $8.3 billion to $46.3 billion. These funds will go to finish a 700-mile border fence and add hundreds of new surveillance...
  • E-Verify: A Boon for Lawyers, Bad for Employers

    June 24, 2013
    I have written extensively about the threats to Americans’ civil liberties from E-Verify, the employment verification system contained within the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill.[i] I have also written a study outlining the costs of E-Verify to the economy—at least $8.5 billion per year.[ii] But the problems from E-Verify go far beyond what can be estimated in a simple study. Regulatory complications will ultimately make the system much more costly than anyone can predict now. The most recent evidence for this fact comes from a report by Immigration Daily (, the largest immigration attorney website in the country. “The reaction of the large law firms is a little different than the conventional wisdom—apparently legalization is not where they see the opportunity,” its editors wrote this Friday. “The...
  • E-Verify National ID System Threatens Americans’ Privacy

    June 18, 2013
    “I’m not a criminal, so there’s really no reason for me to be in a criminal database.” That was James Shepherd, a Kentucky native and a roofer, after he was stopped by police under “suspicion of trespassing” at a Florida hotel. The officer on the scene asked to take his picture and ran it through Florida’s facial recognition database. Finding no matches, he uploaded Shepherd’s photo with the label “suspicious person.” Florida is one of 26 states that use facial recognition software to verify identities of individuals who possess state ID photos or have their photos added by police, according a...
  • Graph: More Visas, Less Illegal Immigration

    June 4, 2013
    The graph below comes from University of Pennsylvania economist Douglas Massey. Graph Immigration Smaller It depicts the three ways Mexican migrants have come to the United States--guest work programs, permanent residency visas, or illegally. You can see how low illegal immigration was during the 1950s, despite basically no border security—just a few thousand daily crossers. But as the Bracero program, which granted unlimited guest work visas to Mexican workers, was phased out, illegal entries begin to tick up, and after it is eliminated in 1965...
  • Senate Bill: Better for Legal Immigration

    June 3, 2013
    Free market immigration advocates recognize that freeing up America’s legal immigration system creates economic benefits for Americans while simultaneously expanding their rights of association and contract. Increasing authorized immigration would also  help address illegal immigration by providing an outlet for potential legal immigrants who would chance coming to this country illegally simply because they have no realistic chance of winning the legal immigration lottery. For these reasons, conservatives and libertarians should judge the prudence of the Senate’s proposed immigration reform partly by how much it increases the availability of visas, particularly employment-based visas...
  • Senate Bill Won't Stop Illegal Immigration Without More Work Visas

    May 31, 2013
    When the Senate “Gang of 8” released their immigration reform principles earlier this year, they made an important admission: that drastic restrictions on low-skilled work visas incentivizes illegal immigration. The principles called for “a humane and effective system” for the “overwhelming majority of the 327,000 illegal entrants” apprehended in 2011 “to prevent future waves of illegal immigration.” Unfortunately, although the Gang’s bill improves legal immigration options, it clearly doesn’t live up to this principle. The Senate legislation deletes one option while creating two new ones—one for agricultural work and another for non-agricultural work. It allocates 112,333 ag visas (W-2/W-3 visas) per year for the first five years. But it replaces the H-2A farm visa program that already brought in around...
  • Entrepreneurship Visas in Senate Immigration Bill Are Critical

    May 23, 2013
    EntrepreneurThis week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Gang of 8 immigration bill. One provision of this bill will be welcome news to potential immigrants who wish to form new companies in the United States. This bill would create the nation’s first visa specifically designed for this special group of immigrants. But it isn’t just immigrants who would benefit—America needs these immigrants in order to remain internationally competitive. How important are immigrant entrepreneurs? Google, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo!, Yurie Systems, Kraft, Pfizer, eBay, Nordstrom, and AT&T...
  • Five Reasons Immigration Creates Economic Benefits

    May 22, 2013

    First, if each new immigrant lowers living standards, new people also lower living standards. But without new people, America’s economy would lack the workers it needs to operate. This highlights an economic principle that economist Deirdre McCloskey calls “human resourcefulness.” It is the idea popularized by the late Julian Simon that people are the “ultimate resource,” that new people should be welcomed because all production, even production of environmental goods, ultimately relies on people. As the philosopher John Locke once...

  • What Happened to U.S. Wages During Mass Immigration?

    May 20, 2013
    immigrants-1843-16jll8jAmerica’s immigration debate often focuses on how immigrants affect the welfare state, even though many immigration restrictionists would oppose immigration even if we did wall off the welfare state for new immigrants. “It's logical that if you bring in a massive supply of low-wage workers, you're going to pull the workers down,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., recently. But history contradicts this notion. Immigration pushes wages for U.S. workers up, not down. America’s first Secretary of...


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