Immigration Tariffs Are Cost-Effective Solution to Illegal Immigration Problem

Washington, D.C., February 7, 2012 – In a new CEI OnPoint, Immigration Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh proposes an innovative solution to our nation’s immigration problems: immigration tariffs. Currently, the flow of immigrants into America is managed by bureaucratic federal agencies that set arbitrary quotas for green cards and work visas through lotteries, arcane bureaucratic processes, and adherence to rules that are especially ill-suited to a modern economy. Instead, Nowrasteh argues, the government should set up a tariff schedule that allows immigrants to pay the federal government to legally enter the U.S. job market.

Today’s restrictions on immigration have created a long visa backlog that has caused many frustrated migrants to give up on the American Dream altogether or to seek alternative black-market immigration methods. For most potential immigrants there simply are no visas available.

As Nowrasteh points out, unauthorized immigrants often pay thousands of dollars to smugglers and immigration lawyers. Immigration tariffs would redirect this revenue to the federal government, where it would cover the administrative costs of immigration and possibly provide a nice surplus.

“Most immigrants want to work legally and openly without the fear of deportation, and many employers want to hire them,” Nowrasteh writes. “The government should let them pay for the privilege instead of fighting a never ending war against economics.”

“Our immigration laws are full of quotas, restrictions, and arbitrary bans on immigration that are more suited to the age of mercantilism or protectionism than the age of globalization. An immigration tariff is an admittedly imperfect solution to these problems but one that could satisfy many immigration critics, appease immigration proponents, and convince American voters and politicians that immigrants really do benefit the United States.”

>> Read Alex Nowrasteh’s CEI OnPoint, “The Conservative Case for Immigration Tariffs: A Market Based, Humane Approach to Solving Illegal Immigration.