Obama Gives Half-Hearted Speech on Immigration Reform

Washington, D.C., May 10, 2011 — The Competitive Enterprise Institute is cautiously optimistic about President Obama’s call for comprehensive immigration reform. Some of his proposals would make small steps in helping economic recovery. But they cannot accurately be called comprehensive.

“Law enforcement only has so many resources to go around. Going after non-criminal undocumented immigrants wastes those resources. They should be put to better use, such as going after dangerous criminals,” explained Ryan Young, CEI’s Fellow in Regulatory Studies. “President Obama’s call to re-prioritize border enforcement on actual criminals is sound policy. Peaceful immigrants who are here to work deserve a warmer welcome than either party seems willing to give them.”

“Comprehensive immigration reform would reduce dangerous immigration black markets by making the path to citizenship easier. Black markets and undocumented immigration are real problems. But they only exist because they are cheaper than the legal option, which is multi-year, multi-thousand dollar, and multi-lawyer. There is a better way, and President Obama is doing little more than pointing in that general direction.”

Young and Immigration Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh have written for The American Spectator about how loosening immigration restrictions can reduce the problem of illegal immigration. In “The Nobel Case for Immigration,” which also appeared in The American Spectator, Young and Nowrasteh point out that liberalizing restrictions on high-skilled immigrants can kick-start job creation, especially in high-tech sectors.

“The average high-skilled immigrant on an H-1B visa creates about 5 American jobs,” Young continued. “Despite their obvious economic benefits, so few are allowed in the country, that in most years, all 85,000 available slots are filled in a single day. President Obama can speed up economic recovery by raising or eliminating the cap on H-1B visas.”