The RAISE Act is mighty revealing

The RAISE Act is an anti-immigration bill sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. It contains some interesting ideas about changing our selection process from a family-based system to a merit-based system, but the main purpose of the law is to cut legal immigration in half.

Immigration is probably the most central wedge-issue in American politics today. It explains how we ended up with the peculiar President we have, and this subject highlights changing political dynamics that are bigger than the mere moment of the 2016 election.

When I first started writing for the Oregon Catalyst back in 2011, I’d tackle a topic like this by composing a two-thousand-word piece covering every aspect of the matter and then move on to other issues. Instead, I plan to write about immigration frequently, breaking the controversy down into small chunks that are more likely to get read.

When I apply my free-market, limited-government worldview to immigration, it makes me pro-immigration. In the past, my conservative friends would reply that they have no problem with legal immigration. They just hate illegal immigration.

Doubting their sincerity, I would sometimes call my friends’ bluff. If legal immigration is a good thing, then shall we stop making that good thing illegal? The same friends of mine who doubt the ability of the folks in Washington DC to centrally plan our economy would give me answers that in effect amounted to: “the smart folks in Washington DC know the right amount of labor to enter our country.” Too many Republicans love heavy-handed federal regulations when it comes to immigration.

The RAISE Act presents one of these revealing moments. How many people who have been telling us how much they like legal immigration will support cutting our legal immigration quotas in half?

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the Author of A Brief History of Political Cultural Change


  • John Fairplay

    This article doesn’t say much. You should go back to the 2000-word essay format. Readers will still not get anything, but at least they won’t feel like you just mailed it in because you were on deadline or something.

    It’s probably important to remember that “limited government” does not mean “no government.”

    • Eric Shierman

      I think readers will get the topic of today, my pointing out that this bill is about cutting legal immigration in half. Limited government may not mean no government, but it probably doesn’t mean needlessly interfering in the freedom of employers to hire whomever they choose from a world of talent.

      • GQ4U

        Hiring foreigners to save money has nothing to do with the international talent pool.

        • Eric Shierman

          Are you sure? If government regulations prevent companies from hiring from the entire world’s talent pool, wouldn’t that necessarily mean there might be a limitation?

          • GQ4U

            We should first see if the annual average of 30% of US college graduates who can’t find jobs in their chosen professions are all “unqualified” to be employed by US companies.

            I doubt that all of them are marine biologists and art majors.

            Companies hire most foreigners because they work for less and the government assists them in their profit seeking at the expense of American workers. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit but there is something wrong with harming the people who built a nation where businesses can prosper. Making America first is not a bad thing.

          • Eric Shierman

            Why use the ability to work in one’s chosen profession as a metric? For something like that, 30% is actually really low. I don’t know where you got that number, but I would guess if it’s even true, it’s mostly made of people who intended to go to law and medical schools who find they can do just fine without forking out a lot of money on an advanced degree.

            College graduates have no trouble finding employment. I don’t know how trained you are in economics, but here’s an important concept you should master. Immigrants tend not to be substitutes for American workers. Immigrants tend to be a compliment.

            That means the presence of immigrants creates jobs that would not otherwise exist. Their absence would reduce job opportunity for the native born. So it’s restrictive immigration policies that come “at the expense of American workers.” By not regulating the economy in this way, that’s not really government helping companies make a profit as it is government getting out of the way.

            Let’s drill down on this meaningless distinction between finding talent vs. seeking workers that cost less. All consumers take both quality and price into their decision to buy. For firms that consume labor, that’s no less true. Quality in the labor market is productivity. Firms will pay higher wages for more productivity.

            Immigrants tend to fill gaps where our domestic talent is lacking, which tends to be at both the bottom and the top of the labor market. Of the set of productive workers in America, almost none aspire to work menial jobs. Similarly very few want to learn advanced mathematics.

            First, let’s look at what’s going on with menial jobs like washing dishes. Being a hard-worker in a menial job is itself a talent, but without immigrants, the only people left to work these kinds of jobs are for the most part our set of lazy workers. Immigrants don’t necessarily make less than our lazy workers. They just work harder.

            Similarly, any American that wants to learn advanced mathematics and pursue a STEM field career has a prosperous life ahead of him. Immigrants at Google don’t make low wages. They simply help us deal with an economy-constraining shortage of this kind of talent.

            What these immigrants at both the bottom and the top of our labor market do is create the jobs we native born workers prefer. Too few of us want to either mow lawns or solve differential equations. This is how our economy grew for most of American history when we had an open borders policy, because it was immigrants that made America great.

          • GQ4U

            “There’s a word for someone who has a job that does not require the degree they hold: “underemployed.” In 2008, over 35% of college
            graduates were underemployed; by June of last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that a whopping 44% of graduates were underemployed. And it’s not just because of the recession: the number’s been rising since 2001.”


          • Eric Shierman

            It would be a mistake to assume that every college graduate working in a job that does not require a college degree is underemployed. Not all jobs that require not degree are low paying or undesirable.

            Given how much opportunity there is out there, these graduates are probably doing just fine. It should be a red flag for anyone making a point about the labor market who has to cherry pick a number from 2008. Underemployment went up in 2001 because there was a recession then too! Here is a more recent article on this subject from Forbes Magazine:


            Notice that the article you shared made no mention of immigrants in its causal explanandum. He suggested too many people want these kinds of jobs. Since the GDP that immigrants produce creates more of these jobs that college graduates are looking for, immigration is the solution to the problem you’re talking about, not the source of the problem.

          • GQ4U

            “June of last year (2016), the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that a whopping 44% of graduates were underemployed.”
            This is not a stat from 2008.

            “Since the GDP that immigrants produce creates more of these jobs that college graduates are looking for, immigration is the solution to the problem you’re talking about, not the source of the problem.”
            Completely unfounded conclusion!!!

            “Yet, under the authors’ approach, if 49 percent of restaurant managers use a college degree and 51 percent don’t, all the ones with college degrees will be wrongly counted as underemployed.”

            I doubt the above statement is true bu even if it is they are all doing the same job and most are likely earning about the same wage and the job doesn’t require a degree.

          • Eric Shierman

            I almost missed this reply of yours here on the bottom.

            This latest link of yours does not seem to work, so I googled: “June of last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that a whopping 44% of graduates were underemployed” and I didn’t find any results. Are you sure that’s a direct quote?

            The data point you had before was from 2008. Where are you getting a source for 2016? And notice that you’re jumping from college graduates to recent college graduates, which to the labor market are not the same thing.

            The way the author of my Forbes link described the measurement error in this cloudy metric you’re embracing is true by mathematical necessity. I’m not sure what basis you have for doubting that it is.

            Are you sure that they are doing the same work? Under this opaque metric, managing a Taco Bell and managing a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse are the same job, but are they really “doing the same job and most are likely earning about the same wage?” I don’t think so.

            This is a poor metric to measure the health of the labor market, because the number of college graduates in jobs where at least 50% of employers plus one say they require a college degree is mostly just telling us that the people who are in the jobs they probably want did not need to go to college to get the job they are in.

            That’s the way your link used it. He is critical with the efficiency of our higher education system in training for the skills people actually need, and as I said before, I’ve made the same point using metrics like this right here on the pages of the Oregon Catalyst.

            What your article does not do is ascribe blame to the presence of immigrants. That’s because the preponderance of peer reviewed economic research shows immigrants’ labor creates more of the jobs Americans want to work.

            That’s not a completely unfounded conclusion.I provided you with some research that leads to that conclusion up above this comment. Here’s another:


          • GQ4U
          • Eric Shierman

            That’s the first link you shared. Obviously I could open that first link up just fine. It’s the later link in the comment before this one that I referred to.

            Look at the context of that comment. You made a claim about 2016, but the link you just shared was published in 2014 and refers back to 2008 just like I said it did.

            I don’t see much chaos in England or Europe. Violent acts occur there. They occur here too, but the probability that one will be killed by an immigrant remains essentially zero. We face higher risks from the causes of death that we consider trivial.

            I’ve already mentioned in a comment up above that these positive results are mixed across the labor force. Anything that benefits the economy on the whole has little or no benefit for people who are marginally attached to the labor force, but we were talking about college graduates right? Did you not notice that this research supports what you said was a “completely unfounded conclusion?” Giovanni Peri discovered solid empirical evidence that college graduates benefit tremendously from immigration.

            What in that paper made you think Peri only focused on large metropolitan areas? He used census data for the entire US population to compare with data for the the entire US economy.

            Yet we can use this misunderstanding of yours to drill down further on this issue. Notice that you gave us a causal explanation for higher wages: higher economic output. Do you see how that might contradict the claim that a higher supply of labor reduces wages?

          • GQ4U

            If you could open the link then why did you claim you couldn’t? Yes it is dated 2014 but the link you posted; is dated 2006 so is yours irrelevant?
            If you didn’t see the Federal Reserve statement dated 2014 then it is because you didn’t read the article, you simply saw 2008 research and tried ineptly to use that date to dispel the conclusions made. Very dishonest attempt.

            The 2016 date was a typo, should read 2013.

            “I don’t see much chaos in England or Europe.”
            Then you aren’t paying attention. It seems your misunderstanding or ignoring the facts.

            “Notice that you gave us a causal explanation for higher wages: higher economic output. Do you see how that might contradict the claim that a higher supply of labor reduces wages?”
            NO! If Intel were to move its headquarters out of the Bay Area to Lodi then the economic output of Lodi would increase and it would have nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with Intel. Correspondingly local wages in Lodi would likely increase… again because of Intel not immigrants.

          • Eric Shierman

            For the third time, the link of yours that does not work is the second Forbes Magazine article that you shared. I read both the first article and the Fed paper when they were published, because I’m a regular reader of Forbes, and I read it again last week when you shared them.

            It’s ironic that you would suggest that I might not have read the article, because yet again you are misrepresenting the Fed study. Like 2016, 2013 too was outside this Fed paper’s data set.

            The problem is less about when any of these links were published and more about making an extrapolation from one cherry-picked data point. Let’s contrast that with Peri 2006 whose data set spans two business cycles.

            It’s precisely because I do pay attention that I see no real chaos in Europe. I pay attention to data, not popular myth. The probability of being attacked by an immigrant in Europe remains essentially zero.

            Your example of Lodi, CA confirms my point. If Intel moved its headquarters from Palo Alto to this small California town, then a massive influx of new workers will raise wages, not lower them.

  • Chris Hawes

    I have to say your short essays don’t appear any better constructed than your long ones. As with most things, your Libertarian ideals fall flat when applied to the world we actually inhabit. If all the world’s economies were equal, an open borders/unlimited immigration policy would be fine. People could choose to live and work where they liked, based on weather preference, local cuisine, and who has the best beer.

    Since all economies are not equal, such a policy would be foolish. If you are going to write frequently about immigration, how about you start with a rational, logical explanation of your support for the current level of 1 million people per year, and the fact that most of them are coming courtesy of the family reunification chain immigration brought about by the 1965 legislation?

    • Eric Shierman

      What structural problem are you referring to that’s so consistent in all my writing? Your second sentence makes me think the problem is with my free market ideology, not my composition.

      Let’s see just how flat I fall in terms of failing to see that there are differences among the world’s economies. It’s actually the very differences between each part of the world that makes our interconnectedness so prosperous. If our economies were all the same, then immigration would have less value, not more.

      I cannot help but wonder how consistently you’d take this regulatory rule. There has been a tremendous difference between the economies of Estacada, OR and Portland, OR. Should this rule of yours, separating the free movement of people from economies that are different, be applied to wall off my impoverished home town?

      I promise that all future writing on this topic will remain rational, offering a logical explanation of why free market economics applies to immigration policy too. Can you identify any logical fallacies up above?

      • GQ4U

        Using a flawed example like; ” There has been a tremendous difference between the economies of
        Estacada, OR and Portland, OR. Should this rule of yours, separating the free movement of people from economies that are different, be applied to wall off my impoverished home town?” is invalid.

        Immigration strictly involves persons from other nations entering ours and those other nations are not governed by the US Constitution. Last time I checked Oregon is still one of the fifty states in the United States and its citizen are also citizens of the United States and they enjoy the US Constitutional rights and privileges of moving freely within U.S. borders. In fact citizens of Estacada, OR can freely move to Portland, OR or Houston, TX if they please, but they cannot cross the border into Mexico and set up permanent residency without Mexico’s approval. Most if not all nations have immigration laws.

        • Eric Shierman

          My example is perfectly valid in the context it was used in. Chris asserted a general rule of economic planning that people should not be allowed to migrate from different economies. Estacada has a different economy than Portland; thus if his general rule is true, we’d apply it within the United States as well.

          It’s not the case that immigration strictly involves persons from other nations. There are countries that use passports to control movement within their country too.

          Most if not all nations have many kinds of regulations that harm their economy. The way we restrict immigration has been just another one of them.

          • GQ4U

            Still flawed.

            Chris referred to the world economy as it affects immigration and the subject you wrote about is immigration. The discussion has never been about US citizens migrating within the boundaries of the USA.

            You have presented zero evidence or proof that excessive levels of immigration is good. It seems you believe that assimilation causes no problems for US citizens. Is it reasonable to think that if the entire global population chose to come to America, all 7-billion, that US citizens would benefit? I would think that the USA would cease to exist under such a tidal wave.

          • Eric Shierman

            Do you not see the contradiction in saying that what I said is “still flawed” but then you confirm my point in your next sentence? Chris referred to the world economy indeed, not artificial political borders.

            Let’s go back to his exact quote. He said: “Since all economies are not equal, such a policy would be foolish.” What is that policy that he referred to? It’s the free movement from one economy to another. Such a statement does not exclusively apply to the arbitrary distinction of national borders. The economy of the Alsace-Lorraine and the economy of Normandy are both within the borders of France, but they are entirely different economies.

            In a country like the United States, that’s much larger than France and far more diverse economically, our borders contain within them many economies not one. If we were to see the economy as an interconnected whole, without breaking it down into regional economies, then we would do so at the global level.

            It’s a mistake to say that: “The discussion has never been about US citizens migrating within the boundaries of the USA.” At the time of America’s founding, we had open borders with the rest of the world and internally in a time when most of the rest of the world had neither. The same big-government thinking that bans immigration can also ban internal migration.

            I’ve made no claim that “excessive” levels of immigration are good. Like anything else in a free market, human migration finds an equilibrium, an optimization between too little and too much.

            The evidence we have falls within limits of what we’ve observed. Before 1924, the United States was already more wealthy and offered more opportunity than anywhere else in the world, but the entire world did not come here. Similarly, in the open borders we not have internally, the gap of wealth and opportunity between the states of New York and Mississippi are huge, but we don’t see much movement from America’s poorest state to the Empire State.

            The benefits of immigration on raising native wages is significant and well established in the peer-reviewed literature of economics. Take for example this recent research which produced the strong linear relationship in the attached graph:



          • GQ4U

            Nearly 8 million people immigrated to the United States from 2000 to 2005; 3.7 million of them entered illegally without papers;
            The 3.7 million illegals are an estimate, since they entered illegally no one knows for certain how many invaded the country or where they came from. Assuming these numbers are correct then over 46% of all recent immigrants came here illegally and none have been put through background checks. It must be assumed that many of the 46% have illegally obtained jobs form unlawful employers so their wages are not reported. Why do employers violate the law and hire undocumented workers… to save money, and they do so at the expense of the low wage legal work force which includes many Green-Card residents. Illegal workers make up a large portion of the underground economy that does not contribute to the tax base yet it enjoys the benefits that taxpayers provide.

            The paper you posted at
            deals with Green-Card Immigrants in urban areas and it shows little to no positive impact on low wage native-born worker’s wages. If the low wage illegal alien workers were factored into the study it stands to reason there would be a negative effect on lower wage native-born workers. It is well known that wages in America have not kept up with inflation for several
            decades due to numerous imbalances in the economy and one of those imbalances is the massive influx of low wage undocumented immigrants unaccounted for in this study. Based on what is missing from this study the statistical analysis and corresponding graphs are a misrepresentation of the actual impact on native-born low wage earners.

            Secondarily the study focuses on large urban centers which typically represents a more robust economy than small cities and
            townships. Large cities tend to have segments of populations with higher annual incomes and a wide disparity between high skill workers and low skilled workers. As an example, Santa Clara County, California, aka Silicon Valley, has a large Hi-Tec work force with an average annual income of +/-$108,000.00. However, construction workers in the area earn significantly less at +/- $35,000.00 and their wages have not kept up with inflation or the high local cost of living. Upwards of +/- 40% of residential construction workers are not native-born citizens and a significant percentage are undocumented, unreported, cash only wage
            earners. It should also be noted that large cities are where the majority of the top 10% of wage earners live and when their annual incomes are averaged in it raises the overall statistical average income for all documented and native-born workers which tends to skew the numbers higher. The reality is that the
            income disparity with the much higher cost of living in Silicon Valley creates a demographic poverty class that is harmed more by undocumented workers than upper income wage earners.

            You continue to argue that migration within the borders of a nation is the same as immigration into that nation by foreigners, this is not
            true. Migration by citizens/workers within borders does not dilute the number of jobs available to those workers but immigration does. Particularly illegal immigration.

            The US does have a diverse economy but your comment; “If we were to see the economy as an interconnected whole, without breaking it down into regional economies, then we would do so at the global level” is unfounded. Nations have their own economy and, with few exceptions, citizen workers can migrate according to opportunities within that economy regardless of the global level. Open border Globalization would overly burden strong economic nations causing chaos and possible collapse.

            You stated; “I’ve made no claim that “excessive” levels of immigration are good. Like anything else in a free market, human migration finds an equilibrium, an optimization between too little and too much.” That is an assumption without facts. Who is to decide what is too little or too much? In the U.S. if it is too little congress can increase it. If it is too much congress can decrease it. But under an open border policy there are no controls, so if there is too much and harm is being done there will be no way to remedy the imbalance and rescue the economy.

            “…the gap of wealth and opportunity between the states of New York and Mississippi are huge, but we don’t see much movement from
            America’s poorest state to the Empire State.”
            You know full well there are many reasons why people migrate or stay put. Family, friends, environment, fear, comfort, skills, cost of living and relocation costs are just some of the
            reasons people may choose to remain home. Oppression; (religious, political, sexual,
            economic) are some of the driving factors to relocate or emigrate. Focusing on your rich state poor state remark many Californians migrate to Southern Oregon but it is not due to Oregon’s economic advantages over California.

            Below are graphs you may find of interest:

            “Legal Immigration to the United States, 1820-Present”

            “200 Years of Immigration to the U.S.”

            I’ll let you do the math to arrive at historical norms of annual U.S. levels of immigration. But remember, these graphs do not reflect undocumented illegal aliens.

  • SocraticMeathead

    Thank you for being concise. And I’m interested to see how many Republicans have a problem with legal immigration, but more importantly, their reasons, and who they deem more worthy of entry.

    • GQ4U

      Democrat & Republican politicians both favor legal immigration and I of know of no proposals to stop it. Congress has authority over immigration and can set the standards for admittance and the number to allowed in each year.

      I would be interested to see why many liberals have a problem with legal immigration, their reasons why and who they deem worthy of entry. Is there a saturation point? Does it matter if entrants are illegals? Is it right to give foreigners U.S. jobs at the expense of American workers? Should immigrants be self sufficient or live off the government teat? If there is an influx that does no harm what is that number? Immigration is a good thing but isn’t it possible to have too much of a good thing?

  • GQ4U

    I am against open borders and Eric seems to indicate in this limited article that open borders are good for American worker and America’s economy. I disagree 100%. It will be interesting to see how he justifies an unlimited, unregulated inflow of foreigners into OUR workforce.

    Is the RAISE proposal the right approach? I’m not sure, but it makes sense not to continue flooding the work force with low or no skill workers that depress wages for low skilled US citizen workers. Legal immigration is fine as long as the incoming work force can be absorbed without displacing existing US workers or harming their economic opportunity. Elites who want a serf class to cook, garden, clean and baby sit love the current system. So do employers and large corporations who want low wage employees to improve their bottom line at the expense of US citizen workers. This is especially true in agriculture, food services, hotel accommodations and other service industry jobs.

    Historically we have never seen or allowed the massive influx of foreigners we’ve had in the past twenty years, both legal and illegal. The RAISE proposal would allow more legal immigrants into the country every year than the historical average of 300K. The skills test would help ensure that immigrants would be self sufficient… not a totally bad idea. And the provision of not being allowed to receive government aid/handouts for five years is also agreeable. Next to losing jobs to low wage foreign workers is the angst of taxpayers seeing their money taken by freeloaders who don’t contribute to the economy.

    Last, all current immigration laws should be enforced. We need to recognize that anyone in the country illegally is a criminal just for being here. Once all the laws are upheld then we can discuss immigration reform and how to deal with the millions of illegal aliens that have already invaded the USA.

    • Eric Shierman

      Let’s keep in mind that though open borders was the immigration policy of most of our history, it’s is an extreme position today, or as we would call it in mathematics, a corner solution. A closed border is the other extreme position.

      If I’m asked whether or not I’d support open borders, I’d say yes only because there’s no evidence of the existence of an optimization point between those two extreme points. This is true for a lot of government interventions into our economy, the further we move toward an ideal of laissez-fair the better things get.

      Up above, I’m really just arguing that we should not go in the other direct, toward greater government restriction. More specifically, I’m primarily just highlighting how more clear the debate over the RAISE Act will be, since it’s not about increasing enforcement of existing laws. It’s about increasing regulations.

      If you stake your support for regulations that restrict immigration on the notion that immigration depresses wages, then you’d support increasing immigration if it increased wages right? If restricting immigration depressed wages, then you’d oppose it correct?

      Historically, we’ve had much higher levels of immigration than today. Immigration is only measured accurately as a percentage of the population. When you mention a number like 300k, keep in mind that number represented a larger flow of people than today when our population was much smaller.

      The fiscal impact of immigrants today is not negative. Effective restrictions on government aid going to non-citizen immigrants already exists in the status quo. Those restrictions remain in effect on naturalized citizens for five years. So I’m not sure what you were referring to in this bill. Summaries I’ve read mention no such thing.

      Notice however that you are embracing a negative fiscal impact. You point out that elites benefit from more immigration. While it’s not just wealthy Americans who benefit, I’d be remiss in pointing out that you’re effectively describing restrictions on immigration as a tax for income redistribution. Such schemes often have the opposite effect.

      • GQ4U

        I do not favor open border immigration for several reasons, security, economic, societal, etc. Neither do I favor zero immigration, without immigration I would not be an American, in fact I would likely not be at all.

        I do not think it is inappropriate to control levels based on the current economies ability to create and sustain jobs for the current work force and still absorb incoming immigrants.

        The RAISE Act deals with legal (Green-Card) immigration and enforcement mainly deals with illegal aliens. I favor enforcement and encourage legal immigration but legal immigration should not be fixed but allowed to float based on current economic conditions. We no longer live in the 1800’s when the U.S. had vast open territories and seemingly unending economic possibilities. Although I believe those economic conditions could resume if the U.S. abolished the Federal Reserve, repealed the 16th. amendment and adopted the plan.

        ” Effective restrictions on government aid… I’m not sure what
        you were referring to in this bill.” Summary of bill in a speech by president Trump.

        Elites do benefit from immigration and especially illegal immigration. There is no wage model that proves low skilled native-workers benefit from unbridled immigration. Not sure how you jump to the conclusion that controlling immigration is a tax for income redistribution. I do find it unreasonable that employers who hire illegal aliens are not only taking advantage of illegals but are engaged in unfair business practices and likely tax fraud. Is that what you mean by a tax for income redistribution? If it is I disagree.

        • Eric Shierman

          We can deal with the other reasons you might not want the free-market, limited government approach to immigration that America was founded on and made America great if you would be more specific. Those arguments tend to be as bad as the economic ones, but you’ve only raised economic ones here; so I’ll continue to address what would seem to be your primary concern.

          You’re essentially asserting the existence of an optimization point between closed borders and current immigration levels. Would you agree that there is a symmetry between the economic harm that comes from having too little immigration and the economic harm that you assert comes from levels higher than that optimization point?

          Are you sure the US no longer has “vast open territories?” Have you never flown? If not, use Google Earth to discover how little of the US is inhabited.

          You do however believe the US can return to Nineteenth Century growth rates if we had free banking and the federal government taxed consumption rather than income. I do not disagree with either of those propositions, and I’ve written about both here on the pages of the Oregon Catalyst. Why do you think those two things will be good for the economy?

          Saying you heard that something is in this bill from Trump is the equivalent of saying that something is unlikely to be true. There is nothing in this bill that alters the eligibility of non citizen immigrants from accessing public assistance, a policy that we are already fairly good at, though I’m sure there are some small areas of possible improvement. If you’re looking for the welfare state, look to the native born.

          We both agree that elites benefit from immigration. What you’re missing is how far more than just elites benefit from immigration.

          Let’s be clear what we mean when we say “low killed labor.” If it’s defined as everyone who lacks an advanced degree, then there is a lot of published, peer-reviewed research showing that this broad definition of workers do indeed benefit from higher levels of immigration.

          If however, unskilled labor is defined the way it’s conventionally measured by economists as people with less than a high school education, then it’s correct to say that there is little evidence they benefit from immigration. Of course there’s little evidence that they benefit from much of anything that’s good for the economy. Most of these people are what we call “marginally attached” to the labor force.

          Why restricting immigration is effectively a tax and income redistribution scheme should be obvious. Imagine you’re goal is to fund a government program that gives money to lazy people that don’t want to work hard. You plan to fund it by levying a special tax the consumption of menial labor.

          Does that not sound a lot like what you’re describing when you want to take away the economic benefits of immigration that almost all of us enjoy so employers have to scrape the bottom of barrel for hiring in menial jobs, being forced to overpay a small number of native born people who are marginally attached to the labor market and perennially unproductive? If you want the state to intervene on behalf of these kinds of people, we’d be better off just being a wealthier society with immigrants, a rich society that supports these native born miscreants with a social safety net. You’re effectively advocating an entitlement program that’s so inefficient, it’s less efficient than a true transfer payment.

          • GQ4U

            “Are you sure the US no longer has “vast open territories?” Have you
            never flown? If not, use Google Earth to discover how little of the US
            is inhabited.”
            If you propose dropping all immigrants into one of these vast open areas and not allowing them to relocate for years, until they have created their own thriving communities, then you may be on to something. But economics, social fabric and security should prevent mass unlimited immigration into our communities. If immigrants are so special why haven’t they created paradise in their home countries just like America?

          • Eric Shierman

            The free-market, limited-government approach to immigration would not drop anyone anywhere. It lets people freely decide where they would want to live. My reference to the massive amount open territory we have today was a direct response to your saying “we no longer live in the 1800’s when the U.S. had vast open territories.”

            Our economy, our social fabric, and our security were all strengthened by the free movement of people across our borders. Indeed the greatest threat to our social fabric came after we first began restricting immigration in a systemic way in 1924. Without the dynamism of immigration, the social fabric tends to weave the yarn that you are entitled to things a free market ought not to be required to grant you.

            It’s not the immigrants that are special. It’s America that has been special. Open immigration is one of the central things that made America great, because our open economy can take people from the old world and empower people to be more productive, more free, and more modern than they would be anywhere else.

          • GQ4U

            “Our economy, our social fabric, and our security were all strengthened by the free movement of people across our borders.”
            Partially true. Until more recently immigrants came here from countries with similar values and for the most part chose to meld into our society and become part of our success, but with the massive influx of illegal invaders and immigration from regions hostile to the west you cannot make your claims in any valid way. The EU adopted policies inline with your open border extremism and now paying dearly for their ignorance economically,socially and especially regarding security.

          • Eric Shierman

            The same thing was said about Catholic and Jewish immigrants a century ago. There was no evidence then. There is no evidence to support this prejudice today.

            The EU has not adopted an open border policy. It restricts immigration far more than we do. This is rather obvious in the data. Using the latest combined census data, immigrants make up only 6.3% of the EU population. In the same time period they have made up 12.9% of ours.

            The costs that have come with the EU’s immigration are less than the opportunity costs of these immigrants’ absence.

          • GQ4U

            This “2016” graph seems to disagree with your low 6.3% of EU is made up of immigrants. Why do you continue to attempt to mislead your ‘other’ readers, you will never mislead me. Only 7 of the 27 EU members are below 6.3%.


            Norway and Switzerland are part of an agreement that allows free movement across European countries without border inspections, they have 15.3% & 18.3% immigrant populations respectively, but these numbers pale in comparison to Switzerland at 30.1%. Most EU nations are at double digit levels.

          • Eric Shierman

            It’s ironic that you would accuse me of attempting to mislead, when you gave me a link that confirmed my claim that there are more immigrants here in the US than in the EU. I suggest you look at it again more carefully.

            Notice that I cited the EU’s census which refers to the percentage of people living in the EU that were not born in the EU. The Pew link you shared is measuring something else, that leads to a larger number, but even that larger number confirms what I said and falsifies what you said.

          • GQ4U

            It seems your comprehension skills are a bit low. You stated percentages not total number of immigrants in the US or the EU. One of your fake facts claimed that 6.3% of EU are immigrants and the link I posted clearly shows that is completely false. The EU average is at least double what you claim. There is no data at that link about US percentages; yet another of your fake news fairy tales.

            The PEW research clearly states the percentages are for immigrants not born in the EU. Try reading it next time. Your unfounded bias is blinding you to the truth.

          • Eric Shierman

            It’s probably a mistake for the guy that appears to have not read his own link as closely as I did to suggest that I have low comprehension skills. Your own source explicitly says it used UN migration data. The UN’s methodology is to count residents that were born outside of each individual UN member state, not outside the EU. So the many Italians that work in Germany are covered in your number but not in mine, because I used the EU’s census.

            Also this Pew article you shared did indeed say what the percentage was for the United States. Here’s a direct quote from the second paragraph: “The immigrant share of the U.S. population increased by about 1 point over a decade, from 13% in 2005 to about 14% in 2015.”

            The reason this matters is that the fact in dispute was whether or not the EU has more open borders than we do. Since even with this inflated number you’re using, your own link confirms what I said, that a higher percentage of the US population is foreign born than that of the EU, what basis then is there to claim the EU has more open borders?

  • Bob Clark

    The problem with open borders is it risks diluting the cultural norms which support the rule of law, and without which, economic growth is not sustainable. There is a recent book I read about this, and I think it is something like “Why Prosperous Nations Fail.”

    • Eric Shierman

      I think you might be referring to Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nation’s Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. If so I read that four years ago and recall it cited America’s open border era and lasting openness to immigration as a central part of our economic growth.

  • redbean

    Mr. Shierman, since you are obviously well-versed on this topic, please inform us what the minimum wage is in Mexico vs. the federal minimum wage in the US. Please do not forget to include if there is any regulation regarding the minimum number of hours worked per day in each country.

    • Eric Shierman

      If you consider me well versed on this topic, then why ask me a question regarding a different topic? The minimum wage in their country of origin does not apply here.

      But to answer your question, it’s $3.74. I’m not aware of any laws setting a minimum number of hours worked each day.