Tag Archives: Immigration

CEI Podcast for March 29, 2012: The History of American Immigration in Six Minutes


Have a listen here.

America’s first immigration law passed in 1790. A more-or-less open borders policy lasted until the 1920s, when immigration was severely restricted. Since then, policies have become more open in some ways, and more closed in others. Immigration Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh talks about the reasons behind the major historical shifts, and suggests reforms that would make today’s immigration system fairer and less cumbersome.

CEI Podcast for February 9, 2012: The Immigration Tariff

Have a listen here.

Immigration law is second in complexity only to the income tax. In a new CEI paper, Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh proposes scrapping the whole thing and replacing it with a tariff. This is a much more humane approach to immigration, and in many cases will be less expensive for immigrants than the lawyers and fees they currently have to pay while they live in legal limbo. A tariff would also reduce illegal immigration by eliminating black markets. Money that currently goes to illegal smugglers and human traffickers could instead go to the U.S. Treasury. The idea can appeal to both the left and the right.

Why Is Immigration Illegal Anyway?

Art Carden and Ben Powell ask that fundamental question, and answer it brilliantly:

American immigration restrictions have a long history, but they have never been a good idea. Economist Thomas Leonard documents how even some Progressive Era economists supported immigration restrictions and minimum wages because they wanted to shut members of what they called “low-wage races” out of the American labor market…

Fears that immigrants will wreck our economy are probably the biggest reason substantial barriers to legal immigration remain on the books. But immigrants don’t take our jobs, lower our wages or depress the American economy.

Virtually all economists who study immigration find that it provides a small but positive impact on the economy. It should be obvious that immigrants don’t steal jobs from the native-born. Since 1950, the labor force has more than doubled but long-run unemployment is essentially unchanged. As we’ve added more workers, we’ve added more jobs.

Read the whole thing here.

CEI Podcast for October 27, 2011: How Much Do Undocumented Immigrants Cost?

Have a listen here.

A widely cited study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform claims that undocumented immigrants cost taxpayers $113 billion per year. Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh, author of the new CEI Web Memo “A FAIR Criticism: A Critique of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s ‘The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers.'” finds that the study counts costs but ignores benefits, uses shoddy data, and is harmful to the ongoing immigration debate.

The Simpsons and Immigration

Art Carden has an excellent column about immigration, and not just because the first third is about The Simpsons. One key point:

Also, making something illegal isn’t the same thing as stopping it. The formal barriers to legal immigration are so onerous and the opportunities in the United States are so great that there is a thriving underground market in smuggling people across the border. I fear that the institutional steps that would be required to completely stop illegal immigration would make the current excesses of the Transportation Security Administration look like child’s play. Even if we grant the assumptions of immigration opponents about the costs of immigration, it is by no means clear that Fortress USA would bear any resemblance to a “land of the free.”

Read the whole thing. My colleague Alex Nowrasteh and I made a similar point last year.

CEI Podcast for September 22, 2011: E-Verify

Have a listen here.

E-Verify is a program that checks the immigration status of new hires. The House is expected to vote on legislation that would make E-Verify mandatory nationwide. Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh thinks E-Verify should be scrapped altogether. Not only does it make it more expensive for companies to hire people, it misses over half of the undocumented immigrants it is supposed to identify.

CEI Podcast for July 28, 2011: Immigration Reform

Have a listen here.

President Obama made a speech on immigration reform this week. He is looking for a dance partner in Congress to ease restrictions on the immigrant-dependent high-tech sector. Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh points out that there are several bills already in Congress that would do just that, including the STAPLE Act and the DREAM Act.

Straight from Hilter’s Playbook

My colleague Alex Nowrasteh and I recently wrote a column for The Daily Caller favoring letting more high-skilled immigrants become U.S. citizens. Here is a persuasive and well-reasoned excerpt from commenter jobs4us, who disagrees:

Don’t buy into this baseless propaganda – it is straight from Adolf Hilter’s playbook

Misspelling of Hitler’s name and punctuation error are in the original.

Obama Needs to Do More to Liberalize Immigration

CEI just put out this press release:

Obama Gives Half-Hearted Speech on Immigration Reform

President Needs to Do More to Loosen Job-Killing Immigration Restrictions

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.”

Eliminate the Cap on H-1B Visas

My colleague Alex Nowrasteh has an op-ed in Investor’s Business Daily where he makes the case for liberalizing the H-1B visa for skilled immigrants.

An oft-neglected point he makes is that if companies can’t legally get the workers they want to come here, they’ll go abroad to hire them.

As with most anything else, prohibiting or limiting immigration comes with unintended, but not unforeseeable consequences.

Read the whole thing here.