Posts Tagged ‘Immigration Law’

How many new immigrants can the USA welcome?

June 21, 2019

I don’t think the number of immigrants into the United States should be unlimited.

I don’t think the number of immigrants into the United States should be zero.

But how many should we admit?  I don’t have a good answer.

I don’t believe in open borders because there is a limit to the number of newcomers any nation can absorb and avoid breakdown.

The economist Milton Friedman said that it is impossible for a nation to have both open borders and a generous welfare state, because needy immigrants will overburden any social safety net.

Friedman opposed the welfare state.  He favored open borders.

Then, too, there is a limit to how many newcomers a nation can absorb in any period of time.

We saw this in Germany’s refugee crisis in 2015 when a million immigrants, mainly from Iraq and Syria, poured into the country.  Germany weathered the storm, but it put a big strain on Germany society and European unity.

If climate catastrophe unfolds as many predict, there may be tens of millions of desperate would-be immigrants fleeing drought, floods, tidal waves and devastating storms and fires.

Every one of them would be just as valuable in the cosmic scheme of things (or, if you will, in the eye of God) as I am and my loved ones are.  But is American society resilient enough to give them refuge?  I’d like to think so, but I doubt it.

But neither to I favor closed borders.

The birth rate of native-born American citizens is below the replacement rate.  This means the retirement-age population is going to increase and the working-age population is going to shrink.

If the USA is to support its future old folks, such as me, it needs either an increase in economic productivity much greater than the current rate or immigration to increase the work force.

The main potential sources of immigrants are countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  A highly-skilled, well-educated person from Haiti or Nigeria might well seek a better life in the USA, but the person’s counterpart in Norway would have no reason to leave their enlightened, prosperous country.  These days Norway is a destination for immigrants, not a source of immigration.

In addition, we Americans have a moral obligation to admit a certain number of the refugees who have been driven from their homes by wars our government has instigated or dictators our government has supported.

I don’t think the United States has the capacity to absorb all the refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Central America.  A better way to repair the damage would be to help governments of those countries rebuild so that refugees could return to their homelands, if that were possible.

At a bare minimum, we should admit people whose lives are in danger because they were employed by the U.S. armed forces or fought on the same side.