Thursday, March 30, 2006

Immigration Reform

This post is more than a shameless attempt to get traffic out of the current debate over immigration reform. No, it really is. I want to draw attention to some of the bigger issues involved with immigration, particularly in the United States. You'll see that much of what I say can apply to any country.

The real immigration issues in the US today seem to be these: (1) Who should be able to stay in the country?(2) Under what circumstances should they be able to stay? and (3) How should we treat illegal immigrants? The answer to each question involves many elements of sociology. Allow me to explain.

How do we decide who is allowed to stay in the country and under what circumstances? This is obviously a values question and not, strictly speaking, a scientific question. I can suggest that we ought to consider the social functions that immigrants perform. They provide a needed influx of new science and engineering talent. Did anyone not know that many of our engineers and scientists are Chinese, Korean, and Indian? Illegal immigrants also have a function, one that you may not have considered before.

Illegals make it cheaper to provide many services; that much you probably guessed. But, did you consider that the cheap labor keeps many marginal enterprises in business. Some family farms, restaurants, and lanscaping businesses would certainly go under if they could only use people who are in the USA legally. Am I wrong about this?

I think the second and third question are also more about values than science. Perhaps a few sociological insights can still help you consider how you feel about the questions. I'll explain myself next Tuesday, while I also explain some of the social costs and benefits of immigration.


Blogger JasonSpalding said...

How ironic is it that those in government make the argument that illegal immigrants are just willing to do the jobs Americans don't want to do when the one job the government seems to be trying hard to avoid doing is dealing with illegal immigration.

12:41 AM  

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