Fantastic article by John Londregan. Londregan argues that Republicans and Democrats alike have perverse economic and political incentives, which are the main root of the immigration problem, and argues that it’s time to stand up to ourselves and recognize our complicity:
What does this mean for policy? On the moral plane it means that we share responsibility for a status quo in which millions, and perhaps tens of millions, of those living within our borders are here in contravention of our laws. In many cases these people have been living in our midst for decades. We are collectively complicit in this state of affairs—had the world’s premier military power wanted to control its border and prevent undocumented crossings, it would have long since done so. On moral grounds we share responsibility for violating our laws with the people we have paid to break them. We ought to share in the costs of resolving the situation.
What would effective reform look like? First we need to recognize that we are in a long-term relationship with the migrants and with their home countries. Just as we have arranged for the relatively unencumbered movement of goods across borders, so too we should allow for the relatively free movement of labor. We should establish a permissive guest worker program that allows foreign citizens to come to our country to work. Their legal presence here will make them readier to use emergency services when they encounter crime, fire, and medical emergencies, and licensed foreign workers will be more willing to report workplace safety issues. What about long-term connections between guest workers and the United States? A sensible immigration plan would allow workers to renew their permits from within the United States, and it would allow them to apply for citizenship without having to return home.