Should the US lower its immigration numbers?

I recently came across this video, which put forth a surprisingly persuasive argument for lower immigration numbers.

The argument boils down to:

  1. If the US increases it’s immigration numbers it wouldn’t do anything to help world poverty. The US takes in one million immigrants a year, and impoverished countries (countries where average income is lower than Mexico) add about 80 million impoverished people a year into the population.

  2. The immigrants that come into the US from a country usually are the most energetic people from that country. They are the ones most likely to try and change things to make a better life for themselves. If they leave, the country loses the people most likely to change things in that country.

If it won’t help the poor in other countries, and might make things worse for poor countries, do we need a million immigrants a year coming into America?

I think you use the exact right word in your question: “do we need a million immigrants a year coming into America?”

The answer should obviously be “no”.Particularly if they are poor. Just look at the unemployment numbers. Any nation’s immigration policy should serve that country. There are times when they might want to encourage immigration, as we did at the turn of the century, and times when we should close the spigot.

I think we should also have a temporary worker program in place, like Canada’s. I think they allow people to come work their for eight months at a time. During that time they can come and go as often as they’d like. But their “contract” expires after the eight months. (I don’t know how long before they can come to work again. I think it’s each year.)

A program like this would also help the illegal immigration problem, giving employers a way to tap into workers as they need them—legally.

As far as what serves those outside the U.S. best, I think the point that the best and brightest just leave those places that need them most is a powerful one. While it’s hard to argue that each person who makes it here isn’t better off, are more helped by forcing all that energy and initiative to flower in places that really need it. I think so. But I also think that our immigration policy should begin and end with what serves us best.

No! WE do NOT need a million immigrants a year, in fact, we dont need any.

That’s rather short-sighted. Is your native population multiplying fast enough to sustain its numbers? Are there enough native-born young people working to support your (soon to be extremely expensive in retirement and declining health) baby boomers?

Screw the morality-based arguments about world poor and all that crap - have you thought about the economic benefit immigrants offer or just assumed (and on what grounds?) that there is none?

Short of the Pit there is no way to say what I really think of this, so I’ll just say that I believe exactly the opposite. We NEED immigrants as that is what made this country great, and one of our real sources of strength. Hell, in a way the OP is right…we DO brain drain the rest of the world. We always have. And my thought is…tough shit to them. It’s their lookout.

Now, if we could only get some of our citizens (to name no names) to make room for people who really appreciate the best that is America…


Does that me we kick the likes of Bill Shatner, Michael J. Fox, Keith Urban,, to the curb? And let’s not forget those Americans who marry foreigners, many of them significant contributors to us. Are you including those non-citizens who are in your US military protecting your behind, too? You want them all shipping out on the same boat as “those others” you imply but won’t name?

I don’t mind immigration if the end result is MORE AMERICANS.

I want people to come to the USA, but I WANT them to WANT to be an American. I know far too many people that have been here over 10 years (one lady has been here 40 years) and they have no intention of ever being an American. They don’t want to give up their old citizenship.

Or they want the dual citizenship.

My folks came to the USA from Yugoslavia after WWII. I recall asking them if they ever wanted to go back to Yugoslavia. They answered “No, it it was any good I wouldn’t have left.”

My sister was born in New Zealand, and she had no qualms of becoming an American citizen on her 18th birthday. She looked forward to it.

I am an America and was born here after my folks became citizens.

We need REAL immigration. People that want to come to America and live here, not work here, earn money and then go back, or refuse to give up their other citizenship, “just in case.”

I don’t want citzens of the USA who feel like they are entitled to vote in other nation’s elections.

I welcome immigrants as long as they WANT to be AMERICANS. And that means to come over, study our history and become citizens. They don’t have to adopt “our ways” because America is about mixing of cultures. But I do expect them to want to fully support America and build this nation, not just use it for economic gain, and then leave or retain their old country as a safety net.

Need is a rather absolute term. No, we don’t NEED immigrants. Do they help our country, does it help some in the shitholes of the world, and is immigration something that should be encouraged? Well, those are different questions than if we NEED immigrants.

Some things you might consider though:

If there are 81 million people starving, and we can help one million of them, shouldn’t we? Is the fact we can’t help everyone really a moral justification to helping no one? Isn’t this logic as moronic as if someone said ‘One person starved to death in America last night. Clearly we need to shut down all assistance to the poor across the nation since it isn’t doing any good…’

The immigrants who come into this country often had no opportunities at home. I don’t care how energetic the person is, if the most advanced job in their home nation is making goat cheese then they’re going to become goat cheese makers. A person who comes to America, gets educated, earns wealth, and later in life goes home and funds a school will be doing far more good for their home nation than if they stared at a goat udder for decades.

There are parts of the world where people aren’t leaving to improve their lot in life, they’re leaving because if they don’t then they will be killed. From a humanitarian point of view, rather than stopping immigration, perhaps we should have an open door policy on those from Sudan or other African nations ravaged by war, minorities in China, and even Mexicans caught in middle of drug lords.

From the flip side, consider the benefits to the US. Chinese, Irish, Jews, Germans, Vietnamese, etc. They all have two things in common. One, at some point in the past they came in large numbers to America and some were ranting how they would be our downfall. Two, those subgroups have improved America far more than they have ever harmed it.

Besides, if the US shut off immigration, the richest nation in the world would basically be looking at those worse off than us and going ‘Gee, sucks to be you.’ Not exactly the type of foreign policy I’d endorse…

Of course you’re speaking as if the Feds actually had control over how many immigrants, or even knows how many, are entering our country. Sadly, a concept lost many years ago.

The only control they have is over “professional” immigrants - those with training suitable for employers that follow proper employment eligibility standards/screening.

I have thought about this and I do believe that Mexico (to use an example) would likely be better off if we were somehow able to stop the flow of all Mexicans. (As a side note I believe that immigration has been a great boon to America.) On the other hand I don’t feel it right to tell people they can’t seek out the best life for their family. If I was a Mexican I’m sure I’d like the opportunity to come to the US.

Increase the number. If you want to come to this country and be productive, we should bend over backwards to let you in. Decrease the amount of time to fill those visas out and try to keep them here. Saddle the visa with the requirement that they stay here and work in the USA for 7 or 10 years. That’s up for some debate, due to unemployment, sickness, etc.

I’m personally of the opinion that if you want to be here, you should be here. We can’t hold anyone out by accident of their birth. However, I’ll be very flexible with that idea actually being a good one in real life.
If you want the best and brightest, realize that, statistically, they won’t all be born here. Court them, bring them here, make them into the best citizens they can be, and let’s make the world a better place. (everyone now: “Awwwwwww”.)

How many people should we let in. If there are 20 million people wanting to come in every year, do we let them all in? And if we do, what do you do about those wanting to come here that exceed that 20 million?

Also, do you think that immigration should be a static policy, or should we change it as the country’s needs change? If the latter, on a scale of 1 - 10 (ten being we are desperate for new immigrants like we were in 1900), where do you think conditions put us now?

I think you’ve missed a more fundamental problem - a million immigrants a year coming into America might make things worse for America if you don’t screen for skills (see California article below).

You could also mention environmental degradation (in theory Al Gore should be calling for a moratorium on third world immigration to first world countries).

  1. This is true but besides the point immigration is not big enough to make a huge dent in third world poverty, but it also won’t make my teeth whiter. It would help 1 million people climb out of crushing poverty, which is nothing to sneeze at.
  2. If social change was possible in these countries these entreprenurial people would have found a way to make it happen. It would be easier for them to organize politically and effect change, instead of risking everything to move to a foreign country.

There are good anti-immigration arguements but these are weak.

No, in fact freer immigration is just about the only thing that will give the United States any competitive edge in coming decades. People want to come here and they want to come here and work hard, build, innovate, study, etc. That’s all we’ve got on a near-term basis. Cut off immigration, and you basically are choking off the future of the United States.

We should let in every last person who wants in, other than known criminals and terrorists.

Let the market decide. When we no longer need immigrants, immigrants will not want to come.

It’s always seemed to me that if we have a free trade agreement with another country, we should have a free immigration agreement with them.

It’s only fair. Capital can move back and forth across borders with extreme ease now. Business owners are free to find the cheapest labor almost anywhere in the world.

But workers aren’t free to find the best wages anywhere in the world. Instead, they’re limited to their own country–and if wages in their country are artificially low (because companies there are protected from wage competition), tough shit for them.

Right now, the idea of financial protectionism is pretty widely discredited. But labor protectionism, in the form of immigration restrictions, is alive and well. I figure that where one goes, the other should follow.

Boy, those two rancid articles are over their sell-by dates–yet are still trotted out at every opportunity.

Since when does the environment respect borders?

They’re about 18 months old! Perhaps you could provide an explanation why a population with low academic achievement levels is going to boost the US?! I’d love to hear your argument.

In relation to the environment the point is that people in Western countries have much larger carbon footprints than people in the third world. So boosting numbers in Western countries via immigration is harmful to the environment.

This would be fine but countries have welfare systems. You can’t have a welfare state and unlimited immigration. Milton Friedman pointed this out.