What can we learn about immigration?

Because most immigrants are a net positive just by being people. You have to be a pretty bad person before that changes. So all you really need an immigrant to argue is “I’m not a career criminal”, or the like.

Mainly what Chronos said.
But I’ll add. That on an individual level not every person is gonna be all that great. There are gonna be those who just barely eke out an existence, maybe even being a drain on society from time to time. And there will be those who look quite promising at the beginning (would pass your worthiness test with flying colors) who end up in poverty. And, yes, there will be incorrigibles who are nothing but a drain on society from the beginning.
But, as a whole, immigration is a net benefit to society. But don’t take my word for it. The internet is full of scholarly papers on the subject from both sides of the political spectrum.
Let me just quote one

In the end, the central question for immigration policy is the balance between costs and benefits. . . .“immigrants have become a significant driving force in the creation of new businesses and intellectual property in the U.S.— and that their contributions have increased over the past decade.” In contrast to critics who worry that immigrants take American jobs and depress American wages, considerable research suggests that immigrants contribute to the vibrancy of American economic development and the richness of its cultural life. They start new businesses, patent novel ideas, and create jobs. When one strips away the emotion and looks at the facts, the benefits of new arrivals to American innovation and entrepreneur-ship are abundant and easy to see. The costs immigrants impose are not zero, but those side-effects pale in comparison to the contributions arising from the immigrant brain gain

And, if I may add a personal anecdote: all of my great grandparents immigrated to the US, and none of them at the time had anything to offer other than themselves. No education or special training and certainly no wealth. But, I would say they benefited society greatly!

But why do it as a whole? So long as you’re saying, right here, that some “will be incorrigibles who are nothing but a drain on society from the beginning”, then why not start there — by trying to screen for those — at which point you’d presumably say that the remaining amount of immigration would also be A Net Benefit To Society?

And is it possible that, if we then adjust the restrictions to be slightly more exclusive than that, we’d then also get A Net Benefit To Society?

No
What I’m saying is there isn’t a good way to tell, today, who will be a better benefit to society tommorow.
And we already have a process to screen out incorrigibles be they immigrants or home grown ones. No need to double up.

By analogy: Some school districts have extended their free lunch program to everyone in the district, without any means testing. Why? Because enough students were qualifying for it anyway that the costs of administering the means testing were greater than the costs of just feeding everyone who wanted it. Being generous actually saved money.

Yes, by letting in everyone who’s not on an Interpol list, we’ll be getting a few deadbeats. But any system that would exclude those few deadbeats would also exclude enough good folks that it wouldn’t be worth it.

Well, yes, some things are like that; and some involve screening on a should-we-or-shouldn’t-we basis, because sometimes that’s (a) the better idea and (b) the good analogy.

That seems — defeatist? Maybe absolutist? Possibly dismissive? You’re just flatly stating that, oh, heavens, no, any such system wouldn’t be worth it, couldn’t be worth it, can’t possibly net better results than letting in everyone who’s not on an Interpol list?

Yes it can

Removing the distinction of immigration, it’s the old divide between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor.

But looking at the current generation of individuals, there is no filter that can predict the results after two or three future generations.

Look at the history of ‘prominent’ (good or bad) individuals in your own country, and you could not have predicted from their great-grandparents how they would turn out.

People are …people.

I wonder just how far you’d take this.

An analogy was made to school districts; how about schools? A bunch of would-be students apply to an elite university, and we routinely nod — as if it makes perfect sense — when one with good grades gets in and the opposite doesn’t. And, sure, we all know the story of a seemingly-promising college student who flunks out despite having done really well in high school, or one who winds up defying expectations the other way around; but we act as if that’s the way to bet.

And then, after graduation, employers of course make their predictions about job applicants in much the same fashion — and then maybe promote them, if stellar performance means there’s a case to be made that they’ll excel in another role; or maybe fire them, after predicting that it makes no sense to keep them on — sure as employment history is one factor a bank considers when folks put in for a loan: we hear that an applicant with steady employment and a good credit score got approved, and we hear that someone else for whom the opposite is true got declined, and we nod as if that makes sense even though we know that sometimes a guy who’s been doing great until now defaults on a loan, because, hey, we also know whether that’s the way to bet.

It’s unremarkable when we do this sort of thing in all sorts of other contexts — predicting as best we can, and then deciding accordingly, and then clucking our tongues when a guy who seemed like a good bet eventually proves otherwise, but in best problem-solving fashion still we keep on instead of simply giving up on the whole idea of making predictions — and I don’t see why we can’t do likewise here.

This far, I guess:

We all make our own bets on individuals: in allowing access to types of education, in offering employment, in making loans for whatever purpose and so on.

But don’t reduce it to an absurdity. Regarding immigration: we, the nation, are gambling on the future of the nation two, three, four generations ahead. Not just the ability of an individual to make good use of what we’re offering.

I believe that countries that allow ‘unrestricted’ immigration (sure, disallowing criminals for good short-term reasons) develop faster and to greater success. This is argued, with cites, upthread. The earlier history of the US gives a convincing demonstration: what is the greatest number of generations of familial US citizenship of a US President? I’m sure someone here can answer that; but in European terms, they’re all newcomers. (And so are the members of the population of Federal prisons, I agree).

And I object particularly to the UK Home Secretary, Ms Patel, and her many first- and second-generation ‘immigrant’ Parliamentary colleagues who want to ‘pull up the ladder behind them’, firstly by restricting immigration from the old colonies and troubled regions, and then explicitly by creating an ‘unfriendly environment’ for those who have managed to get here. I am sure you can find US analogues.

No: you can in your wisdom try to separate the deserving from the undeserving guys in front of you, but you can’t predict which of them will be the progenitor of the next Bezos or Gates, or Mother Teresa, or Trump.

This is not to the benefit of those who would rather see these people suffer, die, and get to feel superior to them. Well, it actually is, in that they will enjoy a greater quality of life due to immigration, but these are people who are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face, and not matter how you show that they are better off, they will object because those people are better off as well.

But, IMHO, those are the people that our society would be better off without.

Immigrants make greater contributions to our society than native born citizens. If you are trying to min-max our population’s potential, you are better off taking the immigrants, and making future parents make the case before they are allowed to reproduce.

If you aren’t willing to do the latter, then your insistence on doing the former doesn’t really make any rational sense.

To be clear, I take it your claim is merely that some immigrants make greater contributions than some native-born citizens — sure as some would-be immigrants would, presumably, be a net negative. Right?

I don’t see it.

Here I am, a law-abiding American citizen just minding his own business; if the government starts demanding that I make a case before allowing me to reproduce, then it seems to me to Make Rational Sense to reply, oh, hey, no; feel free to offer me a straight-cash deal, if you want, and I’ll take it or leave it; but this policy k9bfriender suggested, that looks like an overstep against me, and I’m not interested in that; I don’t think it’d be rational for me to okay that. And even if I were to get a pass, if one of my fellow citizens (a) is minding his or her own business, and (b) makes the same reply to the government, well, then I’ll side with him or her, while of course hoping they’d do the same for me; I figured that’s citizenship, which always struck me as Making Rational Sense: we have a deal with each other.

But if some folks who aren’t American citizens are advancing on the border — possibly to ask not what they can do for my country, but what my country can do for them — well, some or all of them might be net negatives like I was just saying, and so I figure it‘d Make Rational Sense to say, hey, stop now and make your case.

More immigrants make greater contributions than native born citizens. Immigrants are a benefit, native born citizens are a drain.

You want them to make the case for that? Okay.

They walked here from Honduras, I know plenty of native born citizens that can’t manage to make it to work.

So, you have abandoned the economic argument, and are now going with the moral argument that the accident of your location of birth should entitle you to more rights than the accident of someone else’s location of birth.

I still see it as an economic argument.

If a guy shows up at my doorstep, and asks me for stuff, I’ll typically ask him what he’ll do for me in exchange; and I’ll accept his offer if he makes a good enough case that he’ll benefit me — but, out of pure economic rationality or some such, I can reject the offer if he doesn’t make that case.

And if he points out that he walked all the way here from really far off, I’ll wait for him to get to the relevant part; after all, you can walk a great distance to hurt me, or at least to do me no good. If you’re going to benefit me, then I don’t especially care how far you walked; and if you aren’t going to benefit me, then I — don’t especially care how far you walked.

And, using the same reasoning but scaling up: if a guy shows up at the border, I’d figure on doing what I was just saying upthread: asking not what my country can do for him, see, but what he’s going to do for my country — in hopes of accepting his offer or rejecting it, which I’d figure we could do on rational economic grounds. You know, much like how a given business accepts some would-be employees and turns away others when they show up: applicants do their best to make a case, and, to the best of my knowledge, they do it by talking about what benefits they’ll provide in exchange for that paycheck — and not by (a) keeping quiet after (b) mentioning how far they walked.

People like that don’t exist in any significant number, so why worry about such an unlikely thing?

All these analogies fail because they relate to scarce goods; there aren’t enough elite university slots or good jobs for everyone who wants one to get one. But there’s no limit on how many immigrants we could choose to allow in.

Although I do feel we should have a higher degree of concern for the well-being of our own citizens, our moral responsibility to noncitizens is not zero. IMO the burden should be on those arguing that immigrants, specifically or generally, would be harmful to the country; the default assumption should be that we welcome the huddled masses tempest-tossed, etc.

There are some arguments that the number of H-1B visa holders in IT drive down wages by 5%-6% (depending on who you ask). Some of the top sponsors of H-1B visas in the Untied States are companies who hire them to consult for other companies.

And, no, I’m not anti-immigrant. I would agree that immigration has been a net good for the United States. I’m not going to advocate for open borders, but I would like an immigration policy that is humane and recognizes our economic needs as it relates to foreign workers.

Sounds like the GOP to me.

So, as I understand it, the argument is that some people are deadbeats who cost society more than they contribute, and so we should weed out those deadbeats, and make people justify why they should be allowed here.

OK, go ahead and start us off, then. Why should you be allowed here? Can you prove that you’re not a deadbeat? And if you can’t prove that, why should we let you stay?

I think you’re missing my point — or, possibly, making my point — in that I don’t see that it’s in my best interests to change the law such that I’ll only get to stay if I can prove my worth to my fellow citizens. And I also don’t see that it’s in my best interests to let in would-be immigrant A, a guy I figure would make things worse — though I figure it would be in my best interests to let in would-be immigrant B, a guy I figure would make things better; and I figure hypothetical would-be immigrant C is a tough call?

And so that’s how I’d vote, if it were put to a vote: would I vote to kick out citizens who don’t make a great case for themselves? Shucks, that doesn’t seem to be in my best interests; I’d like to think I’d pass with flying colors, and get to stay — but why take a chance on it? I’d rather just vote that, no, citizens get to stay. Would I vote to keep out would-be immigrants who don’t make a great case for themselves? Well, that seems to be in my best interests; I’d like to think the ones who’d pass with flying colors will make a great case for themselves, and so I’ll vote that way.

Which is to say: for the same reason, both times.

And I’d hope that my fellow citizens would see things the same way: that it’s not in their best interests to gamble on maybe getting allowed to stay; but that it is in their best interests to be selective about would-be immigrants — and, if so, then I’d hope that they’d say, “Well, I Guess I’ll Vote Accordingly.”

To all the people advocating open borders… if you believed that the majority of immigrants would support the GOP, want to ban abortion and gay sex, abolish food stamps and the ACA and - after gaining citizenship - would vote for the next Trump… would you still want to allow them all in?

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