More Viewing Immigration As A Benefit To US
Several decades ago the political debate surrounding immigration reform was far more volatile and rancorous than today’s current discussion. The evolution is partly a consequence of functioning in a globalized world and partly a result of the reality of a more diverse society. Today, supporters of permitting more immigrants and visa holders stress the economic benefits to opening the borders.
Immigration As A Source Of Economic Strength
L. Gordon Crovitz argues in his Wall Street Journal column that proposed reforms would actually produce economic benefits. He cites recent data from the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates “that legalizing the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. would boost revenues by $48 billion over 10 years while costing $23 billion in increased public services” and could “bring in $100 billion in over a decade, largely from increased income taxes.”
Costs Of Enforcing Immigration Laws Vary
The National Taxpayer Union approaches the subject from the opposite direction by focusing on the potential costs to immigration reform, namely proposals to increase border security and initiatives related to enforcing that security.
Also citing CBO data, NTU asserts that additional law enforcement along the border would cost between $120,000 and $180,000 per agent (2007 estimates). That range in today’s dollars is about $133,000 to $199,000.
Furthermore, citing General Accounting Office (GAO) data, it would cost nearly $6.5 million per mile, and $1.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing along the Southern border. Those figures included property acquisition and materials costs.
Proponents Counter Arguments That Immigration Will Have Negative Impact
Matthew Yglesias penned a counter-agrument in the online magazine Slate to those who maintain opening the immigration valves would negatively impact American society.
Using history as a guide, Yglesias says the “United States ran an open borders regime throughout the 19th century and we weren’t worse off for it. On the contrary, it laid the foundations for American greatness. Shifting back in that direction—with exceptions for dangerous criminals and other select problem types—over time seems perfectly feasible to me and would substantially increase overall human welfare.”
Yglesias’ view is shared by Nataly Kelly, a Huffington Post, columnist. She notes several ways, including retention of talent, decreasing global isolation, and attracting a diversity of ideas, in which immigration could improve US standing at home and abroad.