Monday, February 4, 2013

Brad DeLong on Immigration

I shared this a little while back, but it's a good one:
"By the end of 2012 there were 312 million Americans out of 7 billion people on the planet. By 2062--if we stay on the current policy track--there will be 500 million Americans out of 10 billion people on the planet, as compared to 340 million if we were to end net immigration now and if birthrates remained the same. In this sense, America in 2062 will--if we stay on our current policy track--be a nation that is 1/3 post-2012 immigrants.

The thoughtful Adam Ozimek thinks that isn't enough.

He thinks the United States needs more high-skill immigrants. I think the United States needs more immigrants--more people willing to take risks and work hard to seek a better life for themselves and their children, and illiterates from Chiapas seem to me as good as doctors from Calcutta"
 If this is going to be a day for tweeting about immigration, let's make one message loud and clear: preferential treatment for better educated immigrants from a certain part of the world today is no more acceptable than it was a hundred years ago when other groups of undesirables were given a disadvantage in immigration.

The idea that this is some sort of enlightened policy was not acceptable then, and it's not acceptable now.

Immigration isn't about fine tuning our workforce - it's about welcoming new Americans who want to better themselves and live with us.


  1. edward writes:

    Daniel--Can low income immigrants afford to live in your school district? Tell us the racial demographics of your neighborhood. We will know your beliefs not by what you write here, but how you actually live. Actual beliefs are not cognitions, but behaviors (as you know).

    Does anyone else think that when Daniel writes " live with us," he has absolutely no intention of actually living with the low-skilled immigrants he's inviting?

    1. I have a lower income Hispanic family (two, I think) renting to my right. I have no idea what their status is but I know they speak Spanish in the home so it's likely some of the household members are immigrants. To their right, around the cul-de-sac, and up to the house directly across from me are black families so none of them are immigrants. Obviously I don't know their take home pay, but based on their houses, cars, etc. I imagine the situation is pretty mixed. This neighborhood was exclusively black back when Northern Virginia was segregated. Next to the house directly across from me (so, adjacent to me) is a Vietnamese family - at least the dad is an immigrant (maybe the mom?). I'm assuming the kids aren't. His dad lives about a mile away and is around a lot, and I'm sure he's an immigrant too. He's a contractor - I'd guess not low income by the looks of things, but I'm not sure where he started. The house to my left is a black guy whose family has been in the neighborhood forever. He actually used to own and rent out my house for decades until he sold it last year.

      Across the main road from our street is a lower income apartment complex. It looks mostly black. On my walk to the metro, immediately up from my street there's a mix of black and Hispanic families. I'm sure there are some immigrants there but I haven't polled them. As I get closer to the metro it gets more white (including my wife's childhood neighborhood - although my wife lived next door to an Azeri immigrant who is still living there).

      If you want my experience living with immigrants, we'd have to go to the apartment I was living in prior this house. Just eyeballing it I'd guess that was two third Hispanic and one third Indian - based on language spoken in the halls, rooms, and playground I imagine a lot were immigrants (although again, it never seemed polite for me to poll them on their statuses). There was a sprinkling of black and white residents (including us). The white residents seemed younger, the black older. This was definitely a low income apartment complex.

      The apartment before that that we lived in was primarily white and Indian. There was one old Iraqi guy I used to talk to a lot (as you can imagine, he had some stories to tell). He would have been on a temporary visa, because he worked in the Iraqi embassy.

      My immediate neighborhood from middle school through high school was mostly white, although there are lots of immigrants in Northern Virginia and I went to school with many.

      My neighborhood in Maryland through elementary school was half white/half Hispanic I would ballpark. Along with my twin brother my best friend was a Salvadoran immigrant (Samuel) we had sleepovers at his house all the time. We would also play with the son of a Brazilian immigrant (who lived directly across the street from me), Pedro, and the son of an Indian immigrant (forgot his name), a Vietnamese immigrant (Van), and another white kid (Aaron). We were all in the same cub scout troop and would hang out together a lot. The girl next door that we sometimes played with was white too.

    2. Now either give me a run down of your neighborhood or stop pestering me.

      I didn't grow up low-income and I don't anticipate ever being low income and I don't anticipate my kids ever being low-income and that's of course going to always put some social distance between me and some of the populations I talk about and do analytic work on. But aside from the inevitable social distance (which would be mutual, let's remember), I'm perfectly comfortable around people who don't look like me or earn as much as me.

    3. edward wrote:
      Lol. "Comfortable around" and "live with" are not the same. I have no doubt that your brief encounters with poor minorities reinforce your sense of "I'm a good person." But if low-income Hispanics moved around you en masse, you'd be among the first to support apartheid "smart growth" boundaries and send your children to private schools. The need to fuel and maintain your Good Identity would vanish. This would not stop you from encouraging others to "live with" them, however. In fact, the worse you felt about moving away from the poor Hispanics, the more you'd insist that others do it. And you'd judge them harshly, for the sake of absolution.
      Instead of supporting low-skilled immigration for America, I'd like to hear you support it for YOUR zip code. Why aren't you working to keep the low-skilled immigrants away from all of the mean racists?

      It's hilarious that you even evaluate it in terms of "comfortable."? I'm sure minorities are happy to learn that you feel "comfortable" around them.

    4. What exactly do I need to do to "live with" them to your satisfaction? Dump my wife and marry a Latina? They were my best friends growing up - we had sleepovers, played together, and had dinner together. High school was in a different (whiter) neighborhood but since then they've continuously been my neighbors, their kids have known me, etc. I was in a building full of Indian and Hispanic immigrants. I saw them all the time - I saw their kids all the time. How much more "en masse" around me do you want them to be?

      I'm a product of Maryland and Virginia public schools and I have no expectation of sending my kids to anything other than Virginia public schools.

      re: "Instead of supporting low-skilled immigration for America, I'd like to hear you support it for YOUR zip code. Why aren't you working to keep the low-skilled immigrants away from all of the mean racists?"

      What does this even mean? My zip code and every zip code I've lived in is great in part because of how many immigrants there are around here. I like having them around. What exactly do you want me to do to encourage more them? I'm happy to, but short of importing Russian brides or incorporating so that I can sponsor an IT guy on an H1-B I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do to get more.

    5. Edward:

      Nice, white Seattle. Thanks, Progressives, for keeping all of the low income Hispanics in Wennatchee and Yakima. The poor whites there deserve it, anyway. The lack of diversity in Seattle is great. It's nice here, in Seattle, because I don't care how many Mexicans live in "America", none can penetrate this White Fortress*. Again, my thanks to the pro-immigration Progressives for the protection.

      * Of course we have Asians, but not the low performing minorities, of course. We keep them out.

  2. There do seem to be a lot of people who want immigration policies that would have kept their grand parents or great grand parents out of the country.

    For me - give me a poor immigrant who wants a better life for his children and is willing to assimilate over a privileged immigrant who simply wants to get away from the country built by the attitudes he has and intends to keep. If we want to loot the brains of the third world we should seek out the best 17 year olds who cannot afford school and give them scholarships.

    Of course I'm biased. You don't have to go very far up my family tree to find a poorly educated, low skill worker, who emigrated seeking a better life.

    1. EXACTLY!

      When I see all this high-skill immigrant obsession I think "man - I'm glad they weren't so picky back in the 1890s or 1840s!"

    2. "I'm glad they weren't so picky back in the 1890s or 1840s!:

      I'm glad they weren't so picky in the 1950s.

    3. "I'm glad they weren't so picky back in the 1890s or 1840s!:

      I'm glad they weren't so picky in the 1950s.

    4. "I'm glad they weren't so picky back in the 1890s or 1840s!:

      I'm glad they weren't so picky in the 1950s.

    5. The fact that we might personally have benefitted from a lack of restrictions in the past does not mean that most of the country benefitted at the time (it's possible, but I've never seen an attempted demonstration) or will benefit in the future. You talk in terms of something being "acceptable", but most Americans don't seem accepting of even the current level of immigration (legal + illegal).

  3. Since you're talking about policies of the past (and since you're apparently a big fan of the guy) I will note that in his Notes on Virginia was all about giving preferences to the highly skilled and closing the borders to anyone else. I can't say whether his views changed or not between its publication and his death in 1826.

    Being a natalist myself I say the more people the better.


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