Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fixing legal immigration

Despite a title that is simply wrong ("Why Illegal Immigration Doesn't Matter")WaPo piece does raise some interesting points - most of which seem to be directed at the idea that we are creating an immigrant based sub class:
Our current system results from changes begun in the mid-1960s, when the country scrapped its old immigration policy, based on quotas determined by a person's national origin, in favor of broader hemispheric quotas and visa preferences for family members of those already here. The framers of this new system claimed that they were merely tinkering with policy. "Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants," Sen. Edward Kennedy said.

But not only did legal immigration soar by 60 percent in the first 10 years after the reform legislation; the origins of immigration shifted to poorer countries around the world, and many new immigrants arrived with low levels of education and little job training, stranding them in low-paying jobs and slowing their economic mobility. A recent study by Harvard economists George Boras and Lawrence Katz of Mexican immigrants who came here in the 1970s found that after 20 years in the American workforce these workers were still earning about 40 percent less than American-born workers -- a sharp contrast with earlier generations of immigrants, who after several decades here tended to be virtually at par with American workers. The economists also estimated that recently arriving young Mexican workers (and Mexicans make up the largest category of legal immigrants to the U.S.) were starting off with an even bigger wage disadvantage relative to American workers than their predecessors did in the 1970s.

As a result of findings like this, many economists who study immigration don't even distinguish between legals and illegals. Instead, the line of demarcation for them is between low-skill immigrants with little education and better educated, better trained immigrants.
I don't care how hard working you are, it's tough to move up with low skills and not much education, which would seem to maintain a permanent underclass which is a formula for unhappiness.

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