Letter to the Editor: Immigration

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Letter to the Editor: Immigration

How Should the U.S. Assign Work Visas?

Sir,

I enjoyed your on-line article Mexicans and Other Scapegoats. It certainly points out the strong collectivist strain in the anti-immigrant sentiment. Yes, if we deported all the illegal Mexicans, none of them would commit any crimes here--and it would do nothing to stop homegrown criminals. (And if we didn't allow anyone to drive there would be no auto accidents, either).

However, I am curious as to how you would practically implement your proposal that "The U.S. should simply allow every Mexican with a job offer to come here legally with a temporary work visa." After all, most of the immigrants who are coming here illegally come looking for work. It's not as if they come responding to want ads in the Tijuana classifieds. Typically, they don't find the work until they get here. Also, what would you propose the terms of a temporary visa to be? Since many immigrants take work that is on a seasonal or irregular basis, what period of unemployment would render a temporary work visa null and void?

Overall, I agree with the sentiment of the article, I would just be curious to see your proposed solution laid out in more detail (to satisfy my own doubts as to whether it would be workable).

T. Welch
Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2005

Ari Armtrong Replies

I don't know, honestly. However, I also don't see any problem with letting Mexicans travel here freely. If a Mexican citizen finds a job offer while traveling, then perhaps his or her travel visa could be changed to a work visa. Employers could also advertise in Mexico for employees. Another alternative is to forget the visas, and let Mexicans cross the boarder at will, only through designated check points, so as to maintain a level of security. What we have isn't working at all. Nobody is happy with the existing system (except perhaps the smugglers). A number of alternatives would be better. The main barrier to reform is the erroneous view that Mexican workers in the U.S. somehow make us worse off.

Another reader pointed to two problems with Mexican immigration. First, some immigrants draw U.S. welfare benefits. However, many Mexican workers pay into U.S. welfare programs without drawing benefits. To the extent that welfare is a problem, it is one that can be fixed without limiting the number of working Mexican immigrants. Second, some immigrants don't assimilate, and some even want to turn parts of the U.S. into territories of Mexico or at least into regions independent of the U.S. However, these are two distinct problems. It's unclear to me why lack of assimilation is supposed to be much of a problem. The U.S. has survived and thrived with many waves of immigrants, many of whom established their own neighborhoods. True, quite a few Mexicans come here to work for a while and then return to Mexico, but again I don't see the problem in this. I don't think most Mexicans who live in the U.S. are interested in fundamentally changing the political structure. Instead, that push comes from a few leftist intellectuals within the U.S. Regardless, the way to fight collectivism is not to impose collectivistic anti-immigration laws, it is to defend individual rights, including rights to contract for employment.

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