Jeffrey Miron is director of economic studies at the Cato Institute and the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University.
Forget the Wall Already, It’s Time for the U.S. to Have Open Borders
“President Donald Trump’s recent tweets against open borders come as no surprise. Indeed, even fervent immigration advocates worry that open borders would lower the wages of low-skilled natives, erode national security, and overburden the social safety net. Trump doubled down, tweeting that he would be “willing to ‘shut down’ government” unless Congress approves funding for a border wall with Mexico.
Trump, however, has it exactly backwards: The solution to America’s immigration problems is open borders, under which the United States imposes no immigration restrictions at all. If the U.S. adopts this policy, the benefits will far outweigh the costs.
Legalize ALL immigration
Illegal immigration will disappear, by definition. Much commentary on immigration — Trump and fellow travelers aside — suggests that legal immigration is good and that illegal immigration is bad. So, legalize all immigration.
America has nothing to fear, and much to gain, from open borders.
Government will then have no need to define or interpret rules about asylum, economic hardship, family reunification, family separation, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and so on. When all immigration is legal, these issues are irrelevant.
The question of fairness about who enters first — those who waited in line or those who entered illegally — disappears. Amnesty for existing illegal immigrants also becomes a non-issue. Or an open borders policy could require anyone who entered illegally to exit the country — for exactly five minutes — and then re-enter legally.
Think about the money we could save and make
Expenditure on immigration enforcement would shrink to nothing, because open borders means no walls, fences, screening at airports, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), deportations, detention centers or immigration courts. A 2013 report estimated that immigration enforcement cost more than $18 billion annually, and standard indicators suggest costs have grown further since then.
Last year, U.S. employers filed over 336,000 petitions for H1-B visas for highly skilled foreign workers, but only 197,129 were approved. Complicated visa rules – for tourists versus job-seekers, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workers versus agricultural laborers, and students versus non-students – would all vanish. This would save resources and give employers new access to talented human capital.
The time people waste re-entering the country will evaporate. How often do you face long delays when entering Oklahoma from Texas? Never. But how often do you experience delays when you leave other countries for the United States? Almost always. One study pegs the cost of wait times at the U.S.-Mexico border alone to be more than $12 billion a year.
Economic efficiency will increase both in the USA and in immigrant-sending countries, because different kinds of labor will be better matched around the world to their most productive activity. This benefits the immigrants who earn higher incomes, but also U.S. consumers who face lower prices for imported goods and services. One academic study predicts that if borders were open everywhere, world gross domestic product could be twice its current value.
They will send their best…” Read the rest here.