Immigration Crisis

Immigration Crisis

The Biden administration continues to downplay the humanitarian crisis on the southern border.

However, there is a sense that the situation is increasingly chaotic.

Chaos, in turn, results in a public backlash and tightening of immigration policies, which only makes the problem worse.

Wretched Refuse?

Alex Nowrasteh – my go-to immigration expert – returns to the show to unpack the root causes of this chaos, and offer practical solutions that don’t put the blame on those seeking a better life in America.

I was eager to discuss Alex’s new book, co-authored with Benjamin Powell, Wretched Refuse? The Political Economy of Immigration and Institutions (Cambridge University Press, 2020). We grappled with the political problem of immigration reform, along with the misconceptions underlying nativist hostility to more open immigration.

While Biden’s idea of a solution includes cash payments to would-be immigrants to get them to stay in their home countries, Alex has a better plan that also doesn’t cost nearly as much: “Encourage free trade, end the drug war, and liberalize immigration,” he says.

Of course, the President is not entirely to blame for 150 years of bad immigration law – ultimately it’s up to Congress to replace the patchwork of executive orders with a rational framework and plan for naturalizing future American immigrants, while disincentivizing dangerous illegal crossings.

Key Points:

Economic incentive for people to come from Central America is so huge (6x increase in income adjusted for cost of living) that there is virtually no way to prevent people from trying to come - legally or illegally
Current system leaves no legal option for Central Americans to work in the U.S. Mexicans can come through guest worker visas.
People are blaming Trump or Biden - both are to blame. Chaos is a result of a failure of policy.
No section of the Constitution that gives power to Congres to regulate immigration. Congress delegates the policy to the President. At the time of the Constitution, there were two pro-immigration factions: enlightenment thinkers who believe in a right to move, and nationalists who thought immigration was good for the country. Today's nationalists believe the opposite.
The accident of birth comparison to the peerage system.


Book: Wretched Refuse? February, 2021

Producer Notes - Nowrasteh 4/25