Arnold Kling  

And Bring on the Mexicans

Ponzi Schemes: What's the Big ... Puzzled by Brad's Puzzlement...

Bryan lauds high-skilled immigrants. Matthew Quirk talks about Mexican immigrants.

By 2003, ...the roughly 20 million Mexican-origin workers in America create a larger gross product than Mexico itself.

...Five predominantly rural Mexican states—Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, and Zacatecas—send a disproportionately large number of emigrants to the United States...Home to less than a third of Mexico’s population, they receive 44 percent of Mexico’s remittances.

[In contrast,] The relatively small remittance flow to Mexico’s border states attests to their economic strength. The spread of factories along the border to perform cheap manufacturing for U.S. companies allows many Mexicans to find work without crossing over.

As long as they assimilate, more immigrants are a win.

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COMMENTS (18 to date)
R. S. Porter writes:

How exactly do unassimilated immigrants hurt anything?

TGGP writes:

Do they assimilate? Their crime and illegitimacy rates actually go up from first to second and second to third generations. Their level of education plateaus. They do not behave peaceably toward an underclass our country already possesses and has not yet figured what policies will help them assimilate toward middle-class norms. In polls they don't identify themselves as American, even when born here. The factors that caused earlier waves to assimilate (halts in immigration due to changes in policy here or conditions in their home countries, geographic dispersal, nativist attacks on their culture through such things as education, participation in a large war) do not seem likely. They do not appear to make the areas they make their homes more livable as the net flow of migration (of native residents most significantly but now Mexicans immigrants as well for the same reasons) is away from areas they settle in and toward places they are more scarce. All the evidence points against assimilation and toward them remaining much as they are and in addition supporting policies that you and Bryan oppose.

John S Bolton writes:

If more immigrants, including large numbers of low-literate and low-fluency Mexicans are a 'win', does this mean for total production, or total world utility?
It would be more candid to say that more immigrants are a 'win' for their idea of victory, such as a 9-11 win over the victims of the moslem immigrants' terror offensive.
There is no indication anywhere that mass immigration today increases per capita output from what it would otherwise be.
It would take Keynesian faith to believe that immigrants' alternative welfare-grabbing, or net public subsidy-absorption, is somehow a 'win' for per capita growth on our national accounts.

Horatio writes:

Where's the data on native born American Mexicans not identifying as Americans? And does it include a broad segment of the population or only those in certain areas?

Matt writes:

Mexican fertility is declining so fast we may run out of them.

Arnold is right. The 58% of Mexican women who travel north to bear babies result in a linear population expansion. No doubt the few percentage point increase in productivity from the slave class make a higher pie, and slightly more than linear growth.

But, the quality of the growth is not sufficient to cover long term costs. I suggest an amendment:


A natural citizen must beget from the womb of a female citizen.

stari_momak writes:

R.S. Porter,

A weekend trip to Mexico, or India, or Iran would answer your question. 'Culture' isn't ethnic eateries, it is the entire way of life, from fertility rates, 'growth' , tolerance for pollution, tollerance for poverty and its public manifestations, and so on.

To Arnold Kling -- with 70% plus of children in LA School District schools being 'Latino'-- i.e. Mexican (vast majority) or Central American , how and to what exactly are they going to assimilate? We know from Heather MacDonald and others that the second generation has very high rates of social pathology -- e.g. three times the incarceration rate of white, non-hispanics. As for 'running out' , that is a long way off -- to long to not do something about the present damage. Moreover, when we do run out of Mexicans, there will be pressure from cheap labor advocates to import Bangladeshis, Congolese, etc etc.

For libertarian types who really really want cheap labor -- a simple question. Why don't you just take up residence in Mexico?

TGGP writes:

Horatio, read Samuel Huntington's "Who Are We?"

Birthright citizenship is often said to be in the 14th amendment, but that is false. Your parents have to be under the jurisdiction of this country, which illegals (by definition) are not. Since it is unlikely that the Supreme Court is going to take up that view, Ron Paul has advocated amending the constitution to ensure this is the case.

(-_-) writes:

If there is no assimilation of immigrants then they are isolated and would not be nearly as productive as a result.

R. S. Porter writes:

This preoccupation with assimilation rings of nativist racism.

If you want to say an education in liberal democracy then perhaps you'd have my agreement.

pjgoober writes:

Arnold Kling writes: "As long as they assimilate, more immigrants are a win".

Princeton's Alejandro Portes and UC Irvines Rubén G. Rumbaut have this to say about immigrant assimilation:

"While the vast majority of young adult children of immigrants experience upward economic and social mobility, a new study finds that a significant minority are suffering from lower levels of education, lower incomes, higher birth rates and higher levels of incarceration. Furthermore, it is the U.S.-born children of Mexican, Haitian and West Indian immigrants who experience these problems in the largest proportions...."
"....The researchers also point to the influence of human capital (the skills and education of immigrant parents) as well as family structure, racial prejudice and government policies toward certain immigrant groups – particularly the undocumented – that influence this “downward assimilation” process...."
"....While only 10 percent of second-generation immigrant males in the survey had been incarcerated, that figure jumped to 20 percent among West Indian and Mexican American youths...."

R. S. Porter writes:
"How exactly do unassimilated immigrants hurt anything?" and
"This preoccupation with assimilation rings of nativist racism."

Tell it to Rubén G. Rumbaut and Alejandro Portes with thier concerns of "downward assimilation" among certain immigrant groups (It must be said that I do not know thier views on immigration). You are putting up a straw-man that people want hispanic immigration restricted because they do not all act exactly like anglo-americans with a tan, when in fact we would settle merely for lower rates of illegitimacy, crime, and other social pathologies, which do in fact have negative impacts on people other than the individual carriers of those social pathologies. Until we know how to significantly lower rates of those pathologies (the acid test being that the rates are actually significantly lowered among said groups), the prudent thing to do is to limit the immigration of the groups which disproportionately harbor those pathologies.

Matt writes:

I have to defend the libertarians from Stari's comment:

"For libertarian types who really really want cheap labor -- a simple question. Why don't you just take up residence in Mexico?"

The basics of new Libertarianism are property rights, free labor and free capital movement.

The Mexican worker residing in the United States should be acquiring property in Mexico and maintaining his roots there, which includes asserting his Mexican citizenship. If he/she does this then he can work for cash while in the United States.

Libertarians are not that excited about assimilation, we really are not nationalists.Arnold is not talking the libertarian view for he wants assimilation. Libertarians want property rights and property access reserved in Mexico for Mexicans in the U.S.

But the assertion of basic property rights across North America as well as the ban against citizenship by birth alone should solve whatever immigration problems that Libertarian sees.

bill writes:

Immigration is good, healthy, and should continue. But this argument that there should be no borders, or that one should be able to apply for and be approved for a green card in a day or even a week seems upsurd to me. I don't understand the argument that unlimited immigration is desrireable no matter what. A lot of public infrastructure can accomodate many people, but only up to a certain point. Roads, hospitals, emergency services, schools, existing housing or short-term future housing, etc., can handle millions of additional and poorly educated users who came over yesterday but have not, and will not ever, or at least for a very long time, pay any meaningful amount in taxes. But those things, and yes, even human nature and tolerance for "foreigners" can't accomodate unlimited immigration. Other social sciences and just general history pretty well document the results of when different social groups square off against each other because of cultural differences and/or a scarcity of resources (either real or perceived). Wages and living conditions are high in the U.S., and using an Econ 101 model and not accounting for transaction costs or asymetric information, that means if there are no or minimal restrictions, those wages and conditions would even out over time if unlimited immigration was allowed. Now, many of the countries from which immigrants come are lovely, but also severly impoverished with rampant crime, corruption, and a relatively uneducated (but certainly not unintelligent) populace. If you take the aggregate of those conditions and allow unlimited immigration to the U.S., how do keep a straight face in arguing that U.S. citizens wouldn't be worse off? Yes, the immigrants themselves would be better off, until the equilibrium is reached, and then they would be only slightly better off than had they stayed in their home country. (My argument supposes that conditions in the U.S. would go down much more than conditions in other countries would go up.)

It is much better to allow as much immigration as this country can reasonably expect to handle, maybe even more than there is now, but under some halfway decent and orderly process for it, one which does not just look the other way to massive ammounts of immigrants from one country or region simply because it is on the border (and thereby decreasing the incentives and need to assimilate), while there are other places where conditions are much worse, and the people just as deserving.

Eric Wilson writes:

The topic of Mexicans crossing the border in order to find work and a better life, is a very interesting topic, and it is a topic that has seem to grow and escalate as time as gone on. In one perspective and point of view I don't mind their immigration to the United States. That point of view would obviously be that of a mexican. Those people come over here in search of a better life, and in search of work. Our economy is obviously much more stable than theirs, so they come here. We have a lot of people Americans in the United States, that try their best to bet the system and not work, but try and live of welfare, food stamps, and draw umemployment. That isn't good for our economy. On the other hand, you have the mexicans that come to the United States for the reasons, and take jobs from those Americans that want to and are willing to get jobs. The Mexican Americans work many many ours, for very little money, and produce much more for the industry that they are in. It hurts the Americans in a major way. Another problem, would be our jobs and industries packing up and moving to foreign countries. But that is an entirely different argument.

cuenca writes:

Immigration is a problem for every rich country because they have a significant amount of unemployment. Many of the citizens in the US will not do the hard labor like the immigrants. At the same time, however, in my opinion they do the work that no one wants to do. So in that way they can make money for themselves as well as the US.
In Spain, where I am from, we have the same problem with the people from north Africa that came to Spain crossing over the Mediterraneon sea to have a better life.

cnjones writes:

The borders should definitely have restrictions and not just be open to anyone but there does seem to be a shift giving the advantage to Mexicans or any foreigner for that matter. It seems unfair that they should get to come over and live tax free yet also be eligible for government benefits. I do understand that they need a chance to get established in a new country and that they have budget constraints but I hope that the US isn’t seen as a stop on the way to the next best thing. The economic rationality of Mexicans is probably higher than most US citizens anyway because they have the ambition and willingness to leave the place they know as home to come to a country that doesn’t usually welcome them with open arms and they don’t know the language. So as much as people complain about jobs being taken away from hard working Americans as I have often said myself I now realize that a lot of Mexicans have earned these rights. Some are more deserving than our own citizens because they risk everything on a chance at a better life.

aw writes:

Immigration is a tough subject. It should be allowed. However, many Mexicans are crossing the border to the U.S. both legally and illegally. Most are hard workers because they want to stay in the U.S. They are willing to work longer hours for less money. Our overall economy is better off than Mexico's. However, we still have many people unemployed in America. Some people argue that the Mexicans take the jobs that no one wants, but at the same time they take jobs away from the Americans that need them. We need people to do the "dirty" jobs, but the American economy can only support so many people. Immigration is a good thing, and many Mexicans are much better off in the U.S. than in Mexico. America needs to find the equilibrium that will support both immigrants as well as American citizens, otherwise the economy could start going down hill.

Ricky writes:

First of all you can argue a point as to whether immigration helps or hurts the countries. When the Mexicans cross the border they are taking the jobs that many don't want to work. So, they are in a way helping the US economy, however, the unemployed are not going to have those job openings. The US is sending companies into Mexico for cheap labor, also helping Mexican economy. As long as the benefits are significantly more in the US, Mexicans will immigrate to make money and then return to their family with finacial benefits.

Gray Miller writes:

Well, i have no problem with immigrants or even unassimilated immigrants, i mean what harm is a little diversity as long as it does not cross the line with the hole barer clash but the problem with Illegal immigrants is simple, It's Illegal and for good reason and that is to provent barer clashing. I say as long as its done legal, right on!

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