The Morality Of Immigration

Jun 29 2011 @ 4:53pm

Tim B Lee and Reihan have been going back and forth over immigration. From Tim's latest dispatch:

I reject the proposition that unless I’ve developed a comprehensive immigration reform agenda, I’m not allowed to make value judgments about individual parts of the immigration system. It’s obvious that Jose Vargas should be allowed to stay in this country. The exact details of how we accomplish that—whether we pass the DREAM Act, raise the quota for skilled Filipino immigrants, grant blanket amnesty, etc—is a question that reasonable people can disagree about. But our current immigration system is indefensible, as is the large number of people who seem to believe the top priority is to crack down even harder on its victims.

Reihan shies away from "the politics of moral outrage":

Tim seems to believe that there is an obvious bright line between immigrants who make positive contributions to our economy and those who do not. I’ve known unauthorized migrants who’ve made immensely positive contributions to our country in the form of household production, civic engagement, community uplift, and much else, yet who made limited contributions in the form of market production or tax revenues. Are these migrants obviously “worse” than net taxpayers in some moral sense? I find this troubling as a moral argument.

And that is why I’m not particularly interested in making moral arguments in this domain. To underscore, any form of immigration restriction is morally problematic. Some are more so than others.

Adam Ozimek tosses in his two cents.