Krikorian and Riley: quick comments

I’ve just finished reading Mark Krikorian’s The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal (Amazon hardcover) and Jason Riley’s Let Them In: The Case For Open Borders (Amazon ebook).

As the titles make clear, Krikorian (director of the “low immigration, pro immigrant” Center for Immigration Studies) wants immigration reduced, while Riley (a Wall Street Journal writer) wants it increased.

Nonetheless, I was struck by the similarities between the books:


My overall take from the two books is that they’re both extremely well-written and reasonably persuasive to people who come in without strong opinions on the issues or the underlying moral questions. While I take issue with some of the claims in both books (predictably more so with Krikorian’s claims), I don’t see any of them as prima facie sufficiently ridiculous to be instantly rejected by a moderately-informed but non-expert and non-opinionated reader. Further, the books appeal to fairly mainstream political sentiments in their target audience, which is US citizens. If I had to pick a high school debater on the US-specific pro-immigration side, I’d pick Riley, and if I had to pick a high school debater on the US-specific anti-immigration side, I’d pick Krikorian.

As a result, I’ve added quotes from both books to existing pages on this website to help support the various pro- and anti-open borders arguments listed on the website. This includes the pages citizen preference for reduced immigration, overpopulation and environment, skills mismatch, emotional assimilation and patriotism, and cheap labor leading to a technological slowdown. I’ll probably be adding more quotes from both books to the other pages as and when I get time.

Nonetheless, if your main interest in open borders is the philosophical and moral issues surrounding them, neither book is strong on these. You’d probably do better perusing the links, quotes, and references on the Open Borders website, starting with the moral case page.

In separate future blog posts, I will comment in more detail on some of the more interesting and novel claims made by Riley and Krikorian, and what I think of these.