Sentimentalism

One of the critiques of proponents of immigration/open borders is that they often resort to sentimental arguments like: “When my grandma came to the US as an unskilled laborer, there were no immigration restrictions.” Indeed, this would be a valid criticism if the only argument offered by a supporter of immigration were this kind of sentimental argument.

For instance, in an article for VDARE.com titled Economists On Immigration: What’s The Matter?, Steve Sailer writes:

Mankiw, for example, has a hard time thinking about immigration without proudly dragging in his four grandparents who immigrated from the Ukraine. He blogged:

“When I see unskilled Mexican workers coming into the United States to find better jobs, I cannot see any difference between them and four Ukrainian immigrants I know who came into the United States almost a century ago to find better lives. Those four Ukrainians were my grandparents. So to me, taking a hard line on immigration feels a lot like slamming a door in the face of my grandmother.”

Similarly, Paul Krugman wrote this spring in his New York Times column:

“‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’ wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I’m proud of America’s immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia. In other words, I’m instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration.”

[…]

These economists obviously feel that the most important purpose of future American immigration policy is to validate the admission of their own grandparents at Ellis Island a century ago. Apparently, they haven’t been educated to understand the strong emotions driving their preferences. Their individualist perspective seems to be too limited to comprehend many human motivations, especially political ones.

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