Weekly link roundup 23

Here’s our weekly installment of links from around the web (see here for all link roundups). As usual, linking does not imply endorsement.

Ghost nations and the end of emigration

One of the more interesting studies that Paul Collier discussed in his new book was this one by Frederic Docquier et al, which applies a general equilibrium analysis to the impact of outward skill flow (“brain drain”) on different regions. While the skill outflow is typically viewed as directly detrimental to a poor nation that needs all the skills it can find, it also has several indirect mechanisms that are beneficial to economic growth. These include stimulating education and skill development (people want to emulate the successful emigrants), decreasing the transaction costs of cross-border investments, facilitating the diffusion of technology, and of course, financial remittances, among other effects. In folksier language, many of these indirect effects of emigration amount to plugging the country into the global network. One of the results of this study was that small nations that have already experienced significant emigration of skilled workers fare the worst in the short-to-medium term from yet more skill outflow.

Collier uses this result, along with his model of non-equilibrium diaspora effects I described in my last post, to portray small, poor countries as the worst losers of increasing global migration. Indeed, he expresses the worry that poor, small nations will empty out entirely, and the world as a whole stands to lose from this. In a world of open borders, it seems plausible that this could indeed happen. There is a ready analogy with ghost towns, which exist even in advanced economies. In his excellent book, Let Their People Come (or see this page on this site), economist Lant Pritchett discusses how various shocks or other natural economic phenomena can—if people are able to move—result in ghost towns. An example would be a mining town built up during a gold rush.

[First], people do not want to be there; then gold is discovered, and many people want to be there; and then, when the gold is mined out, people want to leave. The existence of “ghost towns” even in prospering countries—places that were once booming and attracting migration that subsequently declined and even disappeared—suggest that there is variability to optimal populations.

Especially with small populations where the labor supply is experiencing economic pull from other places offering higher wages, open borders could evaporate entire peoples away from their original homelands. This has the makings of an interesting argument against open borders, but it isn’t clear to me how much force it has. The first thing to consider is that, as a national population is split up into many different nations throughout the world, there would be significant pressure on individuals to assimilate, for all the usual reasons. Let’s call our hypothetical small and poor nation Elbonia (from the Dilbert universe). Despite Collier’s fears, the historical tendency is for the descendants of immigrants to eventually blend into the rest of the population. If roughly all Elbonians leave Elbonia so that Elbonia can no longer meaningfully be said to exist, then this blending into host populations means there’s a high probability the Elbonian culture will wither and die over a few generations. A potential cost of open borders then is the death of some cultures.

The tragedy of this should be given its due. One of the most poignant arguments I’ve heard for preserving the ability of a people to restrict immigration came from David Miller in his essay Immigration: The Case for Limits (found in this volume), where he discusses the possible impacts of immigration on language. His essay is about immigration and host societies, but similar arguments should obtain for emigration and sending (or evaporating) societies, possibly with even greater force.

Consider the example of language. In many states today the national language is under pressure from the spread of international languages, especially English. People have an incentive to learn and use one of the international languages for economic and other purposes, and so there is a danger that the national language will wither away over the course of two or three generations. If this were to happen, one of the community’s most important distinguishing characteristics would have disappeared, its literature would become inaccessible except in translation, and so forth.

A people dispersing into many different nations and eventually assimilating will likely lose their language. The only literature that will survive will be whatever pieces already warranted translation into more international languages. This is a loss not only to that people but to the whole world as well. Miller goes on to discuss other aspects of culture that would be at risk if significant immigration were allowed (or emigration, in our case).

There is an internal relationship between a nation’s culture and its physical shape–its public and religious buildings, the pattern of the landscape, and so forth. People feel at home in a place in part because they can see that their surroundings bear the imprint of past generations whose values were recognizably their own. This doesn’t rule out cultural change, but again it gives a reason for wanting to stay in control of the process–for teaching children to value their cultural heritage and to regard themselves as having a responsibility to preserve the parts of it that are worth preserving, for example. The “any public culture will do” position ignores this internal connection between the cultural and physical features of the community.

Here the case is even sharper for an emigrating society than for a host society. After all, a host society accepting immigrants will at least retain its historical architecture and its landmarks while its legal and cultural institutions retain the survival advantage of inertia. Something clearly is lost when a culture disappears, or at least this seems to be the popular intuition (which I endorse). We think of a genocide as somehow even more evil than “mere” murder of a large number of disconnected people. The probes of anthropologists among indigenous peoples are as delicate as they are for a reason, even though it’s at least arguable that imposing modernity upon hunter-gatherer tribes could do those people some utilitarian good. We recognize there is something sad about the fact that past civilizations like the Mayans or the Romans are no longer with us, though of course it isn’t as if the Mayans and Romans were all killed. Those civilizations merely evolved with their decline or were absorbed into other civilizations. I suspect we feel nostalgic for the past in part because we see in the past aspects of our culture that are no longer with us.

Collier makes this argument against emigration explicitly in his book, tipping his hat to environmental economists for introducing the concept of “existence value”, whereby we gain value from something existing, even if we never see or interact with it.

[While] you may never see a panda, your life is enhanced by the knowledge that it exists somewhere on the planet. We do not want species to become extinct. Societies also have existence value, arguably far more so than species and not just for their members but for others. American Jews value the continued existence of Israel, even though they may never go there. Similarly, millions around the world value Mali, the ancient society that produced Timbuktu. Neither Israel nor Mali must be preserved in aspic: they are living societies. But Mali should develop, not empty. It is not a satisfactory solution to Malian poverty if its people should all become prosperous elsewhere.

Here again I agree that societies have existence value. But there are other considerations as well. It’s clear in the passage above that preserving a nation for the sake of preserving its culture for world heritage is fundamentally an aesthetic endeavour. Aesthetics can of course be very important, but it is strange to deploy the very coercive measures involved with migration control in order to achieve an aesthetic goal. No one would consider it acceptable to forbid artists from working in other (more highly remunerative) industries on the justification that artists, for their own good and ours, should really focus on making art. It matters significantly that an emptying nation and the resulting disappearance of its culture does not involve anyone actively destroying culture. Voluntary emigration is very different from the Taliban blasting ancient Buddha statues to rubble.

Preserving culture for world heritage imposes an unfair and extremely heavy burden on those individuals who choose to leave their societies of origin. The existence value of Elbonian culture is an example of a beneficial externality of Elbonians merely living their lives as Elbonians. The potential migrants are paying the price of preserving their culture for outsiders, and immigration restrictions amount to forcing those migrants to subsidize the rest of the world by maintaining their culture. The fact that it runs against the migrants’ revealed preferences for opting out of their culture suggests this subsidy is bloody expensive. It’s a bitter irony that the high toll exacted from would-be migrants in the form of stifled opportunities will likely not even succeed. Culture will just go on changing anyway.

“It is not a satisfactory solution to Malian poverty if its people should all become prosperous elsewhere” seems an absurd statement at first glance. After all, if Malians really are becoming prosperous, then there is no more Malian poverty and therefore no problem. Of course the implicit comparison is not prosperity-through-emigration versus the present underdeveloped condition of Mali, but instead prosperity-through-emigration versus prosperity-through-national-development. But a Malian can increase his living standards in a matter of months by emigrating. Even under the rosiest imaginings of development economists, an individual Malian would need to wait for decades for his nation to offer him opportunities to achieve prosperity comparable to employment opportunities in the developed world.

The assessment that the emigration solution to poverty is not satisfactory is just another way of saying that some level of persisting poverty is a price worth paying to keep a nation together and whole. I have granted that preserving culture is indeed valuable, so this is true enough. Stated again more vividly: some level of poverty is justified in order to prevent a language from disappearing from the face of the earth, in order to keep old and cherished customs alive, to preserve literature and music and dances and traditional festivals and even popular knowledge of a nation’s history. The question becomes how much poverty for how long? And who decides? The evaluation of the price of keeping a nation on life-support is ultimately subjective, with culture being more or less important to different individuals. For some, the ability to easily keep traditions alive will be worth foregoing lucrative opportunities in strange and scary lands. For others, being able to feed their families more easily will outweigh sentimental considerations of tradition. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that some individuals may not even particularly like the societies they were born in, and shedding the confines of their conservative native cultures is an act of self-actualization and liberation (imagine being a gay atheist in, say, Uganda). It certainly isn’t clear that the assessments of political leaders academics in either the rich world or the poor world should outrank the personal decisions of migrants and their families, whose lives are most impacted by emigration.

But continuing poverty is not the only price being paid to keep the nation together. The cost that often goes unmentioned is the coercion required to prevent people from moving. Even Collier recognizes that a national government cannot ethically restrict emigration of its own people. But if other nations close their borders to migrants for the purpose of preserving the emigrants’ culture, then the unethical restriction on migration has merely been outsourced. From the perspective of the aspiring migrant, it doesn’t matter in the slightest who is behind the guns preventing her from crossing a border. The restriction of freedom is a cost in and of itself.

Loss of indigenous culture is in some cases potentially a real cost of open borders. This should be recognized. But acknowledging this cost leaves one still very far from balancing the high human costs accruing to curtailing the free movement of people.

Can Open Borders Save Detroit and Other Ailing Cities?

The American city of Detroit is in terrible shape.  An online piece in The New York Times by Joseph Stiglitz summarizes its ills: “… 40 percent of streetlights were not working this spring, tens of thousands of buildings are abandoned, schools have closed and the population declined 25 percent in the last decade alone. The violent crime rate last year was the highest of any big city. In 1950, when Detroit’s population was 1.85 million, there were 296,000 manufacturing jobs in the city; as of 2011, with a population of just over 700,000, there were fewer than 27,000.”  The city government filed for bankruptcy in July.

Witold Rybczynski of the University of Pennsylvania has described the negative impact of depopulation on cities:When a city loses population, it loses residents, but keeps the same amount of infrastructure. The same streets must be policed and maintained, the same streetlights repaired, the same water and sewer systems operated, the same transit systems run. It is like an (impoverished) elderly couple having to keep up a large house after all the kids have grown up and moved out.  This imbalance has several deleterious effects. Because the city has fewer taxpayers, the quality of its municipal services goes down. For example, police response time to 911 calls in Detroit is currently said to be 58 minutes. It expends scarce resources on nonproductive uses; Philadelphia pays $20 million a year just to maintain 40,000 vacant properties. Moreover, because urban vitality depends on density, without an adequate concentration of people, corner stores close, streets become empty — and dangerous — and abandoned buildings become haunts for criminal activities. According to a 1973 study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the tipping point in a community occurs when only 3 percent to 6 percent of properties are blighted; many neighborhoods of shrinking cities passed that point decades ago.”

Mr. Rybczynski, like Detroit’s outgoing mayor, advocates “planned shrinkage” of Detroit.  Declaring that “Detroit has no other realistic option,” he suppports  “consolidation,” in which people living in underpopulated areas of the city move to other parts of the city.  City services to the abandoned areas are then discontinued.  Mr. Rybczynski states that “Experience has shown that voluntary displacement of residents is unlikely to succeed, and some version of eminent domain with regard to nonviable neighborhoods is required.”

In contrast, others have offered immigration as a solution to Detroit’s problems.  Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s outgoing mayor, has stated that “if I were the federal government… Assuming you could wave a magic wand and pull everybody together, you pass a law letting immigrants come in as long as they agree to go to Detroit and live there for five or ten years, start businesses, take jobs, whatever.  You would populate Detroit overnight because half the world wants to come here… You can use something like immigration policy – at no cost to the federal government – to fix a lot of the problems that we have.”  Similarly, the Boston Globe’s Leon Neyfakh calls attention to proposals for “…‘regional visas’ that would open up additional slots for newcomers but limit them to specific destinations within the United States, while giving state and local officials a role in deciding how many immigrants—and which ones—to let in. Under this system, states that want to attract more foreign workers could do so, and perhaps even target people with the kinds of skills and training that local businesses are looking for… many parts of the country–especially depopulated cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh–would love to welcome motivated new residents.” (John Lee has noted that Canada allows its provinces to issue immigrant visas.)

In fact, in Detroit and other depopulated cities, there are currently active efforts to attract immigrants.  Organizations in Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis are seeking immigrants to help their economies.   For example, the non-profit Global Cleveland focuses “on regional economic development through actively attracting and retaining newcomers (defined as ‘immigrants and international and domestic individuals’)…”  The goal of the St. Louis Mosaic Project is to have “the fastest immigration growth of any big city in the U.S. by 2020.”  In Dayton, Ohio, the city itself “… voted to make the city “immigrant friendly,”  with programs to attract newcomers and encourage those already here, as a way to help stem job losses and a drop in population.”   (These efforts recall similar ones in 19th century America.  Maldwyn Jones, in American Immigration, notes that “After 1865… practically every northwestern state and territory from Wisconsin to Oregon embarked upon a policy of encouraging immigration.” (p. 188)  Mr. Jones explains that states sought immigrants because “… they were anxious to dispose of their unsold lands, and they recognized that increased population was essential to material growth.” (p. 187))

There is evidence to support the efforts of these local entities and those who propose regional visas. The key findings of the recently released report “Immigration and the Revival of American Cities” are that immigrants create and preserve manufacturing jobs, increase housing wealth, and make the areas they populate more attractive to U.S. citizens, who follow in response. (pp. 2-3)  The study “shows that immigrants are more than just our neighbors; they’re a key part of the way local areas grow and thrive.” (p. 3)  Likewise, in his report “The Economic Impact of Immigration on St. Louis,” Jack Strauss of St. Louis University concludes that “there is one clear and specific way to simultaneously redress the region’s population stagnation, output slump, tepid employment growth, housing weakness and deficit in entrepreneurship – Immigration. This report provides considerable economic evidence and statistical analysis using U.S. Census data that increasing immigration will significantly raise employment and income growth as well as boost real wages in the St. Louis region. An influx of foreign-born could reverse the region’s housing prices declines and lower unemployment rates for both whites and African Americans in our region.” (p. 3)   (In a previous post of mine, Mr. Strauss’s research showing the positive impact of Latino immigration on African Americans was noted)  In Dayton, immigrants have “have started restaurants and shops, as well as trucking companies to ferry equipment for a nearby Air Force base. And they have used their savings to refurbish houses in north Dayton, where Turkish leaders estimated that they had invested $30 million so far, including real estate, materials purchases and the value of their labor.”

Adding a regional visa category to the current immigration system would allow additional people to legally immigrate to the United States.  Moreover, they would enter communities where many would welcome them.  However, from an open borders advocate’s perspective, there are downsides to a regional visa category.  First, it would be limited numerically.  Second, it would limit the freedom of immigrants to live where they want during the period of regional residency that probably would be required under the visas.

But would open borders provide the immigrants Detroit and other depopulated cities need for revival?  It is conceivable that even with increased immigration flows under an open borders policy, newcomers would go to areas of the country which are thriving, bypassing Detroit and similar cities; open borders doesn’t offer the control over immigrants‘ destinations as a regional visa program would.  However, there are factors that would lead at least some of the flow to Detroit and similar cities.  First, of course, is the increased flow itself.  If only a small portion of new immigrants went to these cities, their immigrant populations could be boosted substantially.  Second, there are the aforementioned functioning compaigns to attract immigrants to these localities.  Third, these areas may attract immigrants by offering a lower cost of living than more successful cities.

If needy cities didn’t receive enough immigrants under open borders, the federal government could provide additional incentives.  These might include an accelerated path to citizenship (based on an idea from Mr. Bloomberg) for immigrants who live in these cities for a certain number of years and, should an open borders system be established involving surtaxes on immigrants’ wages, relief from these taxes for immigrants while they reside in these areas.  (Unlike  under a regional visa system, failure to comply with residency requirements would mean not deportation but a longer path to citizenship and/or higher taxes.  Immigrants would be free to move to a different part of the country at any time.)  Local, state, and/or federal governments could also arrange for newcomers, whether immigrants or American-born, to take possession of abandoned housing on the condition that they restore such housing.

Another consideration is that, by supplying a larger supply of immigrants, an open borders policy would prevent a situation in which localities compete with each other to attract people from relatively small pool of immigrants (those already in the U.S., the limited number of immigrants allowed in through the current system, and, potentially, a number of regional visa immigrants).  There would be enough immigrants to revive ailing communities throughout the country.

With open borders Detroit and other cities can be revitalized without having to compromise the freedom of immigrants to choose where they want to live, without localities having to compete over a small number of immigrants, and without adding a new layer of rules for regional visas on the current labyrinthine immigration legal system.  At the same time, the enthusiasm in these cities for attracting immigrants as a tool for urban renewal aids the open borders cause.  Open borders will be attained not only through rigorous ethical arguments but also through a recognition by the native-born population that immigration is not a threat but an opportunity.

Weekly link roundup 22

Here’s our weekly installment of links from around the web (see here for all link roundups). As usual, linking does not imply endorsement.

The dark side of DRITI

It is my belief that my DRITI proposal is the best immigration policy that has yet been proposed. Again and again, whenever I read about a new proposal for immigration policy, my reaction is something like “Not as good as DRITI.” Or, “Not incentive compatible; it needs a few more features to work; and at that point it would be identical with DRITI.” Or, “This is an attempt to solve problem x, but DRITI solves that problem more efficiently” or “less coercively.” Reading Paul Collier’s Exodus, my main regret was that he had never heard of DRITI. The book would be so much more interesting if he were assessing, contesting, debating with, and exploring alternatives to the best immigration proposal around, rather than the idiotic status quo, or a vague specter of pure open borders.

However, DRITI is easy to misunderstand, partly because it can be sold in ways that make it seem too good to be true. Thus, when I describe it as “the citizenist case for open borders,” that might sound like DRITI can work a miraculous restoration between Steve Sailer and Bryan Caplan. If I say that we can let everyone in while holding natives harmless, well, who could object to that? Yet I still doubt that I’ve conveyed to people just how fantastic DRITI would be. My endless harping on open borders probably makes it sound to some like I regard it as a panacea. Well, yes, I almost do.

A few quick calculations may elucidate. Gallup polls have found that 150 million people want to immigrate to the United States. Of course, DRITI taxes would deter some of those people, but the formation of diasporas would encourage faster migration, so if those factors offset each other, 150 million is probably a good estimate of the number of DRITI migrants. Now, suppose that average income of Americans is $60,000; average income in source countries is $10,000; and DRITI migrants close half that gap when they move. So they make $35,000 on average. Now let DRITI taxes take 28% of their gains for transfers to natives, plus 14% t0 be put into forced savings accounts. Immigrants have still doubled their incomes, and by revealed preference, they can’t be worse off. Meanwhile, 150 million times $10,000 equals $1.5 trillion of revenue. This money is then distributed evenly among all 300 million US citizens. Everyone gets $5,000 / year. The 60%+ of Americans who are homeowners would get land value windfalls, and Americans with relatively high skills (e.g., college grads and above) would probably see their wages rise, so the losers on the native side would be high school grads and under, people in manufacturing, the low-skilled. But $5,000 per person per year would significantly raise their incomes. A single mother of three, for example, would get $20,000 just in transfers from the government. Even if her earnings took a major hit from immigrant competition– and DRITI would mitigate that somewhat, since immigration who had to pay DRITI taxes couldn’t bid wages down as far– she’d probably end up better off. So DRITI could boost the wealth of most Americans, raise the earnings of many Americans, and largely eliminate income poverty among natives. At the same time, 150 million times $5,000 equals $750 billion channeled into savings accounts. Let’s suppose 2/3 of immigrants decide return home (and withdraw their forced savings there) and 1/3 decide to stay (and forfeit their forced savings). Then over time, an annual average of $250 billion more pours into US tax coffers, while $500 billion goes abroad. That’s about four times as much as all OECD foreign aid. And it would probably be far more effective on a dollar-for-dollar basis than government-to-government foreign aid, since it would go directly to the people on a work-tested basis, and not only to the people generally, but to a select class of particularly enterprising and hard-working people coming home after having witnessed how advanced economies work. And having witnessed how democracy works, too. DRITI return migrants would be likely to emerge as a kind of local elite in countries all over the world, and there’s every reason to think they would be a particularly enlightened one, having risen not through coups or corruption or nepotism or anything like that, but through hard work and foreign adventures. They would have to like their home countries enough to have returned home when they could have stayed in rich countries: they would be, if you like, patriots. The Marshall Plan is nothing to DRITI.

Still, DRITI has have what would seem to be “dark sides” to unreflective believers in the mainstream social norms.

Much more visible poverty in rich countries. DRITI would let in tens of millions of people from countries a lot poorer than the US. Some of these would succeed to the extent that they would not be poor even by US standards. A minority might fail to the extent of struggling to meet basic needs, and there would be more homelessness and begging in the streets– probably a lot more– than there is now. Charitable soup kitchens would be very busy. But perhaps even more challenging in their own way would be the vast middle of the DRITI immigrant distribution, who were moderately successful in their own eyes, and better off than at home, but quite poor by US standards. The market would cater to them, and great shantytowns and slums would emerge, full of people planning to live in America for a little while and go away, finding ways to make ends meet that would seem fantastically abstemious to normal Americans. Many of these would never bother to learn English.

No welfare for immigrants. Some think there should be a level of income/living standards below which no one should fall, and there are a lot of public programs in place– food stamps, public housing, Medicaid– vaguely designed to achieve this end, though ultimately, since the 1996 welfare reform, the US doesn’t quite have a social safety net. DRITI would deny immigrants, or at least DRITI visaholders, access to these programs. The only solution if a DRITI immigrant wound up in desperate poverty, hungry or sick etc., would be to let the immigrant send himself or herself home, thereby forfeiting the deposit required to get the visa. Doubtless, some immigrants would face pretty severe hardships before resorting to that, either because they didn’t want to lose their money or because they didn’t want to go home. And we’d see them.

Destitute voluntary deportees dumped in foreign cities. Those who did take the voluntary deportation option would get dumped in foreign cities, nearly penniless (though the DRITI deposit might include a small amount of money to be given to them back home in the event of a voluntary deportation). Many of these would have sold all they had, or even borrowed, in order to get a DRITI visa to America. They would return home disappointed and impoverished. I doubt there would be very many cases like this, but there might be many, and there would certainly be a few.

Regressive transfers from poor immigrants to better-off natives. DRITI immigrants wouldn’t be earning much, yet a substantial share of their small earnings would be taken away in taxes. The proceeds would be used to pay transfers to natives. It would probably be very common for two people to work side-by-side, one a DRITI immigrant the other a native, doing the same job and earning the same wage, yet the native would enjoy a much higher standard of living than the immigrant, because the native would be receive transfers from the government, while the DRITI immigrant would be paying extra taxes to the government. Quite affluent people, too, would receive transfers financed by taxes on poor DRITI workers.

Diasporas of foreign sojourners isolated from mainstream society. With tens of millions of foreigners arriving on DRITI visas, large foreign diasporas would form on US soil. There would Chinese neighborhoods, Indian neighborhoods, Vietnamese, Russian, etc., in many cities, in some of which a foreign language would be the dominant spoken tongue, and which might have more loyalty to and interest in their home countries, than the United States. Many of the people in these communities might mingle very little with US natives.

Discrimination. I favor explicitly permitting discrimination against DRITI immigrants, because statistical discrimination can be efficient and to avoid subjecting natives to “forced integration,” but even if it weren’t explicitly allowed it would probably happen. But suppose it is allowed. Some jobs say, “DRITI immigrants need not apply.” Or “No Nigerians need apply.” (Like “No Irish need apply” in the last century.) Some advertisements on Craigslist or in the newspapers say, “Seeking quiet US citizen roommate…” There might even be restaurants, night clubs, resorts where DRITI immigrants were not allowed. I doubt that a significant part of US social space would be explicitly denied to DRITI immigrants, but they might feel the indignity of a certain amount of exclusion. Their friends might sometimes have to say, “Oh, we can’t go there though– you wouldn’t be allowed” and make other plans.

Taxation without representation. DRITI immigrants would be paying a lot of taxes, yet they wouldn’t have the right to vote. In fact, in the numerical example above, we would end up with a situation where 1/3 of the adult resident population of the US couldn’t vote. Is that a violation of democratic principles? (Not really. Democracy is about consent of the governed, and DRITI immigrants would have explicitly consented. But that’s a subtle point, and people would doubtless feel unease at the abrogation of the “one person, one vote” principle.)

“Overpopulation.” I put the term in scare quotes because “over” suggests excessive, which suggests a standard, optimal population, but there is no standard, no particular reasoning for saying that a given population level is optimal. Still, if DRITI grew the resident population by 50%, we would see a huge building boom, growing cities, more crowding in available housing, and a general rise in population. I actually doubt this would put a great strain on the natural environment; I suspect that it would show up more in the form of higher population density in city centers. At any rate, people would often find themselves thinking, “And this place used to be farmer’s fields!…” and we would hear many complaints of “overpopulation.”

If DRITI has so many dark sides, why do I support it? One answer is the huge gains in human welfare, the expansion of liberty, the mobilization of resources to end world poverty, the improvements in religious freedom, the geopolitical gains to the US vis-à-vis rivals, the undermining of dictators’ control over their subjects, and I think also, the stimulus to innovation that would come from the mingling of cultures and the appearance of a new mass consumer market on the doorstep of high-powered US corporations.

The other, more morally urgent answer is that we can’t go on this way. The Obama administration may deport over 2 million people. This is barbarous, morally unacceptable, inconsistent with liberty, freedom, respect for human rights, everything that gives America its moral substance and gives Americans a certain right to hold our heads high among our fellow men because of what we stand for. It is a crime. Yet if we stop doing it, we will motivate more people to come. The only way to make the law both morally tolerable and incentive-compatible is to open the borders to immigration. All the “dark sides” of DRITI are, unlike the status quo, morally acceptable.