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:
- Both books consider immigration from a highly US-specific perspective
- Both books argue from the citizenist and/or territorialist perspective, i.e., they argue about the benefits/harms of immigration to current citizens and in some cases, to residents of the country post-immigration. Both books refrain from general discussions about the moral or philosophical issues surrounding immigration policy and its legitimacy, and also from the benefits and harms to immigrant-sending countries.
- Both books cover roughly the same topic list: economic and fiscal (both the suppression of wages of natives and welfare objection), violence-related (crime and terrorism), overpopulation and environment, and assimilation problems. One global harm that both books discuss — cheap labor leading to a technological slowdown — is covered from a relatively citizenist perspective.
- Both books avoid, or reject, discussion of the more controversial arguments for immigration restriction, such as the IQ deficit of immigrants, or the political externalities of immigration. They also give less weight to the second-order harms to immigrant-receiving countries.
- Both books make moderate appeals to the United States of America’s founding virtues, but not so much as to distract or irritate people who aren’t impressed by these kinds of appeals.
- Both book are politically centrist, in that they try to appeal to values held by (US) Americans within one standard deviation on either side of the political center. The books aren’t trying to appeal to libertarians or communists, but rather to people who are reasonably comfortable with the concept of free markets and with government intervention where justified.
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.