Why Can't Immigration Be "Fixed"?

Our immigration system is a mess... apparently. If you want open borders, it is terrible that so many people who could be working legally instead have to be here illegally. If you want tighter controls, it is terrible that so many people our law should have excluded instead are here, with apparently no intention of doing anything about it. So from both sides of the debate, the situation looks terrible...

But what if there is a third side? What if there is a side that wants lots and lots of immigrants in the country, but wants them here with as little legal standing as possible, so they are always fearful of being turned in and deported? So they will work lots of hours for low pay and no benefits and not complain?

When you have an apparent mess on your hands that won't clear up, year after year after year, it is often useful to ask, "Is there someone for whom this is not a mess at all, but the ideal situation?"

Our screwy tax code is another case where this applies.


  1. You have to be more specific.

    Give names and last names.

    Who is the person responsible? For whom is this ideal?

    1. Two things here Prateek:

      1) Marx is correct that for class interests to operate, we don't need an explicit conspiracy. Functionalist explanations in the social sciences don't require people *explicitly* recognize that some phenomenon fulfills some function and especially doesn't require that they make an explicit plan to fill the functional role; it is enough that they *sense* that "X is the way things should be."
      2) That being said, every single employer who likes having low wage, easily bullied workers has an interest in the current system staying "broken."

  2. I've had this thought too -- somebody *wants* things this way.

  3. This is also the conclusion of George Borjas. There is a coalition of loose interests who like the system the way it is and so they are little motivated to do anything. The business side is obvious but you also have the ethnic activists. The latter are the same people who want people to call illegal aliens for undocumented workers.