Committee Of Correspondence

Are We Importing Poverty with Immigrants?

Herb Stein
2:38 p.m.  Friday  8/16/96
What to do about immigration is now high on the list of national concerns, as it has been at many earlier times in this century and even in the preceding one. Today’s questions focus mainly on the economic consequences of immigration: Is the influx of labor depressing the earnings of American workers, especially those with low skills? Is providing social benefits, including welfare and education, for immigrants and their children imposing a heavy burden on American taxpayers? Complaints about immigration are made doubly irritating by the fact that a large proportion of immigrants enter the country illegally. In this week’s panel five well-informed students of immigration will assess the validity and weight of these concerns. They will then discuss the policy options that are available for dealing with such problems as are identified. Probably no one thinks that immigration into the United States should be unlimited. Probably no one thinks that immigration should be totally barred. There are humanitarian, political and economic reasons for some immigration. The main policy questions seem to be: Should the number of legal immigrants admitted and the condition of their admission be changed? What can be done to check the flow of illegal immigrants? What responsibilities does government–federal, state or local–have to immigrants, legal or illegal, and to their children? Our panelists are:
  • George Borjas, professor of public policy at Harvard University.
  • Barry Chiswick, head of the department of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
  • Peter Skerry, visiting fellow in the governmental studies program at the Brookings Institution.
  • Sanford Ungar, dean of the School of Communication at American University.