Is It Even a Debate?

03.26.13

The Wildly One-Sided Immigration Debate

John Carney notes the almost comical one-sidedness of the immigration reform debate:

The only group not favoring increasing immigration in one category or another—or all of them—is probably the building trade unions. Even the builders, however, are not actually restrictionists in the sense of wanting to shrink the number of immigrants. They are mostly lobbying to oppose reforms designed to loosen the requirements for H2B visas, which they fear will hurt their members wages.

This is very revealing. Despite all the press that immigration restriction and border enforcement efforts garner, when it comes to lobbying, those saying we need to pare back immigration are getting completely clobbered. They don't even rank in the top twenty.

Yet when Americans are asked about raising or lowering the number of immigrants coming into the country, only a small portion favor higher immigration levels and a very sizable plurality favor lower levels. A 2006 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, for example, found that 40 percent of those surveyed said legal immigration should be reduced and just 17 percent favored an increase. (Apparently Pew stopped asking that particular question after 2006.)