Although I don’t support fully open borders, I’m much more supportive of immigration liberalization than Trump is. America takes in a greater amount of legal immigrants than any other country in the world, and despite that, I believe we could benefit by taking in more.
At the same time, I do believe it’s not as simple as sheer numbers, and that there should be certain restrictions and preferences. For instance, I support reinstating wet foot, dry foot, and do believe certain types of immigrants, like those from Cuba, should be given preferential consideration. Likewise, worker skill sets in demand, proficiency in English, criminal record, and even country of origin are all rational metrics to consider during the immigration process. I don’t see any of that as xenophobic rather than common sense.
In other words, I disagree with extremists on both sides who seem to advocate either open borders or closed borders, as though it’s an either-or question.
Compared to Trump, I am highly supportive of increased immigration, Muslims, Mexicans, and I think he highly overstates the risk of terrorists infiltrating refugee flows to America specifically. But when he discusses the recent glut of immigration to Europe causing significant problems for European nations, he’s not just making it up. When arguing from a pro-immigration perspective, it’s not helpful to merely dismiss the actual facts on the ground in places like Europe and pretend that there are no valid concerns expressed by those who are fearful enough to advocate closed borders. Nativists’ focus on some of the particulars may over-inflate some of the problems, but they’re not merely making them up, nor do they need to rely only on statistically insignificant isolated incidents in order to make their point.
America should not attempt to dictate to Europe what their immigration policy should be. At the same time, we should realize that Europe’s immigration policies and problems are not the same as the immigration situation in the US. America and Europe aren’t even in the same hemisphere, and comparing the two is not apples to apples despite similarities in current culture or shared aspects of history. In the US, concerns expressed by those who lean closed border primarily fall under the metric of direct economics. Whether it’s jobs, wages, or other labor costs, the effect of immigration on our welfare system, nearly every concern falls under that umbrella. Even assimilation concerns generally fall under language rather than cultural barriers to assimilation.
Because of this, it’s a completely different set of concerns, and I’m not forced to decide what I’d feel about immigration as a European. From an economic perspective, I see much of our current immigration as a net positive. Low skill workers from Mexico are more likely to be workers rather than welfare recipients than their native-born counterparts… and yes, to do jobs that many native born Americans don’t want to. They also tend to be significantly younger, and therefore are essential to propping up our current version of social security given America’s current mix of declining birthrates and aging population. HB1 visas to immigrants from places like India fulfill a need primarily of our technology sector, with workers skilled in areas many native-born workers are not. Native born Americans increasingly are going for business administration, psychology, or liberal arts degrees, rather than STEM fields, and many of these HB1 visas help fill the gaps.