Mexican Immigrants: Assimilation and Jobs

I’d like to respond to an article written by John Stossel which appeared on The Atlasphere yesterday.  In the article, Stossel talks with two guests, Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute and Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal. 

Jason favors letting free markets determine rates of immigration and Heather believes we should only let highly skilled or highly educated, English-speaking immigrants come into the US.  She also states that Mexican immigrants don’t fit into America’s modern economy. 

Jason responds to this by saying, “(T)oday's immigrants coming here are not different in terms of their behavior patterns, in terms of their assimilation levels. They are simply newer.”

He’s right.  Assimilation takes time.  It takes time and effort to learn a new language, adopt new traditions, educate yourself, improve your job skills, and so on.  All of our immigrant ancestors went through the same thing, some more successfully and more rapidly than others, but they all went through it.

And if they don’t assimilate, who cares?  By stagnating (not learning the native language, not improving ones job skills, etc.), the individual is only hurting himself.  As long as he’s not violating anyone else’s rights, we have no right to deny him his right to move about freely.

MacDonald also states, “We should have an immigration policy that accentuates our natural economic advantage in the 21st century, which is as a high-tech, high-science economy. ... (T)he overwhelming number of immigrants that are coming in largely illegally are extremely low skilled.”

First, that is the case with nearly all immigrants.  If a person were thriving in his native land, there’d rarely be a need to immigrate!  They’re coming here to start over, to work their way up and to prosper, like most American’s immigrant ancestors did. 

Second, there is obviously a market for low skilled labor in the US.  You can see Mexican immigrants working all sorts of lower skilled jobs all around us every day.  There are few jobs (skilled or otherwise) in Mexico and the economy there is a socialist nightmare.  These immigrants are coming here because there are better jobs and better pay at their skill level than they could find elsewhere.  This fact is evidenced by the reversal of immigration from Mexico during 2008-2009.  When the US economy tanked, unemployment soared and everyday Americans tightened their budgets, there was actually a reversal of the immigration flow between the US and Mexico.  It’s all about supply and demand.

This is the reason I agree with Jason Riley on the subject of free markets (or capitalism) in immigration.  Just like the economy, our schools, our health care and our retirement, if the government would let free markets do what they do best without interference, there’d be far fewer problems than we have now.

Comments (6)

You might be interested to know that the same views prevail in Australia, too. This is a nation of 20 million, but with the same land mass as the US. Over the past year there have been these 'scary' reports of the population 'swelling' to 35 million by 2040 or so. I had to laugh over that.

I occasionally hear people say Australia could never 'sustain' (there's that damn word again) a population like the US. When I ask why, people say there isn't enough 'infrastructure'. Geez, how do people reckon a country grows? Automatically?

A great point I failed to make in my original post is that regardless of the type of workers Heather feels are appropriate for this country, if an employer wants to hire an unskilled laborer for a job, he has every right to! A business owner's business is his private property and he do with it as he sees fit as long as he's not violating anyone else's rights.

It's turning into another nasty election in Australia, isn't it Jason, with both Abbott & Gillard trying to outdo each other in demonising the "huge influx" of 50 or so small boats a year containing around 5000 people yearning to breathe free -- in a continent the size of the US.

Just curious, PC, and not that it matters, but where are the boats coming from?

It's mostly Afghani and Sri Lankan refugees on tiny boats, coming down through the Malaysia and Indonesian archipelago.

Interesting! Well, those are two places worthy of running from.

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