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NYRB: The Immigration Charade

Author: Christopher Jencks
September 10, 2007



The author suggests that an immigration "deal" should be possible on the supposition that employers would accept tougher policy regarding the hiring of illegal immigrants in the future, so long as their current employees could be legalized, but goes on to address a "fatal flaw" with this reasoning.


America's ongoing argument about immigration has followed a fairly consistent sequence for three decades. Each round begins with news reports about the fact that thousands of new immigrants are settling here illegally every week. These reports lead to charges that the United States has lost control of its borders and is being overrun by foreigners. Congress holds hearings. Employers say that they need foreign-born workers to fill jobs that Americans don't want and that they cannot distinguish those with fake credentials from those with genuine ones. Legal immigrants push for higher family reunification quotas, hoping to hasten the day when their grown children, parents, or siblings will get a visa.

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