Immigration policy has the potential to be one of the most important determinants of U.S. future success. By adjusting our immigration policy we have the potential to create succes both economically and in terms of our safety (aka "The War on Terror"). My thinking on the subject, as well as recent comments by N. Greg Mankiw, here, here and here, as well as the Open Letter by Tyler Cowen and Marginal Revolution, leads me to believe we need much more open borders.
Why do we need more open borders when we are afraid of immigrants stealing our jobs and scared of terrorists invading? Well, I think that immigrants will create more benefits for the U.S. than costs. I think one of the greatest assets the U.S. has is its position as a world leader, especially in the economic and education spheres. People want to come here to learn from our top notch universities. Many of those people stay here afterwards if they are able. These well educated, hard working, people are exactly the people we need to keep the U.S. economy thriving. They create wealth and jobs. When we prevent students and skilled workers from coming to the United States, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.
And what about the "bad guys"? Well, I am not confident that our policies are really keeping out the bad guys. I think the bad guys, the really truly bad guys who will stop at nothing...we really cannot stop them. They will get through any net and screening process we can establish and enforce.
And what about the poor across the world? I am still struggling with that, but I think we need to let more of the world's poor into our country as well. The fact that Mexican laborers will give up their homes and risk their lives crossing the deserts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California says something. It says to me that even though they are not legally allowed to be here, or work here, life is better. It is so much better that they are willing to give up their homes and friends and risk death. How many of us have ever had to do anything like that? I do not think that these people will come to this country and try to make the country worse. They just want what most of us want, to care for our family and largely be left alone.
I think that a lot of people hate many of the U.S.'s foreign policy actions, but we still have a great standard of living. If given a chance, I think there are lots of people who would give up their lives to come here. When we prevent these people from entering the country, and bettering themselves, we only breed resentment. Resentment breeds hatred.