Two Immigrants Debate Immigration

Shikha Dalmia and I have a long exchange in the latest (December 2016) issue of Reason Magazine about the themes and findings in my new book, We Wanted Workers. The Reason editors entitled the exchange “Two Immigrants Debate Immigration.” I found it really interesting to discuss some of the key issues with a very able expositor of the  libertarian perspective.

As of today, the exchange is only available in the print edition of the magazine. I’ll make sure to update this post if the exchange is posted online at some point.

The New Yorker on We Wanted Workers

The New Yorker just published a very thoughtful review of We Wanted Workers. This is how the review introduces one of my key themes.

Instead of asking what we owe immigrants, he wants us to think more clearly about what we’re likely to get in return. Unlike Trump, he isn’t convinced that immigration is an existential threat to America, but he is not convinced, either, by politicians’ constant assurances that immigration is what makes America great. He believes that we should take up a question that is sometimes considered taboo: What if immigration isn’t good for us, after all?

Some Thoughts on the H-1B Program

Today’s Room for Debate section of the New York Times has a discussion about the increasingly important role that Silicon Valley plays in Washington politics. I contributed a short article arguing that “Silicon Valley pushes for immigration reform for its own purposes.”

The WSJ Reviews We Wanted Workers

The Wall Street Journal just published the first major review of my new book, We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative. The review presents a very interesting take on what the book is about and how it relates to the political debate over immigration. George Melloan says that the book gives:

a readable and detailed historical tour of America’s immigration debates and policies…Agree or disagree with his conclusions, the reader will encounter a level of seriousness that has been lacking in this campaign year.

And EJMR aficionados will find a little something to smile about towards the end of the review when Melloan touches on the thorny problem of what to do about the undocumented immigrants already in the United States:

Mr. Borjas ends his tour with a refreshing remark seldom heard from an economist. “Amazingly enough, sometimes inaction is the best action. And benign neglect of this sensitive issue is probably best as long as we take concurrent steps to ensure that we need not revisit this problem in the future with an even larger undocumented population.”

We Wanted Workers is now available

My new book, We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative, was published today.


In case you need a little encouragement to read it, here are a few reactions from early readers:

Reihan Salam: “We Wanted Workers is essential to understanding America’s future. Drawing on decades of research, Borjas cuts through the myths and obfuscations plaguing our immigration debate. This is the most lucid, powerful work of social science I’ve ever read.”

Glenn Loury: “An invaluable addition to the literature on U.S. immigration policy. A model of lucid exposition, it delves deeply into the subtle complexities of a subject that has been rife with sloppy and wishful thinking. Borjas reviews a mountain of evidence in support of a forceful argument for the position that, while there are benefits, one needs also to be mindful of the considerable costs associated with the liberalization of immigration policies.”

Daniel Hamermesh: “Borjas, the world’s leading economic expert on immigration, has penned a nontechnical, nearly conversational book pointing out all the issues in immigration’s effects on an economy―particularly the American economy. The central message is ‘it depends’―impacts are positive or negative for different natives, different kinds of immigrants, and at different times.”

Christian Dustmann: “‘Wir riefen Arbeitskräfte, es kamen Menschen―We wanted workers, people came.’ Max Frisch’s comment on the economically motivated after-war migrations from Southern Europe and Turkey into Northern Europe lends this fascinating book its title, and points at the core of what distinguishes movement of people from movement of goods…This excellent book is also very personal, telling the story of the migrant George Borjas who arrives as a child refugee from Castro’s Cuba and the life’s work of the economist George Borjas, pointing at how personal experience has influenced highly acclaimed academic work. A captivating, insightful and easily accessible book that makes great reading for everyone interested in the subject.”