Ponnuru: Reduce Immigration

workers-78002_640Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg News columnist, wrote on May 18 about the positions of GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Scott Walker on immigration. He cited their support for immigration reduction and discussed findings by economists about the impact of immigration on wages of American workers. He concluded that the claims by both those calling for reductions (‘restrictionists”) and those supporting increases (“advocates”) overstate their arguments.

Ponnuru notes the findings that immigration has a negative impact on low-wage workers – especially earlier immigrants – that is recognized by both sides in the debate. He notes that both sides (at least George Borjas on the restrictionist side) agree that immigrants overall have a slightly positive effect on the earnings of a majority of workers, i.e., a positive effect on the economy.  That leads him to comment, “If you want to know why middle-class living standards aren’t rising as fast as they used to … don’t look to immigration for an explanation.” That comment, however, does not follow the data he discusses. He earlier noted the finding of the Congressional Research Service that wages rose much faster during low immigration from 1945 to 1975 than it has since during a period of fast rising immigration. But, after noting that finding, he pays it no further attention.

Despite his downplaying the arguments for lower immigration, he comes to that position personally. He writes, “It seems to me then, for all those reasons, that we should refrain from increasing immigration and should perhaps even reduce it.” His “perhaps” is maddeningly wishy-washy, but at least it is on the right side of the debate.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar
    David Smith on

    All studies have shown a downward spiral in multi-cultural, mixed neighborhoods. It’s called the “turtle effect” where you don’t trust your neighbor, put bars up on your windows and doors, withdraw from the community and are less inclined to support bonds for schools and other items to benefit a bunch of new culturally differant immigrants. The social engineers want to stuff this all down your throat whether you like it or not only you are the one stuck with the bill.

  2. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    All anyone has to do is look at what the largest cities in the country have mushroomed into these past decades they are beginning to look a lot like cities in India. Rent has steadily climbed over the years to the point where a large number of low income families have to be on section-8 housing because they can’t pay all of the monthly rent along with having to pay for food with food stamps because they don’t make enough to buy groceries. The section-8 housing has long waiting lists as far as I can find out. These politicians don’t know or care what happens to the population just as long as they have their nice paychecks coming in. All of them know that the US cannot sustain the million or more legal immigrants that are allowed each and every year to come to the US. Add the refugees into the mix that the taxpayers in whatever cities they are dumped in have to pay for. It is a giant snowball rolling down hill with no end in sight. The refugee organizations make a tidy profit on the refugees they bring in when they could be helped in their own countries which would keep them out of this one. A large number of the refugees are Muslim so no one knows just who is a terrorist or not. Its a disaster waiting to happen if that is not stopped.

  3. avatar

    Reading Ponnuru’s remarks is almost like reading about immigration policy in The National Review.

    Beltway conservatives are only squishy on immigration until they get that next big infusion of cash from the donors. Then it becomes essential for growth. Ask Grover Norquist – or Jeb Bush.

  4. avatar

    the majority of the country is on a decline because of unscrupulous politicians, fraud from immigrants, no morals and integrity because anything goes, prostitution, human trafficking, NO FEAR of GOD, abuse of taxpayer dollars and much more.

  5. avatar

    Any benefit to middle and economic workers from increased economic activity and cheaper hamburgers is more than offset by increased rent and more crowded roads and the diversion of the taxes they pay to support schools, medical care, and other services to the immigrants and the other workers whose wages are driven down by immigration.

  6. avatar

    Perhaps? Definitively, should be the answer for lower immigration, if one has any intelligence what-so-ever about the damage it has done on this nation, period!

  7. avatar

    He says “don’t look to immigration for an explanation”. Why not? He doesn’t explain how the data he offers is not an explanation. Low immigration and that is accompanied by a rise in wages for the working class. Expanded immigration and wages are lower. If he says don’t look to immigration for an explanation then he needs to explain how the two are unrelated and he doesn’t seem to do that.