Economist Notes the Non-Economic Issues of Mass Immigration

Employment section magnified(Note: This blog addresses the Wall Street Journal’s review of George Borjas’s new book, We Wanted Workers, not the book itself.)

The Wall Street Journal has been pretty clear about its position on immigration for at least the past 30 years. They believe that the demands of “the economy” (an amorphous, unaccountable entity) should dictate immigration policy. They don’t just think it; they believe it with such a religious fervor that they rarely even entertain views that diverge from their open borders dogma.

Thus, the paper’s evenhanded review of George Borjas’s new book, We Wanted Workers, is notable. Borjas, a Harvard economist, has done extensive research about the impact of mass immigration on native workers and found that those who compete directly with immigrant workers are harmed, those who do not compete directly receive no real economic benefit from the presence of millions of immigrant, while a small number of employers benefit significantly.

The reviewer, George Melloan, a former deputy editor and columnist for the Journal, makes it evident that he is not persuaded by Borjas’s economic arguments against mass immigration, but grudgingly acknowledges that Borjas might have a point about the non-economic effects of mass immigration. Some of the arguments put forth in We Wanted Workers are “meant as a put-down of the theoretical view of immigrants as merely productive robots, not actual human beings who make decisions, use public services and sometimes create social conflicts. The economic benefits from their production, in short, come with costs,” Melloan writes.

Melloan appears to miss the larger point that these other “costs” are the driving force behind growing discontent over immigration policy in the United States, and the expressed views of the electorate in the United Kingdom who voted their nation out of the European Union earlier this year.

With the caveat that I have not read the book yet, the title suggests that Borjas may have missed an important point as well. We didn’t actually want lots of foreign workers. It was a small number of economic, political and social elite who wanted (and continue to want) mass immigration, and who are shoving it down the throats of everyone else.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    Bill Gates Donates to World Relief too

    Why don’t these Globalists put their money back into America’s inner city poor???? African Americans IOWs???

    We’re all deplorables to MSFT and Clinton IOWs.

    • avatar

      I believe some, if not more, of those globalists/elitists want the power and money BEYOND what they can have in “just” their country. I think of the Clinton Global Initiative and wonder what it is they are building. Contrary to what Hillary stated ( this seems to have become her M.O.) despite the HUGE amounts of money they are taking in, they reported only 5.7% of the money used for helping the poor, homeless, etc. Where IS that money going to? I have some private thoughts on this…
      It’s all about a lot of money being in the hands of a few…and where there is big money there is a lot of power, today.

  2. avatar

    What Borjas and FAIR have been saying for decades is true and what the WSJ has said is false. Study after study, including a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, has said the immigration lowers wages for American workers. It’s amazing how so called ‘liberals” attack big business as wrong on virtually everything, but they support the mass immigration that big business wants to lower wages.

    In a recent column, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman thanked WikiLeaks for showing us the “real Hillary” who favors “open trade and open borders”. Of course, that’s what he has to do, because he has spent decades defending free trade as good for this country. What he can’t explain is why these deals never work out as claimed. All the predictions about jobs going to Mexico have turned out to be absolutely true.

    Our trade deficits with them have soared. Hillary was also a big proponent of the 2012 Korea “free trade” deal, which has tripled our trade deficits with that country, instead of the promised “opening their markets to our products”.

    Last night Hillary was defending the Clinton Foundation by pointing out how much money has been distributed to foreign countries. That doesn’t mean it’s actually getting down to the people. Haitians in that country and this one point out that most of it seems to have lined a few pockets and not benefited them. It’s a fact that her brother Tony Rodham received a seat on the board of a newly opened Haitian gold mine. If that’s not “pay for play”, what is it. And why is the media silent on that fact.

    • avatar

      Why is it that writers never state a major reason these “illegals” continue to enter the USA.
      the real reason is that they collect free education, housing, food, medical, and money from our local, state and federal governments.
      with these “entitlements” why not find a way to come to the USA?
      As an employer I will not violate the law by knowingly hiring an “illegal”; but there is no question many others doi hire them but not at a properly run business.