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Further complicating the picture is the reality that not all migration is voluntary.
Syrian refugee Baraa Haj Khalaf leaves O'Hare Airport with her family after arriving on a flight from Istanbul, Turkey on February 7, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) The immigration policy game involves tradeoffs between markets, rights, culture, and security.
This makes it difficult to build coalitions for reform.
President Trump’s immigration and refugee policy, for example, is couched in cultural, ethnic, and civilizational terms.
Christians and Jews are pitted against Muslims, and Mexicans and Hispanics are pitted against whites.
And the debate comes complete with political landmines that make it difficult to modernize immigration systems to meet the needs of the times.
It is easy to get demoralized about the inability to reach a consensus on immigration policy, but understanding the complexity of the challenge could help us appreciate what stands in the way of reform and what needs to happen before change can occur.The economic need for openness versus the political and legal pressures for a closed society are what I call the “liberal paradox.” Dynamic economies need immigrant labor, and open societies are stronger than closed societies. We must be willing to grant foreign workers and their families a basic package of human and civil rights that enables them to flourish, settle, and become full members of our society.Dynamic economies need immigrant labor, and open societies are stronger than closed societies. We must be willing to grant foreign workers and their families a basic package of human and civil rights that enables them to flourish, settle, and become full members of our society.Tip O’Neill was right In normal times, such as when the last major immigration laws were passed in 19, the debate about immigration revolved around markets — how many migrants should be admitted and with what skills? The break came with the repeal of the national origins quota system and the 1965 passage of the Hart-Celler immigration act.— and rights — what status should the migrants have? Or should they be allowed to settle, bring their families, and get on a “path to citizenship? (The 1965 act's quota on immigration from the Western Hemisphere froze out many Mexican and Central American immigrants, and lead to a surge in unauthorized immigration from south of the border.) In the heat of the 1986 immigration debate, former House Speaker Tip O’Neill described immigration policymaking as “political death.” The policy game becomes infinitely more complex when a country feels threatened, physically or culturally. What’s more, refugees were screened according to ad hoc foreign policy criteria — chances for individuals to be granted asylum were much greater for those fleeing a communist regime.Managing those flows is a huge challenge for nation-states. As demand increases for immigrant labor, more people move in search of employment. People have a family member in, say, Chicago, and they want to reunite with them and have a shot at a better life.Still, nation-states determine the rules of entry and exit. Governments have to make choices about who can enter To reap the benefits of immigration, such as new sources of human capital and labor, nation-states must accept the long-term costs of social integration, the short-term fiscal burdens of concentrated immigrant populations in some regions and localities, and the security costs that come with living in an age of drug cartels and domestic and international terrorism.Of course, the strong feelings on all sides of those issues make it painstakingly hard to create actual policies.Liberal democracies also must contend with the rights of migrants, including their legalization, naturalization, and citizenship.That represents about 3.5 percent of the world’s population.Every day, tens of millions of people cross borders, adding up to roughly two billion annually.