Matthew Yglesias has an excellent piece over at Vox making the case that immigration is good for the United States. His argument isn’t based on compassion, but on the practical reality that welcoming people to our country is partly responsible for our prosperity. The whole article is worth a read, but the thrust of the argument is this:
[George] Washington and his fellow founders could have established America as a kind of exclusive club. The present-day United States undoubtedly would still be a prosperous and pleasant nation. But our cities would be smaller, our global influence would be reduced, and many fewer of the world’s cutting-edge companies would be based here. We would suffer, as small countries tend to, from our talented and ambitious young people seeking their fortunes in bigger places abroad. With many fewer people, it wouldn’t be the great nation it is today.
While a lot has changed since Washington’s time, two fundamentals have not. The United States is still a country with a mission and a desire for greatness on the world stage. And America’s openness to people who want to move here and make a better life for themselves is fuel for that greatness.
Few of our problems can be solved by curtailing immigration. Many could be solved by welcoming more foreigners to our shores.
This is a starkly different vision of immigration than the one currently held by the Trump administration. They believe that people coming to the United States, whether they do so legally or not, is a bad thing. It is detrimental to our culture, for our economy, and for our politics.
What we think about immigration and immigrants is, in many ways, connected to what we think of ourselves. Who are we as a nation? What vision do we have for our future? Many members of the Trump administration believe that America will be better off if we can turn back the clock to make it look more like it did fifty years ago. It’s important to think about that for all that it means.