Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization

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"I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"—the last line of Emma Lazarus's famous poem invites immigrants to enter a land of economic opportunity. Many have accepted that invitation; today, foreign-born workers make up nearly 16 percent of the U.S. workforce and account for almost half of workforce growth over the last decade. Rather than capitalizing on these gains, however, recent immigration reforms have resulted in an inefficient, patchwork system that shortchanges high-skilled immigrants and poorly serves the American public. Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization proposes a radical overhaul of current immigration policy designed to strengthen economic competitiveness and long-run growth. Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny outline a plan that favors employment-based immigration over family reunification, making work-based visas the rule, not the exception. They argue that immigration policy should favor high-skilled workers while retaining avenues for low-skilled immigration; family reunification should be limited to spouses and minor children; provisional visas should be the norm; and quotas that lead to queuing must be eliminated. A selective immigration policy focused on high-skilled, high-demand workers will allow the United States to compete in an increasingly global economy while protecting the interests of American citizens and benefiting taxpayers. Orrenius and Zavodny conclude that "while not all potential immigrants who knock at the golden door should be admitted, the door should swing wide open to welcome those who desire nothing more than the opportunity to work for the American dream."

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Editorial Reviews

The Dallas Morning News
The book sweeps quickly through the U.S. history of unregulated and regulated immigration. Orrenius and her co-author, Madeline Zavodny...take the bull by the horns by addressing mass deportation. They are against it.
Gordon H. Hanson
Cutting through the usual hyperbole that surrounds the immigration debate, Orrenius and Zavodny have produced a lucid and an insightful discussion of U.S. policy options that should be required reading for anyone interested in how the nation could design more effective mechanisms to manage our borders.
Tamar Jacoby
What if, instead of 'What's politically possible?,' policymakers asked, 'What's best for the country?' They rarely do, on immigration or any other issue. But if they did, Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny's thoughtful and thought-provoking immigration reform proposal would be a good place to start. The authors' case-that U.S. immigration policy should serve U.S. economic interests, and that market mechanisms, not politics as usual, are the best means to determine those interests-is hard to argue with. A smart, timely book that should be the food for much discussion on Capitol Hill.
Demetrios G. Papademetriou
Orrenius and Zavodny address some of the toughest policy and political issues that surround immigration reform with remarkable poise and clarity. Their intelligent and thoughtful analysis shows that they are among the few analysts who have a sufficient understanding of the topic and command of the facts to make a compelling case for their recommendations. Moreover, they are unburdened by the ideological straightjackets that weaken far too many policy prescriptions. Their passion for making immigration policy do much more to support economic growth and competitiveness comes out loud and clear.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780844743325
  • Publisher: AEI American Enterprise Institute
  • Publication date: 8/16/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Pia M. Orrenius is senior economist and research officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Madeline Zavodny is professor of economics at Agnes Scott College.

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Table of Contents

List Of Illustrations


Introduction 1

1 The Challenge: Picking Up The Pieces 7

U.S. Immigration Policy: A Checkered Past 8

The Current Policy Morass 18

What To Keep: The Best Aspects Of Current Policy 24

What To Reform: The Worst Aspects Of Current Policy 30

Conclusion 37

2 The Goal: Pro-Growth Immigration Policy 39

A New Era Of Globalization 42

Economic Effects Of Immigration 47

Immigration Policies: A Global Perspective 54

Goal 1: Prioritize Employment-Based Migration 59

Goal 2: Set Flexible Caps That Increase With Economic Growth 62

Goal 3: Encourage Short-Term Migration 62

Goal 4: Mitigate Negative Labor Market Impacts 64

Goal 5: Limit Adverse Fiscal Impacts 66

Goal 6: End Illegal Immigration 67

Conclusion 68

3 The Way: Market-Based Immigration Reform 70

Provisional Immigration Based On Work 70

Employers And Permits 72

Workers And Visas 76

The Government's Role 79

Permit Auctions 84

Family-Based Immigration 86

The Current Queue 88

Illegal Immigration 90

High-Immigrant Communities 95

Conclusion 96

4 What The Plan Does Not Include And Why 98

Why Not Use A Point System? 98

Hwy Not Allow Open Immigration? 101

Why Not Have A Guest-Worker Program 104

Why Not Deport All Unauthorized Immigrants? 106

Why Not End Birthright Citizenship? 108

Conclusion 109

Conclusion: Beyond The Golden Door 110

Notes 115

References 133

Index 145

About The Authors 157

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Customer Reviews

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    Posted November 18, 2010

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