July 9, 2006

We’ve heard many times over the past few months that immigration is a complex issue and it’s true.  Immigration is a difficult subject because it is not reducible to a single factor; rather, immigration in America stirs our national history, economic policy, cultural identity, social values, and religious beliefs together in search of an answer of how to treat the newcomer seeking the American dream, an opportunity for a better life.  As difficult as it would seem to obtain a consensus on the immigration debate from a religious perspective or a cultural one, one would think that the economic data on the effects of immigration would be fairly straightforward, something most people could agree on.  Last month more than 500 economists signed onto an open letter to President Bush and the Congress that argued that immigration provides a net economic gain for the country.  A lengthy article in the New York Times Magazine reports, however, on an ongoing debate between two economists on the economic impacts of low-skilled immigration, showing that the immigration debate is a complex issue even for those concerned only with objective economic data.