Here are three pieces — all of them, in my view, terrific — calling for more immigration to America:
•Gordon Crovitz's wondeful column in the Wall Street Journal marking the 30-year anniversary of the Journal's editorial proposing a five word constitutional amendment: "There shall be open borders."
•The "Grumpy Economist," John Cochrane of the University of Chicago, asserting that the "optimal number" of immigrants to America is "two billion, two million, fifty-two thousand and thirty-five (2,002,052,035). Seriously":
The United States is made up of three and a half million square miles, with 84 people per square mile. The United Kingdom has 650 people per square mile. If we let in two billion people, we'll have no more population density than the UK.
Why the UK? Well, it seems really pretty country and none too crowded on "Masterpiece Theater." The Netherlands is also attractive with 1,250 people per square mile, so maybe four billion. Okay, maybe more of the US is uninhabitable desert or tundra, so maybe only one billion. However you cut it, the US still looks severely underpopulated relative to many other pleasant advanced countries.
•Sam Apple, in the Los Angeles Times, about the remarkable story of Benjamin Axelrod, his wife's great-grandfather, "possibly the most persistent immigrant in our history:
"On Dec. 3, 1907, the New York Times reported that Axelrod, then 12, was being held in the detention room at Ellis Island after making it to New York on his own for the seventh time. With no relatives in the United States to take him in, he had been deported back to Europe after his six previous stowaway trips, which added up to 13 journeys across the Atlantic in less than two years."
One interesting question is, given how strong the historical, economic, and political case is for increased immigration, why does there seem to be so much resistance to changing the immigration laws to make things easier? One explanation may be racism. Some of it may be, as Mr. Crovitz suggests, the low-growth economy. But a low-growth economy can be fixed by more immigrants. Part of it may be that government benefits are so generous that those already here fear admitting a new group of welfare sponges. But admitting more immigrants is a way of fixing the demographic challenges of our entitlement programs. Part of it may have to do with popular distrust of the elites who favor immigration reform. Part of it may be the logical inconsistency of the pro-reform side that says it wants to secure the border. Part of it may be post-September 11 fears of terrorism. Part of it is surely a failure of presidential leadership. Anyway, it is a good topic for additional journalism.