The widespread claim that immigrants are stealing American jobs is a myth

It seems to me that opposition to immigration generally falls into one of two categories (or perhaps both): 1) racial or ethnic bigotry, or 2) economic considerations. In that latter category, the theory persists that immigrants are taking jobs that would otherwise be filled by American citizens. But that ignores evidence that immigrants also create jobs, not just fill them. In fact, the economic benefits  of immigration generally, if not entirely, are positive. Adam Davidson explains HERE: Rationally speaking, we should take in far more immigrants than we currently do. So why don’t we open up? The chief logical mistake we make is something called the Lump of Labor Fallacy: the erroneous notion that there is only so much work to be done and that no one can get a job without taking one from someone else. It’s an understandable assumption. After all, with other types of market transactions, when the supply goes up, the price falls. If there were suddenly a whole lot more oranges, we’d expect the price of oranges to fall or the number of oranges that went uneaten to surge. But immigrants aren’t oranges. It might seem intuitive that when there is an increase in the supply of workers, the ones who were here already will make less money or lose their jobs. Immigrants don’t just increase the supply of labor, though; they simultaneously increase demand for it, using the wages they earn to rent apartments, eat food, get haircuts, buy cellphones. That means there are more jobs building apartments, selling food, giving haircuts and dispatching the trucks that move those phones. Immigrants increase the size of the overall population, which means they increase the size of the economy. Logically, if immigrants were “stealing” jobs, so would every young person leaving school and entering the job market; countries should become poorer as they get larger. In reality, of course, the opposite...

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Ruling by Texas judge against Obama’s immigration initiative likely will be overturned

If you’re one of those conservatives who  feel inclined to start dancing in the streets because of a certain court ruling the other day concerning President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, I suggest that you hold off for a little while. You see, some folks who know about this stuff feel that the ruling at issue eventually will be overturned. At least, that’s what it says HERE: A Texas judge’s freeze on Barack Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation likely won’t last long, legal experts say, meaning Republicans who oppose the executive action will have to look away from the courts for help. Federal judge Andrew Hanen issued an injunction late Monday night that prevented the Department of Homeland Security from implementing a program that could defer deportations for more than 4 million people, but the courts have long sided with presidents on such issues, Cornell law professor and immigration expert Steve Yale-Loehr said. Not only have presidents as philosophically opposed as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama deferred deportations without issue in the past, but Congress and the courts have long agreed that “the president has broad executive authority” to decide how to enforce immigration laws, Yale-Loehr said. “There’s a lot of case law that says immigration agencies have leeway to interpret these rules,” Yale-Loehr said. “Deferred action as a program has existed for many years, and the administration argues that applying it to mothers and children is an interpretation of the rules.” The quest to reverse Obama’s immigration actions is “likely to fail” in court, Yale-Loehr...

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It doesn’t matter that Obama flip-flopped on legality of executive action on immigration

Republicans who think President Obama’s executive action on immigration is illegal or unconstitutional delight in noting that the president said so himself  just  a few years ago. Yes, he did. But he was wrong. Dara Lind EXPLAINS: Where the GOP runs into trouble is that they’re not just using Obama’s past statements to show that the president flip-flopped. They’re trying to use them as proof that the new executive actions are officially unconstitutional, or at least illegal. This is a weirdly circular argument. The GOP is saying that the president isn’t the authority on whether an action is legal, that 2014-edition Obama can’t make his executive actions legal just by saying they are. But they’re trying to prove that by using the president’s words in his November Nevada speech as the authority on whether what he did was a change to the law, and his words in 2011 as the authority on whether it was legal to do that. But what he was saying in 2011 was wrong. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, president has a lot of authority to decide who to deport and who not to deport — and what to do with the latter. That doesn’t require a change to the law — no matter what Obama said in Nevada. And despite Obama’s earlier protestations, his administration never actually built a legal case in 2011 to say that it didn’t have the authority to protect people from deportation. The first time the Obama administration issued a legal memo defending its immigration policy was last month, and it was to show why the new executive actions were legal. That memo made it pretty clear that the Obama administration doesn’t think it was really changing the law when it took these actions. In retrospect, it seems pretty clear that what Obama was saying in 2011 was about politics, not...

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Public reaction to Obama’s immigration initiative is nothing like Republicans predicted

In the days before and just after President Obama announced executive action on immigration reform, more than a few Republican lawmakers warned that Americans generally would react with great anger. One senator even expressed concern that civil unrest would ensue. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said the midterm elections had represented a huge outcry against anything less than a hard-line stand on illegal immigration. Well, here we are a few weeks later, and virtually all of these portents of hell-to-pay have been shown to be just hot air. Of course, Ted Cruz was wrong in every regard about the message conveyed by voters in the elections of earlier this month. There was nothing huge at all about the results. Voter turnout was the smallest in 72 years. And according to exit polls published by the Wall Street, which is hardly a liberal paper, only 14 percent of voters rated immigration as an especially important issue in making their ballot choices. Granted, a post-election CNN poll conducted this past weekend showed that a majority of 56 percent didn’t approve of Obama using executive action, rather than wait for Congress to pass a bill on  immigration reform, but a sizable 41 percent were OK with what the president did. Perhaps more importantly, the poll also showed THESE RESULTS: Only 26% of Americans think Obama’s plan for those [illegal] immigrants goes too far, while 50% called it about right and 22% said it doesn’t go far enough… Despite the limited backing for Obama’s [executive] action, the survey shows that Republicans might have a hard time gaining traction on the issue. Just 16% of Americans are angry about Obama’s immigration move — though another 27% said they are displeased. Nearly one-quarter of Americans say it doesn’t matter, and 41% say they’re pleased or enthusiastic about it. Support for a GOP lawsuit against Obama over his executive order comes from just 38% of Americans, while 60% say Republicans shouldn’t challenge the move in court. Instead, 76% said the GOP should spend more time passing immigration reform legislation — something Obama repeatledly prodded his Republican critics, especially in the House, to do — while just 21% said the party should focus on overturning Obama’s policies.    ...

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Did your ancestors from abroad go through any formal immigration process?

Almost everybody in America had ancestors who came from some other country. But if yours came  here much more than a century ago, they didn’t likely endure any official immigration rigamorole. They just arrived on ships or some other mode of transportation and found some place to call home. But it’s not unusual these days for Americans to claim, often with an unwarranted air of certainty, that their ancestors “came here legally.”  In truth, their ancestors’ arrival might well have been neither legal nor illegal. It might well have just happened. Period. No hassles. No legalities. No nothing. Ben Railton EXPLAINS: Prior to 1875’s Page Act and 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, there were no national immigration laws. None. There were laws related to naturalization and citizenship, to how vessels reported their passengers, to banning the slave trade. Once New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Station opened in 1855, arrivals there reported names and origins before entering the U.S. But for all pre-1875 immigrants, no laws applied to their arrival. They weren’t legal or illegal; they were just immigrants. Moreover, those two laws and their extensions affected only very specific immigrant communities: suspected prostitutes and criminals (the Page Act); Chinese arrivals (the Exclusion Act); immigrants from a few other Asian nations (the extensions). So if your ancestors came before the 1920s and weren’t prostitutes, criminals, or from one of those Asian nations, they remained unaffected by any laws, and so were still neither legal nor illegal. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but it’s much more; the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” implies that they “chose to follow the law,” yet none of these unaffected immigrants had to make any such choice, nor had any laws to follow. The 1892 opening of Ellis Island didn’t change these fundamental realities. Ellis arrivals had to wait in line and answer a list of questions, and could be quarantined if they had a communicable disease or were visibly insane. But if they weren’t in those aforementioned few illegal categories, they still weren’t affected by any law, made no choice of how to immigrate. Moreover, many arrivals during this period came not through Ellis but across the borders, which were unpatrolled and open.      ...

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