Immigration quotas discussed in this week’s The Nation
In the July 9 issue of The Nation, Mae Ngai notes that recent immigration reform policies have done nothing to address the inequitable distribution of green cards: current rules give 25,620 across the board to every country, with population and immigration trends ignored. [A New Green Card Deal, article by subscription].
One of the most striking points she makes, at least from my born-in-1978 viewpoint, is the following:
…[W]e could allocate green cards to countries based on the relative size of their population and emigration demand; their ties to American citizens and institutions; and their supply of low- and high-skilled labor that we need. In other words, if we acknowledge that immigration is driven by supply and demand and take into account the needs of the United States and other countries, we might have a system that is more realistic and fair.
…[B]efore 1965 there were no numerical restrictions on immigration from countries of the Western Hemisphere, in keeping with the tradition of Pan-Americanism. When we imposed quotas on Mexico and the rest of the Americas after 1965, we got illegal immigration. (8)
I agree with her point that the quotas are in need of review. However, on the issue of supply and demand, I don’t think that the US market’s insatiable appetite for cheap labor needs to be encouraged. NAFTA and globalization have only increased the flood of undocumented workers into the US, and the trends don’t seem to be improving. Meanwhile, families are separated, villages are dying out, and cultures are undergoing violent and rapid change–for what? To meet the “needs of the United States.”