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Just to get this off my chest. One bipartisan place to start is here. If you helped us fight a war, we won’t abandon you and your families to the regime we all were fighting.

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The beneficial selection effects of immigration are underrated IMO. Basically anyone who is willing and able to jump through the many hoops required to immigrate (leaving all your friends and family, adapting to a new culture, learning a new language, finding some way to actually get a visa, etc.) is an exceptional person likely to make a great contribution to the USA. Immigration isn't just generic population growth; immigrants self-select to be awesome (and then we can and do further select them to be even better).

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Yes; this is a good example of an “asshole filter” (https://siderea.livejournal.com/1230660.html). If you don’t enforce the law, you select for people willing to break the law.

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I would distinguish between the questions of:

1) People who have been living in the US illegally

2) What to do about current illegal immigration flows (enforcement)

3) What to do about current legal immigration flows (change the laws)

(3) seems by far the most important / valuable to me, but sadly I think it usually gets drowned out by (1) + (2). I can't quite tell if there's a deal to be made on (3) - ideally increasing the total flow of legal immigrants and maybe shifting the mix to more high-skilled and less low-skilled.

On (2) I think there's a broad consensus enforcing the law is good - including by the Obama and Biden administration - although maybe some lefty activists don't agree. And there seems to be a lot of disagreement on (1).

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Harking back to the previous post that Harris should try to be popular, she should double down on her "do not come" comments, and maybe publicly pick a fight with the AOC contingent that's criticizing her for that.

Harris was right, and their myopic inability to see the forest for the trees on this issue is endangering much larger policy goals. Harris, or someone, needs to be the adult who shuts them down. Preventing chaos at the border is necessary to create political space for her longer term "root causes" project to get off the ground.

Enforcing the laws on the books is a prerequisite for good faith negotiations to change them, not to mention the sworn constitutional duty of every President. Viewing it from the perspective of those who generally want less immigration (and there are real nonracist, if misguided, reasons to hold that view - see David Abbott comment below), how why would someone trust Democrats as dealing in good faith on changes to immigration law if Democratic administrations have a track record of being unwilling to enforce the immigration laws that are agreed on as a result of any negotiations?

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I kind of expect elected officials to "enforce laws" that they swore an oath to uphold, even if they work to change the laws in the meanwhile.

There are names for countries where the leader simply decides which laws to enforce.

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Well, if all you are saying is that where the law provides discretion politicians should exercise discretion in favor of their policy preferences, then were in agreement. That seems tautological.

But I really understood your initial post to say that the executive branch has the power to decide which laws it should enforce based on whether they agree with them (i.e. Dem politicians can and should ignore laws they view to have a racist origin). And since the other party would probably expand that rule of governance to their own policy preferences, it soon becomes a recipe for something other than a constitutional democracy.

But, again, it seems impossible to disagree with the claim that politicians should exercise their policy preferences within the bounds of the law.

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DACA was an inexcusable executive overreach. It didn't even go through the standard rule making process, but was simply an executive order. It would be the same as if Trump issue an executive order that said every real estate developer in the country didn't have to pay taxes because Congress hadn't updated the tax law and so the IRS was going to prioritize other enforcement and create a safe haven for real estate developers who didn't pay taxes. Then the courts granted that the force of law and said that to repeal it Biden would have to go through a formal rule making process that takes on average a year. And for that year, all real estate developers could avoid taxes. That should not be how laws and rules are made. Otherwise, why have a legislature at all? Just elect the president and let them rule by decree for 4 years so long as it adheres to the "values of today."

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Enforcement should take account of the cost and benefits. Deporting established families has no benefit. and high costs.

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Who gets to decide which laws on the books are not in good faith with today's values? Seems like the legislature should repeal/change such laws not have the executive decide which ones to ignore.

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We have a process for deciding if current laws don't adhere to the values of today. That process is the legislature changing them. If it doesn't, then they must not be so outside the bounds of current values or the public would be so outraged they would demand change.

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You're asserting that the legislature is broken is belied by the fact that legislation is in fact passed on a regular basis to accomplish many things. The fact that legislation that YOU want passed doesn't, is not in fact proof that the legislature is broken.

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Which laws are these?

Do you really mean enforce laws - the role of courts, judges and law enforcement - or do you mean not repeal or change laws?

Also - suppose the beneficiaries of these laws were nonwhite, does that change what a Democrat should do?

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One of the superficial ironies here is that it's often conservatives who push for exclusively skilled immigration while liberals remain open to unskilled. But high-skilled immigrants are more likely to have highly-educated kids who are therefore more likely to be progressive, while blue-collar immigrants are more likely to have conservative kids. (I say "superficial" because for a variety of reasons it actually isn't as ironic as it seems, but still.)

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Do you think it's accurate to say that liberals push for unskilled because it's "good for the immigrants" and conservatives push for skilled because it's "good for the country"?

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founding

Sometimes I drive around Queens, going through neighborhoods made up mostly of immigrants from dozens of countries, and I think, is this what people are afraid of? Because this is a great place to live and raise a family and work and visit! So, on some level I just genuinely don't get it.

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The American Dream lives in Jackson Heights.

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I don't think that book means what you think it does.

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And it also provides a rather convincing argument that those multi-cultural, multi-colored immigrants' kids are mostly, well... white. Culturally, at least.

America's majority culture does and will continue to assimilate them with relative ease even as it shifts in average hue. Our white folk will always be at home here if they can get over their own prejudices.

Amusingly, in support of this, some anecdotal evidence:

I have an Indian-American coworker, born in India before coming here as a kid, who is wayyyyy more "typical suburban white American" than me. We had a 25-minute conversation about yard care the other week, started by him.

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I've often wondered why liberals in the US are so resistant to assimilationist pro-immigration arguments. At a basic level, I think we should be ok with the idea that people move to the US because it's different than the place that they came from, and in a lot of cases they likely want to live like an American. It's not like we pity American expats in Paris for eating fancy cheese and drinking a lot of wine; it would be really weird if they all were drinking Busch and eating Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese.

I was listening to a BBC podcast from the 90's the other day about multiculturalism in the US (dated but interesting), and the panelists talked a lot about how the immigration context in the US clearly worked better than it does in Europe explicitly because the US was actively assimilationist. They felt that the US was basically unique in the world because Americans historically thought of the US less as a defined ancestral homeland and more as "A machine for making Americans". That seems like a big strength to me...

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Damned if I know.

I've reached the point where if it weren't for the opposition being... what it is... I'd have thrown up my hands and given up long ago.

Unfortunately, with climate change bearing down, we don't really have time for a Sulla-Restored Republic-Caesar cycle in which nothing meaningful gets done before it kills us.

As far as I'm able to tell, very few "liberals" believe in this weird post-modernism when it comes to immigration. It's the woke "leftists" who have gone off the deep end on this issue and many others.

Purely coincidentally (pull the other one), they also don't really hold with any actual leftist beliefs either, anymore. Can't build houses to deal with housing scarcity, can't enact income transfers to help the poor, can't, can't, can't. Just lots of whining about race, with no policy to fix any of it.

Good news is, there really aren't many of them.

Bad news is, they're freaking loud.

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What exactly would be not 'white'. Throwing your garbage in the street? Shooting your neighbors? Explain to us ignoramuses what are the virtues of being 'non-white'.

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Let's disassociate the word "white" from race for a moment, and use it in the sense that I clearly meant above, to mean "America's current dominant cultural template".

Most of our immigrants, regardless of race, end up behaving and thinking in ways similar to those of us who grew up here. This is because, regardless of race, they assimilate rapidly.

My friend, the co-worker to whom I referred, is in an arranged marriage, but there's basically no chance his kids will be, and other than that and being vegetarian, he and his wife already lead a life completely typical of suburban Americans. He wasn't even born here.

I have a close college friend who is of Chinese descent, first generation born here. He speaks Cantonese moderately well, his Mandarin is shit compared to mine, he owns a house in the L.A. suburbs and he and his wife are completely typical American yuppies. He routinely jokes that I'm more Chinese than him, because I live in a multi-generational household and in a manner much more culturally in-tune with my wife's background.

All of the studies on the topic show the same is replicated across the board. By the second or third generation, all that's left are some holidays, foods, and maybe a bit of ethnic pride in what are otherwise American households.

One of the conclusions of the book is that no matter what shade our descendants are in 2070, they're going to share a culture that's very clearly descended from the one that (mostly white) Americans shared in 1970.

I'm not exactly sure what I did to have you leap down my throat, but... want to enlighten me?

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We're probably mostly arguing about how we agree with one another on this one, narrow issue.

There are two relevant points that you might not heretofore have considered:

1. If anyone in the US has the right to bitch about immigrants arriving, integrating, and succeeding, it's African Americans. They've never been afforded the opportunity to do the same, not until very recently.

2. "Group culture" for the majority white population in the US is unfortunately wrapped up with a long history of racial prejudice. Disentangling the two is difficult at best, impossible at worst.

So yes, the left failing to understand the great progress which has been made over the last fifty years is stupid and provokes a lot of understandable frustration. But the right failing to deal with or even acknowledge the historical fallout of past "protect our culture" movements... is just as stupid, and just as dangerous.

And, to be frank, I don't have a great deal of faith that Bannon's ilk don't fully understand and agree with the worst implications of the shit they say, as opposed to being ignorant of it.

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If there's one constant in immigration-related threads, it's that at least a few dozen posters will turn up with anecdotes about how immigration adversely impacts the native-born in myriad ways. I've already counted 4-5 and it's 9 am.

There's never any evidence that the problems they cite stem from immigration, nor that lowering immigration would solve them... but I think it's illustrative of one of Matt's points: immigration is an easy scapegoat, which makes it hard to formulate and enforce rational policy.

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I'm one of the most enthusiastic immigration supporters you will ever meet. I would probably have something close to open borders as a preferred policy preference or at least have large immigration quotas tied to proportion of foreign born % of the population.

Yet when people say there are no negative externalities involved, it reminds me of economists saying broadly the same thing about free trade in the 90s - which again is on net a positive thing, but definitely has some trade offs involved.

I personally have family who lost their businesses due to competition from immigrants - it was on net better for society to achieve the same result for lower costs and my family members went to have other successful careers, but it was intensely disruptive and really hard to make that transition. The more people minimize such expereinces, the more the population of people experiencing that will assume you are the one who doesn't know what your talking about.

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I'm not saying there are no negative externalities involved.

I'm saying that various individuals trotting out anecdotal evidence to blame immigration for issues of crime, urban housing, cutthroat employment practices, etc. are not really making an effective case.

There are negative impacts, sure, and a lot of them occurred between 1980 and 2006-7, when illegal immigration was at a peak and unskilled immigrants thus vastly outnumbered their skilled counterparts. This almost certainly did have a depressive effect on working class wages at the time.

The flow has since adjusted such that higher-skilled workers are a much larger portion of immigration flows, ensuring a balanced growth in the population without any sector-specific effects, except for the damned H1B program bidding down tech wages.

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Consider it possible that the greatest effect of open immigration is on previous immigrants, who are undermined economically by floods of new immigrants who are directly competing with them in the economy.

I would ask the question whether this effect is discernible after the 1924 immigration law, which shut off the tap and would have allowed the previous generation of immigrants to get on their feet economically and culturally. I would wonder whether, in slowing things down and allowing assimilation to take root faster, the 1924 law worked as intended. (And this is not to minimize the law’s racist intent , just saying that this is not its only intent and effect).

Large-scale immigration of people of alien culture has always produced a backlash from native (or fore-coming) workers on the ground that they are taking away their jobs. It seems illogical to me that the experience of people on the ground for literally centuries, can be waved away with reference to narrowly targeted statistical studies.

To come at this a little sideways: I remember well the claim (backed by reams of sophisticated economic analysis) that NAFTA and other neoliberal policies would release the energy of the economy through free trade so much, that his would benefit everyone; even those who lost their jobs directly due to foreign competition. Only later, more quietly, was it admitted that those policies did harm a lot of working people, but argued that training and education (and internal migration) would still be the answer. To me, this implicitly says that people who can’t find work are too stupid to participate in a modern economy and in some sense deserve what they get. It explains a lot of the hostility to immigrants as well as foreign competition, and the ease with which Trump exploited it. It pushes people in a certain direction. It’s blowback, and we should have seen it coming.

Now, I think that we allowed a bunch of clueless educated people to rather casually drop a huge social change bomb into American society, and to basically abandon everyone to struggle their way through the debris. Some of us came off better than others.

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In that case, I assume you'll provide the same level of rigor before suggesting that it Democrats are better than Republicans. I'll need some sources - no anecdotes, and will need you to preregister your methodological approach.

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No, but it is indeed an isolated demand for rigor. I don't deny the importance of statistical studies, but I've work with enough of them to recognize that:

1) many people don't know what they are doing with statistics,

2) many people seek to use statistical studies to confuse rather than educate

3) there are plenty of topics that are incredibly hard, if not impossible to study or understand using statistics.

4) there are other means of learning than statistics. Negating those is not knowledge, its ignorance

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I think this is largely spot on. I think the crux of the issue is that until Obama's second term immigration was not a polarized issue along partisan lines. Democrats had anti-immigration union leaders trying to protect their workers. Republicans had big-business interests trying to grow markets and add cheaper labor. For various reasons this shifted and now it's pretty clean that the GOP is just anti-immigration (relative to status quo) and Dems are pro-immigration.

Now that this is the case, the Dems have to be very clear about what kind of immigration they are for. During the primary campaign certain candidates came dangerously close to backing true open borders, decriminalizing all immigration, and declaring any restrictions presumptively racist. Regardless of your moral views of this it is certainly not a winning political position, and Democratic leaders should call it out and decry it. Democratic leaders need to be crystal clear and disciplined in messaging about what they want for 1) legal skilled immigration, 2) legal unskilled immigration, 3) illegal immigration enforcement (both existing and future immigrants), and 4) asylum seekers. Otherwise it is too easy to paint any accommodation towards any of these groups as part of a secret plan for open borders (I could draw a worrisome analogy as to how the NRA paints any move towards modest gun control as a step towards full confiscation of arms and repeal of the 2nd amendment).

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Hard to message this issue in a nuanced way...my impression of the Democratic party's public position since the failure of the 2013 bill has been mostly "anything short of open borders is racist." That's mostly a result of anti-Trump posturing, as well as conflating the different parts of the immigration issue this post is pointing out (DREAMers vs. asylum seekers vs. legal entry priorities). The "American Dream" messaging is probably the right way to go, but it may be less convincing for various reasons as that dream slips out of reach for more and more people who are already here.

The salience of this issue all over the world will only increase, of course, with the coming environmental upheaval. Fun times.

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I think more and more impressions that Democrats believe that restrictionists are being racist is a byproduct of the frustration that opponents of doing anything don't appear to be negotiating in good faith. Get 68 votes in the Senate? Nope, still not good enough because Speaker Boehner has to pander to his Freedom Caucus types who do not seem to be approaching this issue constructively. Just look at Steve King first and now someone like Paul Gosar.

It's possible Republican politicians are just being cynical and bad faithed, and not racist. But that's a jaded view too.

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I think it's mostly a reaction to Trump's "Mexicans" comments and the Muslim Ban, as well as more moderate/mainstream Dem electeds not wanting to openly disagree with the "abolish ICE" wing of the party on this issue and similar ones.

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I think that's a very good salience for the broader Democratic activist and primary voter base, but I think it underplays the role of the continued frustrations that Democratic politicians have with the 2007 to 2013 immigration reform push in changing their own views of the GOP.

The Senate is about to pass a bipartisan infrastructure deal because the GOP has flirted with infrastructure for years and enough GOP Senators aren't willing to walk away. It's likely going to pass with margins similar to the 2013 Senate bill. But just imagine if there were a House GOP right now with a Speaker too afraid to alienate the far right.

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founding

I'm not sure how you get this, when literally no party official or elected member is advocating anything close to open borders. Is this just another instance where people hear "decriminalize" and think "legalize"?

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No, I think ASd is right, because the Left cannot articulate what immigration restrictions or border enforcement they are in favor of. It's all well and good to say, "let's legalize everyone here," but the follow-up of, "how do we avoid getting back into this situation" devolves into a mumble. I've never seen anyone on the Left call for both legalization AND an effective border policing strategy.

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Exactly. I'll believe it's not open borders when I get a good answer about what the border restrictions are, and verify that they are indeed restrictions. If it's "everyone with economic harship gets asylum and we also abolish ICE so that no one ever gets deported", that's effectively open borders.

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This seems like the Democratic version of Republicans and the IRS. People should pay their taxes, but if you don't actually fund/support enforcement, you don't actually require people to pay. People should immigrate illegally, but if you're not willing to enforce the law, then they're going to immigrate illegally.

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Precisely, and I've used this same analogy before elsewhere. Saying you don't support open borders/abolishing taxes is contradicted by simultaneously saying you oppose basically every proposal to enforce immigration laws/tax laws.

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I’m not sure I want to live in a “talent magnet.”. I don’t live to work and I don’t want to become a grind. My goal is to maintain a comfortable position with low to moderate work effort.

Immigrants and their children hustle. They come from places where falling into the working class is disastrous, even physically dangerous, so they work hard to avoid that fate.

Relatively few old-stock Americans go to medical school. The infusion of immigrant hustle into the applicant pool has allowed medical education to maintain the same brutal, all-consuming time demands it imposed in the 1940s and 1950s, when most middle class men worked grim hours to support stay at home wives. Women’s liberation has freed middle class men to have work-life balance, I don’t want meritocratic fantasies about being a “talent magnet” to blow up those gains.

I’m certainly for allowing the best doctors, scientists and programmers to come here. A few thousand stars can create a lot of value. The top of any profession should be extremely competitive, and I don’t much care whether the top biologists were born in the U.S. or China. However, I’m leery of opening the door so wide that my son’s path to the professions would become more onerous. Becoming a doctor basically requires amputating your 20s. We would have more doctors if becoming a doctor were a 40-hour a week proposition. I went to law school precisely because I knew it would be a relatively easy path to a professional salary— most lawyers never work for biglaw, those who do rarely last more than five years and almost never enjoy the grind.

I would like the medical path to be gentler and I don’t want other professional paths to become that brutal. I’d rather live in a chill, affluent country than a frenetic “talent magnet.”

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I'm somewhat sympathetic to your larger point about changing American work culture, but your reasoning is emblematic of the complacent, status-quo-laden brain sickness that is slowly choking American society. In so many areas, we follow the same template: 1) create completely artificial scarcity for the benefit of the incumbents, 2) get extremely anxious about the perceived (but again, completely artificial) scarcity, and then 3) spend all our energy fighting over the allocation of each slice instead of making the whole pie larger.

As James pointed out, the reason that becoming a doctor is so competitive is that we've arbitrarily capped the number of training slots. The answer is to increase the number of slots, not to exclude the most ambitious candidates.

In housing, there is so much anxiety about gentrification, displacement, and preserving "neighborhood character" that all stems from the fact that we refuse to build more housing. If every neighborhood could change, then each one would only change a little bit, but because we only allow new housing one development at a time it acquires life-and-death stakes.

There is story after story (after lawsuit) about the anxiety around attending a selective university that doesn't acknowledge that the selectivity has increased to the point where it is completely arbitrary. You could easily increase the enrollment size of Yale 5x to 30,000 undergraduates without lowering academic standards at all.

"Opportunity hoarding" is completely self-defeating. We could easily build a better, more prosperous society for both incumbents and new-comers, but that requires change, and we are so loss-averse that any change becomes politically impossible. It's frustrating as hell because not that long ago we were willing to turn society upside down to win a war or just to keep people from getting drunk. What happened to us that "I got mine so nobody move" is the respectable default mindset?

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I'm sympathetic with much of you comment. Maybe I am just a pessimist who doesnt see a realistic way out of opportunity hoarding.

There was a time in America (1946-1970) where blue collar workers enjoyed a modicum of prosperity. It is no coincidence that this occurred a while immigration was low and after the industrial plants of our leading competitors had been bombed into oblivion and Britain had prostrated itself and run down its physical plant just to survive. Blue collar workers would never have enjoyed two decades of prosperity if we'd had open borders. There is simply too big a supply of people who are so poor they are willing to work for a pittance. Plenty of capable, disciplined workers in China are willing to make widgets for $250 a month, and China isn't even poor.

Professionals have good reason to be very afraid of the Indian middle class. There are 150 million of them. They are every bit as naturally capable as Americans. But most are only one or two generations removed from poverty and they covet things we have grown used to.

As between admitting I've grown soft and being hard, I prefer the former.

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Here’s the mechanism: 1) the nation (as a matter of cultural policy) restricts immigration severely, 2) the previous generation of immigrants gets on their feet because they aren’t constantly undermined by competition from other unskilled immigrants. 3) Those immigrants (and especially their American children) get a chance to assimilate economically and culturally, 4) they get to release their talents and play a full part in growing all aspects of the American economy, 5) They reap the rewards of the prosperity that ensues.

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it took immigration being low for a while to make high wages happen. the question isn’t how many immigrants came last year it’s How many people are there who are willing to work cheaply

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Medicine is probably not the best example for making your case. I can think of two reasons for the exclusivity and long workdays that are not downwind from high-performing children of immigrants:

1) the number of slots in medical schools is capped and has barely grown in decades - DO schools are somewhat filling this gap but even then they aren’t that big. So, you have a limited number of seats for a well compensated profession.

2) residency programs after medical school are a form of professional hazing where newly minted doctors learn how to practice in their respective fields largely by doing all the work for attending physicians who lead much more relaxed lives. If they’re lucky, the program includes some didactics but many are “learning by doing”. This is where the expectations of 80-hours weeks come in. You’re working office, call shifts, covering floors overnight, not allowed to take off major holidays, etc.

Neither of those things are directly related to hardworking immigrants but, instead, to a profession vested in maintaining exclusivity and a culture of abusing young doctors.

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It’s worth pointing out that there’s a third leg on this rather ugly stool, which Matt glancingly addressed above: the US does not offer licensing reciprocity to _any_ country for doctors or dentists. You can be a fully licensed physician with a degree from the Sorbonne in France, and if you move to the US you will still need to do a residency and repeat some of your coursework. It’s insanity and it’s entirely something we have done to ourselves voluntarily. If as a society we think that it would be good for younger doctors to be less stressed out and sleep-deprived, literally all we need to do is repeal the rules that require them to be.

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Surely the French have different anatomy!

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IIRC Canadians are an exception to the lack of reciprocity for the MD and (in most states) residency, which just makes the point even clearer: there's no reason to think a McGill med graduate's any more competent than, say, Oxford.

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I'm not saying I disagree with everything here, but having gone through all of it and currently still living and working within it:

UME/Medical school spots are not capped.

This is doubly true in practice for private schools. Each individual school's class size is set at the individual school/university level and there more competing factors here than you can imagine. Of course there are regulatory issues with AAMC, but not a "cap". This does not really change the argument that graduates per capita has not decreased, just clarifying a common argument.

GME/Residency spots are not capped.

There are multiple ways the govt supports residency spots--multiple forms of direct and indirect payments/payment adjustments via Medicare and state Medicaid, VA funding, DOD, NIH/NRSA grants, etc.--but residency spots are also heavily privately funded by sponsor institutions (i.e., hospitals/universities). It is constantly debated if residents are in fact a cost burden or savings to their institutions, and quite frankly it depends enormously on the institution and the residency program (meaning both the specific individual program, and the program's specialty), and the training year of the resident. I don't think there is anywhere close to one answer here, and even within institutions some are typically "profitable" and other very much not. If residents were such an amazing financial boon we'd see exponential growth in slots, because again, residency spots are not capped (yes, there are tons of regulatory hoops to jump through, but it's possible and I have seen and been a part of new/growing programs).

There are really great arguments against requiring high-hour workweeks for years and expecting optimal outcomes. But there truth is that consecutive 80 hr workweeks are not really that common anymore in most residency programs. Some program are more, some are less, and some are abusive. But that's in any job/field.

***I ask this all the time to residents and get far fewer "yes" answers that I expect: Would you trade the US high-intensity (longer hours, fewer years) residency system with shorter training for UK's lower-intensity (fewer hours, more years) pathways. We are the USA, we love intensity, I guess.

However, there are benefits to the immersion. You *do* need to "learn by doing"--and doing and seeing *a lot*. And there are extensive requirements regarding didactic and other "formal" teaching, though honestly after maybe the first year it's really self-guided learning ("looking it up") and the experiential learning that matters.

Med school grads are "doctors" by degree, but not in any real sense. An MD (or DO) is just a fancy pathophysiology degree, not that it isn't essential, but it definitely is not anywhere nearly sufficient to "be a doctor"--and I say this in all sincerest honestly as someone who teaches brilliant and motivated residents at a brand-name university hospital.

I also disagree entirely about the "doing the work of attending physicians" with "relaxed lives" part, but am not going to engage that nonsense at all.

Sorry for rant, just hate hearing some of these myths repeated. Happy to reply or answer questions.

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Aren't residents also paid very little? As a lawyer I think that's very strange. As the original comment notes biglaw associates are abused pretty badly but at least their starting salaries are $205k with substantial bonuses. And I'm pretty sure doctors are generally paid more than lawyers in general, so I don't really get it.

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FYI can Google "GME salary (insert any hospital or university name)"

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Average starting is probably about $60k + $2k raise annually, with good benefits like free or heavily discounted health insurance premiums, often other benefits like retirement contributions, parental leave, etc.

The big difference is that starting lawyers, consultants, and bankers are doing work the company can directly bill a client for, or they're generating revenue in another way--sales, investments, etc. It's important to know that residents cannot bill for anything Independently, the supervising physician has to also physically see the patient to generate any professional service charge. This greatly reduces efficiency, often negating any real financial benefit from the resident--typically at least until the residents are fairly senior and can do supervised revenue generating procedures semi-independently.

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Remember, the claim is that "The infusion of immigrant hustle into the applicant pool has allowed medical education to maintain the same brutal, all-consuming time demands it imposed in the 1940s and 1950s". Maybe capped isn't the proper term for the scarcity of seats but it doesn't change the overall point that the reason physicians have a culture of 80-hour weeks and zero work-life balance is *not* because we let too many smart children of immigrants become physicians. Rather, we have a highly competitive process for a small number of seats and a residency training paradigm that prioritizes extreme sacrifices of personal time and foregoing income. To me, these and what doctor memory points out below about reciprocal licensing are far more likely explanations than immigrants and their hardworking kids ruining the chance for a chill medical education system.

As far as residency, I can in complete honesty say that my wife's residency experience was one of abuse from senior residents and neglect by attendings but I recognize that it may not be representative. It was a shitty five years that left her deeply bitter and unhappy.

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Hazing explains a lot. Current doctors went through it and view it as both a right of passage and welcome insulation from competition. That explains why institutions maintain the residency system and why spots in med school are so precious.

There’s also the supply side. Without the robust supply of second generation strivers, there would be more pressure to relax the system.

Allowing foreign MDs to come to the US would certainly improve the system and lower healthcare costs. The number of doctors is artificially low because of guild driven supply constraints, that situation could be improved by anything that expanded supply.

The question I’m posing is “how many second generation strivers do we want here.”. The answer is certainly not zero. Allowing truly outstanding professionals to immigrate and bring their families will help America stay competitive. However, the current system allows not only stars but also middling computer programmers and scientists to immigrate. That puts the squeeze on natives who want white collar jobs but don’t want to work like immigrants.

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So uh... as someone who works in the tech industry, I really don't know what to say to the idea that it's some sort of ultra-competitive sweatshop solely, primarily or even in large part due to pressure from highly motivated immigrants.

The reality is pretty much exactly the opposite: this is the tightest labor market for programmers and other IT professionals that we have seen in our lifetimes, and if what you want is a job where you can put in the absolute minimum amount of effort in return for a six-figure salary and extravagant benefits then programming is absolutely the career path you want right now, and trust me tons of entirely middling and unambitious people have figured that out.

(A small personal anecdote: my own company just took the larger part of three months to come to the conclusion that they should fire someone who had literally produced no work in a _year_ because the likelihood of being able to find and hire a replacement in under nine months was a solid zero. That person is now working for google.)

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Also as a postscript: if your goal is to maximize leisure time for incumbent employees in high-pressure industries, I'm hard pressed to think of a _worse_ solution than limiting the number of possible employees, which might increase employee compensation but will do so at the cost of increasing everyone's workload.

If you specifically want immigrant employees to stop over-working themselves, there's a much simpler solution to saying "nope, sorry, you have to stay poor in your home country" -- LET THEM CHANGE EMPLOYERS AT WILL, just like everyone else. Right now anyone on an H1 or J1 visa has a huge built-in motivation to hustle: if they lose their job, they have to go home, if their employer thinks they're looking for a new gig, they can threaten to fire them, and a prospective new employer may need to agree to take over an expensive and complicated visa sponsorship process. If you want them to be a little more relaxed about their jobs, make their stay here a little less conditional on job performance.

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I really don't understand this apparently widespread belief that H1B workers can't change employers at will. I am also in the tech industry, and like..... they can, it's called transferring your visas, tens of thousands of H1s do it every year.

Aside from knowing dozens of people through work that have transferred their H1s, and have done it easily, I know people in my personal life who've done it as well and described it as 'not a big deal'. Trump made it kind of harder, but not that much harder. I agree that J1s and L1s cannot transfer their US employer

https://www.immi-usa.com/h1b-visa/h1b-visa-transfer/

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Does anyone have a good faith, non-hazing defense of the current medical school excesses? I struggle to see one, but that may be confirmation bias at work.

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I have never in my life seen one that was even remotely convincing to me. All of them require us to believe that _doctors_ are somehow immune to the exceedingly well-documented (by doctors!) effects of sleep deprivation. This is a policy with a body count, and probably not a low one.

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founding

For some of this, like the undersupply of medical school slots, I think the standard defense is the one that was always given for the taxi medallion system, pre-Carter airline regulation, and certain agricultural subsidies - by keeping supply restricted to just under the demand, you ensure that prices remain constantly high, as opposed to allowing boom and bust cycles, where periods of high supply and cheap prices are followed by periods of low supply and way-too-high prices.

It's quite possible that under mid-century technology, this actually made sense for air travel and taxis, and there's still time for Uber to go bankrupt and show that it's still true for taxis. But I doubt that the motivation is currently relevant.

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This is really weird to me as a lawyer. Law firm partner compensation absolutely moves with the economy, as most are paid based on their billable hours and business generation, but even in the worst years they're not going to starve and nobody cares about them (for good reason) politically. Why wouldn't doctors be the same? If anything you'd think medicine is pretty recession-proof.

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In an major emergency (New York gets nuked, California gets a >7.0 quake, etc.), doctors will have to work extended shifts with little-to-no sleep and limited supplies, because the number of injured will greatly exceed the surviving hospital capacity. Better that they learn to handle such terrible working environments now than they make it up on the fly.

No, it's not a good argument. No, I don't believe it. But it's a "good faith, non-hazing defense."

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I'll allow that maybe people are offering that defense in good faith, but even if you stipulate that the residency hazing ritual actually produces people who are capable of performing better in a catastrophic emergency (personally I'm dubious), that would make it, maybe, a good argument for making doctors of emergency medicine and maybe most doctors who work out of a hospital do it. But most doctors work in private practice during normal business hours! I expect my GP and my kid's pediatrician to be well-rested. :)

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It accelerates the learning process. When you work 80 hours instead of 40 hours a week, you can cram the equivalent of 6-8 years of experience and different case variety into 3-4 years. The same is true for law firm associates.

Not saying it's a persuasive defense all things considered, but it is a factor.

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I don't think really believes that for law firm associates fwiw, in large part because (1) junior associate work in corporate is pure drudgery that requires little skill and (2) in litigation to become really good you need stand-up experience, which means relatively humane government jobs and relatively small firms that give early trial opps get a huge chunk of the very top entry-level lawyers

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It's not necessarily true that top smaller firms involve fewer hours. There's just no way around that fact it'll take an inexperienced lawyers longer to do things. So if an associate is going to do 6 depositions in a week, they might need to work an 80 hour week to do them at the same level as a more experienced lawyer. If they limit their hours that week, they either do lower quality work, or they do fewer depositions, i.e , get less experience on their feet.

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It's been pretty conclusively shown (by doctors!) that downtime is needed to process new information and speed the learning process. Definitely one learns by doing, but one actually needs sleep and reflection to internalize the new knowledge.

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Are you actually getting a higher variety of cases, or are you simply doing more of the same thing over and over again, while doing it exhausted?

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No doubt both. But repetition is how you transform things from being hard and time-consuming into rote muscle memory, whether that's performing a medical procedure, various kinds of writing, or whatever.

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Current doctors also resist change in residency programs because it means they would have to do more work instead of the residents. Unfortunate, but true.

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One issue is medical licensing is the responsibility of the states and Washington, DC which brings up my second point which is if DC statehood is NOT going to happen anytime soon then perhaps Congress should start curbing back home rule and override the DC City Council on things like zoning and professional licensing.

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As a person with left-of-center sympathies, I'd say that handing more power to Congress is unlikely to be helpful. As a former resident of DC, I'd urge you to go fuck yourself. If Congress wants to repeal zoning and professional licensing, it should do so nationwide to the extent it can; subjecting DC to foreign rule because of a quirk in our shitty Constitution is fundamentally unjust.

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Are you planning to move to a country with a better constitution then?

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"That explains why institutions maintain the residency system..."

See my other comment, but I cannot imagine for one second what other than a internship/residency graduated-responsibility training system we would use to produce doctors. It's universal across the high-quality medical world for a reason. No reason for it to be abusive ("hazing"), but I genuinely believe ~95% of US programs are not abusive.

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Why do you believe they are not abusive? In any other profession the hours required and pay relative to credentials would be considered to be abusive. As another example, biology postdocs, where it got so bad that NIH had to mandate minimum pay rates for its grants and many postdocs bot 30% raises.

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Reading your other comment, I am sorry your wife had such a terrible abusive experience, and unfortunately that does happen, even at great institutions. Sometimes repeatedly within a specific program, other times due to unique interpersonal factors.

I think we may be defining abuse differently as we did with "capped": you seem to mean exploitative, vs I was thinking more of HR-reportable actions--demeaning words or actions, harassment, etc. I don't know your situation at all, but generally I don't think the first is a true issue, whereas the second definitely is when it exists.

Why is the pay what it is for US GME trainees? It's complex, but I find it genuinely hard to say if it's actually high or low (vs the market? vs hours worked? vs expectations, prestige, peers?). My gut after thinking through the below is that it actually about right.

- Fundamentally the position is not only a job, it's still an educational program to a *major* extent. There are major background costs associated with this residents just don't see.

- Pay is certainly often higher in the US than in Canada, or UK training programs. It's definitely meaningfully higher than almost all US PhD post-doctoral positions I am familiar with (comparable credential?). Of course, the hours are usually higher too. Noting that those countries/PhDs often have much lower, or sometimes no, graduate educational debt--though those final salaries are also typically much lower as well.

- Incentives matter here I believe, US MDs do well overall and that is a powerful pull. If there was more doctors in the US, and each made less, would that help fix the residency issues you describe? Would your wife have worked 40 hr weeks for 8 years at 2/3 the salary in residency to make 2/3rd the pay as an attending ? If her med school debt was non-existent? IDK, but many wouldn't in my experience.

- I get it's much less than starting at big law firms, or investment banking, who do have similarly intense work life. I don't know the details of those businesses, but I'm guessing those jobs involve employees with positive return on investment very quickly. Research shows that residents do not return net positive vs investment typically for years (highly imprecise and variable estimates) because of decreased productivity working with newer trainees, ancillary costs (educational time and resources, protected time for faculty to run programs, etc), program costs, etc. Since there is no true cap, if residency slots we're just an unfettered financial boon for hospitals, they'd be beating a path to self-fund positions (which they already do to a great extent, but you can if judge the quantity feels like a market pull)

- Some unionized programs (Michigan, Wisconsin) do pay more, by about 10-15%, than the usual cost-of-living adjusted range. As do some Family Medicine program w/ difficulty recruiting residents, up to 50% more. Should doctors unionize and demand better pay, less hours, etc.?

- I've heard from residents occasionally that they wish their salaries were not fixed and they could negotiate them *individually* (gah!). I ask them to do the thought experiment of, "do you think there's anyone in the world who would take your current position (training to me a board-certified doctor at a prestigious university) for significantly less money"... We all know the answer here. In this scenario, fixed pay scales are protective to residents.

- I don't think foreign/immigrant students cause these issues (e.g., so hungry for success that they'll do anything to get in) since we have no US shortage of applicants, and of course we should have some reciprocal licensing (of note we can't really get it either if moving abroad, so we're not really unique here).

I guess I don't really have a great answer for the pay, I think it's probably ok. I'm sure we can make the hours more humane, but I know that 100% sets of a trade off in years of training, or quality--and I just don't see much real world demand for either.

sorry, I ramble, I'm not as eloquent as many posters here.

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Yes, don't let in the immigrants because they are too smart and hard-working.

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a fairer summary would be “limit immigration unless you want your children to be workaholics”

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Exactly, we need to lower our living standards so that people aren't so stressed all the time.

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the biggest reason for (professional class) stress is 1) urban real estate costs 2) urban private school costs. that game will make a grind out of anyone without a big trust fund, glad i’m not playing it

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As one who did it, I entirely agree

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It's become very easy to eat cheaply if you don't dine out. Rice and beans are very healthy and affordable on any salary or even SNAP.. A gallon of milk costs 10 minutes of work at the median wage, so a 12-ounce glass is 1 minute of median work effort.

The high cost of real estate in good school districts makes economic status competition harder to avoid for those of us who have children and care about their future.

Not having children is a valid option, but, when I hit 35 I had to decide between a life where I would passively watch me and my entire family slowly decay or whether I would take on the expense and constraint of reproducing and be connected to someone who generally improves with age. My wife and I had a kid, but we were both on the fence for a long time. Neither of us would have taken the plunge unless my grandma hadnt promised to pay for day care and kindergarten.

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Best solution is to not live in a major urban area with high housing costs. Getting easier and easier with remote work and there are tons of really nice places to live that aren't Zoomtowns and are still relatively cheap (so far).

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More succinctly: “Embrace Mediocrity.”

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I thought the goal of progressivism was to create a good society for mediocre, weak and strong

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The sole goal of progressivism is to continually expand government power into every aspect of society.

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Think your chill affluent lifestyle and country requires a lot of grinds. I too went to law school and spent 35 years working 80 hour weeks on Wall Street. No regrets. Glad my efforts and those of a lot of others are letting you hit the golf course.

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I think you’re on to something. Lawyers anxious to inject a little meaning in their lives provide the bulk of the volunteers at mainline churches in urban areas.

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but it doesn’t! we can grow 100 bushels of corn an acre— enough to give basic nutrition to 8 people for a year. a combine harvester can harvest 20-30 acres in an hour with a crew of two.

brutal hours may be necessary to pay the rent in big, blue cities or to climb the greasy poll of corporate ladders. they are not necessary to produce food, clothing, shelter and recreational opportunities

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My cousin works a farm in Missouri growing your 100 bushels of corn and also works 80 hour weeks. If you want to understand why you enjoy your chill lifestyle, a place to start would be Branko Milanovic's 'Capitalism, Alone'. You're a lucky inheritor of the fruits of other people's efforts.

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80 hours a week on farm in Missouri in February? What kinds of activities take up nearly 12 hours a day 7 days a week?

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Depends on the type of farm. Dairy is a grind 365 days a year, dawn and dusk. The cows never take a day off.

Grain is 24/7 during planting and harvest, when you can make or break your entire income for the year, and less other times.

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Harvest and planting might get close to that. I used to put in 50 hour weeks as a teen on my grandfather's farm in the summers, and he did too. Late spring was slightly worse, Sept-Oct much worse.

Then from late October to mid-March, it dropped to 2 hours a day to give everything a once-over, do some maintenance, and feed the cattle... to the point where he had a second job seasonally.

So yea, farming isn't easy, but it's also not 80 hours a week year round. At most, that might be true for 2 months a year.

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So you'd tell your children, "we're adopting a foreign child because they are better behaved than you are, get better grades, and do their chores without complaining"?

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I don't totally follow here - you have so little in-group bias that you actually have out-group bias?

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founding

You'll be far more likely to see this line on immigrants from economics professors than "Resistance wine aunts".

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Wat?

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Sounds like you should move to France.

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Thinking about it. My French wife has a very nice place there.

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DA, I agree with this take.

However, it’s worth noting that this has happened to countless other fields. Most Notably STEM. Every STEM worker has to hustle as a result of the influx of new blood. It’s not all that pleasant, and admittedly when younger I had my gripes with it, but it’s made America’s STEM worker sector (made up of all countries of origin) an absolute powerhouse.

I don’t see why medicine gets a pass and gets their on-ramp controlled by what’s essentially a cartel. For God’s sake (extremely bigoted comment incoming!) every doctor I know feels entitled to walk into a room and announce how tired they are. They’re not the only ones working long hours.

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"Every STEM worker has to hustle as a result of the influx of new blood."

[CITATION NEEDED]

I see no such thing in civil/structural, mechanical, and environmental engineering, and in each 30-40% of the workforce are foreign-born or first generation born here.

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My lack of citation will likely cause the comment to be redacted in peer review :)

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Ehh, anymore, peer review is conducted by first-year graduate students who then have their advisor sign the forms... you'll be fine.

But seriously, I get a pretty wide-ranging view of the civil/structural/environmental and mechanical side of things and I'm just not seeing it. Which STEM fields are we talking about here?

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Comp sci. Finance. Academia. Tech. Never been near engineering personally but regardless of quality field by field the opening up of any industry to a broader pool of applicants will make competition more fierce unless wages and conditions get so bad that the talent leaves

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"field by field the opening up of any industry to a broader pool of applicants will make competition more fierce unless wages and conditions get so bad that the talent leaves"

Debatable.

There are way too many confounding factors in these fields to understand what's happened purely as a result of immigration.

Finance has attracted a disproportionate percentage of the fruits of the economy since the 1980's, and as such has attracted huge numbers of workers to work obscene hours while paying them much better than previously.

Academia has been a crapshoot for some time, driven more by domestic students than foreign. A huge number of doctoral fields only lead to a decent life if one becomes a tenured professor, and more students pursue them than ever.

Tech, I think, is the one sector where this theory holds some water, and that's not because of immigration, it's because the "temporary worker" program is basically designed to glut this one, single field.

As for medicine... the population has increased by 50% since the 60's, and the number of doctors has increased by much less than that. If they're overworked, that's why, not competition with immigrants.

Your/David's theory only works when all else is held completely equal, but that's not been the case at all.

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I think I may have a somewhat similar view. My class interest is that more low-skilled immigrants come in instead of high-skilled immigrants coming in to out-compete me for my middle-income, graduate-education-required state government job.

While I believe more high-skilled immigrants in my field would make the government more technology-adept, I’m not sure a more competitive field limited by state tax revenue is in my best interest.

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I have a soft spot for waitresses. I don’t like the thought that the roman bringing me my food doesn’t have health insurance. I enjoy traveling to Canada, in part, because the waitresses have health insurance and things there aren’t quite so grim for the precariat. I’m willing to pay somewhat more for service labor to live in an egalitarian society and not feel guilty when i interact with the precariat

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One of the contributing factors to the mess our politics are in today was that we allowed low-skilled immigration to vastly outstrip high-skilled immigration.

That was and remains a Bad Idea (TM).

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I mean, maybe it’s not a great policy goal as a country, but it likely has better upside for me personally to have a bigger mix of low-skilled immigrants than high-skilled. “Low-skilled” immigrants do everything from farming, meat-packing, service work, construction, etc., all jobs that reduce the price of my cost of living without competing with me in the labor market. My view is in a fair labor market with open borders/access, a lot of us in our PMC roles would be out-competed.

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Your honesty is... bracing... I guess.

But really, even if you were right, that's not an option because in the long-run it's going to turn us into a right-populist hellhole.

More importantly, you're not right. I'm not sure what makes you think professional class jobs would get gutted if immigration intake were balanced across class and educational lines. We'd just be increasing the size of the economy while maintaining its make-up at near parity. It's not as if professional workers in Canada aren't still well-compensated, for example.

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I’m not quite sure I agree that letting in more low-skilled immigrants from Central-America will make us a right-wing hellhole. Maybe there’s a backlash among the native population, but maybe demographics are destiny and a larger Hispanic population eventually wins out.

My comment relates to me personally. The amount of state government jobs is relatively fixed. It is unclear to me that increasing high-skilled immigration grows that pie of jobs. That pie only grows through policy decisions to allocate more money to state governments. Thus high-skilled immigration, in this case, increases competition for my job without growing the pie. This is why a tilt of more low-skilled immigration compared to high-skilled is more beneficial to me.

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as a first approximation, the number of state government jobs will grow with population, which is why the composition of the immigrant pool is important. if half of immigrants are in the top 5% in terms of professional skill, that would absolutely intensify professional competition

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Why wouldn't a growing population, and thus tax base, lead to a concomitant increase in government jobs?

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Demographics are not destiny. Hispanics in the US very ably assimilate, climb the ladder, and view themselves as members of the majority population in the US over time. But even if they don't in the future, if the alt-right "gets there the firstest with the mostest" in the 2020's and subverts the democratic process, it won't matter.

As for the personal interest angle... If you don't think the number of government employees has grown in, say, California, over the last half-century, I don't know what to tell you.

Looking at Fed data, public-sector employees seem to do pretty well out of population growth.

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If we're already attracting large numbers of low-to-mid-skilled immigrants seeking a better life, then all we're doing by allowing commensurate numbers of educated professionals in is to balance structural impacts to the labor force.

The US has cultural issues that lead white-collar workers to work like mad-people, aided by various artificial barriers to entry that allow folks to earn a ton by working 80 hours a week if they so choose. You bucked them, congratulations.

Immigration-driven competition has damn-all to do with it though.

If anything, increasing the number of professionals in these fields will degrade the 80-hour-a-week work culture rather than enhancing it.

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David, I may be biased as I came here as a teenager. But if there is anything I learned in life is that there is no free lunch. To the extent we are able to enjoy a “low medium effort affluent life” is built on the blood sweat and tears of prior generation. We are just cashing in the financial and human capital they built up and it cannot last forever. It’s just basic economics. You cannot walk yourself off from human striving - those hungry kids will go to medical school still it just won’t be the US ones, and then Jeff Bezos’ grand kids start flying there for procedures and so on. Which is why I wholeheartedly endorse Matt’s central point re: criticality of properly managed immigration to the American story. Wish we could sort of his escape velocity and settle into the imagined Danish paradise … it’s sadly a fantasy.

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“Wall” yourself off

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Since we’re talking about Biden’s immigration policy, I once more want to raise the issue of the travel ban that includes fully vaccinated Europeans (for very obvious reasons of self interest). I don’t see much coverage of it, even though when one of Trump’s travel bans hit my Iranian friend, I saw a lot of outrage, a lot of press coverage and I think the issue also reached the Supreme Court.

Since one of my European friends really wants to go back and see his family, I did suggest (jokingly of course) that he flies to Mexico afterwards and tries to illegally cross the border. Maybe the border patrol won’t turn him away but allow him to stay for “processing”, once he shows that he has all the required documents to be legally present in the US. :P

But overall, I don’t understand why Biden hates us so much. We have gone through all the hoops to be legally present here. I really hope that the policy will change at some point.

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Biden doesn't hate you. He's leery of the politics of changing certain Trump-era policies. America's COVID-based entry restrictions are indeed nonsensical, but they were largely put in place by the previous president. If you want to call him out for excessive timidity in overturing the Trumpian applecart, have at it (I'd agree with you). But that's why we are where we are.

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I think that Trump actually allowed this specific policy to expire and Biden reintroduced it, but maybe I’m wrong.

In any case, is Biden leery of changing Trump’s policies? I think Biden (unlike Trump) campaigned on providing a path to citizenship to people who have violated the immigration laws of this country. Is he that afraid of allowing parents of people who follow immigration laws to come here as tourists to see their children?

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> I think that Trump actually allowed this specific policy to expire and Biden reintroduced it, but maybe I’m wrong.

Pretty much, though it's a bit nuanced:

- Trump's bans for Schengen, the UK, Ireland, and Brazil were scheduled to expire on January 26th due to a proclamation on January 18th, but Biden renewed them on January 25th, so they never actually expired.

- China and Iran's bans weren't scheduled to expire, but got extended under a new proclamation on the 25th.

- South Africa was added on January 25th.

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For example, Chinese students are (mercifully) getting NIEs by default so that they don't have to quarantine in another country for two weeks before arriving (probably the same for students elsewhere as well). Can the politics of letting in some additional Europeans or Canadians really be so fraught?

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As far as I know, all students are allowed in under NIE regardless of vaccination status. But if I want to bring my vaccinated parents here, well, that’s apparently dangerous.

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Just had a friend from France visiting, but he got an NIE (national interest exception) because we work together on COVID-related research. Another colleague got an NIE for their au pair. I agree it's really bizarre though when tourists from the US are going to Europe. Yet another thing completely overlooked when the southern border sucks up all the oxygen on the issue.

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Double-vaxxed Canadians still aren't allowed to drive across the border, but non-double vaxxed Canadians are allowed to fly to the States.

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... and have been throughout, just to make it weirder.

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This was a really good post.

I think progressives tend to get really caught up in the moral case for asylum seekers, and tend to basically ignore the idea of any political constraints on issue.

On such a salient issue, voters can't just be handwaved away.

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Interesting. I find that Matt tends to really get caught up in the political constraints, and basically ignores the moral case. His writing would improve if he thought more about how to fix the shitty opinions of the American public, rather than accepting them as immobile constraints.

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Matt's whole Weberian ethic-of-responsibility schtick is that we need to think more rigorously about how to effect positive change within the political system that we actually have, instead of endless and ultimately fruitless symbolic warfare, so if you're looking for a political program that starts with "Step 1: make people less shitty" then I think you're subscribed to the wrong substack.

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To be fair, this is why I've cancelled my subscription

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A recurring theme of Matt's writing is that it's very difficult for political leaders to change public opinion on salient issues like this one. If there were one weird trick to doing that, an awful lot of left-wing politicians in Europe would have liked to have known about it.

If you have ideas on changing public opinion on this issue, knock yourself out, and I'd be thrilled to see if happen. I just don't want my policy ideas to be contingent on it.

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Matt says:

"But if we could improve the skill mix without decreasing the number of immigrants, I’m optimistic the politics will improve and we could move from there to push for more immigration."

Similar to how he has said before that if Blue states want to argue for their policies being better, they need to show it in how they govern... if you want to argue for more immigration, show people immigration working in a way they can believe in.

I'm a big believer in free trade, and free trade definitely made America (and the world) more wealthy. But it disproportionately negatively affected some people, and unlike technological progress (which can do exactly the same thing - broadly benefit everyone except for a few unlucky people), it's easy to be against it.

Doing a better job with convincing people that:

1) We'll enforce immigration laws

2) Immigration is great for America (because everyone sees that we're letting in the ones that are (hopefully) _greatest_ for America) - and we can increase immigration.

Sometimes the only way to change people's opinions is to show them that something is working for them.

(I'm very biased towards open borders - but we're not making progress that way the way we're going now - if we need to emphasize legal immigration to make people believe in immigration again... so be it)

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How do you decide what's a shitty opinion?

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Some people write ideals. Others write what they think is possible. Both are good. MY is the latter.

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Opinions are downhill of material conditions. When going to war improves your economy,[1] warfare seems like a net positive.[2] When the reverse is true, warfare seems like a bad idea.[3] When the public gets their medical care from an immigrant, has their taxes filed by another immigrant, and still finds it easy to get a job because we live in a red-hot economy, anti-immigration opinions will appear as shitty and ill-thought out as they are. But we need to get to that circumstance through the existing political system, which means starting with what politics makes possible instead. That is to say: MattY *is* fixing "the shitty opinions of the American public, rather than accepting them as immobile constraints."

tl;dr: Marx was right about historical materialism.

[1]: https://scholars-stage.org/notes-on-the-dynamics-of-human-civilization-the-growth-revolution-part-i/

[2]: https://acoup.blog/2020/04/16/collections-a-trip-through-bertran-de-born-martial-values-in-the-12th-century-occitan-nobility/

[3]: https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/does-america-really-lose-all-its

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'People would like strict enforcement of the immigration rules' is the key sentence here. We want to make the rules, and we want our government to enforce them. Whether immigration is good or bad for already-here Americans is a matter of debate and where you lie in American society. I'm sure all of us beyond a certain age have personal experiences. I'll give mine. When I was in college, I spent three summers working at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park, a National Park concession. Every worker there was an American college kid that the Park concessionaire worked hard to find each summer. 25 years later I returned with my kids and every employee at the Pond House was an Eastern European on a J1 visa. Not a single American. During the same years, I told my teenage son to go get job and knock on every door on every restaurant and shop in our Brooklyn neighborhood. Every one told him we don't hire people like you.

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Lack of J1 visas was the excuse my community pool gave to not opening the pool. They claimed there were not enough applicants to fill the lifeguard positions. They did have yard signs all over the neighborhood for a week with a list of certifications applicants would have to get. This seemed mostly like a bad-faith effort to justify pocketing our pool dues for the second summer in a row.

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"We want to make the rules, and we want our government to enforce them."

I think the Prohibition era has a lot to say about this quote in general, and the current immigration system in particular. Sometimes, you can't get the laws the public wants, just because enforcement would be ruinous.

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Bad analogy. The 18th amendment was almost immediately repealed because everyone wanted to get drunk and enforcement of it was, deservedly, a joke.

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> I talked this over with some leading Effective Altruism types and they convinced me that Denmark’s mix of generous foreign aid and stingy immigration is more beneficial to the world than the U.S. mix.

Matt, who did you hear this from? I'm pretty plugged into the EAsphere and I'm not familiar with this take.

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I have run into this argument. It is considered bad among the EA advocates to harvest the best and brightest from other countries and deprive those other countries of a resource they need. But that's okay. They are completely wrong about this.

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I *am* an EA advocate, so saying "EA advocates believe X" doesn't really answer my question. I was hoping for an actual source.

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Try Vox. That is if you don't know what you believe.

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Seconding this! If anything, my sense was that the Effective Altruists types are maybe more open to Open Borders than anyone outside of the gmu econ dept.

There are lots of arguments for foreign aid over open borders (political feasibility, brain drain, effectiveness of interventions, etc), but I would be very curious to see (1) a convincing case for aid over immigration from an EA framework and/or (2) examples of people in the EA world endorsing this.

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founding

This was the line in the post that most intrigued me as well.

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The argument seems pretty clear. Immigration and aid are both great, but immigration is more politically toxic, so trading less immigration for more aid is a good deal at current margins.

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Political feasibility calculations are difficult, and foreign aid is not exactly popular. When these things are actually done, free migration is far, far more effective at relieving poverty than foreign aid.

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Foreign aid isn't popular but it's not like it's a major plank of any party platform. It's invisible to most people. There is no Fox News crew shooting video of dollars flowing into foreign government accounts.

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It's interesting to note the Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde claims that situations such as the 2007 bipartisan elite consensus in opposition to a large voting block are precisely situations that give rise to populist movements. Basically, when political elites act in tandem to block out representation of a viewpoint with enough support it creates fertile ground for political outsiders to take the populist route.

I think trade policy probably fits even better with that formulation.

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Is C-69 the visa for the comedians?

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Make Aristocrats Great Again

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The best thing that Biden can do about immigration, including asylum seekers, is to deprioritize it. Do what you can to kick it back to page A12. Shut the flows of people seeking asylum in ways that the law never intended, and do everything possible to reduce the television-friendly hordes at the border. Meanwhile, cut back on deportations of those long-established here by following a policy of benign neglect. Trim back the Trump actions, but don't seek to ratchet up eligibility too far. See if there's any legislation that can meet muster in the "Secret Congress" which means at best it will be modest.

Immigration policy is a loser for Democrats now, becoming the third rail that Social Security and Medicare were for the Republicans (and who may have finally learned that lesson). We have lots of incendiary issues that will be problematic enough to make progress on -- climate change, voting rights -- so there's no reason to fall on our swords over something that helps strengthen the country over the very long term *if* we can pass something but more likely hurts our ability to maintain power in the near and medium term.

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