Illegal Immigration and Political Culture
By Bryan Caplan
Several readers have asked me to discuss the effects of immigration on policy, and sometime in the next few weeks I’m going to satisfy their request. But here’s a quick reaction to Arnold’s approving (?) link to Bill Whittle’s worries about the political effect of illegal immigration. Here’s Whittle:
If we reward illegal immigration with amnesty, we have allowed the illegals not only to screw our own people and laws, but even more so they harm their own countrymen who are trying to get here by cooperating.
My claim: If you’re worried about immigrants “screwing our own people and laws” by voting for bad policies, then you should prefer illegal immigration. Why? Because they are especially unlikely to vote – as even this hand-wringing piece in the Washington Times admits:
Nationally, immigration experts said it is likely that illegal immigrants vote, but that only a small percentage does so.
“Evidence suggests very few illegal aliens vote, but it’s certainly not zero,” said Steven Camarota, director of research at the D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies. “Illegal aliens don’t come to America to vote, and would generally try to avoid doing so.”
There’s already a strong argument that illegal immigrants have substantial budgetary benefits: They pay a lot of taxes, but – as healthy young males afraid of the authorities – they collect few benefits. It turns out that there’s also a strong argument that illegal immigrants have negligible political costs. Overall, it’s hard to find a better example of anti-foreign bias.