The economic need for openness versus the political and legal pressures for a closed society are what I call the “liberal paradox.” Dynamic economies need immigrant labor, and open societies are stronger than closed societies. We must be willing to grant foreign workers and their families a basic package of human and civil rights that enables them to flourish, settle, and become full members of our society.
Dynamic economies need immigrant labor, and open societies are stronger than closed societies. We must be willing to grant foreign workers and their families a basic package of human and civil rights that enables them to flourish, settle, and become full members of our society.
Managing those flows is a huge challenge for nation-states. As demand increases for immigrant labor, more people move in search of employment. People have a family member in, say, Chicago, and they want to reunite with them and have a shot at a better life.
Still, nation-states determine the rules of entry and exit. Governments have to make choices about who can enter To reap the benefits of immigration, such as new sources of human capital and labor, nation-states must accept the long-term costs of social integration, the short-term fiscal burdens of concentrated immigrant populations in some regions and localities, and the security costs that come with living in an age of drug cartels and domestic and international terrorism.
Of course, the strong feelings on all sides of those issues make it painstakingly hard to create actual policies.
Liberal democracies also must contend with the rights of migrants, including their legalization, naturalization, and citizenship.
Until we find a way to legalize their status, we risk undermining a social contract that extends rights in return for labor and long-term residence ultimately binds us together as a nation.
Of course, the United States is not the only liberal society that faces this dilemma.
Economic, cultural, legal, and security interests all stand in the way of finding a policy solution to manage the flow of immigrants into the U. We must first understand the full breadth of challenges along the pathway to a solution.
Jenny Martinez hugs her son, William Martinez, as they talk to the media about her trip from El Salvador and her need for asylum in America on May 19, 2017 in Miramar, Florida.