Most of today's discussion is about those who previously entered the US unofficially. We should also be discussing a long-term plan from a global perspective which includes entry via official channels as well as unofficial.
Let's think about existing legal channels for immigration and work visas. When government and companies get to pick which individuals enter the country and spend a significant length of time here, that's convenient for US business. Contrary to the old saying, what's good for business is not always good for the country and not necessarily good for humanity. From the perspective of average Americans, bringing workers from other countries here can mean keeping wages down by importing those willing to work for less, and it can mean less pressure to provide the education in this country necessary to prepare Americans to fill those jobs. From a global / humanitarian perspective, the US picks and chooses professionals in other countries and entices them to apply their professional skills in the US rather than in their home country. The end result is the US has all the US-born professionals plus various professionals from other countries. Those developing nations end up with fewer than the number of professionals they raised in their own country. Not only do developing nations effectively have a shortage of professionals, it is more difficult for them to compete with the US which is benefiting from the professionals taken from developing nations.
My personal work experience introduced me to a number of skilled professionals trained in the state colleges of India. Think about that. A nation such as India has government-based colleges creating professionals. Rather than investing in US public colleges so the US creates its own professionals, US businesses poach them from India.
The consequences of this are various. By slowing the development of less affluent nations, the standard of living in those nations is unable to rise as it might otherwise. Low wages overseas allows the continued transfer of jobs and facilities from the US, harming working people here as well. The process of depriving developing nations of many of their skilled workers can only contribute to harsh feelings towards the US, which in turn can contribute to the recruitment to terrorist groups. The globalization of cheap labor will have consequences for the world economy, as the process progressively reduces the buying power of the world's 99%. As wealth shifts more from the 99% to the 1%, the rich will use some of their extra assets to increase their control over politicians, allowing further policy moves to the right.
Empathy towards those less fortunate people from developing nations is a good humanitarian reaction. However, we should not forget that only a small minority of those in poor nations move to more affluent nations - and it is simply not feasible for them all to emigrate. What is the best long-term strategy to reduce the poverty of the vast majority who will not come to the US?
At least some of those who emigrate would like to see improved lives for all - and have skills and energy which could be used in their home country to help that process. Today, there may be no global plan that gives them a good way to make that choice. Providing them with other good options should be part of the solution.
We need to discuss what is the best plan for the prosperity of the world's 99%, not the best way to supply US business with cheap and skilled labor at the expense of the rest of humanity. Immigration can only provide benefits for a small percentage of the world's less fortunate. And there can be harmful long-term consequences both in poor and rich nations. We need a plan which works to eliminate the need to emigrate to gain a better life.
Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 2:00 PM PT: The comments to this diary have included a discussion of the available land and population capacity of the Earth. There's a huge amount of sparsely populated land, but it's generally sparsely populated for a reason. A modern civilization can find ways to make more use of the land. There are ways a larger population could be supported. However, our current civilization is not directing itself to prepare for growing population, climate change, etc. Instead, corporate greed is pushing for short-term profit at the expense of long-term survival. We need a long-term, global perspective oriented to the prosperity of the 99%. When professionals from developing nations aren't tempted to move to rich countries to satisfy corporate greed, and those professionals have good careers available both at home and abroad, immigration will not be associated with the problems it is today.