A meticulous and groundbreaking book on immigration chronicles the history of upward mobility in the United States—but falls short as an argument against a more selective policy.
America’s immigration wars are at an impasse. With illegal crossings surging at the southern border and the backlog in green card petitions reaching new heights, there is a widespread sense that the U.S. immigration system is badly broken. And yet there’s no prospect of bipartisan agreement about what exactly it would mean to fix it—at least not in the near future.
Conservatives are largely united in believing that the system should focus first and foremost on deterring unauthorized migration, enforcing the rule of law, and ensuring that the United States can select newcomers who are best positioned to succeed in a modern market democracy. The left, meanwhile, has come to embrace a more open approach, one that creates more legal pathways for the poor and ambitious.
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