An Excellent Point about Immigration

May 30, 2006 at 10:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Mr. Cohen writes about his family immigrating to the United States, and he makes a very interesting point about the difference between immigration in the past and immigration today, that makes you wonder about how things would have been back then if the circumstances were the same today.

The non-English-speaking immigrants of the 19th and earlier centuries could not simply get on an airplane and return to the mother country for a visit. Once they came to America, they usually stayed in America. This is not necessarily true of Spanish-speakers, who can more easily visit Mexico or another Latin American country.

Today, we tend to take for granted that a flight to Italy takes only several hours, but back then, it took weeks to cross the Atlantic. How easily was it for those immigrants in those days to return back to their homeland? In regards to Mexico today, how easy is it to go back accross the border in to Mexico? Would the Italians have frequented back and forth between America and their homeland if it only took hours to travel?


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  1. I read your post on DK and thought that there is one thing that is being left out of this debate. An economist from Wake Forest wrote about it in the local paper in Winston-Salem. I saw it when I travelled in Mexico — the agribusiness conglomerates are creating problems for small farmers in Mexico — they can no longer compete with their heirloom corn with all the hybrid on the markets. Subsidies play into it, too. I’m not an economist so can’t explain it, but it does make sense and is entirely left out of the debate. It is one of the reasons that the situation is historically different.

  2. that is interesting. do you perchance have a link to that article in your local paper?

  3. The only bad thing about reading things the “old fashioned way” (not online) is that I have the clippings everywhere. OK. Pulled it out. Winston-Salem Journal, 5/13/06, “Effects of subsidies left out of debate” by Todd A. McFall, in the Opinion Section. McFall is a visiting assistant prof. in the dept. of economics at Wake Forest. He writes about the effect that subsidizing agriculture has on the incentive for Mexicans to immigrate to this country. The artificially low price of corn eliminates the ability of many corn farmers to compete on the world market. He cites Oxfam estimates that the world price of corn fell 70 percent between ’94 and ’03 and in ’04 the U.S. govt. paid over $4 billion in subsidies to corn producers. Surplus corn is dimped onto international markets.
    “Its time for the country to have an honest and complete debate about its immigration policy. By ignoring the destructive effects that U.S. agricultural subsidies are having on Mexican farmers, we are wasting a valuable opportunity to decrease not only the costs we incur from our agricultural policies, but also the cost of policing our borders. Sadly, neither side feels the need to be honest or complete in this debate,” he concludes.
    Hope this helps…
    Cheers from MotherPie

  4. thanks MotherPie, that is very heplful. it helps to show that this immigration debate is too emotional and both sides don’t really want to look at all the facts before making an informed decision. both are playing to their base and both have walls higher and thicker than the Great Wall of China.

    I hope cooler heads prevail before any final decisions are made.

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