Advancing a Free Society

Seeking the Middle Ground on Immigration

Thursday, July 8, 2010

President Barack Obama committed an act of political bravery Thursday morning at American University in Washington, D.C., by trying to shore up the reformist efforts for our immigration laws. It is of course a thankless task. Opinion on this issue is divided as it is on few others. In his effort to take that middle ground, Obama risks saying something that will offend everyone. My guess is that he already has.

The source of the problem is that there is no clean conceptual solution to any immigration question. It is clear as a matter of law that any sovereign nation, the U.S. included, can wall itself off from all immigrants if it so chooses. But that policy is likely to be self-defeating. Illegal immigrants can climb the wall or burrow underneath it. Legal immigrants are needed in many areas to keep the economy humming.

Continue reading Richard Epstein on Forbes.com