Debate – Who Is Harmed Most by Immigration?

The United States has laws in place to limit the number of immigrants granted entry. How many immigrants should be allowed to call America home? Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at George Mason University, argues that the United States should have open borders. Jan Ting, professor of law at Temple University, argues that there need to be limits on the number of immigrants.

Economically, native-born high school dropouts are the most likely to lose out from the competition from low-skilled workers that will increase if the United States has open borders. In this clip, Prof. Caplan argues that although these are the most vulnerable Americans, they are some of the wealthiest people in the world. Prof. Ting argues that part of being a country means having greater concern for your fellow citizens than for the world as a whole.

Prof. Caplan argues that while it is fine to care about fellow Americans more than about the world as a whole, immigration laws are about saying we’re going to take care of Americans no matter what the cost we impose on other people.  Even when you care more about one person or group of people than others, it is still important to treat the others fairly. The clip also brings up interesting questions about how competition and trade affect individuals and society.


  1. connornll


  2. Greg Gauthier

    Who does it harm most? THE STATE. The state requires a CLOSED SYSTEM, to survive. By suffocating us, it breaths. 

  3. Matt Wavle

    Anti-foreign bias is real.  Bryan Caplan’s answer was a great one, because it focused on the morality, vs merely the legality, of the issue.  "Sure. I care about my children far more than I care about other Americans or other human beings. I love my children, and yet there are many things I will not do to help them. I will not steal from other people to help my children. I won’t try to get other kids kicked out of school so my kids can be the best kids in the class. I won’t, because it seems wrong. The fact that you love someone and care more about them is a reason to make sure that you are treating other people fairly."  <– spot ON!

  4. agavin2342

    Immigration is essential to the US. We are a country based on immigration–however, with a global population continually rising, legal immigration is key. An interesting bill from the 110th Congress sponsored by Kennedy and Kyl was S. 1348, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. This gave a complete answer to our country’s illegal immigration problem, but didn’t go against our value as the American melting pot. 

    If we have so many different cultures in our country, it only makes us richer and better educated about the world around us. 
  5. andrei.roibu

    We can see a situation like this in the UK today. Despite the general belief that immigrants do harm to the UK economy and "steal" the jobs of the British citizens, studies show that immigrants actually contribute to the economy, by doing some jobs for a smaller cost, so producing plus value, and they are not taking away the jobs of UK citizens, which have statistically remained constant in the last years. 

  6. Grady Flanagan

    Easy economic solution to the problem of illegal immigrants taking jobs and taking benefits "without paying"- they pay- Legalize them all. They will pay taxes and will get paid the minimum wage. 

  7. cleonwilson

    Why cant all these millions of mexicans fix mexico to be like america instead of invading us

  8. Lukas Koube

    yeah, keeping out the smart foreign students definitely the way to improve america. 

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