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May 25, 2007



My ignorant take is this is not identified as a free trade issue for most people. My ignorant take, informed only by being a Californian living in Arizona, is that people appreciate the work and efforts of immigrants or would be immigrants, but truly dislike the "illegal" aspects of illegal immigration.

I often hear people of all political stripes railing about the illegals. You can't miss it. The conversation occurs everywhere out here. But I have actually never heard any of those people make any kind of racial or disparaging comments about the people themselves or their origins.

Perhaps that is actually a really good thing to say about America.

It may be that most people really don't understand what the guest worker program is all about (I certainly don't) and are just going off the difference between guest work, and illegal aliens working.

(But I really have no clue.)


Dani Rodrik: "Maybe most people instinctively understand the point made here..."

It's certainly a powerful argument, but it's being very selectively applied to immigration and guest worker programs. Why not apply it to all manner of economic policy analysis. Do you do so in your work, or encourage others to do so in their's?

Peter Schaeffer

The question was:

“Would you favor or oppose a program allowing people from other countries to be guest workers in the U.S. ?”

Now, guests go home. Experience has shown that “there is nothing more permanent than a temporary worker”. Borjas has blogged on this very subject. See borjas.typepad.com/the_borjas_blog/2007/05/on_guest_worker.html for his comments.

Imagine the poll response if the question was written:

“Would you favor or oppose a program allowing people from other countries to be guest workers in the U.S. even though the program would have no way of forcing the guest workers to return home and experience shows, they won’t?”

To get an honest answer, you need to ask an honest question.

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It may be that most people really don't understand what the guest worker program is all

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