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Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders Hardcover – May 15, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The argument that immigrants depress wages, displace workers, boost crime and disease, and pose a threat to the national security of the U.S. runs counter to political ideals of free trade and the views of conservative hero President Ronald Reagan, who supported amnesty for illegal immigrants and open borders, according to Riley, a conservative columnist. He briefly examines the long and sordid history of opposition to immigrants from Germany, Ireland, China, and, more recently, Latin America. Riley notes that immigration opponents are joined in their resistance to open borders by some environmentalists concerned about the impact on the earth of a burgeoning U.S. population. He challenges the notion that the current targets of immigrant ire—Hispanics—are somehow different from immigrants of the past. Riley also explores the compatibility between open immigration and free-market conservatism and homeland security. Because immigrants strengthen the economy through their labor and entrepreneurism, our policy on immigration should recognize economic realities and focus on providing legal ways for immigrants to enter the country through guest-worker programs, according to Riley. An illuminating look at immigration. --Vanessa Bush


aThe immigration debate seems to have been taken over by shrill anti-immigrant voices. Ace editorialist Jason Riley restores some balance with this calm, reasoned, highly compelling presentation of the case for immigration. His fact- laden polemic should make even the most die-hard xenophobe think twice. He shows why immigrants are a net plus, and why illegal immigration isnat the crisis it has been made out to be.a
aMax Boot, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, author of "War Made New" and "Savage Wars of Peace"
aJason Riley puts today's fierce immigration debate into perspective, and he does so with crisp writing and thoughtful analysis. "Let Them In" is a welcome contribution to a national discussion that is too often dominated by fear-mongering and misinformation. Free-market adherents ought to embrace open- immigration policies, and this tightly drawn book explains why.a
aArthur Laffer, Chairman of Laffer Associates
aJason Riley makes a very comprehensive argument for an Open Borders policy. People on all sides of this would do well to understand where he is coming from.a
aLawrence Lindsey, former chief economic adviser to President George W. Bush

aAn illuminating look at immigration.a
a "Booklist"

?An illuminating look at immigration.?
? "Booklist"

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592403492
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592403493
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. Metz on November 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provides a solid argument in favor of largely expanding immigration (although the subtitle says "open borders", nowhere does he really call for truly unlimited immigration), citing multiple studies and extensive research, as well as considerable historical evidence, to support his claims that 1) immigrants do not pressure existing social systems more than natives do, 2) immigrants fill holes in a large labor market, and 3) immigrants are a net benefit to America.

That said, Riley spends a lot of time taking pundits to task for promoting arguments to stop immigration that have no basis in historical fact, which is appropriate. Unfortunately, he proceeds to make multiple statements - for example, linking Charles Darwin to the Eugenics movement, and claiming that charter schools will fix education problems, without providing any historical basis for them (in the case of the former, there is none - Riley gamely tries to re-interpret the title of Darwin's book as such, which is silly). This makes the reader question the strength of the rest of his statements. Even worse, these statements are asides, which really have very little to do with the central argument, so they weaken the author's position without really adding to his argument. Riley also wears his political affiliation on his sleeve, which is, of course, his right, but again adds a certain amount of writing that doesn't really bear on immigration.

My advice to Mr. Riley for the 2nd edition, then, would be to remove everything that does not bear directly on his thesis. I think his arguments about immigration are generally spot-on, but there is a certain amount of irrelevant content in there, without which the book would be better. I would probably give 3-and-a-half if I could.
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Format: Hardcover
Jason Riley, a writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page, presents a brief for unlimited immigration from Mexico to the U.S. While Let Them In is well-written and thought-provoking, I remain far from convinced unlimited immigration is really the best thing for America and for my state of California. Riley is certainly right on one thing: the U.S. cannot simply eliminate immigration completely. But in conceding that point, I do not therefore admit that unregulated mass immigration is a good thing. Riley nowhere discusses the cost of schooling illegal children, or the fact that many American universities (unfairly) allow in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. I've seen studies by economists that illegal immigration costs California billions of dollars. It would be a mistake in my judgment to take Let Them In as the final word on the subject.

I also don't think Riley appreciates the cultural aspects of mass Hispanic immigration. That is what drives most of the angry calls to the talk radio hosts that he criticizes in the book. Certainly, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (or Lou Dobbs, etc..) are not above criticism, but a free-marketeer like Riley should understand they are responding to popular demand. A majority of Americans --70% in a major poll done by the Council of Foreign Relations-- want immigration reduced or eliminated. Riley doesn't seem to understand--or to even want to understand-- this frustration. In a democratic system of government is it remarkable that politicians want to at least pretend to support their constituents' demands on this subject? Nor is it unreasonable for talk show hosts to tailor their show to the desires of their listeners.

For all my criticism, I still recommend reading the book. Just don't take it as the final word on the subject.
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Format: Hardcover
Basically Mr Riley claims in this book that low skill/low wage immigrants are good for the country because they help expand the economic pie by filling jobs that there aren't enough Americans to fill. He also claims that immigrants are not a net drain on society due to their demand for social services, and any environmental impacts or security risks they may pose.

I wonder what Mr. Riley's take on the illegal immigration issue would be if he lived in a Southwest border town, rather than in suburban New York City (about as far away from the current massive influx from Latin America as you can get).

Riley chooses to bury us with numerous studies to prove his points that illegal immigrants aren't hurting, but in fact are helping the country. At first, this sounds impressive. But ultimately all the statistics beg a few key questions:

* How do we know how many illegal immigrants are in the country to calculate the statistics?
* What will be the net impacts on US society a few generations from now?
* What "side effects" are occurring that can't be easily framed in a few simple statistics?
* Even if the "net" effect is positive, how do we reimburse the burdensome costs to localities that are certainly adversely impacted?

While I agree with him on some issues -- Latino immigrants aren't a particular national security risk being one -- his use (abuse?) of selected (sometimes unnamed) studies is of concern to me.

In summary, the phrase "statistics, damn statistics, and lies" seemed to summarize the book all to well for me.
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