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Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders Paperback – December 30, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592404315
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“An illuminating look at immigration.”
Booklist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 32 customer reviews
The book is an easy read, well researched, and clear in its arguments.
Dr. Bojan Tunguz
And... let's not forget all the social service freebies hispanics typically get: food stamps, welfare, WIC, EIC tax credits, housing subsidies, head start, etc.
E. Baumgartner
In this new book about the immigration debate Jason Riley performs an important service.
Simon Burrow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful 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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA on June 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Let Them In, Wall Street Journal editorialist Jason Riley makes the case for a more open immigration policy. In a country where aging demographics loom as one of the biggest obstacle to future growth and prosperity, young immigrants can add much needed consumer spending and entrepreneurial energy. Unfortunately, we do not see this happening. In the post-9/11 era, the country has turned far more insular, and sentiment towards free-trade, globalization, and immigration have all worsened as a result. The confident swagger of the 1990s has been replaced by feeling of vulnerability, particularly after the 2008 finacial crisis. Rising anti-immigrant sentiment coupled with a stagnant economy have already kept a fair percentage of would-be immigrants at home. We see this trend accelerating in the coming years, as America becomes a more closed economy.

With that said, let us now review what Mr. Riley has to say about immigration.

"Most pro-immigration economists view immigrants primarily as a source of labor. But as many anti-immigration commentators have retorted, automation and mechanization can replace much of the low-end labor that immigrants do."

Unlike most authors who have commented on demographic trends, Mr. Riley understands that immigrants are both producers and consumers. In response to calls for automation of agricultural work, Riley says: "Unlike the machines, immigrants not only pick produce but also consume products and services, thus helping the U.S. economy expand."

Immigrants have also been blamed for rising health costs. But as Riley explains, "And so it goes with health care. Health-care costs aren't what they are because of immigrants but because we have employer-provided health insurance.
Read more ›
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis on July 22, 2008
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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