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Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 34 reviews
on November 15, 2009
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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on June 30, 2015
Very well written. Very well referenced and documented. Changed my viewpoint of what I have always thought. MUST READ BOOK. Thank you for your very spiteful book.
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on August 1, 2010
I first saw Jason Riley on FBN's Stossel, and his curious position persuaded me to buy his book. Originally a neoconservative, I was confused about what the truth about immigration was. Quickly becoming a libertarian, I put Riley's argument against that of the likes of Robert Rector and co.

This book began the journey of my conversion, and after much consideration, I now realize that market-based solutions to immigration are best. Furthermore, it is clear to me that there is no economic or cultural "cost" greater than the benefits we receive (and have received for generations) from immigrants. Make legal immigration easy and accessible; the sky will not fall! The policy advocated in this book makes absolute sense when confronted with the Dobbs/Borjas/Rector/O'Reilly model.

Overall, the book was lacking in demagoguery but not in sound data and logic. It was easy enough to comprehend as well. It opened my eyes and was extremely thought-provoking. Buy this book if you will appreciate the side of the immigration debate less told. Abandon the shoddy anecdotal evidence for restrictionism and give this book a fair shake with an open mind.
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on April 20, 2010
I usually consider myself pretty far on the left edge of the political spectrum, if you can view it as linear. I am for more open borders on a humanitarian basis. I cannot fault people whose only crime is to want a better life for their family. Once here, roots are casts and children are had, making the situation even more difficult. I have long had a tongue in cheek argument supporting open borders from the right side of the spectrum: Capitalism needs growth to survive and in the face of declining native births, the only reasonable solution is to import the growth we need. A secondary facet is that the market will fill a labor vacuum, no matter how difficult we make it and pushing this mechanism to the edge of darkness creates incentive for inhuman conditions on a black market.

In _Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders_, Jason R. Riley takes my argument and expands on it and makes a sound market-based argument for many of the same conclusions I draw from a left perspective: make legal immigration easier; create a guest-worker program; ease the already-here but illegal population out of the shadows. Here in this book is a kind of conceptual aphasia (eg. The minimum wage and unions are bad, G. W. Bush and Reagan have largely redemptive qualities) that takes the market-based approach and runs with it. I have trouble passing along a book whose entire line of reasoning I disagree with and at times find somewhat insulting, but I find it interesting that we can come from such different places and support the same overall solutions to a `problem' based on conflicting spoken and unspoken ideals.

To be fair, the book was completed just before the economy stepped off the ledge. There has been significant return to native countries. So far, the best check on illegal population has been recession, and I doubt that even the most hard-core nativist would argue for slowdown to keep people out of the country. Most likely this current downturn is temporary, so I think the larger argument holds up from both sides. In the end, no matter which path you take, we should let `them' in so that someday they will be us.
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on April 30, 2015
Good read for immigration discussion to understand pro's and con's of both sides.
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on May 18, 2016
Great book!
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on December 1, 2008
if you are looking for a populist viewpoint this isn't it.
In general the book is well done. Probably the most irrefutable
statement (repeated several times) is that immigration is a
wedge issue that speaks to many personal fears and a commonly held
stereotype about immigrants esp Hispanics from Central America.
The observation that this "issue" arises before elections to stampede
voters and then disappears immediately after the election is tough
to answer.
As an overview Riley looks at the six common areas where objections
to immigration arise:
1) population/over-population - does a good job of setting out some
little known connections and facts about this area of debate. Riley
should address "carrying capacity" and does not. Other than footnoting
this chapter extensively Riley meets the objections well.
2) economics - sets forth how much immigrants draw from the US economy
and what they add. Well done. Tackles the 'stealing US jobs' argument.
3) the welfare system - addreses the way barriers to entry into the US
and the factors that cause people to become interested in leaving another
country "select" people that are pre-disposed to seek work aggressively.
4) assimilation - numerous good points including language assimilation
and some contrasts with other countries
5) politics - should be read by all conservative politicos. Enough said.
6) national security - addresses the terrorist objection extremely well.
Worth a read by someone who wants to think about the various aspects to
this issue. There is some discussion of some aspects of a more open
immigration policy as it relates to human capital being in our NATIONAL
INTEREST that are worth some time for intellectually honest readers.
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on June 10, 2011
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. A third party rather than the patient is paying most of the medical tab. When people are spending other people's money, they tend to spend more of it, which drives up costs."

The children of immigrants are often blamed for "flooding" American schools and driving up costs. But this assumes that education is an "expense." As Riley explains, "Such human capital expenditures, properly understood, are a net investment, and the children of immigrants - including Latinos - typically do better then their parents in terms of schooling and income. It's a strange logic that assumes American children are a fiscal burden to society."

Across all fields of study, people tend to extrapolate current trends into the future. This is probably the main reason why most economic forecasts are so terribly wrong: the future generally does not look like the past.

Americans have witnessed enormous numbers of Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal, entering the country over the past twenty years, and as a result they believe this trend will continue indefinitely. This is what led Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly to recommend using the US Army to patrol the US-Mexican border. But as Jason Riley writes, "In fact, we may have already reached the high-water mark for illegal immigration from our main `sending country,' Mexico. Demographic trends south of the border show that the size of the young adult Mexican cohort, from which most immigrants are drawn, is declining."

Demographer Phillip Longman noted the same trend in his book THE EMPTY CRADLE, which we also highly recommend. Longman went so far as to suggest there will come a time in which Mexican border guards will be patrolling the border to prevent their promising young nationals from leaving for the United States!

Finally, Riley acknowledges that sentiment towards immigrants tends to run in cycles. All of the negative views towards immigrants expressed today have been heard before. There is nothing new under the sun:

"Most every anti-immigrant argument rolled out today is a retread. Benjamin Franklin was complaining about bilingual sign posts and 'swarms' of unassimilable Germans migrating to Pennsylvania 250 years ago. Later, in the nineteenth century, people like Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph and a leading nativist of his day, would pick up Franklin's banner. Morse was a founder and generous financier of the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic Know-Nothing movement, and in lieu of Germans he railed against Irish immigration in the antebellum decades. In his 1835 treatise against the political influence of Catholicism, Morse argued that poor, uneducated Irish Catholics were subverting the values and ideals of Anglo-America and should therefore be kept out of the country."

What is it the French say? The more things change...

All in all, Riley's book is a work of clear and concise thinking that I recommend.
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on August 14, 2009
First of all, this book was written by a journalist, not an economist. Jason Riley has a degree in English. I found that out after I bought the book. I thought a big dog at one of the nation's leading financial periodicals would have a good background and grasp of financial matters. This is not a scientific book analyzing data and reporting on studies, trends and economic models. Although Jason Riley did have a lot of help in compiling the information from the book, he reports it from a journalist's perspective, not from an economist's perspective. For some, that might be a positive, but for those like me who are more interested in getting deep into the nitty-gritty, it's disappointing.

The author cites his primary goal as offering a rebuttal to some anti-immigrant arguments commonly tendered in the United States. He chose six arguments against immigration:

- immigration causes overpopulation
- immigrants take jobs and suppress wages
- immigrants are a high cost to taxpayers because of welfare usage
- immigrants don't assimilate
- immigration is a windfall for Democrat voters
- immigrants increase the rate of crime and pose a national security threat

This book is a good balance against all the vicious anti-immigrant rhetoric being spread on talk radio and in books by people like Peter Brimelow and Patrick Buchanan. This book presents sound facts to counter some of the most fictitious anti-immigrant talking points. It also references more than a few scientific studies that back up the arguments as well as several other books on the subject for further study and research.
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on July 9, 2008
Read this book, and make Pat Buchanan angry!!!

On a more serious note, this is an absolutely wonderful book. The author makes a very convincing case for why the anti-immigration crowd is full of hot air.

As a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, Riley approaches this from a conservative/libertarian point of view, looking at the economic benefits that immigration provides. He exposes the hypocrisy of those who claim to be "conservatives" but then complain about how immigration is destroying the middle class. He boldly calls out such arguments as incorrect and recognizes that the logic used is that of class warfare inducing liberals.

Quite frankly, as a Neoconservative, I have had quit enough of the nativist/paleocon/redneck "conservatives" dominating the argument here and making their views seem like the one universally held by all conservatives. Both talk radio (with the exception of Michael Medved) and Republican presidential candidates (except McCain, God bless him, and to some degree Giuliani) made themselves out do be idiots on this issue. As Riley points out, there are legitimate national security arguments for wanting to have a secure border. However, that does not justify the mean spirited campaign by some "conservatives" to seal the border and kick all the illegal immigrants out of the country. The economic benefits of immigration are undeniable.
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