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Unsubstantiated claims undermine otherwise good case
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.