Outsourcing lawn service?

From an e-mail I wrote a few days ago (why let material go to waste?):

I can understand a non-prejudiced economic argument against mass immigration, on the grounds that it will lower the wages for American workers. But isn’t the issue a pretty exact parallel to the outsourcing debate? There too the anti-globalization crowd have been complaining that American workers will suffer as their jobs are taken by lower-paid foreigners (or in the case of immigration recently foreign workers). In fact, the immigration debate is simply the counterpart to the outsourcing debate for service-sector jobs that can’t be exported. In both cases however it seems likely that overall there’s a net economic benefit: corporations benefit from lower costs, foreign workers should benefit in equal numbers (from getting new jobs) as the American workers who suffer (from losing them), and consumers should theoretically benefit from lower prices, though I’m rather skeptical that that’s actually happening. But even if it’s not, the economic anti-immigration argument still seems ethically suspect to me because even if not overtly prejudiced it still seems to be implicitly predicated on the idea that American workers somehow have a God-given right to have jobs, and with much higher wages, than non-Americans, which may fit with an egalitarian agenda on a national level but not on a global level. I think the issue of jobs and poverty is the same whether the workers are American, Mexican or Chinese. So for me it doesn’t really matter that jobs are being transferred from one part of the world to another. And maybe even at that it’s still better, because the foreign workers are being lifted out of greater poverty than the American workers whose jobs they’re taking. We know this because if American workers, even the now-unemployed ones, were at the same economic level, and hence willing to compete for the same jobs, immigrants would not have a competitve advantage. Of course I understand there are other rational reasons to not favor relatively open borders, like the possibility of political destabilization from a restive, non-integrated Latino minority in the Southwest, but those can I think at least be separated from the economic rationale.

p.s. A fairly large number of politicians, including the president, seem hell-bent on pushing through some sort of amnesty plan for illegal immigrants in the hopes, among other reasons, of capturing the loyalty of the immigrant, especially Hispanic, voters. And it might work if those who benefit from it vote in the future based on gratitude, or simply out of ethnic or national loyalty. But if they vote based on economic self-interest it seems almost inevitable that this kind of legislation would be most unpopular among recent immigrants, since they’re the ones that are most likely to suffer from further waves of immigrants driving down wages in their sectors. And if this is true then the attempt to win future immigrant voters will always alienate current immigrant voters, hence an intrinsically self-defeating tactic.

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