Neeraj Kaushal Discusses New Book in Wall Street Journal Interview

March 26, 2019 @ 2:14 pm

Author of Blaming Immigrants: Nationalism and the Economics of Global Movement investigates the misconceptions and the misplaced contempt facing immigrants throughout the world.

On March 8, Dr. Neeraj Kaushal sat for an interview with Tunku Varadarajan of the Wall Street Journal to discuss her new book, Blaming Immigrants: Nationalism and the Economics of Global Movement. The interview, titled “America’s Great Immigration System,” can be read here (subscription required). Some takeaways from the piece are summarized below.

A Shift in Attitude
Kaushal once focused mostly on the shortcomings of the U.S. immigration system, but a meeting with an official Chinese delegation changed her mind. When describing the system’s flaws, one official asked, “If you think there are so many problems with the U.S. immigration system, why is it that the U.S. is more successful than any other country in attracting talented foreign workers?”

A Broken System?
Upon reexamining the U.S. immigration system through this new lens, she decided that it is “nothing less than a thumping success.” “Yet President Trump believes the system is broken, and most Americans agree with him.”

United States Immigration System as a Model
In fact, Kaushal argues that, far from broken, the U.S. immigration system has served as a model for other countries. She notes that, “two years after my meeting with the delegation, the Chinese launched a China green card.”

And the Germans and the Brits “have instituted their versions of the H-1B visa, which Trump wants to restrict.”

The United States Benefits from Undocumented Immigrants
Kaushal concludes that immigrant receiving countries gain far more than they lose. “A dirty little secret about the U.S. immigration system is that illegal immigration has served the economy quite well,” Kaushal says in the interview. “Their abundant supply just beyond the southern border spurs undocumented immigration.”

On the President’s National Emergency Declaration
“President Trump wants to declare an emergency to fund a wall that everyone knows cannot, and will not, be built in short order.” She points out that there is already a wall, or fence, or electronic surveillance, across most of the land border with Mexico. “So where is the emergency?”

Kaushal’s Solution to Undocumented Immigration
As long as there remains high demand for low-skill, low-wage workers, Kaushal doesn’t expect the problem will resolve, even with a border wall. The “simplest way to reduce future growth in undocumented immigration isn’t a wall,” she says. “It is to ease legal migration of blue-collar workers.”

Blaming Immigrants: Nationalism and the Economics of Global Movement, published in January by the Columbia University Press, collects, examines, and dispels many of the myths that cloud the debate around immigration worldwide in an attempt to better understand, and to dissuade, the swelling antagonism toward immigrants.