This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Immigration and the Presidential Debate

Tonight's presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney featured some audience-initiated questions about US immigration policy. I was happy to see this, although I gave both candidates low grades on their responses. Why? Because neither one is willing to confront the elephant in the room when it comes to immigration reform--family reunification. Romney talked about how he wants people to come in the "front" door (legal immigrants), rather than the back door (undocumented immigrants), without referencing the fact that the front door is clogged with close relatives of legal immigrants who, when they enter the country, have a low probability of contributing to the economic needs of the nation, whereas those coming in the back door are coming precisely because there are jobs that no one else wants. President Obama noted his hard line on the border without referencing the fact that the economy, more than border enforcement, has shortened the line of people trying to cross the border without documents.

All of these things were in play in my mind because earlier this morning my mother-in-law died (peacefully, at age 93). Her father had migrated from Denmark to Iowa late in the 19th century, without any expectation that any of his Danish family members would join him in the US (and none did). He arrived in Iowa, married a child of immigrants (also from Denmark) and they moved to South Dakota, where my mother-in-law grew up on a farm. The opportunity to work brought these people, legally, to the US and that is exactly where our national immigration policy needs to be today---but it isn't. And I find that frustrating.

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