But the important takeaway here is this: Friedman’s view is that a certain kind of unrestricted welfare state makes illegal immigration good, because it severs residency from welfare eligibility. Friedman is unequivocal about the desirability of free migration. Anyone really committed to Friedman’s stated view about welfare and immigration should by no means try to restrict immigration, but instead should try to enable illegal immigration. A devout Friedmanite should stand stoutly against every fence, every border cop, every increase in the INS budget, any proposed database check for a new workers’ legal status, etc. I think it makes more sense to argue first for a guest worker program. But if that is in fact impossible, then Friedman has it right: more illegal immigration is the best we can do.See the fuller discussion at Will Wilkinson's blog.
UPDATE (June 13, 2008): And, of related interest, a discussion of how the benefits of remittances are really the benefits of labor migration, and how Switzerland, despite being difficult to immigrate to, has the highest percentage of foreign-born in its population of any OECD country, also both from Will Wilkinson. The latter provides further evidence for the logical separability of citizenship, residency, work rights, and welfare eligibility.