Immigration Issues

Although I generally agree with Rabbi Shafran’s opinions and views — yes, even those concerning our former president — I found myself disagreeing with his thoughts and weak arguments regarding immigration. Though there are studies that show immigration does not negatively impact jobs, the majority of such studies actually show that immigrants have taken jobs away from hard-working Americans.

He also seems to downplay the “mere” 23 fatal attacks caused by radical Islamists resulting in 119 deaths. He wants us to deem this within normal acceptable limits. I had to read this paragraph twice, as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He doesn’t mention the murders that these elements are carrying out in Europe. Does he believe it won’t happen here? Are we willing to gamble our children’s future and hope that when we let them in, these “immigrants” will behave with decency and moral values? I think not. …

I argue that it would be unseemly for us to disagree with our current president’s policy. As citizens of this malchus shel chessed, our thoughts should be with our fellow Americans, who will be put in the crosshairs of the weapons of these radical Islamists that slaughter innocents in their homes and schoolyards.

Bimechilas kevodo,

David Horowitz

Rabbi Shafran responds:

Dear Mr. Horowitz,

No mechilah is needed for disagreeing! And thank you for sharing your perspective.

But, to defend what I wrote, the assertion that immigration does not have any clear negative effect on American labor is not a minority view. The highly regarded and nonpartisan Cato Institute reports that “A large body of academic economic research has found that immigration has a relatively small effect on U.S-born American wages and their employment prospects. … [Any] effects are small and clustered around zero.”

The equally respected Brookings Institute likewise reports that “Based on a survey of the academic literature, economists do not tend to find that immigrants cause any sizable decrease in wages and employment of U.S.-born citizens, and instead may raise wages and lower prices in the aggregate.”

As to my citation of fatal attacks in the U.S., I was not, chalilah, “downplaying” any of them, only comparing the number of fatal attacks over a 15-year period by Islamists — 23 — with those by (presumably non-immigrant) far-right individuals (like the one we witnessed recently in Charlottesville, Virginia) — 62.

Finally, with regard to the image of radical Islamist immigrants aiming to “slaughter innocents in their homes and schoolyards,” I would only reiterate what I mentioned in my column: Legal immigration to the U.S. is overwhelmingly from Mexico, China and India, hardly hotbeds of Islamism.

I just feel that it’s very important that not only fears but facts inform our positions on political issues.

Again, my thanks for your writing.