A Thought On Immigration And Time Preference

When talking about immigration, some conservatives complain that immigrants often times do not assimilate. They do not, among others, learn the language, settle down, establish themselves in the community and so on. What is puzzling about this view is that, though not necessarily incorrect, political conservatives appear to support policies that lead exactly to the result they want to avoid.

Take a look at farm workers visas, as well as other temporary work permits. Not only do they cause chronic employment shortages and similar problems (upstate NY is plagued by this issue), but because transient workers are not allowed to have permanent residency, their place in the workforce is tenuous. Indeed, lacking stable, reliable employment, their time preference is increased. No longer can they plan for long-term living arrangements, savings, settling down, establishing their families–things permanent residents/citizens can do. Temporary work visas bolster the existence of the “bad immigrant hood.” They end up with poor, crowded living conditions.

When I brought up this point to a friend, he said, “I used to deliver pizzas to a motel near the Monfort rendering plant on the north side of town. In each room there would be up to 8 people, all Mexican migrant workers, sharing like two mattresses on the floor. Their living conditions sucked but they all were trying to save money to take back home… Obviously if these guys could stay year-round they would likely not want to remain in such squalid conditions.”

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