Regarding the PG's recent account of the Shadyside forum on Arizona's recently enacted immigration law ("Ariz. Immigration Law Called Threat to Liberty," May 18):
While I am frustrated that the federal government does not have the appetite to fix this problem long-term, I don't believe focusing on the supposed benefit or, alternatively, huge cost of illegal immigration is terribly relevant when discussing the phenomenon. Deciding who may be in your country, for how long and why is a fundamental aspect of national sovereignty. Its violation flouts the rule of law, respect for which I suspect most Americans, liberal and conservative, would agree is a core aspect of our national identity and a great achievement.
The broader question of whether to liberalize our immigration policies would require a consideration of the overall costs and benefits of doing so, but, for better or for worse, it is no longer 1910, and the United States needs more-skilled as opposed to less-skilled workers, a fact wisely reflected in a number of current U.S. immigration programs targeting skilled workers over unskilled ones.
Given income levels in Mexico and Central America and our huge and very porous southern border, there is no reason to think that legal immigration can ever be properly calibrated under current rules to produce the desired number of additional immigrants, or, given the fact that India and China have made Mexico and Central America uncompetitive in terms of labor costs, can make us more competitive globally. It is therefore not surprising that there is little public support to do so.