Cafaro roots his argument in human rights, equality, economic security, and environmental sustainability--hallmark progressive values. He shows us the undeniable realities of mass migration to which we have turned a blind eye: how flooded labor markets in sectors such as meatpacking and construction have driven down workers' wages and driven up inequality; how excessive immigration has fostered unsafe working conditions and political disempowerment; how it has stalled our economic maturity by keeping us ever-focused on increasing consumption and growth; and how it has caused our cities and suburbs to sprawl far and wide, destroying natural habitats, driving other species from the landscape, and cutting us off from nature.
In response to these hard-hitting truths, Cafaro lays out a comprehensive plan for immigration reform that is squarely in line with progressive political goals. He suggests that we shift enforcement efforts away from border control and toward the employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. He proposes aid and foreign policies that will help people create better lives where they are. And indeed he supports amnesty for those who have, at tremendous risk, already built their lives here. Above all, Cafaro attacks our obsession with endless material growth, offering in its place a mature vision of America, not brimming but balanced, where all the different people who constitute this great nation of immigrants can live sustainably and well, sheltered by a prudence currently in short supply in American politics.
- ISBN-13: 9780226190655
- ISBN-10: 022619065X
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press
- Publish Date: February 2015
- Page Count: 336
- Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.23 pounds
Series: Chicago Studies in American Politics
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-12-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Rather than a shibboleth of Tea Partiers and Minutemen, restricting immigration should be a pillar of a left-liberal program to bolster the working class and protect the environment, according to this stimulating manifesto. University of Colorado philosophy professor Cafaro (Thoreau’s Living Ethics) argues that mass immigration undermines important progressive goals: it floods the low-skilled labor market, lowering wages and raising unemployment among the poor (Americans, he contends, both want and take the jobs immigrants also commonly perform but get lower pay because of immigrant competition); it increases the U.S. population, leading to more pollution, carbon emissions, and environmental degradation; it sharpens socioeconomic inequality, fostering a “master/servant economy” in which affluent elites disproportionately benefit from a permanent, highly exploitable immigrant underclass. Cafaro’s lucid, straightforward prose is buttressed by a wealth of statistics and avoids the racial and cultural stereotyping that often intrudes on the immigration debate. His nuanced analysis, incorporating sympathetic interviews with immigrant strivers and beleaguered native-born workers alike, squarely faces the ethical trade-offs that immigration policy entails; he acknowledges immigrants’ contributions and legitimate moral claims, but insists that American democracy put the interests of citizens first. The result is a cogent, eye-opening challenge to received wisdom on this contentious issue. (Feb.)