The parable goes like this: If you offer a Russian anything they want, with the proviso that whatever they pick their neighbor will get twice as much, the Russian will say: "Put one of my eyes out".
According to this piece in the NY Times today, the parable should be revised to read: "If you offer an American...".
The article argues convincingly that we underfund education because we want to ensure that children of immigrants are not the beneficiaries of our educational system. We are committed enough to this idea that we are willing to sacrifice the education of our own children in order to accomplish it. That is some extreme protectionism.
There is no question that immigration policy is a very complex issue with many variables. Just read this paper by the UN's Social and Economic Affairs group on the relationship between policy reform and income distribution and you will gain a new appreciation for the complexity. For a quicker reference, here is a link to the CIA World Factbook's list of income distribution showing that of the 134 nations on the list we are 45th from the end that is most polarized (Namibia) and a long way from the least polarized (Sweden).
I put in these two reference points because I still think of our country as the land of opportunity. America is the place people want to go when they want to improve their lives through hard work -- not through a free ride. We hear often these days that our current policy changes are socialist, and maybe they are, but we are a long way from the socialist end of the income distribution curve and our recent willingness to let the hand outs go to those that don't need them only pushes us more towards the rich get richer model.
We want our economy to grow. In order to have growth we need immigration. Highly skilled people want to move here (for now at least) -- so let them in. Along the way some not so skilled people will get in too -- that is also going to work out for us in the end.
Here is a link to the posts in this blog tagged Immigration. There you will find the numbers on Immigration showing that we have strayed from our roots and our immigration rate is well below where it has been in the past. should loosen immigration policy.