Publication Date

March 1999


[Excerpt] In one of his most memorable public addresses, President John F. Kennedy spoke to the 1962 Graduating Class at Yale University the following words:

“For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

In no other area of public policy today are Kennedy’s words more appropriate than as they relate to the subject of immigration and its impact on the U.S. economy. Immigration policy has been captured by special interests who peddle the notion that immigration is an unmitigated benefit to the nation and that it is relatively costless. Nothing could be further from the truth. The immigration myth is based on the premise that attention need only be paid to the benefits while the costs can be totally ignored. Only with respect to the formulation of immigration policy is such an unbalanced perspective tolerated as conventional wisdom.


Suggested Citation
Briggs, V. M., Jr. (1999). U.S. immigration policy and the plight of its unskilled workers (CAHRS Working Paper #99-05). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.