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America Needs Immigrants and Strong Borders

OPINION features excerpts of pieces by columnists from the Op-Ed page and other sections of The New York Times. All columns from the last seven days are available at nytimes.com; Op-Ed pieces (by columnists and outside contributors), plus Editorials and Letters to the Editor, are at nytimes.com/opinion. Please let us know what you think of OPINION at upfront@scholastic.com.

We need to keep America the world's greatest magnet for immigrants. Why? Today, more and more people around the globe have access to the same technological tools for innovation and entrepreneurship. In such a world, the countries that make it easy to draw in human talent will have a distinct advantage. Also, a steady flow of immigrants keeps a society flexible and competitive. The more open your society is to new people and ideas, the more things will be done by you, not to you. We shouldn't just welcome educated immigrants, but laborers as well. Immigrants keep energy flowing in America's veins. But because I strongly favor immigration, I also favor a high fence—if not a physical one, then at least a tamper-proof national I.D. card for every American, without which you could not get a legal job or access to government services. We will not sustain a majority in favor of flexible immigration if we can't control our borders. Good fences make good immigration policy.

Thomas L. Friedman [4/5/06]