From Booklist , October 1, 1999


A flush economy has reduced tension about immigration, but the issue may well be raised in the presidential race. So this thorough analysis of immigration patterns by a respected, if controversial, public policy professor from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government may be a timely acquisition. Borjas may be best known for the argument that recent decades' entrants are less skilled than their predecessors; other scholars question Borjas' interpretation of census and other data. In Heaven's Door, the author, himself a Cuban immigrant, urges that "facts" about immigration are not useful in making policy; we must decide what we want our policy to achieve before we can decide how many and what kind of immigrants should be admitted. To set a baseline, Borjas assumes the goal should be improving Americans' economic welfare, in terms of both standard of living and avoiding increased internal inequality. This goal suggests we should reduce annual quotas and give preference to immigrants with high skill levels. One need not agree with this solution to find Borjas' analysis enlightening. Mary Carroll


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