I think the biggest problem with immigration is that government limits it.
Good legislation mirrors social norms and the social norms recognize that most illegal immigrants are hard-working people looking for opportunity through value-added work effort rather than value-draining government benefit programs. That’s win-win. We should eliminate government limits on immigration to match what we believe to be true that we generally accept immigrants.
Now, some folks make the case that immigrants attracted by government handouts are a drain on society. However, I think that should be taken as a valid case against government handouts rather than immigration.
Others worry about the cultural impact of open immigration, yet the U.S. has survived many waves of immigrants before. I’m not sure I understand why a current wave should be feared, especially if they are coming here for opportunity.
Update: Here’s a good, related post on Arnold Kling’s askblog. In response to the analogy “Illegal immigrants are to immigration what shoplifters are to shopping,” Kling wrote:
Let me continue with the analogy. We have a store that makes the process of dealing with the sales clerks very complicated, with people having to stand in line at the cash register for years. Maybe we would not have so much shoplifting if we fixed the checkout process–or at least if we offered an “express lane” to people willing to pay a fee of $5,000 or so.
One of Kling’s commenters took it a bit further and wrote:
Illegal immigrants are to immigration what front-of-the-bus riders are to Jim Crow.