Reality Check

POLITICIANS SAY slash legal immigration and crack down on the illegal kind. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to shrink immigration quotas by almost two-thirds, to 300,000 yearly. Pat Buchanan wants an outright moratorium on newcomers. The House of Representatives has voted to beef up border patrols to shut out illegals. Why all the hue and cry? Because immigrants are blamed for taking jobs from Americans, committing crimes, and causing a slew of social ills.

IN REALITY, the U.S., a nation of immigrants, needs the energy and skills of the foreign-born, many of whom take the jobs no American wants. Moreover, upcoming shortfalls in various skills are predicted. Right now, the U.S. imports thousands of software engineers and physical therapists on temporary visas. And as a practical matter, the influx of illegal immigrants from our neighbors is hardly stanched by heavier policing. The best way to curtail illegal immigration, especially from Mexico, is to O.K. the North American Free Trade Agreement.