Episode 147: The Border Within with Tara Watson & Kalee Thompson

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Tara Watson, professor of economics at Williams College and a co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources, the leading academic journal in labor economics, as well as Kalee Thompson, a journalist and senior editor at Wirecutter and the author of Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History. Watson and Thompson are co-authors of The Border Within: The Economics of Immigration in an Age of Fear — the focus of this episode — which is a profoundly eye-opening analysis of the costs and effects of immigration and immigration policy, both on American life and on new Americans. For decades, immigration has been one of the most divisive, contentious topics in American politics. And for decades, urgent calls for its policy reform have gone mostly unanswered. As the discord surrounding the modern immigration debate has intensified, border enforcement has tightened. Crossing harsher, less porous borders makes unauthorized entry to the United States a permanent, costly undertaking. And the challenges don’t end on the other side. At once enlightening and devastating, The Border Within examines the costs and ends of America’s interior enforcement — the policies and agencies, including ICE, aimed at removing immigrants already living in the country. Economist Tara Watson and journalist Kalee Thompson pair rigorous analysis with deeply personal stories from immigrants and their families to assess immigration’s effects on every aspect of American life, from the labor force to social welfare programs to tax revenue. What emerges is a critical, utterly complete examination of what non-native Americans bring to the country, including immigration’s tendency to elevate the wages and skills of those who are native-born. In this episode, host Michael Shields, Tara Watson, and Kalee Thompson discuss the crucial focus of the book (interior immigration enforcement) while dispelling a bevy of myths surrounding immigration regarding the economic benefits of immigration, immigrants effect on crime rates, and the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of enforcement by agencies such as ICE. They discuss the concept of “chilling effects” and ponder what an ideal internal enforcement approach would look like. Ultimately this episode celebrates the essential work that is The Border Within, a book with far-reaching implications for immigrants and non-immigrants alike.

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