Ask Me Why: Should we open U.S. borders?

May 27, 2011

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(Flickr/C.K.H.)
A display at Ellis Island, historically a landing point for immigrants entering the U.S.

America’s immigration debate is usually framed in reference to folks, legal or not, who come here from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Today we’re casting the net a little wider, in a conversation with two people with immigrant roots in another part of the world.

Ravi Radheshwar, 32, grew up in Michigan. He’s an American citizen, but the son of immigrant parents who came here from India to pursue graduate school. His friend Vijay Subramanian, 39, has a story similar to that of Radheshwar’s own parents. Subramanian came to the U.S. from India in 1995 for graduate school and then stayed for a stint as an engineer at Motorola.

For the final installment of Ask Me Why, our recorded conversation series that tries to get at the heart of why we believe what we believe, we’ve asked these two friends to mull over whether the U.S. should disband its strict immigration laws in favor of a more welcoming set of “open border” policies.

Subramanian is frustrated with America’s immigration laws, and the way they seems to punish and reward different people arbitrarily. He would like to see people move freely around the globe. Radheshwar acknowledges that America’s immigration laws need reform, but doesn’t want to abolish them entirely. He worries the massive influx of people that could result from disbanding such laws would lead to major financial strain for local and national governments.

You can listen to an edited version of their conversation in the audio posted above.

Ask Me Why is produced in collaboration with the Illinois Humanities Council, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company.