On one side we have the open borders crowd arguing for no restrictions whatsoever on immigration (especially from Mexico), we have the regulated immigration crowd, and we have the very low or no immigration crowd.
Caught in the middle is the regulated immigration crowd who only has an ally in the eyes of the other two crowds. The open immigration crowd sees the regulated immigration crowd as part of the no immigration crowd, and the no immigration crowd sees the regulated immigration crowd as part of the open immigration crowd. Got it?
To use variables we have groups A, B, and C. A sees B and C as the same, and C simultaneously sees A and B as the same.
A often argues in two fashions; first B and C are racist xenophobes and secondly immigrants are hard workers who contribute to the overall wealth of the nation.
C usually argues immigrants refuse to assimilate, bring diseases and open immigration poses a national security risk to the nation.
A usually refuses to note the immigration we are talking about is against the law already. In fact group A is working hard to drop illegal from any discussion of undocumented aliens i.e. illegal aliens.
Count me in group B. For a number of reasons. I am under no illusions about the work ethic of way too many Americans. Too many people in group C refuse to admit it, they tend to be older people who grew up in the great depression where Americans would take any work. When I lived in the Middle East I saw this first hand and we have it too. A buddy of mine tells about his days working in a packing plant. The wages to be earned in the packing plant were very good, better than the bank's pay but the young Americans would not work in the packing plant. The packing plant he worked in had to hire immigrants.
Our population trends are not as bad as they are in Europe and elsewhere (I hear Japan has the grimmest population trends) but they are definitely lopsided. The baby boomers are demanding a lot of goods and services and the generations after them are not large enough to supply those goods and services (even if they will do all the work required). Now, unless you are willing to pay real big bucks for the goods and services (services especially) you use, you want immigration to be fairly open.
The open immigration crowd miss some things too. First off, open borders are a legitimate problem when it comes to national security. I figure the human mules don't give a rats @$$ if they are carrying guys who are going to frame or to blow up houses, they want the money.
Second, as long as Mexico can pawn off its excess workers, Mexico has no incentive to improve its economy! The fat cats in Mexico can sit back and be fat cats without having to worry about upstarts since those upstarts are in America. Why should we as a nation give Mexico that crutch? I have lived closely with a community of ex-patriate labor in the Middle East. Quite a bit of social pathology was going on, men and women separated from their families at home.
So crowd A, crowd B is not racist or xenophobic (I'll let crowd C speak for themselves) and Crowd C you need to face up to some facts. We need immigration but controlled immigration.
A guest worker program (asylum or amnesty if you will) is a good idea ONLY if accompanied by tight border control. Once those controls are up, I am all for fairly liberal immigration quotas.