US Should Sell Citizenship for $50K

Writers at think tank lay out case of 'market-based' immigration plan

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 5, 2013 1:52 PM CST

(Newser) – Hey buddy, wanna be a US citizen? How much is it worth to ya? Because if it's enough, you can stay, as far as two writers at Stanford's Hoover Institution are concerned. "We propose that, instead of the current maze of rules and formulas, the US should sell the right to become a citizen," argue Gary Becker and Edward Lazear in an op-ed via Real Clear Politics. A $50,000 price tag "would attract those who place the highest value on citizenship," pulling in young, enterprising immigrants "more likely to be positive contributors to the economy."

This proposal, they argue, would "enhance the country's stock of human capital," spur growth, and even reduce the federal deficit. Poorer immigrants could pay with a loan, with installments extracted directly from their paycheck to ensure they don't default. Current citizens could "pay the fee of immigrant relatives who matter the most to them," encouraging "the best kind of family reunification." All of this may sound radical, they admit, but it would "be a more open and fairer system than the one we have now." Click for the full column.

The Hoover Institution thinks we should give citizenship to those who can afford it.
The Hoover Institution thinks we should give citizenship to those who can afford it.   (Shutterstock)
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People who are now here illegally could become legal by paying the fee. This isn't 'amnesty'—yet for most of the illegal immigrants here, the deal would be a good one. - Gary Becker and Edward Lazear,
Hoover Institution

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