Alan Greenspan recently floated an intriguing way to increase American home prices — let in more immigrants. As the Wall Street Journal paraphrased it the other day at the very bottom of an article reporting on an interview the paper had with the former chairman of the Federal Reserve: "The only sustainable way to increase demand for vacant houses is to spur the formation of new households. Admitting more skilled immigrants, who tend to earn enough to buy homes, would accomplish that while paying other dividends to the U.S. economy."
We've been calling for increased immigration to America for years, both on moral grounds — welcoming those seeking freedom to our shores — and pro-growth grounds. The idea that immigrants will help create demand for housing and drive up sagging home values may seem odd here in New York City, where vacancy rates are low and housing prices, at least as measured in dollars of the sort Mr. Greenspan used to be in charge of printing, are high.
But we don't mind saying we find it intriguing. If the idea helps win over the residents of the foreclosure belts to the cause of more open borders, Mr. Greenspan will have succeeded where President Bush, Senator McCain, and Senator Kennedy all failed, in building the political consensus needed to pass a comprehensive reform of our immigration laws. The only amendment we would make is that it is not only "skilled" immigrants in the definition of labor economists we need, but unskilled ones, too. For it's not unheard of for an unskilled immigrant, or his children, to acquire skills. A fact that can't have escaped Mr. Greenspan, himself a grandson of immigrants.