Immigration Policy in Free Soceties: Are There Principles Involved or Is It All Politics?

Free societies with industrialized economies such as Canada and the United States are characterized by certain unique features. Among these is the fact that they both allow their citizens to come and go across their borders with few restrictions and they annually permit millions of noncitizens to travel, to conduct business, to visit, and to study in their countries with only minimal regulation. Both nations also allow some non-citizens to enter their countries and to work in competition with their citizen work-force for temporary periods under specific conditions. Furthermore, they regularly allow a generous number of non-citizens to immigrate or to take refuge as permanent residents and eventually to become citizens. It is primarily these latter situations, where work and residence issues arise, that pose the question whether years of experience have generated any principles that can guide policy makers when debates re-surface? Or, is it always simply a matter of political power and special interests at the moment that determine immigration policy on an ad-hoc basis?