Some Words About (Im)Migration

I was going to leave the current public debate (here in the U.S.) about immigration alone. But I keep seeing and hearing some really stupid arguments being made. And by golly, I just feel like saying something about it. So I am going to. And no, what I am about to say does not favor the pro-immigration-control side of the argument. You have been warned.

The current debate about immigration has come the forefront because of the influx of children at the southern U.S. border. And in response to this event, I keep hearing and seeing various arguments that are just dumb as a crate full of hammers. Arguments like:

  • These children are coming here because Obama has put the word out that we will take care of them.
  • These children are coming here to take advantage of our welfare system.
  • To solve this problem we need to secure/close the border.
  • We can’t have open borders because that is the same as having no border at all.
  • I’m not against immigration; I’m against illegal immigration.
  • This is a complicated problem we cannot solve by just granting amnesty to everyone who shows up illegally.

It is true that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will not solve the problem. But this is not a complicated problem. This is a relatively simple problem that we have made appear needlessly complex by surrounding it with a mess of bureaucracy and nonsense political fearmongering.

But terrorists! But drug dealers! But bad people! Yeah, so?

How can you be so callous, Xajow? Don’t you know the government is supposed to keep us safe? Yes, I do. But creating a police state does not keep us safe. Trying to tightly control immigration does not keep us safe.

Oh, so if 20 Mexicans broke into your house and starting living there, you wouldn’t do anything about it? Sure I would. I would call the police.

Well, Xajow, this border issue is the same thing; just the U.S. government keeping out uninvited and unwanted people. No, it is not even close to the same thing. First of all, the U.S. is not a plot of private property. Secondly, if keeping people out of your house and out of the country are the same thing, then where are your calls for closing every state border. Surely if the U.S. federal government has an obligation to tightly control people who come in and out the country, then the governments of the individual states within the U.S. have the same obligation. If having open borders is the same as having no borders at all, then obviously Wyoming needs to build a wall along its border to keep anyone unwanted and uninvited out of the state. Letting people enter and exit the state as they wish is clearly a failure of the Wyoming state government to do all it can to protect its citizens.

But that’s different. Is it? How? Criminals can freely cross the Wyoming border. Drug dealers, murderers, pedophiles from all over the country can all easily enter the state. Suppose some homegrown terrorist like Timothy McVey or Ted Kaczynski decided to go hide out in Wyoming. If one of the jobs of government is to keep citizens safe, and a closed border is needed to keep citizens safe, then why are you not calling for Wyoming and every other state in the Union to close its borders. The risks of bad people crossing the state borders are pretty much the same as they are at the national borders.

No, Xajow, you don’t understand that the people crossing the U.S. borders are coming from different cultures; they are not like us. And this makes them different from every other immigrant in the history of the country exactly how? The complaint that they are not like us is as old as immigration itself. It is a xenophobic argument. And by xenophobic, I mean unreasonably hating or fearing those who are not like us. The culture of the U.S.A. is built on a foundation of people who are not like us coming together and bringing their culture and ideas (and food) with them.

But they are not coming here to assimilate. Yes, just like the German immigrants that Benjamin Franklin complained about. They never assimilated. Look how that ruined the country. Oh, wait, except, no, it didn’t.

But they are going to drain our resources and abuse the welfare programs! So once again you want states to build walls and tightly control their borders. I mean California should simply not let poor folks from southern U.S. states into California. They’ll use welfare programs and drain state resources. No, I am not seriously advocating that. Arguing that immigrants (or other non-taxpayers) are a drain on bloated welfare programs is an argument against the bloated welfare programs, not immigration.

But Obama is not enforcing the laws! Obama put out the word that we would take these children! Obama, Obama, Obama! As bad as President Obama is, he is not to blame here. Or at least, not solely to blame. The U.S. has a at least a century of bad immigration laws and poor enforcement, coupled with agriculture and trade policies along with an asinine war on drugs that had led us to this situation. And these children showing up at our border are not showing up just to get onto the welfare rolls. They are fleeing the horrible circumstances of poverty and violent drug cartels and corrupt police. A situation that we have helped foster with policies that have interfered with economic development in Mexico and Central America, and a drug war that has entrenched and exacerbated violence in those countries.

If what you want is to slow down immigration and to curb illegal immigration, the solution is not difficult to figure out. One, end the futile and harmful war on drugs. Two, end the trade barriers and agriculture subsidies—they are significant contributors to keeping farmers and workers of those other countries in poverty. Three, stop trying to tightly control the border. Make entering the country legally significantly easier—i.e. something that takes a few weeks and not several years—and the rate of illegal immigration will plummet rapidly. And many here illegally will actually go get in line, as so many people claim they want, because there will finally be an actual line for them to be in.

And once people in those other countries start being able to (legally) improve their own economic status in the country of their birth, they will stop coming in such large numbers to the U.S. to make money.

Some of you may be wondering why the title of this post uses “(Im)Migration”. Because many people here in the U.S. seem to forget that people immigrating here from somewhere else to find work and earn money are not really doing anything different than the thousands if not millions of people who migrate from one U.S. state to another for the sake of work or finding improved opportunity. We do not stop people from Alabama or Utah or Michigan moving to New York or California to try to find work in the entertainment industry. We do not stop people moving from Vermont or Oregon to Wyoming so they can try their hands at ranching. We do not stop people from migrating uninvited from one U.S. state to another for work or family or just because they feel like it.

If a person from Arizona can freely move to New York without significant legal restrictions, why do we raise a stink about people from Mexico or Central America crossing the southern U.S. border?

I am not saying do nothing and just let anyone pass into the country. I am saying, we can make legal entry into the U.S. much easier than it is. We can set up check points for legal entry that check for sick people and known criminals. We can have a process that takes at most a few weeks, and largely leaves people alone. Leaving people alone generally being what the U.S. federal government should do anyway. For immigrants and for citizens.

And if you are against not immigration but just illegal immigration, and if you are for smaller and less intrusive government, then you ought to mostly agree with me on this. There is nothing about a closed border and/or tightly controlled immigration that is congruous with the principles of liberty and smaller government.

Remember, the same government that cannot centrally plan the economy—because it cannot foresee the future—also cannot cannot determine who will and will not be needed or desirable in the labor market. In other words, the solution is not more government control. The solution is to keep the government as much out of the way as possible. Put still another way, liberty works. Maybe we should try applying it.

Okay, this post in already in the neighborhood of 1500 words. I guess I’ll stop for now.

Yes, yes, you want D/s talk and dirty stories. Well, take a deep breath and relax. Those things will appear soon. As will one or two other things. Yes, that’s it. Just breathe deeply. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Don’t you feel better? Good.

Time for your brilliant and humble professor to take care of some other things. Be good, students.

2 Responses to “Some Words About (Im)Migration”

  1. Again great article! My thoughts are the border can be closed, but both parties have a seeming interest in keeping it open. Democrats want the border open to usher in millions of people, most of them undereducated and likely to depend at least in part on government, who will presumably vote for bigger government once they are given citizenship. Republicans want the border open to provide cheap labor to big business. Nobody wants the border open to benefit the kind of immigrants that made this nation great: immigrants who want to work and don’t want an overbearing state alternatively cradling and crushing them. This is just my opinion and I enjoy a good healthy debate.

    • I wish I could believe Democrats and Republicans wanted the border open, even for the reasons you give. But you could be right. Welcome to Liberate One, and feel free to share your opinions any time.

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