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Immigration Squabbles

February 7, 2013

My wife and I had one of our squabbles driving home last night. The subject was immigration. She says I’m not empathetic enough to the plight of America’s undocumented immigrants, especially the children who’ve done nothing wrong but suffer the consequences nonetheless.  She may be right.

What I clearly have no empathy for is our current immigration laws and the policies they are supposedly supporting.  I find them both wrong-headed and ineffective. If the point of immigration law is to make our nation safer, stronger and more prosperous these laws must be significantly loosened or eliminated. Here are a few of mine. Feel free to add or subtract yours as you see fit in the comments.

  • America Wins: If we had a system that allowed nearly unlimited immigration of hard-working ambitious people we’d end up with a hard-working, ambitious (and prosperous) country.  Before the 1920’s, when millions of immigrants arrived here every year (including most of our ancestors), we had this system. How’d that work out for us?

I’m OK with laws which deny legal entry to criminals, people with contagious diseases and people who present a threat to our nation.  I get that they’re hard and won’t work very well, but we can at least try to keep some bad people out.

  • Fairness: Why should the benefits of our mostly successful democratic free market system only go to members of the lucky sperm club (those who were born here)?
  • Demographic need: We have a lot of aging baby boomers. We need more young workers to make our welfare state work (since we didn’t have enough babies twenty years ago).  This link states the case well IMHO.
  • Freedom: This blog usually sees choice as good. If you’re a fan of the natural law thinking so beautifully expressed in the US Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

…you must believe that your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness flow from your humanness and are not a gift from any government. Doesn’t it follow then, if you were born in Honduras, you have the fundamental human right to take your life and liberty to the US to pursue your happiness, especially if you’re not harming anyone else in the attempt?

  • Prohibition (usually) fails: Back to our Honduran 20-year-old working for $3 an hour. If there’s an open job in America that pays $8 an hour he has $5 an hour (or $10,000 a year) in incentive to come here. Making it illegal doesn’t change the incentives, just who keeps the money. Our current immigration laws make smuggling humans across our borders very profitable. The laws of supply and demand suggest we’ll get less immigration without prohibition.
  • Residency vs. Citizenship: If you reside here you have to obey our laws and pay our taxes. That’s the price of admission; if you don’t like it, you’re free to go. But if citizenship offers additional benefits and responsibilities (like voting) it’s OK that immigrants, who are not yet citizens, have to demonstrate interest and competence to become one. Every resident retains their “unalienable Rights” but if US citizens vote to offer costly benefits which are restricted only to citizens… that’s OK as well.  When they offer costly benefits to everyone they are almost guaranteed to end up with very high taxes or very high border fences.
  • People aren’t the problem: Lots of us see population as the problem. They think it’s causing us to run out of resources, harming the environment and make everyone poorer. My view is that human ingenuity is the source of our solutions, not our problems.  All the worlds resources were here before the humans stood up on their hind legs.  Early humans figured out how to get fuels from the ground, domesticate animals, plant crops, avoid famines, cure diseases and so on ad infinitum.  Malthusian’s have been consistently wrong for two hundred years.  The earth today has more people than ever. They enjoy a higher standard of living, longer lifespans, more freedom and less sickness and violence than at any time in human history.  Population growth appears to be improving virtually everything!
So lets open the floodgates and let in a few million new residents a year for the next twenty years.  All of their children born here will be US citizens automatically. If most of the rest are willing to make the effort and become citizens, so much the better!
  1. Linda Verin permalink

    good. why don’t you make it a letter to the editor & send to

  2. Would you not agree that the majority of Hispanic people that come across the border to work return to their countries within the third week after arriving. While they are here they live in apartments or motel rooms up to ten to 15 at a time so they can split their costs. Now after the three weeks is up they return to their country with the majority of their monies earned here not spent here. After two months they return and do it all over again.
    Now, I will say this the Hispanic peoples work harder for lower wages than their counter parts, they work in gangs on a project and knock it out quicker.
    I have mixed emotions on the subject.
    I know several contractors that embrace them and few that didn’t but do now not because of money but because their American counterparts don’t seem to want to work.

  3. I’m not sure the data supports the “three week round trip” statement. I am sure many of these people work hard and try to minimize their cost of living here so they can maximize the funds available to support their families back home.

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