I added a LOT of bookmarks to my queue for future posts today. There's a great huge Cull Day coming at some point, since I'm only doing one post per day except for follow-ups.
But this post at Homeland Stupidity led to a news article which finally won out over the victory of Iranian moderates in local elections and a discussion on why the Libertarian Party needs to tailor its platform to issues important to the electorate instead of issues important to Corn Flakes.
Anyway: Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers
Once I read that the first rule of leadership, or of command- take your pick- was that you never, ever give any order which you know will not be obeyed. Doing that undermines your own authority and the willingness of your subordinates to follow. A similar adage should be applied to government: never enact a law which you know will not be obeyed. Current immigration law is not merely being violated by immigrants- the "invaders" that Pat Buchanan yelps about again and again- but by thousands upon thousands of corporations who deliberately hire illegal immigrants to pad their bottom line.
Opponents of immigration will say that all these violations mean that enforcement should be increased. This is wrong. It means that the current immigration laws are bad and should be, at the very least, reconsidered. It may well be that, upon consideration of facts such as economic issues, the ability of the immigration bureaucracy to process applications, or other reasons, that immigration will need to be restricted... but I, for one, doubt it seriously. When you have (ranging from most extreme low to most extreme high estimate) between 2% to 10% of the entire population of the United States as illegal immigrants, it should be blatantly obvious to anyone who isn't a bigot that prohibiting immigration just does not work.
As for the classic arguments against illegal immigration, here's my refutation:
1. Illegal immigration should be stopped because immigrants who do not enter the United States legally are by definition criminals. The law must be upheld. Wrong. Rule of law is important, but no individual law is sacrosanct. In fact, we've had a lot of bad laws in the past- laws such as enforced segregation (and before that chattel slavery), laws forbidding the teaching of birth control, laws enacting poll taxes and literacy tests for voting, laws prohibiting women from owning property or entering contracts, etc. etc. etc. We do not preserve these laws in the face of their unjustness. When the electorate is persuaded that a law is genuinely unjust, action is taken- in the courts, in the legislatures, or at the ballot box- and the law gets changed. Saying that something should be illegal because those who do it are criminals is a circular argument- and further ignores the American tradition of doing away with bad laws.
2. Illegal immigrants drive down wages and deprive citizens and legal immigrants of the high-paying jobs they deserve. This is the Lou Dobbs argument- and it is founded on the concept that every American is entitled to a high-paying job regardless of whether or not the market will sustain it. That concept is fallacious- wages are determined by how valuable the service is and how much the market is willing to pay for it, either directly or indirectly. We're already looking at a wave of firings and wage freezes in anticipation of the Democrats' planned minimum wage increase: the economic upheaval in the wake of a Dobbsian world would make that look like a financial burp by comparison.
Yes, illegal immigrants are willing to work for less. Guess what? So are legal immigrants. So are the poor. All these people enjoy a vastly lower standard of living and seek to improve it. Free blacks and Irishmen in the 19th Century were lynched and abused for daring to do the same thing- "stealing jobs from good white men." This should not be a crime. If a person is happy to take half the wages to do your job, they have a legitimate economic advantage over you- which means you had better be MUCH more productive than they are, or else. It's not merely immoral to crush low-wage workers to preserve your income: it makes the economy as a whole weaker and more vulnerable to competition from abroad.
Furthermore, employment is not a finite resource. Immigration advocates have stated, as cited in this op-ed article from Rutgers University and this one from the Wall Street Journal, that immigration, legal or not, creates MORE jobs... and that unemployment, at the least, is not connected in any way to immigration. Immigrants may force you to take a pay cut or work harder than you want to, but there's plenty of work to go around.
3. Illegal immigrants use taxpayer funded services like education and emergency medical care without paying anything back into the system. The second half of this statement is blatantly wrong, as I've mentioned here. In fact, the Texas state government actually takes in more money from immigrants in sales and property taxes than it pays out in services. If we abandoned income taxation nationwide in favor of consumption taxes, illegal immigrants would pick up their share.
More to the point, though, poor people as a whole get more out of the system than they pay into. Again, as I've said before, we try not to tax people who don't have money. Poor people don't pay the thousands of dollars per child for primary education, nor do they pay the tens of thousands of dollars for their emergency care visits. This includes poor people whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower in 1620, on slave ships in the 1700s, and whose ancestors lived in Mexican land that suddenly became American in the 1840s. By anti-immigration logic, we should deport everyone who makes below $30,000 per annum per household- which means, among others, that I'd be on a prison bus for Nuevo Laredo myself.
4. Illegal immigration supports organized crime. We have to protect our country from drug smugglers, terrorists, and slavers. Well, DUH. Make something illegal and you'll CREATE organized crime to take advantage of it- look at Prohibition, gambling, prostitution for examples. The lesson that nobody in power seems willing to learn is that when something becomes LEGAL, organized crime can no longer profit by it- and eventually crumbles away.
Do you think illegal immigrants WANT to live in fearful slavery paying off their debts to the coyotes? Do you think that running across tens of miles of desert, being penned up in container trucks, hiding in car trunks or in packing crates, do you think that all of this is an immigrant's idea of fun? No! They do this because current American immigration laws are biased... biased not on racial or national grounds, but biased against poverty. Legal immigrants must demonstrate self-sufficiency- read wealth or guaranteed employment in the US- and must forswear public assistance such as Welfare as a condition of entering the United States. Those who need America's promise of freedom and opportunity the most are specifically barred from entering. Is it surprising they'll turn to criminals, when legitimate government turns them away?
Make it legal and make it easy, and you'll see these people running, not walking, away from organized crime... making it all the easier to pick out those few who really are criminals.
5. Illegal immigrants don't assimilate. We need to become one nation, a melting pot, not a tossed salad of individual ethnicities! Well, friend, I ask you: how much have you "assimilated" with African-Americans? Hispanics? Native Americans? Hell, how much do Carolinians assimilate with Californians, or Mainers with Hawaiians, or Alabamans with Anybody Else? We are not, and have never been, a uniform nation-state- and our Founders never expected that we would be. Instead we would be a nation of individuals, united not by race or culture but by a love of freedom and liberty.
Immigrants, legal or not, have never assimilated well as groups upon first arriving in the United States. Grown human beings usually don't have that cultural and linguistic skill anymore- it's a feature of childhood growth and learning. Instead they created their own neighborhoods or colonies for community and protection- Chinatowns and Little Italies across the country. Their children, however, assimilated almost automatically, and their grandchildren often couldn't and can't speak the non-English native tongue of their grandparents' homelands. Likewise the American-born children of illegal immigrants will assimilate, given the opportunity... and those children's children will be indistinguishable from the descendants of centuries-long lines of American citizens.
6. We can't cope with that many people! There might be a point to this, but only because our government provides so many optional services outside its rightful purview. Social safety nets are a luxury: only affluent societies such as our own can afford to fund Medicare, Social Security, Welfare, public education, and other handouts. The more people we provide these services to, and the more regulations we apply to these services, and the more bureaucrats we employ to ensure compliance with the regulations, the more expensive they become. Today the socialist economies of Europe face chronic economic problems brought on by policies intended to bring about economic justice... policies which those nations can no longer afford. Eventually, one way or another, a limit is imposed on how much a government can hand out to its people.
There may well be a maximum number of people that can be processed through immigration- backgrounds checked for criminal or terrorist activity, quarantined for infectious disease, given green cards, tutored on civics, history and language, administered citizenship tests, etc. If there is such a thing, then there is a natural cap on legal immigration. Even then, however, banning further immigration is not the answer. Instead, ways to increase the number of citizens processed should be found... and the quickest way to do that is to reduce regulations restricting the flow of immigrants.
Not only are most of the arguments against immigration logically bankrupt, they're morally bankrupt. They're a symptom of a deeper problem: prejudice that Americans, and particulary white Christian Americans, are a superior breed in danger of being wiped out by a hostile world. Furthermore, the wealthy among us are quite willing to take advantage of immigrants for their own financial benefit- turning the government, in cases such as the border-fence case above, into a hypocrite.
When arguments for a law are morally bankrupt, and when violations of the law are not merely common but widespread and flagrant, the law needs to be changed. This doesn't mean totally open borders- known criminals, terrorists, and invading armies should be kept out if possible- but it does mean lowering the barriers on immigration, barriers erected by prejudice and reinforced by ignorance. The longer this is put off- and the more this is opposed- the worse things will get, not only for the immigrants but for us all.