Immigration

Column by Alex Schroeder.
 
Exclusive to STR
 
While myriad exceptions certainly abound, in contemporary American politics two prevalent views seem to frame the immigration debate. There are those to whom the label “open border advocates” can be rightly ascribed, typically associated with the political Left. Alternatively, there exists a sizeable grouping of people who oppose unrestricted immigration, favoring heightened border security measures and strict government oversight and controls. These individuals are more often than not associated with the political Right. What strikes this author as particularly strange is the fact that the former faction tends to hold a more skeptical attitude towards economic liberalism than the latter.
 
Along with their promulgation of freer immigration, they favor extensive welfare programs, publicly funded and/or provided medical care, increasingly powerful bureaucracies, etc. The ambitions of Leftists are simply unrealistic; that is, the two aforementioned aspirations they hold are mutually excludable. The economic paradigm of the Right, on the other hand, is littered with inconsistencies. Their opposition to unrestricted immigration is rooted in the fact that they do not take their stated economic ideals to their logical destination.
 
In light of Arizona’s controversial bill SB 1070, it is understandable that immigration has risen to the forefront of public debate. Given the millions of “illegal aliens” in border states and the incontrovertible failure of the federal authorities to adequately restrict immigration, the law indeed constitutes an honest effort to bring order to border areas. Nonetheless, it has been blatantly opposed by the political Left, with Obama himself stating that it will “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.” What such likeminded individuals fail to grasp, however, is that immigration restrictions are an absolute necessity if we are to maintain publicly financed and provided services. The productive classes are already strained. There is simply a limit to the number of immigrants the country can absorb, particularly if they benefit from public services but do not pay for them. The Leftists must take their pick: it is either the mixed economy or unrestricted immigration. Economic reality can only be averted for so long until it asserts itself.
 
The Rightists, contrarily, more or less recognize this fact. They appreciate that immigration must be limited, otherwise myriad negative consequences would result, one of which would be increasing strains on government services. While some such individuals could certainly be considered unrefined xenophobes, in this author’s experience much of their opposition to unrestricted immigration stems from economic considerations rather than cultural or racial ones. However, the solutions they advocate rarely address the mixed economy, but rather the importance of “keeping the rascals out.”
 
What is the rational answer to both groups’ concerns? What is the solution that is most consistent with the ideals of a truly free society? It’s actually quite simple: dismantle completely the mixed economy. Without public property, public services, and the various measures necessary to raise funds for government, no immigration problem exists. Jorge in San Antonio should be able to hire Bill from Mexico to work in his factory; it is not the concern of some distant collective of authoritarians. In the absence of the State, Bill’s presence in the geographical area that is now the U.S. should be of no concern to anyone. The current “problem” of uncontrolled immigration haunts the anti-immigrationists, giving rise to brazen attacks on the failure of the authorities. It is quite risible that their only legitimate complaint can be that in the mixed economy, all are enslaved to all. Why they misguidingly direct their outrage at the federal government for not exercising enough control, rather than appropriately target the true culprit that is the State, is something that will always elude lovers of liberty.
 

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Alex Schroeder's picture
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Paul's picture

If you believe, as I do, that "conservatives" support the welfare state every bit as much as leftists do, then their position at least makes some sense, in that it is at least consistent. That's why your solution (that I too have pushed whenever this comes up in a debate) holds no appeal to them.

The leftist position seems to be inconsistent, I agree. I can only assume that the electoral advantage is more important to them. Yes, they might worry that too much strain is put on the productive class, but if more leftists are put in office (to "fix" things) that is what matters. Actually I don't think they worry about straining the productive class. My favorite example was one writer who advocated a 100% tax for incomes above a certain level (presumably, hers). They simply don't think the goose that lays the golden egg can be killed. It will take actual hunger for that lesson to sink into them, if anything at all can do it.

Suverans2's picture

"It is quite risible that their only legitimate complaint can be that in the mixed economy, all are enslaved to all." ~ Alex Schroeder

Seems that you are, more or less, coming to much the same conclusion that Frédéric did.

"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." ~ Frédéric Bastiat

Whether or not the U.S. corporation is a "mixed economy" could be hotly debated, however, since virtually no evidence of laissez-faire capitalism can be found in that so-called mix.

DennisLeeWilson's picture

"Arizona’s controversial bill SB 1070, ... indeed constitutes an honest effort to bring order to border areas."

I respectfully DISAGREE!

In my article ( http://tinyurl.com/ProhibitionFailed-Again ) PROHIBITION FAILED--AGAIN! -- What IS the Lesson of History? I point out that:

What Arizona politicians [and apparently most everyone else!] have conveniently ignored is that the Federal government's UN-constitutional[3]--and therefore illegal--action of putting armed guards and gates at the established border crossings several decades ago (and gradually "tightening" entry requirements) has been the CAUSE of people crossing at other places along the border--repeating the historical experience of "The Wall" between East & West Berlin.

Furthermore, the Federal government's UN-constitutional--and therefore illegal--War Against (some) Drugs has created a lucrative black market accompanied by violence--repeating the violent historical experience of the "Roaring Twenties" War Against Alcohol.
...
PROHIBITION has NEVER worked! But the (unintended?[4]) consequence has ALWAYS been violence and "black" markets where none existed before.

The proper solution to border violence is REPEAL of the un-constitutional, Federally imposed prohibitions on both travel and drugs.

The PROPER course of action for Arizona and other states is to invoke the 10th Amendment and NULLIFY the Federal drug and travel prohibitions within their state’s boundaries. And THAT is what Arizona politicians have failed to identify and rectify.

I REMEMBER when the current problems DID NOT EXIST. I remember forty years ago when the border crossings were not so heavily Federalized and the government prohibition on (some) drugs was still in its infancy. The increase in violence came with the increase in prohibition.

When the government prohibition on alcohol was repealed, the violence and black markets ceased immediately!
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Your comment: "What such likeminded individuals fail to grasp, however, is that immigration restrictions are an absolute necessity if we are to maintain publicly financed and provided services. The productive classes are already strained. There is simply a limit to the number of immigrants the country can absorb, particularly if they benefit from public services but do not pay for them."

I dealt with these issues in great detail in my article “Ask the Right Question”
( http://tinyurl.com/Ask-Right-Question ) A very brief summary: "...the Welfare system already has rules that only citizens can receive welfare, but ... the Welfare supervisors violate the rules and do not require that Welfare dispensers confirm that the recipients are citizens."

--------------------
Yes, I agree with your "What is the rational answer to both groups’ concerns?" However, we don't have to wait that long for workable solutions. And we do NOT have to put up with the fallacious arguments that I have touched on above and detailed in my articles.

Dennis

SensibleSolutions's picture

First, clearly end prohibition and the violence that accompanies it. Also, if we really wanted to stop illegal immigration, it would be as simple as using the existing, online, working, ID-verification system - not "roundups."

I understand the principle of the govt not getting between two people in a contract - even if one is not a citizen; it sounds great in theory. But do we really want to be a nation where most people work 80 hours/wk to live in cardboard boxes? If we believe supply and demand applies to labor, unlimited immigration will unquestionably deliver that.

I'm trying to imagine a happy ending to this scenario from this starting point and, given the living standard of most of the world's inhabitants and the tiny fraction of the population which controls the vast majority of the resources on this planet, I cannot.

Were we to "grant" all non-man-made resources (i.e. arable land) in equal shares to each family, first, so no one is coerced to be someone else's wage-slave in order to have the privilege to eat - from that starting point, it could work. Tough to pull off that first part without imminent domain to a massive scale, though - even with the "public" land which could be used for the purpose.

DennisLeeWilson's picture

The ONLY things that are "illegal" about immigration are the Federal government laws!

"Immigration control is UN-Constitutional!"

* REALLY! Its TRUE! The US Constitution does NOT authorize immigration control!
* P.S., that goes for EXIT control also!!
* "An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed." - U.S. Supreme Court, Norton v. Shelby County, 118 US 425 (1886)

http://tinyurl.com/yeyd7kq

Dennis