Friday, February 8, 2013

Time to Rethink Immigration

The immigration debate is heating up in Washington. The NJ Star-Ledger chimed in with Why Reagan's Immigration Reform Failed, the editors note that the current momentum is toward a "reform" bill that mirrors the Reagan reform; "granting a broad amnesty and twinning that with tougher enforcement of the law."

But, note the editors, the "the Reagan reform didn't work." Why? Not because beefed up border security didn't work, claim the editors. It did. It didn't work because American business skirted the law forbidding the hiring of illegal aliens, either by lobbying to water down the penalties to "modest fines that become a cost of doing business," or other trickery. Since jobs are the main lure drawing in immigrants--half of whom come in legally, then overstay their visas--we must drastically  increase the penalties on business's that skirt the law this time around.

If jobs are the "powerful lure" drawing in illegal immigrants, then these immigrants are an industrious lot seeking employment from willing employers. Is it right to stand between these individuals and the companies that hire them, thus violating their rights to voluntary contract? Is it right to force an employer to fire an immigrant who was hired at a time when he had a valid visa? 

I left the following comments:

We need to fundamentally rethink immigration. The question we must ask is not: "What can be done to stop illegal immigration?" It is: "What right does anyone have to legally stop any person from entering this country to live and work in the first place?" There is only one answer to this question: Apart from those who pose a physical threat to American citizens, such as people with criminal records or infectious diseases or who pose a national security threat--none.

Freedom of migration is the flip side of the free trade coin. Just as the free flow of goods and services across national borders is an inalienable right, so the free flow of human beings is also. Before we criminalize businesses for hiring illegal immigrants, we should legalize open immigration--period. A routine screening process is all we need. The billions we spend on "sealing the border" can then be re-targeted to the small number of people who pose an actual risk and try to circumvent the screening process. Then and only then should we prosecute businesses that knowingly hire illegals, because "illegal" will mean what it actually implies--dangerous individuals. (Citizenship is another matter. The path to citizenship should be grueling and selectively granted only to those who have proven their unwavering loyalty to Americanism.)

We are a country whose beacon of freedom is the universal principle that every individual has the equal and inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which includes the right to earn money and acquire property and voluntarily trade with others. We should live up to those principles.


Sunday, February 03, 2013 2:59 PM 
wigglwagon wrote: 
America either has to enforce it's immigration laws or abolish it's labor laws. That is the problem now. The open borders activists like to claim that Americans are either too lazy or too dumb to do lots of jobs. That is not true. People are people. The only problem with American workers is that they cannot be exploited like the illegals because of the labor laws.  
It is time to put all workers in America on equal footing. Under those circumstances, Americans would have as good chance of being hired as the illegals. Either let the exploitive employers exploit ALL workers, or NO workers.

My answer to wigglwagon's response to my comments, which included a diatribe against the "exploitation" of workers as well as this quote:

"The open borders activists like to claim that Americans are either too lazy or too dumb to do lots of jobs."

I said no such thing.

There is only one social system that puts all people--"workers" or not--"on equal footing": capitalism, because it is based on inalienable individual rights and thus banishes force from human relationships. As long as individuals are free to contract voluntarily to mutual advantage, or go their separate ways in peace, "exploitation" is banished. To put it another way, if a "worker" agrees to accept a job, and is otherwise free to leave and seek employment elsewhere or create his own job by starting a business, there is no exploitation. Exploitation in this context means forced labor, which capitalism banishes.  Any other definition of "exploitation" renders the term meaningless and useless, otherwise the worker can be seen to "exploit" the employer, or the shopper the store owner; in other words, every contract must be seen as mutual exploitation--an absurd conception of voluntary contract. 

Related Reading:

My LTE on Immigration

Immigration and Individual Rights, by Craig Biddle

Immigrants on the Dole? That's a Myth, by Shikha Dalmia (Bloomberg)

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

Of course, I agree with your response to wigglwagon, but I found his statement such a chaotic mess. He supported & refuted himself, simultaneously, with nearly every syllable. I'd've just said we must abolish both the immigration 'laws' AND the labor 'laws', to put everybody on an equal basis before LAW, thus ending exploitation.

As for turning back only those who are criminals, security threats or have diseases, and dealing properly with those who try to circumvent this regime, those who WOULD try would likely try by crossing the border out in the middle of nowhere. There must be a better means of dealing with that than a solid wall 20' high & 10' thick from Brownsville, TX to San Diego, CA.