Saturday, June 15, 2013

Immigration is Both Moral and Practical

On Immigration Reform, the GOP Gangs Up on Blue-Collar Workers, NJ columnist Paul Mulshine challenges the GOP's immigration reform supporters who argue that we need more immigrants to fill an alleged "labor shortage." 

Mulshine's retort: "There are no jobs Americans won’t do. There are only jobs Americans won’t pay to have done.

He goes on to say that these GOPers support for immigration "amounts to a double-cross of America’s blue-collar workers."

Mulshine highlights the futility of relying on the collectivist utilitarian argument in support of a rights-based immigration policy, and avoiding the fundamental moral issues involved in the immigration debate. The utilitarian argument opened the door to Mulshine's attack.

I left these comments:

Fundamentally, the immigration issue doesn't revolve around utilitarian arguments. The question is moral: What right does anyone have to stop any person who poses no health, criminal, or national security risk from working and living in America (or any country), and employers from voluntarily hiring them?

Citizenship is another matter, and that issue should be separated from any immigration bill. While morally upstanding people have an inalienable right to live and work where they choose, their is no right to naturalized citizenship. Immigration and citizenship are separate issues.

I view freedom of migration and freedom of trade as inextricably linked. Just as free trade is a moral right, so too is free migration. There is no justification for saying we should have open borders for the flow of goods, but not people.

Americans are not a collective that owns the continent any more than the Indians owned it. Just as others rightfully immigrated here in the past, so too may others do so today. In crafting our immigration policy, we should remember the exalted status of the individual codified in the Declaration of Independence, and the plaque inside the Statue of Liberty stating the Land of the Free's openness to liberty-seekers.

Others replied to my comments, to which I added the following:

The struggling jobs market has to do with the increasingly crushing regulatory welfare state, not immigration or free trade. In the 19th Century, America grew from an impoverished third-rate colony to the world's greatest industrial power. There was no welfare state to speak of and minimal government interference into the economy. Yet the economy grew dramatically (despite the drag of high tariffs), particularly between the Civil War and WW I. Real wages rose steadily, life expectancy grew, the standard of living soared, and the middle class was born. All of this happened, and  jobs were plentiful, even as the country absorbed millions upon millions of mostly poor immigrants. Immigrants not only fill jobs, but start businesses and create them.

But again, the issue is moral, not utilitarian. And the moral is the practical, which is why a rational, just open immigration policy would be a boon to the economy. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with Mr. Mulshine on this. We need to focus on reigning in statism within our borders, not people who want to live and work here.

Yes, Marylou, as people you can compare [past immigrants to today's]. The only difference is that many of today's immigrants are relegated to black market status by unfair immigration laws. (I realize that a growing percentage of immigrants come here to feed off of our welfare state. But, that's a welfare state problem, not fundamentally an immigration problem.)

No one should have to pay for food stamps, because no one is entitled to another person's wallet. Forced redistribution of wealth is immoral and corrupt in all of its forms, whether the recipient is from across the globe or across the street, legal or illegal.

Related Reading:

Time to Rethink Immigration

The Truth about Trade in History, CATO

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