Immigration is a hot subject these days. With a seemingly never-ending stream of illegals flowing over our southern border, debatable new legislation, a promised border fence sitting unconstructed, and the possibility of scary terrorists infiltrating America, the issue of immigration is sure to upset most everyone. Since I aim to please, let’s see if I can’t piss off every one of you!
Let’s start with the idea of liberty. A true lover of freedom by whichever label he prefers – libertarian, liberal, classical liberal, etc. – will, without question, support the doctrines of private property, personal contract, and privacy. Too often these pillars of liberty are overlooked for reasons of personal interest, fear, or ignorance. The ability to restrict the freedoms of fellow humans by some for the sole reason of nationality is puzzling and regrettable.
It ought to be the unquestioned right of every person to enter into whatever contractual obligations they deem to be beneficial and prudent. This includes transient workers who have something to offer a potential employer in another region. The idea of limiting the pool of potential employees to those within an arbitrary political boundary is downright discriminatory (not to mention artificially raises prices for businesses and consumers leaving everyone involved with lower standards of living).
The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right of citizens to be “secure in their persons.” In other words, this amendment protects the citizenry from the nightmare scenarios experienced in the police states around the world which was popularized by Nazi Germany with the simple phrase, “Papers please.” The recent law passed by Arizona brings to mind scenarios of machine gun carrying uniformed officers at checkpoints leading into and out of the state.
I’ll stop here while you cuss and steam at the collar and give you time to cool down.
The California radio personalities John and Ken recently had a weeklong discussion about the Arizona law and voiced their disgust in response to a few of Los Angeles’ legislators making this same connection. “How dare they make this claim!” they would cry. John and Ken are probably white and would not likely be subject to the initial round of paper verifications. The fact of the matter is that laws such as this encourage law enforcement officers to question those they suspect to be “illegal” immigrants. Supports will gladly tell you the same but quickly point out that no racism, discrimination, or abuse would occur. Sure… Just like within the rest of the pristine angelic government?
Imagine a scenario such as the comedic version performed by Jim Carrey in Fun with Dick and Jane. Dick got laid off from his white collar job and has to settle with standing on a corner waiting for day labor with immigrants in order to have positive cash flow. Sound like something that could happen today? Well Dick loses his wallet and is questioned during a sting by immigration officers. With no proper ID he is arrested, wrongfully held, and deported. Think this couldn’t happen in America today? Do a Google search for “erroneous FAA no fly list” and see how many hundreds if not thousands of instances of innocent people being harassed and held at airports you can find. Why do we expect it to be any different with ICE?
That said there are certain ideas which are, on the surface, appealing about immigration laws. One of the most commonly advanced concerns is that regarding criminal trespass. The theory is that by not recognizing or complying with immigration laws, a person suddenly becomes dangerous to society. By definition he has become a criminal but this doesn’t make the immigration laws any more justified than the Eighteenth Amendment justified prohibition. As Saint Augustine said in the 4th century, “An unjust law is no law at all.”
Going back to the criminality point of view, beyond simple trespassing what is the issue with illegal immigration? I believe the most common fear comes down to the welfare state. Understandably so, Americans are sick to death of paying taxes. We are taxed well beyond the boiling point which started the first American Revolution and gave us independence so the irritability is understandable. Even with all of the oppressive taxation, most citizens seem to think that they get more from the cornucopia of government goodness than they contribute. Don’t tax him, don’t tax me, tax the man behind that tree. Or what I like to call Free Lunch Syndrome (FLS).
The story in the news today was regarding the Fourteenth Amendment and how many people believe we should alter the Citizenship Clause. They hysterically point to the thousands of illegal immigrants who enter this country only to have babies free of charge in our hospitals which then become legal citizens. How dare they! It must first be pointed out that it is the government which requires emergency rooms to accept all persons in need (ambiguous term) regardless of ability to pay. Whoever honestly thinks this type of system would not be prone to abuse and cost overruns is an idiot. Allow the hospitals to make their own rules regarding payment and a big portion of the problem would be solved.
But one has to wonder why anyone has a problem with new babies being born as American citizens. I thought the complaint about illegal immigrants was that they are illegal? An American citizen is not illegal so what is the problem with these folk? Again, we come back to the welfare state and FLS.
There will be no easy solution to the immigration issue as long as the government continues to issue handouts and redistribute wealth. Handouts necessarily travel downhill and poor immigrants are generally at the bottom of the hill. Remove these programs and immigrants, regardless of whether they have been previously invited, will become a welcome boon to the American economy.
Stay tuned as we continue this exploration tomorrow with a possible scenario with open borders and unregulated private contract.