Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

May 10, 2010

Monday Question: Immigration Motives

by Brad Warbiany

Coyote, in far more concise words than I probably could have generated, asks a very good question.

What I would really understand is: what drives these folks?

I will take them at their word that it is not racism.

If its violent or property crime, the stats are pretty clear that immigrants don’t really contribute to these crimes disproportionately.

If its gang violence at the border, I am wondering what people see in the law’s rules that allow easier harassment of day laborers and brown-skinned people with broken turn signals that they think is going to deter gang members supposedly armed with AK47’s.

If its competition for jobs, well, I encourage folks to learn how the economy actually works (hint: it’s dynamic, not static), and further, encourage them to figure out why they feel they can’t compete with unskilled, uneducated laborers who don’t speak the native language.

Finally, if it is, as many of my emailers claim, just a matter of the rule of law — “THEY ARE ILLEGAL” as I get in many emails, inevitably all in caps, then why not just legalize their presence? After all, I lament all the hardships associated with marijuana law enforcement but you don’t see me advocating new rules to incrementally harass potential possessors — I am grown up enough to know form history that such efforts are never going to work as long as their is an enthusiastic supply and demand. I advocate legalization.

So I’ll open this one up to the readers. I see a lot of completely wrong arguments for restricting immigration, and very few with any force (at least, very few that wouldn’t be SOLVED by a legal guest worker program bringing these people out of the permanent underclass).

So what do you think?

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  • http://politics4all.com/users/drewt333 Drew

    The math is simple, as long as the benefits outweigh the penalties the boarder crossing continues. Increasing the penalties increases the drag on the economy by creating an industry that depends on continued border crossings in order to exist. Increasing the job pool by removing the economic policies restricting small business would go a long way towards turning “illegals” into citizens.

  • http://nothirdsolution.com David Z

    Good luck with this, Brad. I get the same responses over and over and over again, mostly the “rule of law” issue. The most alarming response I got on a recent post about the topic, was from a self-described immigrant who came here ‘legally’, who wholeheartedly disagreed with my calls for both legalization and amnesty.

    I usually follow up with something like: would you have been in favor of amnesty for runaway slaves in 1859?

  • tfr

    I’m slowly coming around to legalization, mostly because no other option is viable. The solution would be to end the welfare state to eliminate the attraction for deadbeats, and to provide a realistic legal immigration method for those who’d like to come here to improve themselves. Fat chance of either of these ever happening.

    As far as what’s driving the new immigration law, I think a lot of people are seeing a double standard: cops are directed by ICE to release illegals picked up for petty crimes, on the grounds that ICE doesn’t intend to do anything with them, where a citizen accused of the same crime would get dragged through the courts. I don’t know enough about it to say how realistic this is, but that’s what seems to infuriate talk radio listeners.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    The sets of:

    [what seems to infuriate talk radio listeners]
    and
    [reality]

    seem only to intersect by chance, not design.

  • Chris M.

    Citizenship is what the immigration debate is all about. I try to remind myself of the basic tenets of being a citizen in a democratic and generically “free” country when I consider all the points of view on the matter, but I always come back to one of the core basics – that to be a lawful and responsible citizen in this country (or any), one must pay their taxes.

    Paying taxes really is the very existence of any nation, whatever the form of taxation or government – we contribute to our central government for the general safety and oversight of us, at least theoretically in a democratic nation. Without taxes, our nation would be

    My bottom line point: illegal, or “unauthorized” immigrants are not paying taxes, yet they are living within the bounds of our country and are inherently receiving the benefits that we lawful citizens pay for. Yes, they may not have access to vote or have SS or medicaid or any other institutionalized processes of our nation, but by simply living in this country without paying taxes, it is leeching from the system

    As I’ve thought on it, I more often think the best pragmatic solution would be to allow any immigrant that been here for say X years, grant them citizenship, and then clamp down on our borders thoroughly. Then, we won’t displace families (many or most of which I’m sure are decent and simply looking for a better life, much like all our ancestors at some point) and then enforce the border –

    is this contrary to a typical libertarian viewpoint…

  • tfr

    Perhaps legalization would simply consist of proof that you are here working and paying taxes. No proof, you’re illegal and deported. This would have to be actually enforced, somehow, so that the incentive to stop working “under the table” would be there. This would also be incentive for employers to hire legally, else lose their workforce. Again, no enforcement and it wouldn’t work.

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