The Immigration Straw Man


November 20, 2012 by Anders Ingemarson

An immigrant was once asked “Why did you come to America?” He answered “I’ve always been American, but I was born in the wrong country.” Being American is not primarily about your country of birth; it is first and foremost a state of mind. A state of mind that, explicitly or implicitly, subscribes to the self-evident truths discovered by our Founding Fathers and expressed in the Declaration of Independence: that all men are created equal and that each of us has the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Every American-by-birth is a descendant of Americans-in-mind born in the wrong country. Today’s Americans are here thanks to their forefathers’ desire to pursue their happiness on American soil.

Yet, surprisingly many Americans who otherwise claim to be defenders of our founding principles want to deny today’s Americans-in-mind around the world the right to come here.

“They take our jobs”, “we can’t afford immigration in this economy”, “they use our schools, our entitlements, without paying their way”, the arguments go. This is a case of taking aim at a straw man – the immigration straw man.

With total separation of state and economy, these concerns would disappear. Cutting taxes and spending and repealing regulation would quickly put the country on the path to a constant state of boom. Employers would scream for people, and anybody who wanted to work, would have a plethora of opportunities. Entitlements? There wouldn’t be any entitlements as each individual would be in control of his own life without government interference, including paying for healthcare, saving for retirement, and putting his children through school. Forcing others to pay for you and your loved ones violates the rights that made America the Promised Land for our ancestors.

No, we probably shouldn’t open the immigration gates overnight. It has taken a while to get into the current mess, so let’s give it some time to right the ship. But a few things could be done immediately:

  • Let the so called illegal immigrants stay (although not by using executive order); making it illegal to come to America to pursue ones happiness is terrible law; champions of our founding principles should work to repeal those laws instead of hiding behind them, as sadly many otherwise sound free marketers do.
  • I suspect we could easily double the annual number of immigrants (from about 1M to 2M) and then increase the limit every year as our economy recovers, until supply and demand are in balance.
  • Radically simplify the immigration process: eliminate complicated quotas and visa categories; make it a first come, first served based system with an annual confirmation to keep ones place in line.

Once this is achieved, probably the only valid reasons for denying anybody entrance would be an objectively criminal record or carrying a contagious disease that is a threat to others.

If we’re worried about misuse of entitlements in the short term, why not exclude entitlements benefits as a condition of coming here until we have restored the rights of the individual to control his life in these areas?

Individual rights know no borders just like being American doesn’t. As champions of our founding principles we should be champions of immigration and take pride in welcoming home Americans from around the world who have been born in the wrong country.

5 thoughts on “The Immigration Straw Man

  1. r says:

    I agree that in a perfect world we would welcome these immigrants. This is not that world though, in todays America, many of the immigrants that work do not pay any taxes. I have many friends in industries facing competition from illegals that do not pay taxes that are therefore able to undercut prices of citizens complying with current regulation and tax code. While the purchasers of the services that these illegals preform benefit, the rest of the society pays.


    • Yes. That’s exactly why we should focus our efforts on repealing regulations and eliminating taxes for everyone. It’s the right thing to do, it’s the moral thing to do. As a consequence concerns over jobs will disappear long before we reach a perfect world. Don’t waste energy on fighting immigration. Embrace it.


      • r says:

        As long as we have central economic planning by the FED, nothing about the current system will change much. This system (keynesian/monetarist policies) will and is failing, until those policies and thinking is changed nothing else will. There has been almost 100 years of brainwashing that has taken place about the current system, that is a lot to overcome. Unfortunately those in power will blame failure on anything but their failed theories.
        They will blame speculators, then hoarders. They already blame the productive.


  2. Mike says:

    How about a work visa? Anyone can come in with a work visa. If you are on a work visa you don’t get welfare or any of the other services that folks are worried about.

    Also, most immigrants do pay taxes. They pay sales tax; many have social security and medicaid taken out of their checks; and they all pay gas, cigarette and alcohol taxes.


    • Mike, we can call it a work visa as long as it doesn’t expire. Yes, immigrants do pay taxes so the condition to not collect is not ideal from that point of view. However, I think it may be a valid option to deregulate immigration before we’ve completely returned control to individual Americans for planning their retirement, healthcare, education, etc. But I’m open to other options.


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