Dare We Dream Of Immigration Reform?


January 30, 2013 by Anders Ingemarson

News out of Washington proclaims a bipartisan effort to reform immigration. I’m leery of anything labeled “bipartisan”; more often than not it translates to more individual rights violations: higher taxes and tighter regulations, less liberty and less freedom.

But let’s for a moment give our elected officials the benefit of the doubt and put on the “glass-is-half-full” hat. Immigration reform is certainly overdue. As I’ve stated before:

“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.

“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.”

Let’s keep the vision of free immigration alive as we follow the spectacle of pro- and anti-immigration supporters on both sides of the aisle doing battle in the months to come. Yes, it will take time to get from here to there, to finally separate state and immigration, but standing firm on principle is a prerequisite for victory.

For ammunition, I’ve tabulated the champion-of-individual-rights pro-immigration solutions to the most common anti-immigration arguments. It’s not credit card size, but you can probably turn it into a screen saver.

The Anti-Immigrant claims: You, the Champion of Individual Rights, answer:
“They take our jobs” “Well, they don’t. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that you are right. If we work to reduce taxes and regulations, economic growth will take off and more jobs will be created than can be filled. Thankfully, immigrants will come to the rescue and fill some of them. ‘Problem’ solved.”
“They use our entitlements   without paying their way.” “Let’s find a solution that returns control of retirement and healthcare to individual Americans, ending all government involvement. With government entitlements gradually replaced by private alternatives, you don’t need to fret over somebody ‘not paying their way’ as you won’t foot the bill.And if you’re still concerned, let’s require new immigrants to sign a waiver to not collect entitlements as part of the price of admission. I suspect the vast majority would do it without   hesitation.”
“They put their kids in our   public schools.” “Let’s work to return control of education to parents, teachers, and educational entrepreneurs. With public education gradually being replaced by private alternatives, you won’t have to worry about paying for the education of your immigrant neighbor’s kids any more than paying for their smartphones.”
“They bring drugs and drug   related violence.” “Let’s end prohibition on drugs. Americans didn’t drown in an orgy of alcohol last time we ended   prohibition, and when the mob lost the alcohol revenue and moved to Vegas the violence evaporated like tequila in the desert sun.The same will happen when we end prohibition on   drugs.”
“They increase the threat of   domestic terrorism.” “Let’s promote a foreign policy that deals with terrorists where they should be dealt with: on their own home turf. With decisive action on our part they won’t even dream of taking their act to American soil.”
“They too easily become   citizens, and then they vote for the wrong party (a.k.a not my party).” “We can certainly consider stronger rules for citizenship. But that is not a barrier to immigration. And by the way, how about Americans-by-birth taking a citizenship test as well to qualify to vote?”
“I don’t like immigrants.” “In this great country of ours you have the right to your opinion, however wrong. Just do me a favor: as long as you hold that position, be honest and don’t claim to be a champion of liberty and individual rights.”

4 thoughts on “Dare We Dream Of Immigration Reform?

  1. That’s a good list, Anders. Too often an anti-immigration position is really just a reflection of a poorly set up government program, like you talked about with jobs. Speaking of which, how many of the newly-legal immigrant’s jobs would exist if they were paid at least minimum wage, taxed for the various income taxes, and the jobs met OSHA standards? It’s sad that if we made the immigrant’s residence legal, but brought the full force of government to their jobs, they’d be out of work and have to leave.


    • Andrew, good point. Many government programs perpetuate anti-immigration positions. However, and my apologies if I misinterpret your comment, enforcing minimum wage and OSHA standards is not the way to address immigration concerns. Both are examples of government regulations that should be repealed. Fundamentally both minimum wage and OSHA standards violate the rights of employers and employees to contract on whatever terms they can agree upon (with some very limited individual rights violation exceptions). In practice, minimum wage and OSHA standards slow down economic growth and hence job creation by misallocating resources in the market place. For example, an employer has to spend resources on complying with regulations that he could have used to grow his business.


      • ardiederich says:

        Yup, apparently I wasn’t clear, because I agree with you. What I was trying to show was that many who use the example of the hard-working illegal immigrant as an example doesn’t actually care much about their working conditions. On the one hand they /almost/ have a free market argument that, while the work is hard and the pay is low, these immigrants are making a choice that’s better for them than staying in their original country.

        But, these are typically the same people who think minimum wage laws, OSHA, etc. are a great thing. If they were consistent they’d realize that they’re trying to outlaw the same jobs they say they’re glad the illegal immigrants are working in, those jobs that “Americans won’t do.” They are bad economists and don’t look at the consequences of their laws, regulations, and policies.

        You, though, are much more likely to allow those people to freely cross the border, and then freely contract their work at wages and conditions that are agreeable to the employer and the worker. This is a consistent position. The other position, saying that you are free to cross the border but should be forbidden to work in a job you want, is inconsistent. The inconsistent position is, sadly, more common in the legislature.


      • Good observation, Andrew. I agree. Let’s keep reminding them of their inconsistencies!


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