August 04, 2004

Understanding -And Solving- Immigration

Everybody seems to be uncertain about immigration, it's a staple cultural issue, and the question on the mainstream's mind is, how do we curtail illegal immigration and the problems associated with it?

The answer is simple, but first I'll go through a brief explanation. Why do immigrants come here? Aside from a small minority that wishes us ill and dislikes our country, most want jobs, prosperity and/or freedom. It's more attractive to live here than other countries just like it's more attractive to drive BMW or Cadillac than other cars. People who can afford it buy the nice car, people who can make the trip come to America. Obviously country loyalty is much more powerful than car-brand loyalty, but then living in a great country offers a lot more benefits than driving a great car.

People come here for jobs, and when jobs don't go to their country fast enough, they come here for them. Many jobs cannot be exported because they must be performed here, such as unskilled agricultural work or the hotel/hospitality industry. Other jobs could be done elsewhere but aren't for a number of reasons. We also have what many people (myself strenuously included) consider one of or the freest country in the world. So Mexicans, Haitians, Cubans, and whatever-ans come here for jobs, prosperity and liberty.

Now, think about economics. What happens when you ban a product like alcohol, prostitution or drugs? A black market arises to provide that service. This is basic economics, black markets are a function of supply and demand. In basic socio-economic policy, we know that black markets usually occur in conjunction with other crimes, and of course the Mafia often comes in.

So apply the same general thinking to immigration policy. People really want to come, in some cases have dire needs or strong desires, and then we close it down or restrict the process. So what happens should be obvious: the black market resurfaces, this time for immigration. They go around the checkpoints, take boats in, hide in trucks and vans, and hire people to smuggle them in. The black market surfaces because there's outrageous demand to come here.

Now the question is, can we accept legalization and eliminating the black market or is this not a compromise issue? Slavery, murder-for-hire, things of this nature could not be accepted and so we cannot legalize the black market away - the black market is bad but far worse is accepting these horrible evils against human liberty. But I wouldn't put drugs, alcohol and prostitution there. It's better to open this up, move these industries and products into the light of day, which will sweep the criminals away and allow each of us to approach these products more fairly.

For immigration, unless you simply don't want people coming in at all, there's little reason to maintain such a restrictive policy, as analysis will show. Allowing in way more immigrants would direct the immigrants to designated border crossing points. This means they won't die in the desert, they won't have to pay seedy people to smuggle them in, we don't have to spend billions on patrols and fences, and we can actually screen all these people for crimes and so forth.

So think about it. Legalizing immigration (raising the levels for immigrants to come in, so legalizing the levels of immigration we see) would allow immigrants to come through normal, legal channels. No need for military border patrols, INS raids, massive police sweeps, and most importantly, normalization and respect for immigrant community, especially Hispanics.

Government crackdowns are actually hurting the integration efforts of Hispanic immigrants. They have a large community where they can hide, people who speak the same language, worship in familiar ways, and have familiar behaviors. The community as a whole sees the aggressive methods and near-bigotry of many police actions, and reacts to the assault. The result is that police and non-Hispanics (especially white Anglos) are often viewed with suspicion. Going outside the community can be more dangerous and result in deportation. It creates a level of distrust, a social disconnect that encourages Hispanic immigrants to remain un-integrated out of protection. Our own policies -often argued from the socio-cultural perspective- are encouraging social disunity and holding back the melting pot inclinations of immigrants here.

Allowing immigrants to proceed without fear that we'll arrest, harass or deport them allows them to join the community without additional fears and distrust. Removing our fear of immigration will hasten the melting pot effect; reacting with negativity and fear only impedes mutual assimilation of culture and creates a rift between cultures.

Further, if immigrants from Mexico and south of us went to specific checkpoints, there'd be much less to patrol in unguarded border areas. They wouldn't hide because they could proudly and legally go the normal route, meet relatives, begin employment and assimilation immediately. This leaves our border patrols free to pursue rogues, criminals and terrorists seeking to do us harm. As a side-point, ending the drug war would free up- billions of dollars in man-hours and equipment so we could watch for terrorists and attackers instead.

What happens if a Mexican or Haitian gets in? Oh no, he gets a job mopping floors or picking crops. What happens if a couple pounds of cocaine get across the border? A couple guys in LA and NYC get high, maybe scream a little and get nosebleeds. Oh horror.

Now what if a nuclear terrorist motors across a border lake from Canada because the INS was trying to arrest Mexicans in the desert? It could be a horrible tragedy. It simply makes sense to focus on that. An immigrant comes for work, for a job, to provide Americans with his services and labor, or to see his family - or at worst to be lazy and sit on welfare. A terrorist coming through wants to kill us and destroy our happiness, erase our prosperity, strangle our way of life. The immigrant is not an enemy; he stands with us on the side of freedom and progress. We should let them in, they are on our side. We should just let the border patrol focus on terrorists and criminals, keep them out.

We should normalize and legalize immigration. It makes the most sense to do so, whether one is a mainstream centrist, a leftist, a libertarian, or even a conservative.

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