Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Talkin' 'bout our immigration ...

This is the one area where neither political camp in this nation has my vote -- and quite strangely, the majority of Americans appear to be in my position!

Our present immigration policy is effectively Open Borders Lite, where hundreds of thousands enter our nation without the approval of our government, even as we pay lip service to "fighting illegal immigration" and throw a few back out. This stands in stark contrast to the controlled process implemented during the late 19th-early 20th century -- the celebrated period of large-scale immigration to America, which turned Ellis Island into a household word.

Right now, let me make something clear -- immigration is good for America, and for the world. For some, like Albert Einstein, immigration literally saved their lives -- and allowed them to continue their great contributions to humanity. For many others, it allowed them to leverage their personal initiative into innovation and industry that benefit us all ... outcomes that would have never occurred, had they not come here.

Immigrants also act as unofficial ambassadors for America, giving people "back home" a clear view into our nation that they often do not get from their own media (or our MSM, for that matter) in the same way that millbloggers have given us another viewpoint about OP Iraqi Freedom and the GWOT.

I also agree with the "open borders" crowd, when it comes to the value to humanity of free trade, a global economy, and even outsourcing ... when governments limit their involvement in these processes to the maintenance of global trade freedom, and individuals (including workers) act with initiative and wisdom in such an environment, we can utilize our resources with optimum efficiency and effectiveness, and even leverage them further to create wealth. (It is important that the utilization phase be left to indivdiduals; governments are structurally incapable of effectively/efficiently conducting that phase of the political/economic process.)

Where I part company with them is when they either want (as the President does) to legalize those who are already here illegally, and/or remove even more of the restrictions we have placed upon immigration to this nation.

The motives for supporting such actions vary.

The Left views open borders as a way to further their aims of "economic justice" ... not only by increasing opportunities for others to share in our prosperity (in itself, a legitimate aim, if legally pursued), but by compelling Americans to bear "their fair share" (as seen by the Left -- not by me) of the economic "burden" as seen within their zero-sum viewpoint. They also see it as a way to diminish what they see as overbearing American power and influence, by increasing the proportion of voices who are supposedly "sensitive" to this problem ... looking forward to their aim of subordinating the soverign American state to a more "trustworthy" body like the UN (yeah, right ...).

The support for open borders among conservatives and libertarians stems from the legitimate desire to maximize the benefits of free trade and a globally-based economy, by supposedly maximizing freedom for the labor components of such trade, even as they eschew global governance. They are also cowed into supporting open borders, by the painting of those who seek tighter immigration controls as racist/greedy/imperialist by the loudest voices among the "economic justice" advocates. Unfortunately, a few support open borders just because they want the cheapest labor they can get, regardless of any problems uncontrolled immigration may cause.

Both sides also trot out the "what's the use, they're already here -- so what are you going to do about it, deport 'em all?" argument, and combine it the MSM's portrayals of illegal-immigrant detentions/deportations as "mean-spirited/heartless".

So, what's the use, anyway? Why not just hey, ho, go with the flow, and throw open the doors of America totally?

Well, there are some very good reasons for the controls we have placed (but only sporadically enforce) upon immigration to America:

> Avoiding infrastructure overload

Answer me this ... when you throw a party, do you make out a guest list, or do you just throw open the doors and invite everyone in? If you've ever done the latter, you know the difficulty of buying food/drinks/paper plates (and maybe renting a tent) for an unknown number of guests -- you either overbuy, or risk running short; neither is optimum in terms of efficiency and/or effectiveness.

Our immigration controls function as the guest list for the great American party -- if these controls were applied properly, we can make sure that people do not enter America at a faster rate than our socioeconomic infrastructure can expand to accommodate them.

Unfortunately, the schools and hospitals in the four states that border Mexico are now showing the ill effects you get when these controls are not applied, and the infrastructure becomes overloaded. That is why you see people in California and Arizona placing initiatives on their ballots to limit illegal aliens' access to social services. (Texas, unfortunately, has no mechanism for such ballot initiatives -- we have to work through the politicians in our state legislature to get something done, and these people are subject to the pressures and political "considerations" I described above).

> Maintaining national security

There are people out there that want to crash our party ... literally, as we found on 11 September 2001. Letting those people in is the height of stupidity on our part ... yet our sporadic enforcement of immigration law, along with the irrational perversion of the separations between state and federal law enforcement (reinforced by starry-eyed Utopian executives and legislators at the state and local levels) that prevent local cops from detaining illegal aliens, allows these people in to stay ... and lets them turn their intent into deadly action.

> Educating newcomers about America

People are coming here from widely diverse societies; while we certainly want them to remember and honor their own cultures, there are a few areas at the center of the American experience that, if they are to thrive here, they must clearly understand and adopt.

They need to know what they can expect -- and not expect -- from our government and society, and what our society and government expects them to take on, from legal compliance to language skills. They also need to understand both their authority and their responsibility in exercising the personal initiative that is at the very core of our freedom.

Our immigration processes have been historically designed to impart a basic level of knowledge about these issues to immigrants ... and to encourage those who choose to make their stay permanent, to become citizens.

Open borders, OTOH, do neither ... immigrants under such a system can (and even now with OB Lite, do) end up living in frustration with problems when they don't have to, because they do not understand how our system works. Other immigrants (like, unfortunately, many of our native-born) will view an open-borders America as a pasture full of cash cows ... not only economic opportunities, but social support ... that they view as ripe for the milking, but will feel no need to act in ways to preserve or nurture these resources for others.

Thanks to the relativism that has permeated our public-education systems, we already have too many native-born Americans who don't understand how this nation works so well for its people (and the world). We shouldn't add millions more to their numbers, almost overnight -- for if we do so, we increase the risk of going off one (or more) of many socioeconomic cliffs out of ignorance.

> Using EVERY resource for humanity

It may sound kind like a recent anti-drug commercial, but it is true -- condoning illegal immigration subsidizdes corruption and mismanagement.

Many of the nations that are points of origin for large numbers of illegal immigrants (like Mexico) have a lot of resources of their own ... but the socioeconomic structure in these nations prevents these resources from making their way down to the masses in the way that our free-entrprise system does. These are people from class-defined ogliarchies ... socialist "experiments" (which often end up as ideologically-defined ogliarchies) ... totalitarian states ... and/or nations whose governments are flat-out corrupt. Some -- most notably, Mexico -- are a combination of these social pathologies ... Mexico combines class, socialism, and corruption to keep the well-connected well off, at the expense of the masses ... a system where it is less likely (and more risky) for an ordinary person to "work around" the well-connected and attain prosperity than it is in America.

If these nations had to face the pressure of the dissatisfaction of their masses, they would be compelled to change their society so that the masses could better their lot -- and the wealth that is presently "hoarded" by the well-connected would be better leveraged to create wealth, both locally and globally.

(Note that this problem is significantly different than the complaints here about "the rich getting richer", for our free-enterprise system demands that the rich utilize their wealth wisely, in ways that benefit the masses through wealth/opportunity creation ... or risk a reduction in their holdings, through inflation and -- more importantly -- economic competition. Here, some in the masses can come from nowhere and take the wealth away from the slothful rich ... and the rich who remain that way do so by working within the economy in ways that benefit us all. It is a win-win situation, in stark contrast to the win-lose of the ogliarchy, the socialist paradise, or the banana republic.)

However, the pressure that could move these dysfunctional nations towards truly free enterprise is relieved when we open our borders -- for it is a win-win (in the short term) for all in that nation. The masses who move here find opportunities (both legitimate and illegitimate) to improve their lot, while the well-connected stay on top in the home country. In fact, as we are seeing with Mexico, immigrants to America are the source of a net INFLOW of wealth into their origin nation, as those who come here send some of what they have earned back to their familes there ... further reducing the pressure upon the leadership of the origin nation to change their ways.

The bottom line -- the mismanagement of wealth in these nations means that there is less aggregate wealth for the rest of us to utilize, because we end up using our resources to cover the costs (human and economic) of such mismanagement.

So, what's the solution ...

1> Enforce our present immigration laws.

2> Simplify our legal immigration/visa processes.

3> Change the way we grant citizenship to the children of immigrants.

4> Encourage the source nations to deal with their problems.

More on these points ... later.

Comments:
I didn't even read all of your points Rich. I don't need to. I agree. So if I duplicate one of the points you already made, please forgive.
I don't have a problem with open borders as long as the govt stops taking money from my payroll to pay for social and welfare programs. If we are going to have social programs in America that are funded by tax paying Americans, then we cannot have open borders. It's that simple. It's one or the other, not both. We (America) are not the world's welfare system... oh... wait... too late.
 
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