James Leroy Wilson's blog

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Are They Immigrants, or Refugees?

An opening caveat for any newcomers to this blog, if you read any bigotry in harsh words I have for the Mexican ruling class in this post, I confess that's true: I have bigoted thoughts against all ruling classes.

I am all for open immigration. If someone from the Dominican Republic can hit a baseball better than an American, I have no problem with him "taking the job from an American." I believe people should be able to cross borders in search of better opportunity.

But that's different from crossing borders for any opportunity; that's different from crossing borders just to survive.

I can't imagine how bad conditions must get to leave one's own country - one's home - to move to another where one's language and skin color is not the majority's. Even if there are large communities of fellow countrymen in the new country.

When large numbers from one coountry move into one other, which is full enough that Locke's "enough, and as good" proviso for land doesn't apply, then three things will happen:

1. Rents will go up, because there are more people occupying the same amount of land;
2. Consumer prices go up, because more people means more consumer demand;
3. Wages goes down, because the supply of labor has increased.

I suppose #2 and #3 may even themselves out "in the long run." The greater demand will increaase production and create jobs. But rents will still go up, and there would be a large amount of displacement and uncertainty as things shake out.

But is it natural for people to leave their own country en masse for another, especially in violation of the immigration laws of the new country?

Are we talking about immigrants, or refugees?

Does it make any sense for Mexican migration to the USA to get even bigger after the NAFTA "free trade" agreement?

Reason's Hit and Run recently provided a clue:

“In Mexico...it takes at least 58 days to start a business, compared with 5 in the U.S., 3 in Canada and 27 in Chile. Mind you, this is only the process of getting all the legal permissions needed to launch a business. The cost of starting a business as a percent of per capita income is even more startling--16.7% in Mexico versus 11.7% in Brazil, 10% in Chile and 0.6% in the U.S.”

Stats on employment flexibility by country are here. Mexico ranks near the bottom.

Mexico's oligarchs have no incentive to change. Mexicans can't get work in Mexico, leave for work in America, but send the money back home.

I think it is reasonable for the USA to seal the borders, if only to enforce current law and guard against terrorist enemies of the USA coming in. But also, to adopt laws in which immigrants are admitted only from countries that are as free as the USA, and perhaps that have a recipricol immigrant policy that admits Americans. For them, the entire process should be entirely hassle-free, nothing beyond showing a passport.

If our neighbors had civil wars that displaced a lot of refugees who cross the border, we would concede that their civil war is also our problem. If a foreign government creates conditions that pushes its people out and onto our territory, creating a refugee crisis, we have a right to respond in some kind. What is true in war, is true in unfree economic systems.

Those born in the USA shouldn't have to pay higher rents and prices, and suffer low wages and unemployment, just because the Mexican government's policies impoverish their own people and drive them to leave. The American shouldn't suffer because Mexico is creating economic refugees, any more than he should suffer if Mexico or Canada have a civil war. The internal policies of other country's governments shouldn't be his problem, and it is the duty of his own government to make sure they aren't.

I am not calling for intervention in the internal affairs of Mexico, or to declare war on it for its de facto invasion of the USA. I'm just saying it is reasonable to refuse immigrants from Mexico and seal that border until Mexico liberalizes its own economy instead of using ours as its gravy train. And if their socio-political "culture" makes that almost impossible, well, that's not our problem. The fact that so many leave, and many times that want to leave and are making plans to leave, make it plain that the real culture in Mexico is of a people who will work for a living, if work is available.

Allowing in Mexican economic refugees as we do is basically a form of foreign aid to the Mexican ruling class. The more it wallows in its own kleptomania and incompetence, the more Americans are hurt. We would be better served if the landless and jobless in Mexico were forced to stay and do something about their government.


  1. James, just wanted to let you know that I linked to this entry at my new blog, Freedom Democrats. I notice that your webpage still links to the old Democratic Freedom site. Do you think you could switch it to Freedom Democrats (http://www.freedomdemocrats.org/)? You're also invited to bring your opinion to the community by setting up an account.

  2. Thanks. I waited until some obvious kinks were worked out, which they are now.

  3. Anonymous7:43 PM PDT

    G'day Jimbo, Greg from Oz 'ere! I had a Rotary Youth Exchange scholarship to Mexico in 1979, straight after graduation in Oz. I lived there for 12 months, with 3 Mexican families, and went to a Preparatoria. I was lucky enough to spend 2.5 months in the capital, in between La Zona Rosa and Parque Chapultapec. Anyone that knows Mexico City knows this is the bees knees of areas $$$!!! I got to meet the daughter of the Police Chief, she told how traffic cops didn't actually get paid, rather they lived off bribes. The better you paid your superior the busier the intersection you got, to extort more bribes! Almost ALL government jobs operated like this, you can wait 15 years for a telco connection OR pay "la muelta", the kickback. Not so strangely one of THE most coveted positions is drug cop along the border with the US. The people are great but pure capitalism is not really understood there, it is an almost fuedal arrangement. Regards.