James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, August 30, 2007

In flux about the in flux

This Sheldon Richman column from some months ago states the open-borders case as well as I've seen. William Norman Grigg's position is "in flux." So is mine.

As a matter of political theory, I understand immigration controls. The borders are not "imaginary." Your life and private property are protected by your country's government; some other country may have different laws and may not protect them in the same way. Moreover, the roads on which immigrants traverse were paid for by the natives, not the immigrants. The theoretical justifications for immigration controls would be economic, political, and national security.

1. Economic: Sometimes, the wave of immigrants arrives before there are enough jobs and residences for them, and this increases the rents and depresses the wages of the native population.

2. Political: If immigrants are quickly granted citizenship and the right to vote, there could be adverse consequences for the native population - particularly, for instance, if the immigrants tend to be collectivist and the natives individualist.

3. National Security: It is reasonable to prevent potential enemies from coming over. All the proof we need that the "War on Terror" is a complete fraud is that the Bush Administration refuses to do much, if anything, to protect our borders, coasts, and ports from the supposed swarms of Islamo-fascists who want to do us harm.

That said, Richman and Grigg may be right. The main burden immigration imposes is on the things government runs, funds, or heavily regulates, like schools and hospitals. As Richman writes, "When was the last time Kroger, Wal-Mart, or Blockbuster Video appealed to government to halt the tide of immigrants because it couldn't keep pace with the increased business?"

And it may well be true that the country is large enough to absorb the influx of immigrants. Whatever we do, we must not curb the civil liberties of Americans in order to fight immigration. And the cost of enforcement must not be greater than the alleged costs immigration brings.

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