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Thinking Clearly About Immigration

If you believe in the State, you must put its interests ahead of outsiders.

by James Leroy Wilson
April 29, 2010

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Thinking Clearly About Immigration

The recently-passed Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants is stirring strong responses, both for and against.

Pardon me, but I find "both sides" somewhat odd:

  • The "Left" wants to boycott Arizona even though they won't boycott Mexico itself, which has a far more draconian immigration law
  • The "Right" wants to use immigration as a means of social and economic engineering, the very things it condemns in the Left

This is not a racist or nativist statement, it is universal:

 For anyone who believes in the State, immigration is always a problem.

Perhaps immigration has generally been good for the U.S. economy in its history. That doesn't mean it will always be true.

And it doesn't mean it's good for every country, all the time. Should the people of a crowded but poor nation have the "right" to overwhelm a smaller, wealthier nearby country through immigration? Should populous Asian nations start deporting and dropping off their poorest people into Singapore's port by the shipload? Is Singapore obligated to take them in?

(And will the pious finger-waggers of the Vatican, who condemn American politicians for wanting to keep immigrants out, allow open immigration into their supposed "sovereign" country?)

If you are an anarchist who is also a global utopian, and you put the principles of non-aggression and anti-statism over any geo-political-socio-economic consequences, I respect your position on immigration and won't attempt to refute it. But everyone else seems to pick and choose among moralistic, pragmatic, and nationalist arguments for or against immigration, and then will look down on people with a different grab-bag of biases, accusing them of bigoted or evil intentions.

Here is the reality. If you want borders surrounding your native land and its people, and you want a sovereign government presiding over everything within those borders, then you want government control over who and what comes across those borders. And the only rational criteria for letting people and goods into the country must be the best interest of the sovereign government.

The choice is anarchy or realpolitick. If you believe in the State, you HAVE to believe in state control of movement of people and goods into your country. And if this isn't your highest priority, your system fails. This is true whether you are a minimal-government ("minarchist") libertarian, a racial and cultural nationalist, or a staunch progressive who believes in all kinds of generous, politically-correct laws and programs. If you believe in the State, the interests of the State have to come first. Any trade or immigration policy that might weaken the State must be bad.

And so the Statist has to think hard about how immigration affects domestic policy:

  • Welfare Entitlements. As long as they are in place and available to immigrants, allowing more immigrants in will place greater burdens on taxpaying, native citizens and could bankrupt the country.
  • Domestic barriers to entry into the workforce and to starting businesses (minimum wage laws, certifications, licenses, etc.). As long they exist, allowing more people in will only drive wages down.
  • Government ownership of land and other restrictions on private ownership of land. Unless the government allows greater access to land by selling off the land it owns, or allows homesteading on it, then immigration will mean more people into the same restricted areas, which will mean higher rents.
  • Politics. What if the immigrants possess political, religious, and cultural values alien to the native population? When, if ever, should they have the right to vote and help change the direction of the country?
  • Sovereignty. What happened in America is that open trade and borders among the states - required by the Constitution - eventually led to the federal government dictating most social policy as well, leading to the obliteration of state sovereignty and local government. The same could happen to the nation if "open borders" becomes the policy of the continent, the hemisphere, or the world, and the values which made America unique are trounced by the universal democracy.

If you believe in the State - which in America's case means a powerful federal government - you have to put the interests of the State against all other interests, including the interests of people who want to enter the country.

But mixing Statism with the politically-correct moralism of "let everyone in and share in our wealth" is a recipe for chaos and disaster.

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