Leviathan on the Border

Republicans plan to use big government to protect limited government from immigrants.

House Speaker John Boehner last week pulled the plug on his immigration reform “principles” after his fellow Republicans refused to go along.

One reason why the proposal received a cold reception was that the GOP’s self-appointed moral guardian Ann Coulter bandied surveys showing that immigrants will “wreck the country” with their Big Government-loving ways. “It's not their [Republicans’] position on amnesty that immigrants don't like,” she harrumphed. “It's Republicans' support for small government, gun rights, patriotism, the Constitution and capitalism.”

But if Republicans love liberty and small government, they sure have a weird way of showing it.

There is no better example of that than the GOP’s immigration reform “principles” themselves. Under the guise of “fixing” the immigration system, there are at least four ways in which they’ll grow Big Government, big time.

1. “It is the fundamental duty of any government to secure its borders,” the principles declare, “and the United States is failing in this mission.”

True.

But the best border security is a workable guest-worker program with Mexico that eliminates the incentive for border-jumping. The GOP, however, insists on a “border security first” approach.

This means that before such a program can go forward, Uncle Sam will be required to erect an unimpeachable wall on the Rio Grande. If last year’s Senate bill is any indication, this will require 24-hour drone surveillance and doubling of federal border patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000.

How much will this Berlin Wall cost? The Senate authorized $45 billion last year so nothing less than that. That's on top of the $90 billion the country has already spent on border security since Sept. 11, 2001.

So, conservatively (no pun intended) speaking, when all is said and done, this Party of Austerity would have upped federal border spending 100-fold since 9/11!

2. Behind every illegal foreign worker is an American employer who benefits. So apart from fortified walls, what does this pro-liberty, anti-regulation party want? “Interior enforcement” is the buzzword and its chief feature is the E-Verify program.

Under it, employers will be required to check the work eligibility of all potential hires – foreigners and citizens alike — against a federal database. This effectively forces Americans to obtain a permission slip to work from Uncle Sam. It’ll also cost employers about $150 per hire, a de facto employment tax.

3. The GOP pretends to be the party of free trade and free markets. But conservative writer David Frum this week cautioned against allowing an “influx of foreign workers” because that would threaten American wages and jobs just like “robots.” (By that logic, women should never have been allowed out of the kitchen and ATMs should have been outlawed to preserve bank teller jobs.)

Although Boehner's principles don't explicitly go down Frum's protectionist road, Senate Republicans did. Their bill was fully on board with a union plan to give Labor Department bureaucrats new powers to harass employers.

How? Basically, by handing these bureaucrats the authority to at whim launch investigations against companies to ensure they weren’t firing American workers to make room for foreigners. No complaint from an aggrieved American worker would be necessary, as is currently the case. Basically, the minute a company hires a single foreign worker, it’ll forfeit control over its personnel decisions.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Ted S.||

    I can't wait for the hundreds of comments that are basically "Oh noes!!!111!!! Shikha Dalmia said something I don't like about immigration and I'm going to register the same disgust I ddi in the last 57 threads on immigration!"

    (I generally skip immigration posts because most of the time I show up, they've already got hundreds of comments and it's a wall of text involving everybody's favorite pairs of duelling commentators.)

  • paranoid android||

    No kidding. Things got really vile in the thread from last night. Putting up one of these articles is just a dog-whistle attracting hordes of attention-starved racists and nativists.

  • SusanM||

    Border integrity, free movement, JERBS!1!, too many citizens on welfare, too many immigrants want welfare, immigrants are naturally better workers, too many brown people, not enough diversity, progressive conspiracy, conservative conspiracy, Shika's just rationalizing her desire for a cheap domestic who thinks "OSHA" is what she crossed to get here. Let the fun begin!

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    ....

    RACIST, terrorists crossing the border with WMDs, 'this wouldn't be a problem if we lived in libertopia', open borders = anarchy, Muslim immigration to Europe, 1800s American immigration, 'no successful black countries, ever!'...

    Think that about covers it.

  • Root Boy||

    So it sounds like we just need dueling anonobots to make a self perpetuating HnR thread on Immigration?

    Would it be better or worse than a DU thread on guns or a jezebel thread on vaginas?

  • Acosmist||

    I can't wait for the hundreds of comments calling people racist for being mostly in favor of open borders rather than completely in favor of such.

    o wait

  • wareagle||

    jezus, this is getting tedious. One-note Shikha.

  • creech||

    I had an anti-illegals advocate actually tell me the U.S. should round up and shove 10 million folks into boxcars and deliver them to
    the rail crossing in Laredo. Guess we'll see millions of "Ann Franks"
    living in attics, basements, secret rooms etc.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Because sending people back to their country of origin and citizenship is exactly like Nazi death camps.

  • Mike M.||

    I'm getting this weird sense of deja vu all over again.

  • Acosmist||

    Establishment Republicans are of the opinion that the borders should be thrown open, so who the hell are you arguing against?

  • Calidissident||

    I loled

  • Paul.||

    oh noes!

    Keep Switzerland Swiss!

  • Drunketarian||

    That cheese isn't going to eat itself.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    In fact, the secret purpose of the Republican immigration plan is to turn Shikha Dalmia into a Democrat.

  • Paul.||

    Lobotomizing that part of her brain that can calculate how many beans you have when you start with two beans, and take away one?

  • Charles Hurst Author||

    Let's understand something. "Immigration reform advocates" as they say they are, are not interested in reform. They are interested in giving free reign to illegal foreign invaders.
    Instead of taking a stance of reason and believing no foreign invaders should be allowed in illegally, whether Russian, Mexican or Polish, the Progressive picks a minority, a skin color, takes up a cause and chants they are entitled.
    I was on the Minuteman Project in 2005. I stated it would accomplish nothing. It didn't.
    At this point the border town sheriff's and state governors have every right to secure the border and disregard the federal government. With force if necessary. As it is our natural right as citizens to be protected. You don't have to hurt people--but you can turn them back--at gunpoint. Since the federal government is now guilty of treason, and that is a deliberate treason they should be ignored until they state and act in a way that does enforce our laws. And if the federal government is determined to allow foreign invaders to secure themselves in our country then the federal government should be considered an enemy to the country.
    I have written that we are coming to a collapse. Don't believe me just because I'm a fiction writer. Believe another reliable source-----History. The time to act may be coming sooner than we think.

    Charles Hurst. Author of THE SECOND FALL. An offbeat story of Armageddon. And creator of THE RUNNINGWOLF EZINE

  • Tony||

    Are we at war with Mexico again? Are you a time traveler from 1847? If the former, can we just give them Texas and end the slaughter?

  • OneOut||

    How cute Tony.

    But you forgot the part where Texas isn't yours to give.

    Now what ?

  • Tony||

    Just offering up a fairly painless resolution to the apparent war with Mexico we're having.

  • OneOut||

    Well at least you are consistent.

    Giving something that belongs to others seems to be the liberal default.

  • CentristClassicalLiberal||

    I dated a "foreign invader". No regrets! You collectivist scumbag.

    "Don't believe me just because I'm a fiction writer"

    I won't

  • Robert||

    This is the GOP's way of making up for the Democrats' advantage with organized labor. Just as the Democrats appeal to protectionism for union members, the Republicans appeal to disorganized labor to keep out the foreign competition.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    There's a protectionist strain in both parties. A robust guest worker program seems like a reasonable compromise but Team Blue hates it because it doesn't automatically equate into more votes, and Team Red can't really get fully behind it because of the protectionist/fortress America faction. Hence the impasse.

    E-Verify is stupid and an infringement, and like the Wars on Stuff I don't see how throwing more money at the border will succeed.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I simply don't trust that the "guest worker" program will be used as anything but an express train for permanent residents and anchor babies who grow up to vote for collectivist policies.

  • RishJoMo||

    I like the way that works man, for sure.

    www.GoAnon.tk

  • CentristClassicalLiberal||

    What union do you work for?

  • Tamfang||

    Securing borders is not a government's fundamental duty. The fundamental duty is defending the freedom and safety of the people whom it taxes. Sometimes that in turn requires impermeable borders, but usually not.

  • VicRattlehead||

    As with everything, Government Prohibition has failed because you cannot control the natural impulses of human desire for freedom,just because they declared it "our" piece of land and made it arbitrarily illegal to walk across. the only problem with illegal immigration is the burden on the tax system, however if the welfare systems (minimum wage, govt. bennies, other arbitrarily protected dependency crap)were abolished then there would be no incentives to hire illegals or for them to come here for any reason other than a desire to live freely, there also would be no incentive for the mooching wastes of life to stay either. Immigration is not a problem, Government handouts are.

  • Cloudbuster||

    "because they declared it "our" piece of land"

    Hey, I thought libertarians believed in property rights. All the land in the country is either privately owned or held in trust by public ownership (which means all citizens are co-owners of public land and individual owners of private land. Which means we certainly have a right to control the borders of out land.

  • VicRattlehead||

    Not a Libertarian really, I only vote for them because they represent the least of all electable evils, I'm an Anarcho-Capitalist and I do not believe in human ownership of naturally occurring things like land or rivers, yes i am a homeowner and so long as i live in the current world i will fervently defend private land ownership as it is part of protections against the government crafted police state, however, i am not under the illusion that i am the true owner that would be God. My point is without the handouts, there is no reason to come here unless they truly desire to live the traditional hard working, personal freedom oriented American way of life where the government leaves you the hell alone unless your dangerous.
    Not the shameful way of life where you're the victim and everyone owes you something.

  • BigKidB||

    Quick question......how do you set up a "workable guest-worker program with Mexico that eliminates the incentive for border-jumping.?" Unskilled workers typically make the same wage whether they are legal or not. If they can come in illegally, get a job, pay no taxes, apply for welfare and housing, and still have money left to send home, what is the incentive to get a work permit, pay taxes, apply for welfare and housing? If my options are the same as an unskilled worker aside from whether or not I pay taxes, my best option would be to not pay taxes, right?

    Secondly, E-verify is not just to make sure your a legal citizen; it also makes sure that pedophiles are not using false ID's to work in daycares. It helps keep felons from working in banks. It's sole purpose is not to keep immigrants from finding jobs. $150 per check is ridiculous, though. Typical Govt. waste.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement