The GOP's Immigration Problem

Republican candidates need to brush up on the laws of economics.

In a recent interview, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor explained why the congressional GOP has left immigration reform to wither on the vine: President Obama will not accept anything but an omnibus overhaul of the entire system. Republicans would be happy to pass pieces of immigration reform everyone agrees on, but the president won’t take yes for an answer. Every time the House tries to get something done, Democrats move the goalposts.

That's one problem. Here's another: David Brat.

Brat is challenging Cantor in the GOP primary. A while back he wrote a piece for The Daily Caller on why he is doing so. Brat mentions Obamacare once. He mentions "amnesty" seven times. Conservatives of the sort who turn out for Republican primaries despise amnesty and anything like it. Therefore Brat says things like this:

While we all welcome the revival of American manufacturing, much of corporate America seems to believe this can only be achieved with cheap immigrant labor, and hence their pressure to facilitate new waves of massive immigration and promote amnesty for those who have entered this country illegally. This, while millions of our friends and neighbors are looking for work all across the labor market at all levels of skill and education.

Brat should know better. First, Cantor opposes blanket amnesty. Second, Brat—who has a Ph.D. in economics and who teaches it at Randolph-Macon College—does not seem the sort to support imposing tariffs and quotas on the cross-border trade in goods. No doubt he could explain at great length why such artificial restrictions hurt the economy. But the laws of economics apparently do not apply to labor—at least not when you're running in a Republican primary.

Brat has a lot of company in the GOP base, which is full of voices denouncing amnesty. Amnesty, apparently, means anything short of mass deportation. To immigration hawks who share such a Brattitude, even a path to citizenship that involved paying thousands of dollars in fines and fees, and a decade long provisional legal status without access to any federal benefits, is far too lenient. Round 'em up and ship 'em out.

Few—if any—Republicans make the opposite case: that immigrants are a net gain for the country and should be welcomed regardless of whether they have a government permission slip to enter the country. And immigrants are a net gain: They are more likely to start a business. They are more likely to own a small business. And they are more likely to grow it into a large one: 40 percent of the founders of Fortune 500 companies are immigrants or their children.

Immigrant business owners employ nearly 5 million Americans.

Indeed, immigrant men are more likely to work in general: As a recent piece in National Affairs noted, "Among all men in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 64, illegal immigrants are the most likely to be working. In 2009, for example, 93 percent of undocumented men participated in the labor force, compared to 86 percent of legal-immigrant men and 81 percent of native-born men." Immigrant women, in the meantime, are more likely to stay home with the kids. Hence immigrant families are more likely to represent the traditional family values conservatives prefer than traditional American families themselves.

Immigrants—including illegal immigrants—also commit less crime than native-born U.S. residents... although the children and grandchildren of immigrants do show an increasing proclivity to lawlessness. Perhaps that results from their assimilation into U.S. culture?

Yet conservatives grow apoplectic at proposals to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows. Why? Some of the objection is deontological: Rules are rules, after all, and we should not reward people for breaking them. You can see the sense in that: If an immigrant can ignore U.S. entry laws, then why not let him also ignore U.S. food-safety laws or environmental-protection laws? Do we enforce the laws that are on the books, or not?

(To that, there is an equally deontological reply: If someone wants to get a job, buy a house, purchase food and clothes and other consumer goods, and so on—and other people are happy to hire him and sell him things—what right does any third party have to interfere in those free and consensual exchanges?)

A second objection is more pragmatic and less virtuous: Letting illegal immigrants stay in the U.S. only encourages more illegal immigration. But this is a question-begging answer. Why is the arrival of more foreign nationals necessarily to be a bad thing? For decades the U.S. had no immigration restrictions whatsoever. For all intents and purposes, the country’s borders were open—and they stayed that way until the Chinese Exclusion Act. Even then, non-Asians enjoyed open U.S. borders until the 1920s.

Some conservatives make an even less elevated argument: Increasing immigration might increase the Democratic vote, leading the GOP to perpetual minority status. (Ann Coulter has been beating this particular drum lately.) But this is also a question-begging answer. It ignores the fact that, for instance, conservatives have won over immigrants in Canada. It also ignores a point columnist Shikha Dalmia has drawn out in Reason: Even well-off minority groups such as Indian-Americans and Jews lean Democratic in the U.S.—not because they harbor an inherent love for entitlements, but because of the GOP's hostility to minorities.

That hostility is most visible in the GOP's ferocious attitude toward immigration. Republicans claim to favor free trade and limited government. Then they advocate massive federal spending increases to militarize the border. They start telling private businesses whom they can and cannot hire. They demand oppressive biometric national-ID systems so the authorities can keep a constant, watchful eye over everyone. And they demand the construction of giant walls to keep out people whose only offense is wanting to build a better life for themselves and their families.

When Republicans complain that immigrants vote Democratic, they are getting cause and effect exactly backward. If Republicans want to win over immigrants, then they needn't do anything more than live up to their principles. The question is: Do they?

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  • UnCivilServant||

    Rampant shilling for immigrants and immigration makes me even more anti-immigration.

  • SiliconDoc||

    Exactly. Screw Ellis Island it was all a lie ?

    The initiator of force is the illegal, oh clueless libertards.

  • Rhino||

    I suppose Rosa Parks initiated force by refusing to obey the law and move to the back of the bus when demanded by a white person.

  • JoeTheLesser||

    Yeah obviously the guy who voluntarily accepts the job from a guy who voluntarily offers it and then engages in a peaceful exchange of resources for housing is the guy who is initiating violence, not the roided up ICE agent throwing him and his kids into a detention center.

    Silly libertarians.

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  • John||

    How about they just do nothing? Leave it as it is. Most of the illegals seem to be happy or they would go home. The only people unhappy seem to be Democratic activists who are pissed they can't manufacture more votes.

    Maybe we can't solve every problem and there are a few problems, like say undoing the damage that Obama has done and trying to get the government to stop taking our rights and civil liberties are more pressing than immigration?

  • Zeb||

    I think there are a good number of right-wingers who are unhappy about the current situation as well.

    Honestly, that may be the best we are likely to get. I could be happy with a policy of tolerance, sort of like the Dutch treatment of soft drugs. If you aren't causing trouble and are working, no one will look for you or try to deport you.

    I'd much rather have a de jure more open immigration system where, at the very least, anyone with a job offer can get a work visa. But I'm pretty sure any "reform" we are likely to get will just be even worse than what we have now.

  • Rhino||

    A lot of right wingers make the protectionist "they took our jobs" argument and also lament that they get "benefits" like access to free emergency health care and in state tuition that is paid for by tax payers.

    The problem with right wingers is:
    a) ignorance of basic economics
    b) jingoism resulting in the inability to see the welfare state as the problem rather than the foreigners.

  • Cap'n Krunch||

    I'd be happy if anyone could come across the border after passing health and terrorist screening, but I do have a problem with just anyone taking employment here and in particular with obtaining benefits, including free schooling and health care.

  • Zeb||

    What is wrong with taking employment here? An employer doesn't get to choose who he hires?

  • Rhino||

    The problem, then, is not the immigrant, but the welfare state. The immigrant does not hurt anyone by entering into a contract of employment or purchasing a home from a seller. The government commits theft by taking resources from one group of people to give them to another. The only thing that needs done to fix the situation is stop doing immoral things like robbing citizens or borrowing against the unborn.

  • R C Dean||

    Republicans claim to favor free trade and limited government. But do they?

    No.

    NEXT!

  • John||

    Even if they did, why does not being for open borders cancel out support for free trade?

    The funny thing about immigration is that it is the one of the few times the Republicans haven't been willing to fuck their supporters in return for helping their cronies and getting a few "gee you don't sweat much for a fat chick" compliments from the various beltway media douche bags.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    The thing is, John, you sweat way too much, even for a fat chick.

  • John||

    Probably true, but I am still way out of your league Vanneman.

  • 110 Lean||

    The name's Vanneman. Anal Vanneman.

  • Zeb||

    why does not being for open borders cancel out support for free trade?

    To my mind, it's not really free trade if movement of labor isn't free as well. Constraints on a free market in labor create all sorts of distortions in the market.

  • Hydra||

    It's not perfectly free trade if WMDs aren't allowed to be traded across our borders either. Sometimes demands of perfection run into pragmatic problems.

  • Zeb||

    But labor is fundamental to the economy and markets in a way that large military hardware is not. You might as well say you are for free trade, but no way will we import any maple syrup from Canada.

  • Cap'n Krunch||

    We don't have free markets in labor either. Legal laborers come with large governmental regulation costs, illegals not so much.

  • Zeb||

    Then they are freer with illegal immigrants than without. Seems like a good thing.

  • ||

    Then they are freer with illegal immigrants than without. Seems like a good thing.

    No shit. I'm actually a bit baffled why business are pushing for legal status when the entire advantage of illegal labor is the lack of legal status and attendant regulatory compliance - particularly with Obamacare's employer looming next year.

    It's interesting that even in libertarian circles, putting everyone else at regulatory parity with illegal immigrants by releasing the choke hold on the labor market is never given any serious consideration as a policy proposal. Destroying the competitive advantage of illegal immigrants by putting their necks in the vise is the solution.

  • ||

    *employer mandate

  • Copernicus||

    " And they demand the construction of giant walls to keep out people whose only offense is wanting to build a better life for themselves and their families."

    Sometimes I lock the door to my house to keep out people whose only offense is wanting to build a better life in my house. Am I a bad person?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Am I a bad person?

    You are literally worse than Hitler.

  • some guy||

    Of course, not. You own your house.

    Do you do this same thing with your neighbors houses? What about the rentals down the street?

  • Hydra||

    After the feds ED the strip of land along the border where the fence is built, they do own the property in question.

  • MWG||

    and... how exactly is your private home analogous to a nation state?

  • Copernicus||

    the nation state belongs to the citizens, not the aliens.

  • Jordan||

    No, it doesn't. You get no say in who I admit to my property.

  • Shrug||

    The problem with your argument is that you don't actually own your property. The government owns it and defines how you get to use it comrade.

  • Hydra||

    But I have no obligation to let people pass through my property to get to yours.

  • MWG||

    Is anyone suggesting you do?

  • MWG||

    That sounds poetic. Unfotunately for your analogy there's no such thing as "collective private property rights" at least as far as the nation state is concerned.

    Are you making the leftist argument for some sort of "social contract"?

  • Copernicus||

    Unless you are an anarchist, all systems of government include a social contract.

  • MWG||

    Well if that's the case, I can hardly think of anything the government does that can't be justified by "SOCIAL CONTRACT"... sse Obamacare, for example.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    That's why the role of government needs to be strictly defined.

    ...to protect the rights of the individual.

  • Zeb||

    all systems of government include a social contract.

    Really? Show me this social contract.

    If there is a social contract, it goes like this: "do what we say, or we'll shoot you".

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Really? Show me this social contract.

    I pay the government taxes in return for courts. I pay them to punish those who violate my rights and dissuade those that would take my shit without my consent.

    I think he's right. Short of anarchism, there is a "contract". And the trick is to define, up front, what that contract is. In fact it's imperative to do so, lest you have people (progressives) claiming obligations that don't exist. That's what the Constitutions is (should be).

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    s

  • Zeb||

    It's not a real contract if all parties to it don't freely consent to its terms.

    The idea of a Social Contract is utter nonsense. Government is "might makes right" embodied and that's all it can be on any kind of large scale.

  • Rhino||

    What if you would like to do those for yourself in lieu of paying taxes? Do you have to option of opting out and not paying taxes? No, you don't. Not without having to give up your rights to your property in order to move somewhere else. You don't have a contract if you don't have the option to not agree to it. Saying there is a social contract is like saying there's no such thing as rape because you do not have the option to refuse sexual advances.

  • Copernicus||

    The contract is the agreement to follow the Constitution and any subsequent laws (which are also supposed to follow the Constitution).

    As Francisco stated above,it is the expansion of the government and laws beyond it proper limits that is the fundamental problem

  • MWG||

    The Constitution is not an agreement or contract. It sets limits on the power and authority of the government. That's it.

  • Hydra||

    Really? Read the Preamble some time. And actually most of the Constitution is devoted to granting powers to the federal government.

  • MWG||

    I see a lot of stuff in there about WHY the constitution was written. Nothing about a contract or agreement.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I see a lot of stuff in there about WHY the constitution was written. Nothing about a contract or agreement.

    A failing of the Founders.

    Perhaps on the next go-round we can rectify that. It needs to specifically define the role of government and how it relates to the people.

  • Hydra||

    Perhaps on the next go-round we can rectify that. It needs to specifically define the role of government and how it relates to the people.

    As seen by the 1787 political class or the 2014 one?

    We have an example of what a constitution written by modern politicians would look like in the EU's. We don't want that pile of crap here.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    As seen by the 1787 political class or the 2014 one?

    We have an example of what a constitution written by modern politicians would look like in the EU's. We don't want that pile of crap here.

    Well, I guess it depends on how the next writing comes to pass. If it devolves to force, I'm guessing the side with the guns will win and they probably won't be inviting the losing side to the constitutional convention.

    I seriously doubt we'd all voluntarily agree to a rewrite. (perhaps out of the ashes of economic collapse, but I'm sceptical as each side will blame the other)

  • Rhino||

    As if a piece of paper is enough to limit the power of the government. Look at all the unconstitutional laws, programs, and departments. What makes you think that an explicitly stated social contract would limit the power and corruption of a government?

  • Hydra||

    I see a lot of stuff in there about WHY the constitution was written. Nothing about a contract or agreement.

    Since you apparently need some reading comprehension help, I'll elide the part about purposes to reveal the basic meaning of the Preamble.

    "We the People of the United States of America....do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

  • MWG||

    Again, nothing about a contract or agreement. The constitution simply lays out the authority and power of the government. Full stop.

    Also interesting is the fact that you'll find nothing in the constitution regarding immigration. The founders were living in a day of relatively free movement and saw no reason to give the government the authority to impede it.

  • Hydra||

    Do you know what a "constitution" is, MWG? In general, not just the US Constitution.

    Also interesting is the fact that you'll find nothing in the constitution regarding immigration.

    From A1S8:

    The Congress shall have power...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.

    Cue you guys switching positions on that immigration==trade position.

  • Rhino||

    What did "regulate" mean when the constitution was written? It meant "to make regular." The congress was given the power to make commerce easier (more free), not to impede it.

  • Zeb||

    The Constitution is pretty good as far as constitutions go, but politicians were arrogant bastards who were full of shit back then too:

    "We the People of the United States of America....do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    Is bullshit. Some members of the ruling class did that. They did a good job. But "the people", generally speaking, didn't do any of that.

  • Zeb||

    It's really irrelevant if the constitution is a contract or not. No one asked me to consent to it, so it is not a contract that I am party to.

    You can say all you want about a social contract, but until someone can show me the contract and where I agreed to it you aren't convincing me that I am party to any such contract.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    It defines the role of government. That is a contract.

    Agreed, you didn't voluntarily sign it. Don't know what to do about that other than allow you to renounce your citizenship, stop paying taxes and receive none of the protections provided (again, not sure how you do that either, as the military generally defends a geographic area). So I guess it's a contract you're born into and your alternative is to leave?

    Perhaps, the force in the equation could be mitigated by replacing the "income tax" with a more voluntary consumption tax, but I don't see a way to "opt out" and still live here.

    Which puts me back to my premise...short of anarchism, there IS a contract.

  • Zeb||

    There is no contract. Just force. All the Constitution does is politely request that the government not engage too egregiously in overt force.

    Anarchy is reality. Sorry. And please don't confuse this with my saying that anarchy is a viable political system or organizing principle. It's just an observation.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Thus the conundrum. I can't give you a viable system that doesn't involve force. I can only minimize the force and maximize the liberty. A tradeoff.

    1. People can do as they wish, PROVIDED in doing so they do not infringe upon the rights of others.

    2. The ONLY legitimate function of government is to protect the rights of the individual.

    If you can come up with a viable voluntary system, I'd love to hear it. Anarchy will readily disintegrate into government.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think there is any way around that fact about the nature of government, and making up some nonsense about a social contract doesn't help.

    I think that's just how it is. Government is probably inevitable, possibly necessary and perhaps good in some limited applications. But there is no avoiding the simple fact that ultimately government is just the people who have managed to become dominant in using force to get people to do what they want. Laws and constitutions can be nice when people pay attention to them, but it is always up to the people in power whether or not to follow such things.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    but it is always up to the people in power whether or not to follow such things.

    There we disagree. When those in power fail to adhere to the rules set for them, it is the obligation of the people to remove them from power.

  • Rhino||

    And what if people decide it's beneficial for them to use the government to rob resources from others rather than stick to the constitution? Am i still beholden to the social contract that is designed not to protect my rights but to facility the violation of my rights?

  • Rhino||

    If the constitution is a contract that defines the role of government, then it is null and void as the government violated the contract long ago and there is no third party mediator to go to file a grievance. You have to go to the government to beg them to follow the contract, which they have no incentive to do as it is too politically lucrative to break it.

  • DarrenM||

    It's a contract between the states.

  • Copernicus||

    The government is a distillation of the citizens. The Constitution is an agreement. It even has signatories.

  • ||

    Am I one of them?

  • ||

    If you think the Constitution is the only "social contract" you need, then you might be a Libertarian.

  • Rhino||

    Actually, you might be a Republican. A lot of libertarians accept that a constitution does not limit the power and corruption of a government. They only point to the constitution to highlight that corruption. As if to say, "See. Here's the contract where it says the government can't do that, but they do it anyways."

  • Zeb||

    You own your house. You also have the right to let whomever you want into your house. Everyone else in the country also has that right, even if the people they want to invite in are not US citizens. Restrictions on immigration are violations of individual property rights, not a way to protect them.
    I am 100% in favor of your right to ban all immigrants from your property, but that's as far as the property rights argument will take you in justifying immigration restrictions. The whole country is not collectively owned by the citizens.

  • Copernicus||

    Not the whole country. But parts of it. About 25% I think.

    I agree with you completely regarding the free movement of people. Will you agree with me that non-citizens are by definition visitors to the country?

    suckling at the public teat is not their right.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, I certainly agree there, particularly about the "sucking at the public teat" (I don't think that that is anyone's right).

  • Rhino||

    Depends. If they buy a house and intend to stay, they aren't really visiting. They are moving here. Just like when i got out of the Marines and moved to Pittsburgh. I'm originally from Kansas City. You wouldn't say I'm just visiting PGH, though.

  • ||

    The whole country is not collectively owned by the citizens.

    Try not paying your property taxes. Make sure you articulate that opinion to the judge.

  • PapayaSF||

    The idea that libertarians or the GOP are going to "win over" millions of Hispanics is absurd. They come from cultures which are pretty much anti-libertarian: socially conservative and economically "progressive" (at least nominally). They tend to vote left at home, they tend to vote left here, their descendants tend to vote left here. (Ex-Cubans are an exception, but there aren't enough of them.)

    This is one area where adherence to libertarian ideology is self-defeating: if you follow the "free movement of people" principle, you end up changing the electorate in a way that works against every other libertarian principle.

  • some guy||

    If you follow the "democratic votes for all citizens" principle, you end up creating an electorate that works against every other libertarian principle.

    It's human nature to want free stuff. Either you convince people to fight that nature or you live in a socialist-leaning society.

  • PapayaSF||

    But the US still has a tradition of liberty, despite the best efforts of the media and the education system. When you import masses of people from countries that don't have that tradition, and in fact have a tradition of mouthing socialist platitudes, you make that "human nature" problem even worse.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Yep. This is what people don't get.

    When you import human widgets, you import their political views with them. When they *inevitably* get the vote, they will vote according to those views.

    The people of the world, are by and large, less libertarian than your current neighbors. Let them in, give them the vote, and you're making the US less libertarian.

  • PapayaSF||

    Precisely.

  • Zeb||

    It is worth noting that they are leaving the places with the culture you describe for some reason. And I suspect that most poor immigrants are pretty apolitical. I don't really know.

    Since I don't get to set immigration policy either way, I'll stick to principle. No point having principles if you are going to give them up that easily. A tricky thing about respecting rights is that you have to respect the rights of people who disagree with you too.

  • PapayaSF||

    True, but what seems to happen is similar to people moving from high-tax states to low-tax states, and then voting for politicians who raise taxes.

    The issue is: which principles? You may not be able to have all the ones you want, because sticking to one may come at the cost of others. I believe open borders is a principle that, in practice, works against pretty much all other libertarian principles.

  • Copernicus||

    It's not an issue unless you let the non-citizen vote or, more likely, the illegal alien population swells every decade or so and the lazy and expedient solution is mass amnesty/citizenship (Dream Act)

  • Hydra||

    It's not an issue unless you let the non-citizen vote

    Which you will have if there are no voter ID laws... laws Reason also opposes btw.

  • Copernicus||

    Amazing. How can preserving the fairness and integrity of an election be a bad thing? Don't voter ID laws benefit everybody?

  • PapayaSF||

    Not according to the left. Supposedly there are vast numbers of eligible voters who manage to exist in the modern world without ID.

  • Zeb||

    It's not just the left. There are a number of us principled weirdos on here who aren't wild about voter ID laws. But they are very low on my list of things to be upset about.

  • Rhino||

    What if there is no fairness or integrity of an election regardless of having voter id laws or not. The parties rig the rules so they get to pick the candidates and push out dissent voices. You end up having to chose the lesser of two evils. And there is nothing that makes them beholden to their campaign promises once they are elected, so even if you elect someone in line with your views, they often shift or flip flop and you get the opposite of what you voted for.

  • Zeb||

    Another principle I have is that there shouldn't be a massive welfare state. Get rid of that an most of the objections about immigrants are gone. I don't get to decide about that either. I want both open borders and an end to the welfare state. I don't think one is particularly more likely to happen than the other any time soon, so why do I need to prioritize one over the other?

  • Copernicus||

    And the massive welfare state shouldn't be a hinderance to free movement of people in and out of the USA, as long as the welfare state is not made available to the non-citizen.

    However, certain politicians wish to maximize the number persons on Welfare (citizen or non).

    For these pols, liberal immigration policy is not a matter of promoting freedom or libertarianism, it as about their own political power.

  • PapayaSF||

    Except: as soon as an illegal has a baby, that baby is a citizen and entitled to welfare.

  • Copernicus||

    Yes, so be it.

    The Welfare state is a bad idea and a huge burden.

    Let's not exacerbate the problem by hanging out the free lunch sign to the whole world.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, you are right. And if I were a politician, I would worry about those things. But I'm not, so I have the luxury of asking for what I think is right.

    This is a reasonable debate to have, and I don't think that (most) people on here arguing for restrictions are bigots or anything. But to me the point of being libertarian verging on anarchist is to get away from the dirt of practical politics and discuss with some smart people what would be best from a pro-liberty perspective.

    And sometimes you just can't win. My concern with the argument that immigrants tend to have more lefty politics is that the very same argument could be used by our ideological opponents some day. It sounds an awful lot like an "if only the right people were in charge" sort of argument. Libertopia isn't going to come about through careful social engineering. It is going to happen only if we can convince enough people that liberty is either morally desirable above other things, or that it leads to the best outcomes. If it is going to happen at all, it is not going to happen through careful engineering of the electorate.

  • PapayaSF||

    My concern with the argument that immigrants tend to have more lefty politics is that the very same argument could be used by our ideological opponents some day.

    Statists are going to object to immigration, because it'll bring in libertarian voters? Hah. Dream on.

    Libertopia isn't going to come about through careful social engineering. It is going to happen only if we can convince enough people that liberty is either morally desirable above other things, or that it leads to the best outcomes.

    That's fine, but you are much more likely to convince a native-born American that there are problems with statism than you are someone born in Mexico or Guatemala or China or Japan or France or pretty much anywhere.

  • Copernicus||

    " I want both open borders and an end to the welfare state. I don't think one is particularly more likely to happen than the other any time soon, so why do I need to prioritize one over the other?"

    I think one is much more likely to happen before the other.. the end of the welfare state is hovering around never, and open borders?? who knows?

  • Zeb||

    Well, we will see, I guess.

    My money is on continuing on a sort of middle of the road path with occasional slight swings to the left or right. Which is why I just stick to principle and try not to get too bogged down in practical politics. Go down that path too far and you are just one of THOSE people.

  • Hydra||

    Since I don't get to set immigration policy either way, I'll stick to principle.

    How convenient for libertarians to assume they will never be in power: they don't have to worry about the real-world consequences of implementing their "principles", while retaining the right to condemn leftists (for example) whose well-meaning policies have disastrous results in the real world. Must be nice.

  • ||

    It's very nice, thank you.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    I say, this monocle is positively filthy. I can hardly read your comment.

  • R C Dean||

    It is worth noting that they are leaving the places with the culture you describe for some reason.

    Often, because its a statist craphole.

    Unfortunately, they often don't see the connection between "statist" and "craphole".

  • Hydra||

    And I suspect that most poor immigrants are pretty apolitical.

    In most Latin American countries the poor support socialist governments by vast majorities. They were/are the Chavez govt's biggest supporters.

  • PapayaSF||

    Yeeeee-up.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    Can't imagine why they want to leave.

  • Jahfre Fire Eater||

    There are a lot of Republicans. Lumping them together as if they speak with one voice is just plain ignorant. The limited government faction of active GOP voters is a minority as ANYONE who has participated in GOP party events would know. The GOP remains the only viable tool for seating limited government individuals into government offices on a wide scale. The fact that the limited government movement has not yet reached that capacity is NOT indicative of the strides we have made in the party since the 2007 Ron Paul campaign.

  • DJF||

    ""'"""Even well-off minority groups such as Indian-Americans and Jews lean Democratic in the U.S.—not because they harbor an inherent love for entitlements, but because of the GOP's hostility to minorities.""""'

    Do Indian Americans think that there should be open borders between India and Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China or do they hate immigrants?

    Do Jews think there should be open borders between Israel and Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordon etc etc or do they hate immigrants?

  • sasob||

    Good question.

  • AlmightyJB||

    But the US is the only country in the world that does not have open borders. And the GOP is the only political party in the world that does not advocate for open borders. Oh wait, the exact opposite of this is true.

  • Zeb||

    the exact opposite of this is true.

    So the US is the only country in the world that does have open borders? News to me.

  • AlmightyJB||

    No, no country has open borders (at least by choice)

  • Zeb||

    I was just playing with your words.

    One could argue that some EU countries have open land borders, at least.

  • coma44||

    "The GOP's Immigration Problem"

    They are just looking for e new voting block. The Republicans finally figured out what the democrats did back in the 60's with the "great society" deal.....Now they want on before the socialists beat them to the "new" Americans.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Is there a major political party of goverment in the world advocating for open borders? Surely one of thise progressive countries has a completly open border?

  • Zeb||

    There isn't a major party advocating for the legalization of heroin anywhere either, but it's still a good thing to advocate.

  • AlmightyJB||

    That's true. But how then is this particularly a GOP problem? That was the point I was making. KInd of like calling belief in a diety a Shaker problem. Is he advocating or just taking a cheap shot.

  • Zeb||

    OK, fair point. As usual, I kind of lost track of the article for the comments.

  • Copernicus||

    "Republican candidates need to brush up on the laws of economics."

    Hey Reason, be careful what arguments you employ.

    If I can prove that banning all guns makes economic sense, does that justify banning them?

    If I can prove mandatory participation in a national health insurance makes economic sense, does that justify mandating it?

    If I can prove a government approved diet makes economic sense, does that justify compelling it?

    The "ends justify the means" argument is usually the refuge of the tyrant.

    There may be economic benefits to liberal immigration laws, but that doesn't mean there aren't other moral and legal issues at play.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    There may be economic benefits to liberal immigration laws, but that doesn't mean there aren't other moral and legal issues at play.

    Can you please state some of the moral issues you speak of for me?

  • Copernicus||

    Are you really not aware of any legal or moral problems (past or present) which have resulted from having tens of millions of illegals living in the USA?

  • MJGreen||

    Harming the lives of the "illegals" when they are imprisoned and forcibly removed? That's the only moral problem that comes immediately to mind.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I want to hear YOU tell me what YOU think the moral issues are.

  • Copernicus||

    Certainly diminishing the quality of education of my child while I pay to educate an illegal alien child would be a moral issue for me.

    The fundamental moral issue is citizen vs. non-citizen.

    Non-citizens in the USA are visitors. Those with work permits are a special class of visitor.

    Visitors need to pay their own way. We have enough citizen moochers without importing them.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Certainly diminishing the quality of education

    So your problem is with the morality of public education, not open borders.

    The fundamental moral issue is citizen vs. non-citizen.

    Meaningless babble.

    Non-citizens in the USA are visitors.

    Is there a point? How is this a moral issue?

    Visitors need to pay their own way.

    Everyone needs to pay their own way. What does this have to do with open borders. You are, again, conflating the issue. Or are you implying US citizens shouldn't need to pay their own way?

  • Copernicus||

    Of course they should.

    I get angry at the American citizen moocher.

    I get much angrier at the foreign moocher.

    It is not a non-issue.
    I am an advocate of free movement. I am not an advocate of free lunch.

  • Zeb||

    There is no moral issue of citizen vs. non-citizen.

    Everything else you say applies just as well to citizens.

  • MWG||

    Notice that all your examples are examples of increasing government power whereas a arguing for open borders and even slightly more open borders is a call for LESS government.

    See the difference now?

  • some guy||

    Indeed. I'm struggling to think of a case where more freedom is bad for the economy. I'm at a loss...

    It's like he's asking "If I can prove that murder does not harm, does that justify making it legal?"

  • Copernicus||

    You believe that unfettered immigration will result in a smaller federal government?

  • MWG||

    I don't know.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....population

    There seems to be a lack of correlation.

    The size of the current US federal government appears to be the fault of old white people as far as I can tell.

  • Copernicus||

    I'll make a layman economic prediction:

    Open the borders, allow unfettered undocumented immigration.

    1: The number of immigrants (non-citizens) will grow quickly and drastically.

    2.The size/cost of the federal government will go up significantly as a result.

  • Zeb||

    Open the borders, allow unfettered undocumented immigration.

    While I might favor that, most of the non-anarchists on here are not in favor of that. A big part of the point of more open immigration is so that you don't end up with a huge number of undocumented. If you allow people in through the official border crossings, you can document all of them.

  • Copernicus||

    I agree completely. I advocate liberal visitation freedom. I believe these benefit both citizens and visitors

    I advocate liberal foreign worker laws. I believe these benefit both citizens and visitors.

    But I believe we should be no incentives for immigrants to burden or bankrupt our country.

  • Copernicus||

    But I believe "there" should be..

  • Zeb||

    OK. Initially, you came of as a bit of a nativist twit, but I think we agree mostly and can respectfully disagree on a few things around the edges.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Copernicus,

    You believe that unfettered immigration will result in a smaller federal government?


    Well, you only have to look at history to see that the highest expansion of government size and largesse happened during times of war and especially after the creation of the Federal Reserve.

  • Copernicus||

    is there a link between immigration and war? I already knew gov spending increased during wartime.

  • R C Dean||

    arguing for open borders and even slightly more open borders is a call for LESS government.

    Open borders? Sure.

    Slightly more open borders? Meaning you will still have the full panoply of immigration enforcement, just with a more permissive set of criteria? I'm not seeing LESS government there.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Copernicus,

    If I can prove that banning all guns makes economic sense, does that justify banning them?


    The problem, Copernicus, is that the Republi-rats and conservative pundits like to posit economic arguments to justify tougher immigration laws, and those arguments are always wrong.

  • Copernicus||

    "always wrong"?

    No economic liabilities to 10-20 million illegal aliens?

  • Zeb||

    You have to ballance that against what they put in. There is some evidence that immigrants (legal and otherwise) pay quite a bit more into the system than they get out of it.

  • Copernicus||

    I would say that we should neither exploit them nor let them exploit the system.

    A vigorous above-board foreign worker policy can provide broad benefits to all parties.

  • Zeb||

    I agree that is probably the best we could get, both morally and practically. If people who had work could come in easily and quickly with temporary work visas, that would be great. And without so many people having to come illegally or not at all, we might actually be able to answer some questions about why people want to come here. I tend to think that people mostly come because they want to work and that a lot more would come seasonally or temporarily if they knew they could come back easily once they had left. A lot of third world shitholes are pretty nice places if you have a bit more money.

  • Rhino||

    The only liability is the debt created due to the welfare state which is also a negative in and of itself.

  • Zeb||

    The "ends justify the means" argument is usually the refuge of the tyrant.

    Usually people accuse us of failing to consider the practical consequences. So points for a novel line of argument, anyway.

  • Rhino||

    I think the point was more that the Republicans use economic arguments that are unfounded. Not an "ends justify the means" argument.

    It's like if i said. "Minimum wage laws help unskilled and inexperienced workers." And then you told me i needed to brush up on my economics.

  • joeboise||

    The children of illegal immigrants are a massive drain on public services, they are failing to succeed in the US school system and they are failing to assimilate as adults. Not only should illegals be deported, the 14th amendment should be revised. We have a surplus of unskilled labor because of free trade, why worsen the problem?

  • Zeb||

    The children of illegal immigrants are a massive drain on public services,

    So are the children of American citizens.

  • Copernicus||

    Why do you keep pushing this?

    Yes, the public/social services system is bloated. But since Americans are bankrupting the country, you think we shouldn't restrict foreigners from joining in?

    I hate the Welfare state we live in, and I am happy to fight it. But this is the country and the government chosen through elections.

    Non-citizens do not have a claim on the public teat.

  • Zeb||

    I guess my point is that I don't think citizens have a claim on the public teat either. So I don't think it matters so much. And I am not convinced that immigrants are a net drain on the public teat.

    We'll see what happens in the next generations, but I suspect that today's immigrants will assimilate into general society in time just as earlier immigrant groups did.

  • Copernicus||

    And I would say much of the animosity and uncertainty which permeates these debates comes from the underground black market characteristic of the immigrant labor force.

    I will paste a line from above:

    A vigorous above-board foreign worker policy can provide broad benefits to all parties.

  • Homple||

    Yes, children of American citizens are a massive drain on public services. So we need to import even more children to drain public services more massively yet.

    Is this a logical consequence of the Nonaggression Principle or Self Ownership?

  • Zeb||

    I'm just no more bothered by an immigrant or their child consuming public services than an American. They are just as entitled (or not). Immigrants pay plenty of taxes too.
    People are people. Being an American doesn't get you any special points in my book.

  • Copernicus||

    Zeb, I like a lot of your arguments but this seems like a very weak final word.

    I imagine not many will follow your anarchist tendencies this far.

    I'm sure you will not be surprised if you are in the minority in believing that being an American does not get you some special points in America.

  • Hawk Spitui||

    This is one area where adherence to libertarian ideology is self-defeating: if you follow the "free movement of people" principle, you end up changing the electorate in a way that works against every other libertarian principle.

    Given that that issue has been pointed out over and over again through the years, with nary a coherent rebuttal in sight, I've been forced to conclude there are far too many libertarians incapable of understanding any public policy option that won't fit on a bumper sticker.

  • KPres||

    I'm still waiting for a rebuttal myself.

    For me, the answer is simple...voting for statism is an act of aggression and coercion, and if you do so you're sacrificing your own rights, like the right to free movement.

    A lot of the people around here pretend to be hard-liners but they'll never challenge democracy.

  • Jordan||

    For me, the answer is simple...voting for statism is an act of aggression and coercion, and if you do so you're sacrificing your own rights, like the right to free movement.

    So you want to punish immigrants for crimes they might commit? Native-born Americans might vote for statism too. How should we punish them for their pre-crime when they turn 18?

  • KPres||

    That's for the policy people to figure out. I would say it ultimately boils down to whatever policy minimizes the coercion in total. If some innocent people are punished, that sucks, but innocent people are going to get punished by the people that vote for statism anyway.

  • PapayaSF||

    Of course native-born Americans vote for statism. The problem is, do we want to swell their ranks with millions more foreign-born citizens who will also vote for statism?

  • Shrug||

    I'm all for deporting statists, whether they are immigrants or Native Americans. We should get started right now with all of the politicians.

  • Hydra||

    Native-born Americans might vote for statism too. How should we punish them for their pre-crime when they turn 18?

    Well, if it were up to me people would have to pass a constitutional/political issue test before they were allowed to vote in elections. The test would be relatively simple (no, not resurrecting the bar exams required under Jim Crow laws) and neutral vis-a-vis current political issues, of course.

  • Zeb||

    Th rebuttal is that heavily restricted immigration violates people's rights. If you haven't caught that yet, I guess you aren't going to.
    If your argument has to do with how people will vote, then you need to start stripping Americans of their citizenship and deporting them, because there are a lot more Americans who favor collectivist policies than immigrants or children of immigrants.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    "...there are a lot more Americans who favor collectivist policies than immigrants or children of immigrants."

    Not sure this is accurate. As a total number - sure. But immigrants add to the ratio disproportionately.

    Your "strip Americans of citizenship" is a straw-man.

    You really don't address the heart of the issue, though. How do we get to a more libertarian place if immigrants are likely to vote for statist policies?

    Mindlessly repeating something is a foundational principal but not arguing through its logical outcome is avoidance.

  • Zeb||

    Your "strip Americans of citizenship" is a straw-man.

    I don't think so. I never accused anyone else of wanting to do that. But it follows that if you want to exclude people because of their political beliefs, then is is also reasonable to kick people out because of their beliefs.

    What it really comes down to is that I'm not a libertarian because I am interested in practical politics. I don't have a lot of hope that we are going to move in a more libertarian direction, except for in a few small areas, in my lifetime. Someone has to just argue for what is right, and that is what I try to do. I don't make the laws and I don't have any significant influence on those who do. I think the world would be a better place if people just tried to do what's right rather than trying to fix everything else.

  • Sidd Finch||

    there are a lot more Americans who favor collectivist policies than immigrants or children of immigrants.

    There's no problem Open Borders can't solve.

  • Hydra||

    If your argument has to do with how people will vote, then you need to start stripping Americans of their citizenship and deporting them, because there are a lot more Americans who favor collectivist policies than immigrants or children of immigrants.

    Controlling the borders and enacting voter ID laws is a lot more morally justifiable and pragmatically easier (and less prone to govt abuse) than going through the existing citizenship rolls to determine who is a statist. Denying access to someone from outside our territory is very different from expelling someone who originated here.

  • Zeb||

    Denying access based on political beliefs. What could possibly go wrong once that precedent is set? Of course the right people will always be in charge.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    This is one area where adherence to libertarian ideology is self-defeating: if you follow the "free movement of people" principle, you end up changing the electorate in a way that works against every other libertarian principle.

    "Given that that issue has been pointed out over and over again through the years, with nary a coherent rebuttal in sight,"

    ^This. I really love to see a good faith, on topic rebuttal to this.

    Waiting.

  • Zeb||

    Principle is tough that way.

    There are several reasons to favor more open immigration in spite of that objection.
    It violates my property rights if I am not allowed to hire, rent or sell property to whomever I want, regardless of their citizenship.
    As for the changing the electorate objection, I have two responses to that. First, I don't want the government to be in charge of shaping the electorate in any way. I think that is something government should stay well away from. If progressives and socialists came out an explicitly said that they want to promote immigration because it will help them win elections, everyone would say that's evil and wrong. It is no less wrong for anyone else. Second, if you respect rights, you need to respect everyone's rights. If you can compromise on this, you can compromise on anything and then you are left with no rights at all.

  • Copernicus||

    Zeb, I agree with you all the way on principles and freedoms.

    What I don't understand is why you think that since so many Americans are a huge economic drag via the Welfare State, we shouldn't object to another 10-30 million foreigners climbing on board.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    So, your argument is pragmatic outcome doesn't matter because PRINCIPAL. Because it feels good to be morally right. I hope you'll forgive some of us if we'd like to ameliorate the negatives by compromising on the positives so that we can actually get to a place where positive exists instead of only living in our own imagination.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Ughh. PRINCIPLE.

  • Hydra||

    Principle is tough that way.

    No shit, which is why absolute principles can't produce a viable moral philosophy. They always lead to problems in practice, whose solution would violate said principles.

    Utilitarianism is more flexible, allowing you to follow principles most of the time while ignoring them when things get stupid.

  • some guy||

    alt-text: "Are... are you an illegal immigrant too?"

  • Hawk Spitui||

    Second, Brat—who has a Ph.D. in economics and who teaches it at Randolph-Macon College—does not seem the sort to support imposing tariffs and quotas on the cross-border trade in goods. No doubt he could explain at great length why such artificial restrictions hurt the economy. But the laws of economics apparently do not apply to labor—at least not when you're running in a Republican primary.

    I can tell you one significant difference between importing goods and labor. When my iPhone becomes obsolete or stops working, I simply throw it away. What do you plan to do with laborers who are made redundant or become too old to work?

  • Jordan||

    That same argument applies to native citizens.

  • PapayaSF||

    OK, but why import millions of low-skilled, poorly educated workers when we already have millions here already?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Hawk Spitui,

    What do you plan to do with laborers who are made redundant or become too old to work?


    Well, Soylent Green is made of people, so...

    There are a few wrong assumptions in your question, one of which is assuming people simply stick to the one thing they know how to do, always; the second is assuming people who work don't save for later and open businesses or do something else to prosper.

  • Sidd Finch||

    I like Hinkle cites Brat's credentials as an economist and two sentences later insinuates he doesn't understand the "laws of economics." Regardless of the merits of Brat's argument, I'm sure it's more sophisticated than 'people are literally goods so any argument against open borders must also apply to free trade.'

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Sidd Finch,

    I like Hinkle cites Brat's credentials as an economist and two sentences later insinuates he doesn't understand the "laws of economics."


    What Hinkle is arguing is not that Brat is not acquainted with the laws of economics but that he's a partisan hack who plays fast and loose with the facts, not unlike Krugman et al.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Open Borders Are Good For Americans is not a "law of economics."

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Sidd Finch,

    Open Borders Are Good For Americans is not a "law of economics."


    No, it is not a law of ecomnomics, but an argument that is based on the laws of economics: Division of Labor and Comparative Advantage.

    Why do you say it isn't?

  • PapayaSF||

    Supply and demand: we have a surplus of low-skilled, poorly-educated people. Why do we need more? Gee, what if the labor market tightened a bit at the bottom, and wages rose a little, and automation got a boost? Oh, the horror!

    Democrats want more because the more poor people, the better for them: more voters and more welfare recipients to prove how capitalism fails.

    The Chamber of Commerce wants more because, hey, cheap labor!

    Libertarians want more because they live in a dream world on this issue, thinking that imported peasants from points south will somehow vote for smaller government, even though every bit of evidence, here and south of the border, says otherwise.

    If you import more people from Mexico, you make this country more like Mexico. How is that to the advantage of libertarianism?

  • joeboise||

    The problem is people who put their political ideology over nationalism. This goes for liberals too.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Division of labor and comparative advantage are definitely Things, maybe even Laws, but it's trivially easy to show that 5th-grade-math proofs don't always reflect the real world.

  • Hydra||

    Laws of economics require inherent assumptions to hold true. Our current welfare state violates pretty much every one of them.

  • OldMexican||

    The GOP's Immigration Problem


    The Republi-rats don't have an immigration problem. They have a Protectionist/Mercantilist/Anti-immigration problem, just like the Demo-rats.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    I am always amused whenever the issue of "Immigration Reform" comes up on the agenda of the educated morons who run our national political circus, both DemoCRAZIES and RePOOPlicans.

    We already have around 30 million "undocumented" immigrants in the United States of America. At least this is a figure that is always thrown out with the revolving propaganda machine manned by our overpaid and arrogant media pimps.

    If any politician is "upset" about this, than it would have been more honest for them to have proposed sealing and militarizing our border with Mexico decades ago, or at least when the drug cartels started taking over that country so they could more effectively feed all those addicts north of the border.

    If anyone doesn't know what "sealed" and "militarized" means than use you imaginations. Otherwise, "immigration reform" discussions by a bunch of politicians will be as about effective as immunizing people after a pandemic.

    So either seal the f***ing border as to prevent 30 million more "illegals" from entering our Paradise in El Norte, or start issuing certificates of naturalization and holding mass citizenship ceremonies. In any event, the politicians need to do either one of these choices or shut their damn yapping pie holes.

  • sarcasmic||

    Open borders and a welfare state are incompatible. The end.

  • MWG||

    Proof in the form of an assertion... interesting.

  • sarcasmic||

    I thought it was self evident.

    I mean, you start by giving away free shit. Then you invite anyone and their mother to come and enjoy the free shit. Then what? Oh yeah. You go broke.

  • MWG||

    The question isn't whether or not there's a cost to immigration. I think the important question is whether or not immigrants cost more than they generate in economic activity.

    OTOH, I think libertarians spend far to much time bitching about the welfare state. Welfare is a problem and any form, but the US is racing toward economic implosion because of military spending and old people, not because of teh immigrantz.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think libertarians spend far to much time bitching about the welfare state.

    Redistribution is institutionalized injustice. It negates the right to property which is the foundation of natural rights and a just society.

  • MWG||

    Absolutley. But in terms of the immigration, people (generally republicans) who argue that immigrants drive up welfare and we can't afford it, lack perspective.

    Of course I'm against the welfare state. OTOH, immigrants getting welfare isn't driving this country to brankrupcy.

  • sarcasmic||

    immigrants getting welfare isn't driving this country to brankrupcy.

    It isn't the road to solvency either.

  • MWG||

    So we're back to the question of whether immigrants generate more economic benefit than they cost.

  • Copernicus||

    That shouldn't be the fundamental question. Immigration laws should first conform to the constitution and protect the civil rights of the citizens of the United States.

  • MWG||

    Ok, where in the constitution is the federal government given the authority to keep out peaceful immigrants?

  • Hydra||

    the US is racing toward economic implosion because of military spending and old people

    Are you fucking kidding me? Both are problematic but are dwarfed by the problems caused by overregulation and capricious government policies which stymie economic growth.

  • MWG||

    "...overregulation and capricious government policies which stymie economic growth."

    Absolutely, but in terms of direct costs/spending the biggest culprits are military spending, medicare, and social security.

  • Hydra||

    Medicare and Social Security are self-funding; military spending is one of the few actually constitutional activities of the fedgov, and is going to be large when you're #1 on every ambitious nation's hit list.

    Maybe you should ask what Congress blew the Meicare and SS surpluses on for 80 years?

  • MWG||

    "Medicare and Social Security are self-funding"

    Seriously?

    "military spending is one of the few actually constitutional activities of the fedgov,"

    Yes, I'm sure the current size and scope of the military are exactly what the framers had in mind for our common "defense".

  • Copernicus||

    "I mean, you start by giving away free shit. Then you invite anyone and their mother to come and enjoy the free shit. Then what? Oh yeah. You go broke."

    That's the point. Don't give away free shit to non-citizens. Open the borders, come and go as you please. The only visitors with incentive to stay are the ones who can pay their own way.

  • Hydra||

    So you give welfare to white people in rural Arkansas but not to poor Hispanics in LA?

    Yeah, that's going to help the GOP with the Hispanic vote.

  • Copernicus||

    If (big If) you are going to give welfare to someone, you give it a an American citizen. Who gives a flying fuck what their race is and who gives a fuck what a non-citizen thinks about the subject?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Don't give away free shit to non-citizens.

    Are you implying we should give free shit to citizens?

    How about we stop giving away "free" (there is no such thing as free) shit to everyone?

  • Copernicus||

    I've answered this several times in this thread:

    We do give free shit to our citizens. I find it wrong, but it has been voted into policy.

    To make it simple. For the near future what would be your choice:
    1. No free shit
    2. Free shit to citizens
    3. Free shit to citizens and foreigners.

    And you can't choose number 1.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    So you won't do 1, which is at the heart of the matter and would save you literally TRILLIONS.

    You are willing to do 2, AND spend countless billions building walls, fences, paying pensions of countless thousands of LEOs and spend billions upon billions to round up all the illegals and deport them?

    Good plan.

  • Copernicus||

    Not at all.

    First I would choose 1 just as you would, but it isn't going to happen, so it isn't a choice. Not anytime soon.

    Next, take away the welfare incentive for illegals. This is a political task made difficult since so many pols are trying to maximize the numbers on the public dime. However, if done,
    the serious workers will stay, the moochers will leave.

    There's no need for walls, deportation or massive LEO. Just create the environment that leads to the immigrant policy that you want and nature/markets/incentives will take care of the rest.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    Open borders and a welfare state are incompatible.


    I beg to differ. It is actually quite obvious that you cannot have a welfare system without immigrant workers to sustain it. Without the infuse of newly-generated production, the net result would be a faster increase of debt or a higher rate of inflation to pay for the promises made by the government to the lazy natives.

  • sarcasmic||

    You assume that the immigrants pay more into the system than they receive.

    I don't think that assumption can be proven either way, though I lean against it.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    You assume that the immigrants pay more into the system than they receive.


    Why assume the contrary, i.e. that they receive more than what they pay? It is more likely that they put more into the system than what they could ever receive: If these are immigrants we're talking about, who risk being deported if found by the Feds, why would they increase their risk by filling for welfare or other subsidies? All other things being equal, immigrant workers would rather keep their profile low rather than high.

  • sarcasmic||

    They have kids. Lots of kids. Lots and lots of kids, like the good Catholics that so many of them are. I find it difficult to believe that they put into the system more than their kids' schooling and medical care take out of it.

  • PapayaSF||

    I'm with sarcasmic on this. I've seen the vast sums that San Francisco spends on immigrants, much of it indirect and not talked about, like the TB epidemic brought here by illegals*. A few years ago I had to pay for a chest X-ray to rule out TB. 30-40 years ago, they wouldn't have required that, because TB was considered conquered. So illegal immigration cost me about $90 right there.

    *This is not speculation, but told to me by a doctor.

  • Copernicus||

    How do they put into the system?

  • PapayaSF||

    Pay sales taxes, sometimes pay Social Security taxes without getting it back.

  • Copernicus||

    SS tax? not if they are off the books.
    Sales tax.. well, at least it's something, but I doubt it is paying for the kdis' education.

  • MWG||

    Seriously!? Its commonly knownledge that undocumented workers use "fake" SS#s in order to work. I saw this all the time working at a bank in AZ.

  • Copernicus||

    I'm guessing a lot of the labor is off the books. Contractor drives up to Home Depot, picks up 5 guys for the day, etc.

  • Hydra||

    The illegals steal SSNs, claim 10 exemptions on their W4 so nothing gets withheld, and then the person whose SSN they stole has to either beat the IRS in court (ha!) or pay penalties and tax payments for a higher income bracket.

  • MWG||

    ...so nothing gets withheld...

    That's not totally true...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....02673.html

    "Stephen C. Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration and someone who enjoys bipartisan support for his straightforwardness, said that by 2007, the Social Security trust fund had received a net benefit of somewhere between $120 billion and $240 billion from unauthorized immigrants. That represented an astounding 5.4 percent to 10.7 percent of the trust fund's total assets of $2.24 trillion that year. The cumulative contribution is surely higher now. Unauthorized immigrants paid a net contribution of $12 billion in 2007 alone, Goss said."

  • Hydra||

    Well if the WaPo says he's objective it must be true.

    How did he get these numbers? No need to ask, it fits the narrative.

  • MWG||

    Perhaps he's lying. Ok, you asserted that:

    "The illegals steal SSNs, claim 10 exemptions on their W4 so nothing gets withheld..."

    Where's your evidence for this statement. Some guy from the SSA claim they pay BILLIONS. What do you think the number is?

  • OldMexican||

    [David Brat] "This, while millions of our friends and neighbors are looking for work all across the labor market at all levels of skill and education."


    So it's all about fostering jealousy, rather than argue for increasing investment and production.

    Amnesty, apparently, means anything short of mass deportation.


    And that is exactly the vibe that Hispanics and other minority immigrants - and their families - get from Republi-rat politicians who reject Amnesty. And then the Republi-rats wonder why they lose the Hispanic vote?

    As a recent piece in National Affairs noted, "Among all men in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 64, illegal immigrants are the most likely to be working.


    The reason illegal immigrants are more likely to have work is because most are paid below the Federal Government's radar. I am willing to bet that even when their negotiated salary is lower than the Federal Minimum Wage, their take-home pay ends up being much higher than the take-home pay of the average legal minimum-wage worker.

    Businesses are not looking for cheap labor since illegal immigrants do not risk life and limb to obtain the same wage they can get at home; what businesses are looking for is thus affordable labor. And YES, there IS a difference.

  • Copernicus||

    So illegal immigrants take home more money because they work "under the radar", ie., don't pay taxes.

    And yet despite having kids in public schools with specialist bilingual teachers, these alien super workers still manage to be a net boon to the average citizens' financial state?

  • Sidd Finch||

    They do pay (much less than average) property and sales tax.

  • craiginmass||

    Much more complicated than that. Much of the savings of their indentured servitude goes to stockholders, business owners and the end consumer who pays a dime less per pound.

    However, there are many hundreds of thousands paying in full SS and Medicare with fake SS and will never get a dime. That adds up also - especially compounded.

    It would take much more than a few talking points to work out the economics of it. However, one thing is for sure - it pays the GOP and Big Ag not to solve the problems because the "planter class" makes the profits while any losses (if such exist) are socialized in all of our taxes.

    But let's not act as if the average US Citizen can even understand this stuff - let alone whether he or she makes a voting decision based on it. Yelling and Screaming about the sky falling works so much better!

  • dbobway||

    "The only immigration reform needed is make sure the cronies who hire working people have to play by the same rules whether a citizen or illegal."

    To see my construction industry overwhelmed by illegal workers over the last 20 years, even the above statement seems unfair.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    From a purely philosophical standpoint (and leaving aside any consequentialist arguments about the practical effects of immigration), it seems to me that this is effectively a commons problem. There is no right to "freedom of movement" in libertarianism persay; rather in terms of rights the appropriate rights of reference are right to property and (perhaps) easements. In libertarian terms, there is no right to walk through public property because libertarian ethics do not allow for public property. Since the concept of public property (and easements) exists regardless of libertarian preference, there are two ways of treating foreigners going through it:

    1) Default to allowing *everyone* access, regardless of whether they paid for it or have any property in the proximate area. This would be the "open borders" position. All else being equal, it is the most economically efficient position as well as the most egalitarian.

    2) Default to allowing only those who paid for or have property rights near said public property access. This is the position most consistent with the libertarian position on property rights, but is also impractical and not very efficient or accommodating.

  • ||

    Actually (1) is most consistent with the libertarian position on property rights.

    The right to property is not very useful unless whoever you want to invite onto your property can get to it. Thus we have centuries of common law defining rights of way concurrently with recognition of rights of property.

    Where you are getting trapped is believing that "public property" and "commons" are the same thing. They aren't. Public property is property owned by the public or state, such as a courthouse or air force base. In contrast the commons, including rights of way, are unowned.

    Government may improve rights of way -- say by paving them -- and may even charge a toll to pay for the improvement. But it is a violation of the individual rights both of travelers and of owners of property reached by the right of way to prohibit free travel on the right of way.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    It also ain't worth much if you can't exclude individuals you don't want -- and generally, we consider it to be the case that without explicit invitation, individuals who arrive onto another person's property are not welcome. That being the case, assuming that millions of Americans are OK with each of the millions who cross their private property is a gross violation of those Americans' property rights, as well as stretching the concept of easements somewhat beyond their original intent.

    I don't really have much invested in this argument since I don't base my position on immigration on which way the property rights arrow lands, but it is not something to be blown off as lightly as many open borders libertarians seem to do.

  • ||

    That being the case, assuming that millions of Americans are OK with each of the millions who cross their private property is a gross violation of those Americans' property rights...

    What millions are crossing private property?

    If you're talking about illegal immigrants crossing over ranchland and the like to avoid capture by the border patrol, the problem is that the government is not securing their unalienable rights to use rights of way.

  • craiginmass||

    Principles?

    You're joking, right?

    Ag businesses are overwhelming GOP (donations, etc.) and they use immigrant labor without having to pay the rightful taxes, wages and benefits. The rest of us have to make up the difference - you know, the famous GOP way of privatizing profits, then socializing losses!

    If they militarize the border - all good and well. Did I mention that defense and security industries lean heavily republican?

    Lock them up? Yep, the private prison industry is also a hallmark of the enlightened GOP policies.

    No thanks. The "free market" is working perfectly for the GOP. Libertarians should love that stuff, because - after all - they think the whole concept of "country" is ridiculous...any mention of our country here seems to be only that it's time to shoot it up, ignore the laws or otherwise not support it.

    FUD - Fear, Uncertainly and Doubt. That's the hallmark of the Koch Brothers (who own this site and finance much of the right-wing "libertarian" bs)...the more of it you spread, the more you can pollute, socialize losses, avoid fair taxation, etc.

    Its working perfectly. No changes needed. The "people" who are immigrants do not figure in as human beings, just as more fodder for the cannons of "libertarian" economic policies.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    libertarian ethics do not allow for public property.

    Can you please justify that. Why not? What is unlibertarian about joint ownership?

    My take:

    Because you believe in property rights doesn't necessarily preclude joint ownership. What is a corporation if not joint ownership?

  • MWG||

    I'm guessing he's referring to poperty owned by the government.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I'm guessing he's referring to property owned by the government.

    I don't see it as government owning property. I see it as me owning 1/310,000,000th of it and I/we pay the government to manage it for us. (Those fucking 1%er CEOs.;-))

    I could see public property being an issue if it was appropriated (against the will of the owner), but with the vast majority of public land, there was never any owner.

  • MWG||

    I'm not that well read when it comes to the general libertarian view on public property (property owned by the government), but I would suggest that the the idea that you own 1/310,000,000th of the governments land is misguided. It's not at all the same as private property as you don't have the same rights (theoritical rights, of course ;)) that you have over your home, for example.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    It's not at all the same as private property as you don't have the same rights (theoritical rights, of course ;)) that you have over your home, for example.

    Totally agree. Just as I don't have all the same ownership rights of a company when I own stock as I would if I owned it outright. You elect a board to run it (i.e. government).

  • Sidd Finch||

    This is almost exactly the argument Steve Sailer makes for limiting immigration.

    By “citizenism,” I mean that I believe Americans should be biased in favor of the welfare of our current fellow citizens over that of the six billion foreigners.

    Let me describe citizenism using a business analogy. When I was getting an MBA many years ago, I was the favorite of an acerbic old Corporate Finance professor because I could be counted on to blurt out in class all the stupid misconceptions to which students are prone.

    One day he asked: “If you were running a publicly traded company, would it be acceptable for you to create new stock and sell it for less than it was worth?”

    “Sure,” I confidently announced. “Our duty is to maximize our stockholders’ wealth, and while selling the stock for less than its worth would harm our current shareholders, it would benefit our new shareholders who buy the underpriced stock, so it all comes out in the wash. Right?”

    “Wrong!” He thundered. “Your obligation is to your current stockholders, not to somebody who might buy the stock in the future.”

    That same logic applies to the valuable right of being an American citizen and living in America.

    cont...

  • Sidd Finch||

    Just as the managers of a public company have a fiduciary duty to the current stockholders not to diminish the value of their shares by selling new ones too cheaply to outsiders, our leaders have a duty to the current citizens and their descendents.

  • Zeb||

    I don't buy that. The country (especially the territory) is not jointly owned by the citizens. A citizen who buys or rents some property in the US has no more or less right to use and occupy that property than a non-citizen in the same situation. There is nothing about being born on one side or another of a border that gives you any more or less right to enjoy and use your own property or the fruits of your labor.

  • Bubba Jones||

    This is why it's really easy to get a visa if you own commercial property in the US.

  • craiginmass||

    "What is a corporation if not joint ownership?"

    Lots of things - most importantly a way to avoid the liability for what you do.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    As for you Craig...shut the fuck up. You are a fucking moron. Don't respond to me.

  • Bubba Jones||

    In this instance, he is correct.

  • Copernicus||

    Except that he is being purposely obtuse. He knows that is not germane to the discussion above.

  • Hydra||

    It would be way cooler if we had a massive impenetrable ice wall on the border, and you had to ride an elevator up to the top.

  • Copernicus||

    And every deportation would be an Eiger Sanction.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "immigrants are a net gain for the country"

    If "the country" is defined by "net output", then that may be true. Importing a bunch of low cost human widgets can allow your factory to produce more.

    But that *net* gain comes at a *net loss* for those competing in the same labor pool. Supply of their labor goes up, price goes down. But they don't have dollars to spend, so they don't matter at all to this accounting bottom line.

    And all this squawk about the jobs created by immigrants lumps immigrants with valuable capital and skills with day laborers and their dependent children is simply dishonest. Republicans are fine with immigrants who bring a lot to the table - they're not fine with low productivity, low skill immigrants likely to require public support for themselves and their children.

  • buybuydandavis||

    And if one takes one's eyes off the accounting ledger, and views the country beyond short term corporate balance sheets, there are other significant costs.

    The US is a more libertarian culture than the rest of the world. When you import human widgets, you import their culture as well. And while Libertarians are busy galumphing about on their high horse about equal rights across borders, the hypocrisy flows when it comes to the problematic issues of government dependence and voting.

    Yes, the human widgets can have economic rights, but they can't have any *political* rights, because that would immediately show what a bad idea this is. After all, none of us are interested in voting with 100 million Pakistanis about the proper method of execution for apostates and adulterers, nor putting all the poor in the world on the US welfare rolls.

    So the plan is to let them in as second class non citizens, to be our economic servants, but to have no say in politics, and no government assistance.

  • buybuydandavis||

    I won't dwell on the grotesque dystopian aspect of the plan, besides to point out the gross hypocrisy of the self righteous gallumphers, mainly because it is a delusional fantasy. People won't put up with it. Pressure will always build for a path to citizenship and full political rights when there are masses of people living and working in the US as second class non citizens. Those who need or desire government assistance will get it. They will vote.

    Who thinks that when masses of low skill government dependents from cultures less libertarian than the US vote get the vote, that they will tend to vote to make the US citizens already here more free?

  • Hawk Spitui||

    So the plan is to let them in as second class non citizens, to be our economic servants, but to have no say in politics, and no government assistance.

    That'll surely end well. See South Africa.

  • Bubba Jones||

    And this is why NAFTA is a much better idea than open immigration.

  • foodscientist||

    Why is Reason so obsessed with immigration and "free" flow of people that they stoop to typical illiberal tactics of name-calling and hurling other hyperbolic nasties at anyone who disagrees with their stance.

    You are correct that employers are NOT free to hire whomever they choose - whether via mandated wages, work requirements, regulations, affirmative action, and ADA, businesses are hobbled in the US. Unfortunately, with the support of Reason, many business owners are turning to either illegal or other non-citizen workers to AVOID these onerous regulations.

    Declaring that "wanting" a better life is a guarantee of finding one is absurd.

    Please use some column space to address needed regulatory and employment reforms for CITIZENS versus creating a further economic burden to the US taxpayers.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The problem with unrestricted immigration is that it puts a downward pressure on wages, which should be an obvious negative for those people already living here.

    As you inadvertently highlight, we have a welfare society. When *illegal* immigrants are more likely to have jobs than citizens, that shows the obvious impact of social welfare nets. That doesn't mean we should require unemployed citizens to hop a bus to Mexico, but it does show that hyper-libertarians on this issue are dodging some important questions.

    Note also the skills gap we supposedly have. Job openings that unemployed Americans aren't qualified for. Some of that is obviously a disconnect between wages/value/skills but bringing in a bunch of unskilled labor isn't the obvious solution to that.

    And, the author takes *way* too much at face value. It wouldn't be hard to sell an arbitrarily large amount of immigration coupled to high fees. The problem is Obama's record of skipping over the legislation he doesn't like (hardship on immigrants) while keeping what he does like (lots of new Democrat voters).

    This article seems overly naïve in many respects.

  • ||

    The problem with unrestricted immigration is that it puts a downward pressure on wages, which should be an obvious negative for those people already living here.

    Actually, immigration puts upward pressure on most people's wages. There is downward pressure only on those directly competing with immigrants -- most commonly recent past immigrants.

    When *illegal* immigrants are more likely to have jobs than citizens, that shows the obvious impact of social welfare nets.

    The obvious effect it shows is that illegal immigrants don't immigrate unless they can get a job. In other words, it shows that markets work, and that free migration regulates itself.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Right, but we don't really have that for US citizens. They aren't going to migrate to Mexico in search of jobs Mexicans won't do.

    The continued immigration of low skilled workers from Mexico puts downward pressure on the wages of low skilled jobs, intensifying the welfare trap. Not sure how that benefits me as a taxpayer.

    We need to fix the welfare side of the equation. If we do that, then there will be more active competition from US citizens for those jobs and THEN free migration will regulate itself.

    Again, unemployed people in the US go on government assistance, they do NOT migrate to other countries.

    Until we address that part of the equation, our welfare system is what ultimately absorbs the excess labor of Mexico.

    Yes, NAFTA does the same thing, indirectly, importing the product of labor rather than the labor itself. That's why I'm not too bent out of shape about the whole thing.

  • Eric Bana||

    You would think an easy compromise for most would be increasing or eliminating the cap on those special visas for skilled workers (I forget which ones they are) which get taken up within two days of opening for the year.

  • REMant||

    Libertarian government is an oxymoron. So certainly is virtual representation.

  • XM||

    This is a bit too intellectually dishonest for me.

    An illegal immigrant is not qualified to work here. Hence, his "freedom" to negotiate with a third party over jobs is as non existent as someone's freedom to bypass human resources and ignore company standards to acquire a job just because the CEO personally liked him.

    Canada is not some immigration Shangri-la. Many "conservative" parties abroad often as statist as they come, and I wouldn't be surprised Canada's conservative party is scarcely different from the GOP. It also seems to me most non white Canadian immigrants are Asians, and they're somewhat more inclined to vote for a right leaning immigration friendly party that does not emphasize limiting the size of government. So Reason's recommendation for the GOP is to become the sort of "Compassionate conservatism" that made Bush an early success. No limiting the size of government though, I'm afraid.

    Hinkle seems confident that increasing the number of left leaning immigrants will not hurt the GOP that at least pays some lip servive to limited government, which deprives the libertarian of whatever viable ally they had remaining and vaporize any chance of electing even a libertarian-sh candidate in any platform.

  • Jr12||

    Apparently Reason has become just as contemptible as liberals, when it comes to pretending that a deceitful, effortless, tax funded, ego inflating, bleeding heart concern for a politically correct stereotypical color judgement attributing to _a conceptualized collective_, a universal , one-size-fits-all moral and economic superiority, validates a complete refusal to address the welfare state’s ongoing exploitation of some people to support others. It is this deceit that spuriously "justifies" Reason’s ongoing demonization of all opposed to illegal immigration as ignorant, racist or morally inferior.

    Indeed, this article is so dishonest that it actually references the wealth creating immigration into pre-welfare state America so as to misrepresent modern welfare state immigration as beneficial to every American. I don’t know what year Reason’s quoted statistics came from, but there are current statistics, from the Center for Immigration Studies, using the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which disprove Reason’s propaganda….

    …based on data collected in 2010), 57 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal and illegal) with children (under 18) used at least one welfare program, compared to 39 percent for native households with children.

  • Jr12||

    Reason’s new motto…we support the equal application of the rule of law (unless it interferes with our brand new liberal-libertarian cabal’s hope to gain profitable support by pretending there’s no difference between legal and illegal immigration, nor a welfare state's exploitation and capitalist freedom. )

  • craiginmass||

    The owners of Reason, the Kochs, love the downward pressure on wages exerted by immigrants...whether legal or illegal.

    Therefore, there is nothing surprising about their stance. They want the most profit for themselves. Isn't that "Reason" able? Isn't greed what drive the best in mankind?

    Also, since each human is an island, if I want to let an immigrant come live on my property and work in my business, isn't that my business? Why should the government get in the way?

    Of course, I'm being facetious - but many here have expressed that they don't think taxes are needed and that we don't really have a country (or one worth living in). Given that world view, I would think they'd let me drive a bus south the border and fill 'er up.

  • DarrenM||

    Astonishing, but par for the course I guess.

    From 'immigration reform' in one paragraph immediately to 'amnesty' in the next as if you can't to one without the other.

    Along with many who are idelogically in favor of open borders. You are conflating legal and illegal immigration. You assume any opposition to illegal immigration must necessarily mean oppostion to all immigration.

    This is a very very flawed article.

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