Anecdotal Immigration Reform

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Over at Tech Central Station, Ilya Shapiro tells his tale of immigration woes–and calls for a rethinking of current policy, which makes it hard to gain fully legal status absent a family connection.

The United States is losing out on a host of social contributions by maintaining its current immigration (non-)policy, while creating incentives for fraud and illegality of every kind. We have all heard about the effect that new security requirements have had on foreign students in America's institutions of higher learning. Quite apart from that—and many of those changes are quite rational—America is losing out on the best, most competent, idealistic people that globalization offers.

Whole thing here.

I disagree with his fears about unskilled immigrants and as "throw the borders open" sort of guy, I'm not keen to draw that sharp a distinction between legal and illegal immigration, but his is an interesting tale–especially in a time of rising anti-immigrant sentiment.

NEXT: Walesing Away

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  1. Nick, it’s without a family connection *or* an employer acting as a sponsor. I’m sure you know lots of people who have come here and worked and after several years got their green cards and after a few more years became citizens.

    And yet there is no way to become a permanent resident without a spouse or employer acting as a sponsor

    Yeah…well, you already told us how supremely qualified you are. Get a freakin’ sponsorship!

    Crimminy.

    I think our immigration policy is insane, and keeping good people out (or making it difficult on them by, e.g,. not allowing their spouses to work) is bad policy. But I’m calling BS on this guy’s personal tale of woe.

  2. The best, most competent, idealistic people may be increasingly avoiding the US because of the changes in the last five years.

    The regular, common folks still come here to make more money. Is that really so bad?

  3. Shecky…I’m not sure I understand. Do you mean we can still get the Harriet Mierses but not the John Robertses?

  4. theOneState,
    I’m not asking you to cry for me and I’m not saying mine is the most heart-string pulling story ever. I’m sure I could get sponsored by somebody (but not by my law firm and not by most others because junior associates are fungible), but even then it takes forever and you’re tied to that firm during the entire process. It’s not super leverage for when you’re trying to negotiate the conditions of your employment and, given that I’m not being deported tomorrow, I don’t want to take a job just because they’re sponsoring me. Beggars can’t be chosers, I know, but the fact that I’m a beggar in this context makes no sense. Plus there’s that whole issue of wanting to work in government–which isn’t gonna get me much sympathy in libertarian circles, I suppose, but I thought the goal was actually to have libertarians running things…

  5. theOneState,

    Getting green-card sponsorship is akin to winning the lottery. It seems that very few employers are willing to put up with the red tape and the cost (for example, there are minimum wages for various fields that must be paid). And I’ve learned the hard way: don’t bother dating a foreigner–no matter how well-educated–because it’s likely to be endless years of frustration followed by a tearful departure.

    That said, it’s hard to dredge up much sympathy for a *Canadian* who can’t gain American citizenship. There are many hardworking wanna-be immigrants from countries where there is actual oppression, who stand little or no chance at a future in America.

  6. Well, *I* qualified _without_ employer’s sponsorship (National Interest Waiver, if anyone knows what I am talking about). Got everything approved, except for one last formality. Guess what? I am stuck in the paperwork (for close to 2 years now), because certain bureaucrats can not get off their fat asses and process the final bit. Now, THAT is something that needs to be looked at seriously.

    And Ilya – I’d question qualifications of anyone who conflates the concepts of “immigration” and “emigration” (see TFA).

  7. In general, it seems to me that a rational immigration policy is to take whatever the federal government is doing–and do exactly the opposite.

    I don’t get starry-eyed at all of the “huddled masses” rhetoric, but the very fact that millions of people want to live and work in the USA is the most optimistic thing you can say about our country in a time when there doesn’t seem to be a lot to be optimistic about. Our current immigration system is nothing more than a fig leaf thrown over the fact that there is really nothing we can do to stop millions of people from coming here unless we become a total police state. And it is the height of madness to make the most educated and skilled people (who bring the most value per capita to our economy) jump through arbitrary hoops to stay here, while we do nothing about unskilled laborers camping out here with there with their families–the folks who are most likely to become a drain on the public fisc.

  8. And, yes, I *am* sitting on two patents with *my* big fat ass – damn it, if I can not profit from them (which I can’t, because of that final bit of paperwork), nobody will.

    Oh, and… does this country really need any more lawyers?

  9. Cynical Bastard,

    Good for you – that program sounds even more exclusive than the visa lottery. What about mere mortals who just want to improve their lives? I know people who have given up, after years of productive work, trying to stay in the US and gone to Canada instead.

  10. Ilya, you’re right, being tied to a firm for a long time (especially when it’s just some freakin’ paperwork you’re waiting for) is severely limiting and wholly irrational from a worker’s pov. I know lots of folks in just that position. It just sounded like you were making sound worse than it is, and Nick made it sound even worse than that. I think you have plenty of routes to citizenship. (Lots of qualified people skip the lottery and get “genius” green cards even if they’re not really geniuses.)

    Much as I’d want to open the borders to anyone (who is not a terrorist), I don’t think the system is completely irrational…but it should be cheap for employers (or workers) and it should be FAST. I think the slowness is killing us.

    Anyway, good luck.

  11. Rhywun:

    All I can say is that they are double screwed – the system needs to be relaxed quite a bit. But, there is a difference between someone who’s qualified under the present stringent system and held up from realizing his potential by a bureaucratic snag and someone who theoretically *may* qualify in the future.

  12. Ilya – you are wrong. Heard of AC21? Once your I485 has been pending for 6 month, you are free to change employment, as long as it is a lateral move.

  13. It’s anti-illegal-immigrant sentiment.

    Oh pooh on that. If you make an open borders proposal to a so-called anti-illegal advocate, they respond with “them darn immigrants are changin’ our culture and takin’ are jobs”. They want to keep as many people out of the country as possible.

  14. “months”, in the previous post

  15. Cynical Bastard,

    (see TFA).

    It would be helpful if you would provide a link to the TFA Website.

  16. But, there is a difference between someone who’s qualified under the present stringent system and held up from realizing his potential by a bureaucratic snag and someone who theoretically *may* qualify in the future.

    What difference is that?

  17. Oh, shucks, now *I* have to teach American slang? “TFA” stands for “the fucking article”, as in RTFA – “read the fucking article”. Shoot, I always said that my English is better than that of 95% of Americans (and definitely was – in 1995 – better than that of 75% of graduate school candidates).

  18. I don’t get it. There should be plenty of room for immigrants in the US. Weren’t all the Democrats supposed to move to Canada after the last election?

    Here’s a problem I have unrestricted immigration: Mexico has lots of Ceaucescus. But all the people who should be shooting at them have moved to the US.

    Who is going to carry out the public executions that Mexico’s corrupt, incompetent leaders so richly deserve if all the Mexicans with brains and ambition are living here?

    It’s the Judge Smails Immigration Doctrine: I sentenced boys younger than you to a life of poverty & deprivation. I felt I owed it to them.

  19. Rhywun,

    The problem is, you must marry the foreigner, not just date them. My wife was a legal resident six months after our marriage. Spouses get bumped up to the front of the line. It also helped that she’s German. There are certain documents and processes that must be provided and completed by the nation of the would-be immigrant. Germany is all about documents and processes. 😉

    I believe that it also helped that we married in the US and dotted every I and crossed every T on our paperwork. The fact that I earned more than enough money to satisy the Feds didn’t hurt, I suppose, but the income level is set fairly low (probably to allow enlisted military to qualify).

    One thing no one should ever do is file for a Fiance visa. It takes years and is basically the governments way of ensuring a loooooooong engagement. Don’t do it. If you love them, just marry them. If it doesn’t work out, well, there are options.

  20. The problem is, you must marry the foreigner, not just date them.

    I’ve thought of that, but I don’t live in Massachussetts, which is the only place such a marriage is legal.

  21. John, exactly!

    Mexico shouldn’t be getting away with exporting its unemployment and race problems to the US. Their government will never reform without pressure from the angry masses. They have zero excuse for being poor and backward. They have resources and the world’s largest market right across the border. It’s all corruption, pure and simple.

  22. Cynical Bastard,

    “RTFA” is a well-known online acronym. “TFA” is not. It’s rather like expecting us to know that “IRC” is supposed to mean “I remember correctly”.

  23. Oh, sorry about that Rhywun. Of all of the reasons for allowing gay marriage, immigration rights is probably the most important. Gay citizens that aren’t allowed to marry can still be together, but cross-border lovers are SOL. I once read an article about a gay couple that met in college, but were forcibly separated afterward. The American eventually moved to Turkey to be with his lover. It was quite a sad story.

  24. The Real Bill,

    Well, I have to admit marriage is probably not in the cards for us anyway, but it would be nice to have that option (he is considering marrying a woman, though). But just dating a foreigner is enough of a bitch to make me swear off them.

  25. Rhywun,

    Yeah, long-distance relationships of all kinds are a pain. In high school I dated someone from the next town and swore I’d never do it again. Then I dated someone from a town even farther away and swore…; then from SoCal; then from Germany. Luckily it stopped there.

  26. Rhywun,

    Because I started out under adverse conditions (not trying to cop some sympathy, just the facts), qualified under stringent conditions, made it and have proven to be able to function productively in this society. I’m better, you see?

    “TFA” is a common usage on Slashdot. In fact, I’ve seen it used as “from the TFA”, which puts it in the same league as “ATM machine” and “PCR reaction”.

  27. “Fungible”. That’s a pretty funny word. I’ll have to find a way to use it in conversation today. “My old, crappy Honda is fungible”.

  28. Stop your immigrant whining and bitching. If you love the USA so damn much you should embrace the red tape and smile as you wade neck deep through it all.

    After all that is what the rest of us do as Natural Born Citizens of the USA. If you expect the government to do anything quickly you are not in the right country.

    Consider these examples. To get a drivers license renewal took me any entire workday sitting at the DMV. This for someone who has lived in the same state all his life and has had several licenses already issued and expired ove the past 20 years. 8 Hours for nothing more than a replacement with a updated expiration date. For this speedy service I was charged a convenience fee of only $25.00 quite the deal don’t you think? So if it takes 8 hours to get a renewal for something so simple as a drivers license which all the data was already in the system beforehand, how long should it take those same ever so competent government workers to determine who the hell you are, where did you come from and verify that information? We are all lucky to have any paperwork done in a short amount of time in this country. How much paperwork and how long do you have to wait for it in the countries people are coming here from to get citizenship? Hmmmmmm I am betting their isn’t even a Department for that in those countries since the turnstile only seems to spin one way. Yet they have government funded literature to give those helpful hints on how to cross our borders, isn’t that f*ckin lovely!!

    Oh yes it also took 5 months and 2 requests to have my college transcript sent from admissions to the college department I was enrolled under. 5 months and 2 requests for a piece of paper to make a 5 minute walk across campus.

    Thus all things being relative in regards to government speed and red tape, 6 or more years for acceptance sounds just about right to me.

    Simple way to stop illegal immigration. Expropriate a 2 mile strip of land from the border north and reaching from the Gulf to the Pacific. Then turn it into the new war games area for our military to practice. Pilots can learn to bomb and strafe, tanks can learn to shoot and troops can practice laying land mines. After all it would be done in the best interest of the public.

  29. I’m better, you see?

    Yes, that is the impression you’ve been giving all along… I maintain that mere mortals want to maximize *their* potential, too. And that the work these non-geniuses do is just as important as that performed by the scientists, celebs, and athletes who get in under your program. BTW, I hope you put your special skills to use in fixing the goddamn Hit ‘n’ Run comment server.

  30. “BTW, I hope you put your special skills to use in fixing the goddamn Hit ‘n’ Run comment server.”

    No, but I can put my special skills into fixing high gas prices. IF they process the paperwork within the reasonable time, that is.

  31. “If you love the USA so damn much you should embrace the red tape and smile as you wade neck deep through it all.”

    Oh, boo-hoo. I’ve seen this attitude before. “I had to eat shit, so you must, too”. Among the worst Commies, to be sure. Are you?

    “Expropriate a 2 mile strip of land”

    You are. End of discussion.

  32. Rhywun – OK, I reckon I didn’t stress the “proven” part enough. Then again, I have already demonstrated that my work is in the national interest, and then I am blocked from anything but the barest minimum by the red tape. Where’s the logic? Do I expect any? 😉

  33. “TFA” is a common usage on Slashdot. In fact, I’ve seen it used as “from the TFA”, which puts it in the same league as “ATM machine” and “PCR reaction”.

    Heh.

    Incidentally, RTFA itself derives from RTFM, for “read the fucking manual”.

  34. Cynical Bastard, quick, what’s wrong w/ the phrases “from the TFA” and “PCR reaction”?

    Fucking foreigners. LTFL.

  35. No, but I can put my special skills into fixing high gas prices.

    I thought the oil oligopoly already did that!

  36. I think I see what darchiba is saying, and he makes a good point. He had to wait in line at the DMV, and he had to wait to get his transcripts…

    …and because of that, we should conclude something or other. …I guess.

    Simple way to stop illegal immigration. Expropriate a 2 mile strip of land from the border north and reaching from the Gulf to the Pacific. Then turn it into the new war games area for our military to practice. Pilots can learn to bomb and strafe, tanks can learn to shoot and troops can practice laying land mines.

    I suspect that might be an effective way to discourage illegal immigration.

    …One of the problems with that suggestion is that illegal immigration is a huge boon for the U.S. economy. Tell me, how will our economy compensate for the loss of all those illegal immigrants?

  37. Those expressions are products of the department of redundancy products department.

  38. We invaded the wrong country governed by a corrupt dictator with a porn moustache.

    If we want to end illegal immigration, we will privatize Pemex, end land ownership restrictions in beach resorts, end regulations that discourage employment and the formation of businesses.

    If we have to do that at gunpoint, so be it.

  39. No Cynical Bassturd I am not saying I have to so you should to. I am saying its sucks ass but that is the sorry state of affairs we are all in here. Thus if he wants to get in guess what welcome to our crappie f*cked up world you have to wait forever for anything. Never once did I say I liked it.

    As for taking 2 miles of land. I am willing to bet the majority of the land owners would be more than willing to sell their land for that very purpose since they are the ones over run daily. I think its a small price to pay for border security.

    Tom Crick- read above on waiting since you obviously missed the point. As for as a boon for our ecomony I fail to see it. Are you going with the tired line saying they only come to do jobs no american will do? If so why do you think it is the americans don’t want to do those jobs at this point in time? Could it have anything to do with the fact there are 11 million mexicans who will for less money? Once the wages are lowered for illegals and there is no shortage of workforce at that wage the wages will never come up. No american wants a job that doesn’t pay even minimum wage. Where do you live anyway. I get the impression a lot of the opinions stated on Reason are from people without any direct first hand knowledge of the situation.

  40. TheOneState – do you REALLY expect me to answer, or was that a rhetorical question? OK, I’ll bite. Since TFA stands for “the fucking article” (incidentally, just today on Slashdot I saw the usage of “the FA”), and PCR stands for “polymerase chain reaction”, then “the TFA” would stand for “the the fucking article”. “PCR reaction” and “ATM machine” likewise. Still, I like Timothy’s response better.

    Dave W. – *in his best Cartman impersonation* – “Touche, teacher. Touche.” Gotta watch that clarity of expression thing.

  41. OK, is there an equivalent of Godwin’s Law (technically, an equivalent of an extension to Godwin’s Law) that applies to someone who mangles the opponent’s screen name? I’m talking about YOU, Darchiba.

    Oh, and… let’s see if you have the balls to repeat what you just said during a job interview at a company started by an immigrant.

  42. Wait until they start closing hospitals in your county because they went bankrupt giving free medical care to illegal aliens. Or how about raising you property taxes to educate the children of illegals and pay extra to teach them in a foreign language.

    It never fails to amase me how ignorantly destructive liberals are.

  43. RA (is A), you are now my favorite poster ever.

  44. Could it have anything to do with the fact there are 11 million mexicans who will for less money?

    I didn’t say Americans wouldn’t take the jobs illegals have now–although I suspect that’s true to some extent. …But let’s assume that Americans take the jobs you would have illegals leave behind, only at higher wages.

    …am I to understand that you believe the economy will improve when Americans have to pay more for things than they do now?

  45. It never fails to amase me how ignorantly destructive liberals are.

    I know. I’ve had great fun mocking liberals for more than a decade now. …When you see one, let me know so we can make fun of him together!

    Wait until they start closing hospitals in your county because they went bankrupt giving free medical care to illegal aliens. Or how about raising you property taxes to educate the children of illegals and pay extra to teach them in a foreign language.

    Oh if only they would close county hospitals and schools! …I’d vote for just about anybody that would do that!

    I despise paying for other people’s healthcare. …and the education of their children! …It makes me sick! …Closin’ all of that would really solve the problem of all the free loaders out there–American born and otherwise–who parasite off of the fruit of my labor. …but illegal aliens are such a small part of that problem.

  46. RA – you got it backwards: “Wait until they start closing hospitals in your county because they can’t staff them” (see the recent story with nurse visas). Same goes for R&D, etc. – although not as acute. Oh-wow, and you wonder why India looks like the tech powerhouse? Pity the future…

  47. Since when does being an American citizen mean you have the right to parasite off of my paycheck?

  48. It never fails to “amase” me how idiotic anti-immigrationists are. They seem to continually confuse a welfare-state issue with immigration. Just ask congressional boob Tom “no more immigrants” Tancredo, welfare whore of America’s sugar beet lobby, the next time he complains about illegal immigrant “costs” to society. Oh, but then again haven’t the republicans showed us that the era of big government being over is now over.

    And, by the way, I do live in Texas, and I do have first-hand knowledge of the situation. I also know enough to appreciate the relatively low cost of living I enjoy thanks to an open labor market. Those who want to send the immigrants back can start by “contributing” a 100% tax on everything they buy to offset paying a citizen to pick vegetables bent over in the heat, watch their screaming kids, wash their greasy dishes, and build their homes, etc.

  49. One could argue that though immigrants take advantage of the welfare state, they instigate opposition to it. Look at Iceland and Norway. Both are reasonably prosperous and homogenous (all their citizens are relatively wealthy whites, much less inequality than the US) and both have extensive welfare states. Like everything else in politics, things don’t get fixed until they become pressing.

  50. Tom Crick,

    Closin’ all of that would really solve the problem of all the free loaders out there..but illegal aliens are such a small part of that problem.

    Tell me again, where do you live? I live less than an hour from ye merry border. Taxes here have most certainly gone up because there are so many Mexicans here. And the liberals are still bitching because their attempt to teach public schools all-Spanish got voted down.

    I wonder how many more years we’ll be able to vote it down though…

    I know Mexicans who came here to work, started their own businesses and all. I admire the hell out of them.

    I also know parts of town where it seems the Mexicans can’t go to the grocery store and back without getting in a gun fight with each other. So when you say

    …am I to understand that you believe the economy will improve when Americans have to pay more for things than they do now?

    I have to say the reality is: immigration is not just an all-win situation economically.

    But the bigger part of the problem is, you’re right, the welfare state. That’s what drives taxes up.

    Semi-humorous true story, there’s a hospital a few miles from where I live. Several times in the last five years, Mexican teens have gotten in gun fights while driving their cars down the freeway, just happily shooting at each other like you see in the movies. They do manage to hit each other, so I guess they’re good shots.

    In each of these cases, they exited the freeway, drove to the hospital to get fixed up, and were still shooting at each other in the freaking parking lot while heading into the emergency room.

  51. Simple way to stop illegal immigration. Expropriate a 2 mile strip of land from the border north and reaching from the Gulf to the Pacific.

    As a true blooded barbarian, I appreciate the way you think.

  52. Ilya,

    It’s not super leverage for when you’re trying to negotiate the conditions of your employment and, given that I’m not being deported tomorrow, I don’t want to take a job just because they’re sponsoring me.

    I appreciate your problem, I saw it happen to some of my foreign friends when I was in grad school. They were bright, ambitious people who just wanted to f’ing work….it was galling to me watching them suffer, trying to figure out how to survive, some of them at near poverty levels, long enough to get their visas changed.

    I’m an engineer. I can remember many classes in grad school where I was the only American, and that includes the professor.

    I have to say, people from India and China taught me things that I didn’t even know you could do with calculus. Stuff that definitely doesn’t get taught in American schools. Foreigners were my very bestest math teachers ever.

    OTOH, I watched these same people flunk machine design exams because they had never seen a flywheel and had no idea what one is.

    My vote is that we use the American university system to brain drain the planet.

    I’ve worked in several high tech fields over my career, mostly in large corporations (which routinely pray on small companies for innovation, because corporations can’t do it themselves).

    More than half of the small, innovative, high tech companies I’ve encountered, were started and run by foreigners. These people are not only smart, they’ll work like dogs to get ahead. They appreciate this country because, where they come from there was no opportunity for them no matter how hard they worked.

  53. Frankly, any discussion of the immigration issue that doesn’t parrot the slam-the-borders-shut rhetoric of Michael Savage, Shitforbrains Malkin, and all the other neo-Knownothings is refreshing…and all too rare.

  54. Oops, forgot to mention the King Of All Douchebags: Tom Tancredo…

  55. Tell me again, where do you live? I live less than an hour from ye merry border.

    I live in LA. I lived in North County San Diego for a long time. I worked for a community hospital in LA County for seven years; it closed down. …and for the sake of this argument, none of that matters.

    Taxes here have most certainly gone up because there are so many Mexicans here.

    What taxes? Sales taxes? Property taxes? You live in one of the fastest growing areas of the country. …in terms of home sales! State income? Federal? What taxes have gone up?

    And the liberals are still bitching because their attempt to teach public schools all-Spanish got voted down.

    I wonder how many more years we’ll be able to vote it down though…

    I keep hearing a lot about these proverbial liberals… I don’t understand why their position matters.

    …I know that the lion’s share of Spanish speaking parents are among the most vocal critics of bi-lingual education.

    So what?

    I didn’t go to public schools, and I don’t have any children. When I do have children, I won’t send them to public schools.

    I see no differnce between the American born parasites that feed off our tax dollars and those that are foreign born. Relatively speaking, illegal immigrants account for a small portion of my tax burden. …So small, that the argument regarding the burden they put on taxpayers seems a red herring to me.

    …I don’t ask much of my government–but if they’re going to steal the fruit of my labor, I would ask that they don’t use it to discriminate against people because of their national origin.

    I have to say the reality is: immigration is not just an all-win situation economically.

    I didn’t say it was. …there are losers in free trade too, still I’m passionate about the obvious benefits of free trade. Immigration is in some ways better than free trade–you don’t have to take advantage of low cost labor across some border, the low cost labor actually comes to you! Who says you can’t import a haircut?

    …Regardless, saving a bunch of low wage jobs for the native born by building a fortress at the border isn’t going to help the economy. Other things being equal, we should expect the economy to shrink as costs rise. …and when the things you need to buy cost less than they did before, you live better than you did before. When the things you need to buy cost more than they did before…

    The Fortress America idea might help us with security, as in blocking potential Al Qaeda infiltration–maybe. …but no one here has even brought that up!

  56. Tom, I think we’re basically agreeing. We just live in different corners of the world (you sound like a business type).

  57. Their government will never reform without pressure from the angry masses. They have zero excuse for being poor and backward. They have resources and the world’s largest market right across the border. It’s all corruption, pure and simple.

    There are more millionaires in Mexico than in Germany. Yet, we’re supposed to be their safety valve.

    The root cause of illegal immigration is something quite unexpected: corruption. If politicians weren’t being paid off they would do their job: enforce the laws on the books and do what the vast majority of Americans want.

    Support illegal immigration and you support corruption.

    P.S. I wish Reason would publish more immigration posts, as you guys have a miniscule iota of credibility left and I’m kinda hoping that you would completely, absolutely discredit yourselves. Just for completeness’ sake.

  58. I heard, from a reliable source, about a guy with a math PhD who came to get his work visa at the US consulate, and was told there was a problem. The application had him down as having a doctorate in math, but according to his diploma, he was doctor of philosophy…

  59. If politicians weren’t being paid off they would do their job: enforce the laws on the books and do what the vast majority of Americans want.

    It isn’t clear to me that the vast majority of Americans want what you seem to want them to want.. I remember when the vast majority of Californians supposedly wanted the government to deny immigrant children an education and wanted hospitals to deny immigrants health care.

    …and Prop. 187 passed. …Talk about a pyrrhic victory! People were so ashamed, you still can’t get anyone to admit having voted for it! …It was political suicide!

    If it hadn’t been for Davis’ electricity fiasco, we–excuse me–the Republicans would still be in the doghouse!

    I wish Reason would publish more immigration posts, as you guys have a miniscule iota of credibility left and I’m kinda hoping that you would completely, absolutely discredit yourselves.

    I wish I could find an anti-immigration activist that knew something about economics.

  60. #1 problem with immigration: Many of these illegal immigrants will join the underclass. If and when they become citizens, they will vote to extend the welfare state like many blacks have. Hell, Martin Luther King, above reproach among both liberals and conservatives, wanted the government to hire large amounts of indigent whites and blacks. (He says the program would cost $50 billion, about $300 billion in today’s dollars. See the interview here: http://www.allanfavish.com/mlking.htm I found this interesting tidbit while writing for the Wikipedia Affirmative Action article about MLK’s views. It seems that real black leadership died with MLK’s rise, and was buried by Sharpton and Jackson. There are a few bright spots though like Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Larry Elder, but they attract far less attention than thugs like Farrakhan, Jackson and Sharpton) The most vital threat to a democracy like ours is a growing underclass, where the underclass pays little to no tax and lives off government largesse. When the top 1% of income earners pay 34% of taxes, and the bottom 50% pay only about 4%, raising taxes is not too difficult. Is levying extra tax on the richest X%, as California has recently done (I forget the numbers, but it was in the low single digits) democratic? Or majoritarian? Here’s a quote from Amy Chua, written in an NY Times column:

    Venezuela’s problems are part of a much larger global phenomenon – pervasive outside the West yet almost never acknowledged – of market-dominant minorities: ethnic minorities who, for widely varying reasons, tend under market conditions to dominate economically the indigenous majorities around them. (Chinese in Indonesia, whites in Zimbabwe and Indians in Kenya are other examples.)Market-dominant minorities are the Achilles’ heel of free-market democracy. In countries with a market-dominant minority, markets and democracy favor not just different people, or different classes, but different ethnic groups. Markets – even if marginally lifting all boats – concentrate wealth in the hands of the market-dominant minority, while democracy increases the political power of the impoverished majority. Under such circumstances, the pursuit of free-market democracy often becomes an engine of ethnic nationalism, pitting a frustrated indigenous majority, easily aroused by demagogic politicians, against a resented, wealthy ethnic minority. End quote.

    In America, the white majority is “market dominant” enough that there is little conflict. But the weaker minorities continually call for an extension of the welfare state. Do you really want to enhance the position of such a party?

    But taking “unskilled” (a nice euphemism) inflames the problem. I argue not for no immigration, but an “enlightened” form, with the criteria being education, possibly restricted to certain professions like science and engineering, and/or intelligence tests. Also, the favoring of family members abroad should be abolished.

    Immigration on net is likely an economic benefit. But is it worth the increased crime, the increased strain on the state (leading to higher taxes), the relative shrinking of the middle class? Yes, you can say that in a perfectly libertarian state without public education or health, these problems would be minimized. But the US isn’t one and will probably never be.

  61. In my last paragraph, I refer to immigration of the “unskilled.”

  62. ANM,

    In America, the white majority is “market dominant” enough that there is little conflict. But the weaker minorities continually call for an extension of the welfare state.

    You have a point. The problem is the welfare state, but you’re right — it isn’t going to go away either. So what should we really be doing?

    But taking “unskilled” (a nice euphemism) inflames the problem. I argue not for no immigration, but an “enlightened” form, with the criteria being education,

    Australia does this, or used to try anyway. But it didn’t fix the welfare state problem.

    This is where libertarian ideals get hard to work with. To be a purist you say “I’m opposed to the welfare state and pro-immigration”. But that fails to address the real fact that the welfare state exists, and so do the immigrants.

    It’s like I’m always saying about Iraq. Sure, it was stupid to invade. But saying “that was stupid” doesn’t change the fact that it happened, and pulling out now is quite likely to create a security threat that didn’t exist before.

    The biggest immigration problem is probably Mexico. I don’t see that one getting solved unless we’re ready to make that 2 mile military training zone all along the Mexican border.

    Don’t hold your breath until any of it gets fixed.

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