Legalize It (Immigration Edition)


Ryan Young and Alex Nowrasteh make an essential point about immigration:

What's the right approach to dismantling the black market? Liberalization. The immigration black market only exists…because the government has made the legal market as cumbersome as it can.

True immigration reform makes legal channels more appealing, not less. That means lightening the paperwork and the regulatory burden, and eliminating quotas. The more unattractive legality becomes, the more attractive illegality looks in comparison.

Black markets are anathema to a free society. Murder, theft, smuggling, and even slavery are part and parcel of immigrant black markets. They are also easily avoidable—just shrink the black market by making legal immigration easier.

Liberalization would solve just about every legitimate complaint about illegal immigration, from the trespassing that takes place on private property near the border (which occurs because it's too risky to enter the country through the front door) to the companies that defraud or otherwise abuse their illicit employees (who can't exactly take their bosses to court, and who may face legal risks just seeking work elsewhere). But as with that other source of black markets, the drug laws, the government has responded to the problems it created by doubling down on enforcement, which merely magnifies the problems and molests our civil liberties in the process.

Elsewhere in Reason: "What part of legal immigration don't you understand?"

Elsewhere not in Reason: Hit it, Herb and Chuck: