Gary Johnson Understands One Thing Much Better Than Trump or Clinton: How to Fix America's Immigration System

He's the only one talking about a guest worker program with Mexico


ObamaCare is collapsing. An entitlement crisis is looming. The national debt is exploding. And the Middle East is imploding. But somehow, the central issue driving the 2016 presidential election is what to

Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom

do with about 3.5 percent of the American population that works hard, pays taxes, and delivers untold consumer benefits: undocumented immigrants.

Despite the relentless focus on immigration, the debate surrounding this issue has been awful. If Donald Trump is cruel on immigration, Hillary Clinton is cynical. In fact, the only candidate who is humane and sensible is Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee.

There's no doubt that Trump has pulled his party to a very dark place, where none of the GOP's usual qualms about the perils of Big Government apply anymore. After a brief flirtation with a softer stance, he returned to form last week, doubling down on his harsh rhetoric. He reiterated his pledge to build a big, beautiful, and "impenetrable" wall on the southern border and get Mexico to pay for it — never mind that the Mexican president told him only hours before that Mexico would never foot the bill.

Trump promised to create a federal deportation force within the first hour of assuming office to ferret out two million undocumented criminals — never mind that the Department of Homeland Security says that there are only 820,000 such immigrants. He amped up his "no amnesty" rhetoric, declaring that not only would he rescind President Obama's executive order giving some undocumented immigrants a temporary deportation reprieve, but also issue detainers to any undocumented immigrant arrested for any crime, presumably even something as minor as loitering or possession of small amounts of marijuana — never mind the terror this would inject into Latino communities. Perhaps worst of all, he's hinting at curbing legal immigration even further to protect American jobs and wages — never mind that such restrictionism is precisely the cause of the undocumented population in the first place.

But if Trump has been hysterical on this issue, Clinton has been AWOL. She barely said a peep about Trump's 10-point immigration plan. And in the past she has backed proposals that can be fairly described as Trump-lite.

Clinton has often emphasized the need to "control" borders, and boasted about how as a senator she voted "numerous times" to spend more to "build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in." What's more, she's had a few of her own flip-flops over the years. During her previous presidential run, she had strongly (and rightly) condemned a federal crackdown on sanctuary cities such as San Francisco. But in the wake of the freakish killing of a 31-year-old California woman by a clearly deranged undocumented Mexican worker in San Francisco she declared that she has "absolutely no support" for a city that defies federal deportation rules — a Trump-worthy distortion of what sanctuary cities are all about. And just like Trump, she wants a biometric entry-exit system to track every border crossing of everyone — Americans and foreigners alike.

Clinton is now vaguely promising to go beyond President Obama's executive amnesty and use her presidential powers to offer deportation relief and work permits to more undocumented immigrants while pushing full-blown amnesty in Congress. But as a senator, she derailed then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's efforts to issue driver's licenses to them.

Meanwhile, neither Clinton nor Trump has proposed a guest worker program, the best antidote for the labor prohibitionism that drives illegal crossings.

And that brings us to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee. He may not know what "a leppo" is but he does understand what's wrong with America's immigration system and what needs to be done.

He is the only candidate who wants the market — rather than bureaucratic "quotas" and "caps" — to regulate immigration flows, confining the government's role to conducting background checks and issuing Social Security numbers. He objects to the very term "illegal immigrant," because it implies that legality depends on papers issued by the government — an utterly offensive notion in a free society. (Come to think about it, how about calling these people "paperless workers?")

Furthermore, in a recent op-ed, Johnson, a two-term governor of New Mexico, a border state, pointed out that the ridiculous premise behind Trump's plans to militarize the southern border is that people prefer to cross the border illegally because they have nefarious motives. That's not true. The vast majority cross because they have jobs and family members waiting for them in America, but no legal options for joining them, or none that'll allow them to come here in this lifetime. "If it took months or years to get a driver's license, how many of us would throw up our hands, get behind the wheel, and take our chances driving without one?" he asks.

That's precisely why creating a fast lane in the form of a guest worker program for law-abiding, low-skill foreigners who simply wish to work and live in America is the only good solution.

This is not mere theory. Indeed, Cato Institute's David Bier has found that apprehensions of illegal border crossers between 1949 and 2014 map almost perfectly with the availability of guest worker visas — falling when these visas are more plentiful and increasing when they are not. Indeed, even a tanking economy doesn't affect illegal cross-border traffic as much as visa availability.

The big upside of a generous guest worker program is that those who don't use it can be considered by default to be criminals and cartels because who else would want to enter illegally? In other words, a guest worker program won't just be good for the economy, but also national security, something that Trumpkins claim is their primary concern.

Johnson is fighting for a spot in the presidential debates. For the sake of a rational discussion, let's hope he succeeds. If we are going to spend a ridiculous amount of attention on a non-problem like what to do with America's 11 million undocumented immigrants, at least there ought to be a sensible voice at the table — rather than letting a nasty authoritarian and an opportunistic politico dominate the discussion.

This column originally appeared in The Week

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  1. Sensibel? Is that a girl’s name?

      1. Not meant to be a reply to you, Chip.

        You’re all YASSSS.

        1. Is that like a Sansabelt?

        2. Also, isn’t YASSSS what they were always saying in “Little Annie Fanny”?

      2. Do you think Skeletor would be alt-right?

        1. The dude’s name was (((Keldor))), hung out with a rather motley crew, and was the leader of two simultaneous revolutions against establish monarchies.

          1. I was always more partial to Hordak myself.

          2. Yeah, but he also allied himself with the lizard people, so he loses some points right off the bat there.

    1. It’s a town in Florida. There’s some kind of science institute there.

  2. So… open thread? *looks up*

    1. I lost my internet connection; can anyone tell me how the 9ers are doing

      1. The most recent data I can find indicates that they had 5 wins and 11 losses last season.

  3. You know what’s sadder than Ryan Lochte?

    Protesting Ryan Lochte.

    1. dammit you beat me to that.

    2. Who the fuck is Ryan Lochte?

      *reads article*

      So, who the fuck is Ryan Lochte?

      *quickly googles*

      Oh, that dude. He’s not famous enough to deserve a spot on DwtS.

      1. Punchline, asshole… Who is he?

        1. Some dude who swam in the Olympics once.

          1. *Agamemnon

            **Pippen to Phelp’s Jordan. Pippen was a huge liar who treated people like garbage, right?

  4. What the fuck?

    [Checks yokel signal.]

    Hey Dalmia, the light bulb on the yokel signal is out again!!

  5. “End Labor Prohibitionism”

    Only one Reason writer can cram that much retardation in three words.

  6. Yeah, but he doesn’t know where Aleppo is, so game over.

    Yes, I understand that this is ridiculous and that if Clinton were held to the same standard her run would have been over 15 months ago…..

    But they don’t play fair and they won’t let libertarians play.

    Fuck it, lets all just sit down for the national anthem from now on…..

  7. Sensibel

    Let me guess – is that the trademark of the Cannibis company he’s set up as his ‘fallback’ plan?

    Not as transgressive as “Canibliss“, but close enough.

  8. Sorry but this doesn’t cut it for me. He keeps saying “Make it as easy as possible” but that just translates to “let everyone in”. If it’s a worker visa program he doesn’t say if there will be limits or what they would be, and what about the people who violate it. He leaves out too many important details to be taken seriously on this issue. Maybe they cheer at “easy as possible” at the Lib Convention but those people are complete whack jobs.

    Jill Stein approves this message.

    1. What are the consequences for the people who violate the current immigration regime? Nothing at all. They overstay their visa and eventually INS will get around to them. Maybe. If they get caught speeding or something.

      1. Actually Obama is the deporter-in-chief. Reasonable people know that immigration is not an existential crisis but still, they need to know there will be limits.

    2. What doesn’t cut it for you? The fact that the majority of immigrants will do the jobs that me and you don’t want to do. Picking your vegetables, cleaning your toilets, washing your floors, maintaining your landscape around your million dollar mansion, washing your expensive Land Rover on a Saturday morning? Again, what doesn’t cut it for you?

  9. He is the only candidate who wants the market ? rather than bureaucratic “quotas” and “caps” ? to regulate immigration flows, confining the government’s role to conducting background checks and issuing Social Security numbers…

    The purpose of giving someone an SS number is so that they can collect SS. This establishes an account with the US treasury. Shikha thinks that an SS number is our nation ID card. Wut? Even hard-core Roman Catholics are against that, but for the opposite reason. As usual, I have no idea what she’s going on about.

    1. The purpose of an SS number *used to be* for collecting SS. For about 10 years after the program rolled out.

      Nowadays its an official government ID number and collecting SS is the least of the things you would use it for over the course of a life.

      1. Nowadays its an official government ID number…

        This is exactly why I said hard-core Roman Catholics don’t like it. Exclusionary… inclusionary. Who .. whom.

      2. Exactly! I’ve never once collected SS, but I’ve used the number for other things.

  10. Etymology Corner

    The name Ethiopia comes from a Greek phrase that means “burnt face”, as in the people who live there have faces that look like burnt wood.

    This has never bothered the Ethiopians, but I kind of hope SJWs find out so they can launch campaign to change the name, because Ethiopians *must* be offended by it.

    1. This is because you are a privileged white shitlord and no one can up with a derogatory word or label that offends you.

      ‘White boy’?

      1. Oddly, “racist” is just about the only word that white people are scared to be called.

        British teenager commits suicide over fears of being called racist

      2. Derpetologist,

        That’s way too terse.

    2. Dude, the word “slave” comes from Slavs.

      1. No, the word ‘Robot’ comes from Slavs.

        1. You’re both right. Rab means slave in many Slavic languages and the word “slave” entered into English because some German king captured a whole bunch of them in the 10th century.

        2. No, the word “robot” comes from the Czech writer Karel Capek and means “worker” in Czech. Capek also wrote War with the Newts, which is a great SciFi yarn.

          1. Online Etymology Dictionary sez:

            The Slavic words for “slave” (Russian rab, Serbo-Croatian rob, Old Church Slavonic rabu) are from Old Slavic *orbu, from the PIE root *orbh- (also source of orphan), the ground sense of which seems to be “thing that changes allegiance” (in the case of the slave, from himself to his master). The Slavic word is also the source of robot.

            Fun fact: The Czech word robota has the same root as the German word Arbeit. The letters got switched around when the orignial Slavic and Germanic languages split.

            1. Nice. Now deconstruct “domo arigato mr roboto”

                1. Donald Trump, Huma Abedin, Joe Biden, and “Scott Bakula”. Clue an old man in on Scott.

                  1. Weird, I thought my link worked. I guess I should argue for an edit button. Anyways, here’s Mr. Roboto:

            2. Except that in Czech, slave is “otrok, ” which I don’t think is directly related to “robota.”

          2. Wikipedia says Czechs are Slavs.

          3. Actually, the original Czech word was “robota”, meaning forced labor. The dictionary I have at hand suggests “pr?ce” is the Czech word for ordinary work.

  11. I am increasingly confident that God will soon send a great flood to wash away humanity

    Presumably some other life form will be given a crack at this ‘civilization’ thing. I know our opinion won’t count (In fact, may even be a disqualifier), but i’m hoping its something more “racoonish” rather than “crablike”

    1. I’m learning to purr. Because everyone loves cats. Right?

      1. Indoor cat or outdoor cat? Possums are crapping on postage-sized back yard.

        1. Possums are easy. Pick ’em up and toss ’em over there.

          1. OK, but will I get ticks and flees?

        2. Skunks? Not so much.

      2. Fun fact: big cats like lions and tigers can roar, but not purr. Little cats like mountain lions and house cats can purr, but not roar.

        I learned this yesterday at the Monterey Zoo where I also paid $5 to feed an elephant. Money well spent.

        They have a lemur with man boobs. I forget the explanation for how that happened.

        1. I always knew The Pussy That Roared was fictional.

          1. I don’t think Swiss shows up at this time of night, so I guess I have to narrow my gaze in abstentia.

        2. Should have gone to the Cetacean Institute instead. You can swim with humpback whales there. Much better than peanuts for elephants.

    2. “The women were escorted out of the studio by Derek Hough”


  12. OK, so let’s say we only want the good immigrants coming into the U.S. We conduct basic criminal background checks, and other such rigaramole. Those who pass can come and work in the U.S., but they’re not U.S. citizens, and not eligible for welfare nor are they allowed to undercut U.S. laws by working below minimum wage and their employers at least have to pay into SS like they would a native employee.

    Of course, for such a system to work, there needs to be some sort of law enforcement to make sure that the people who didn’t pass the screening process can’t just walk across across the border. And occasionally doing some sort of workplace audits to make sure that all employees are up to date on their paperwork, and going after immigrants who might have overstayed their Visas as well as other undocumented workers.

    Bitch, explain how you’re not a hobbit Donald Trump again.

    1. Of course, for such a system to work, there needs to be some sort of law enforcement to make sure that the people who didn’t pass the screening process can’t just walk across across the border.

      Actually, it would be sufficient to simply deny all government services to people who can’t document their citizenship and to deport anybody who has contact with police or government for other reasons and is found not to be a citizen.

  13. OT So Hillbot is running a bit hot eh? Couldn’t pay me enough to crawl under that heap and do repairs. I’ve seen 4 door Pintos that ran better than that.

    1. That’s GOOD!

      1. She is the humanized version of the prototypical 70’s American small car.

        1. My Presidential Candidate the Car.

    2. Oh, don’t be mean. Hillary had just a case of the vapours.

  14. “Trumpton”?? What does Shikha do well, exactly?

    1. Generate pageviews?

    2. I like “Clump” better.

    3. Eh, “Trumpton” isn’t bad, but I still prefer my combination of the two: “Hump”. ’cause let’s face it, whichever of these two gets elected, we’re all going to get bent over one way or another.

  15. One last ramble for tonight:

    Language exists because people can link symbols with ideas. Some people do it obsessively. Look at the news. Almost every story is about something someone said to or about someone else or some symbolic gesture someone made. So-and-so called what’s-his-face a poopyhead is a headline almost everyday.

    It’s kind of baffling to me how people can get so worked up over symbols, but it sort of makes sense when you realize our nature is associate symbols with thoughts and feelings, and that the ability to do this is has been critical for the survival of the human race.

    1. It also generates math, arts, and science. There are people winning Fields medals and Nobel Prizes for basically obsessing over symbols. Isaac Newton was an alchemist obsessing over symbolism, who re-defined science in his spare time.

    2. Will you be reading Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”?

    3. I thought the stories were all the local police blotter.

    4. Cause I don’t like learning new ones for for mappings I already have. It’s a pain in the ass. And it bugs me that only “they” get to do the re-mappings. That’s pretty much it.

    5. Symbols are all there is. Our brains don’t perceive reality, they construct a representation of it using partial sensory inputs and the symbols they already know.

      Remember Plato and his shadows on the wall. Smoke weed every day.

  16. Oh and the Rams suck!! Good job LA/NFL with the big catch! Congrats Inglewood on the new team!

    1. Maybe the win means they can peddle Keap to some desperate team..

      1. Don’t know Sevo, Krapernick may be unmovable. Who who wants a confused, easily manipulated mediocre qb? I know your a bay area guy but I think the niners are stuck with him. However, the Rams need a qb and never under estimate the stupidity of the Rams in a large media market looking to make a splash.

      2. Oh looky here, Krapernick comes in with a couple minutes left and up 28-0. good move Chip!

      3. What win? My internet isn’t working.


  18. Well, not news or surprising that she’d support the candidate with the plan to destroy the country.

  19. From the teaser in the story list:
    He understand the core problems

    This is what happens when the contributors try to throw one over the fence at off hours.

  20. Gary johnson’s gonna sell a nazi cake, and the jews are gonna bake the cake.

  21. Eh, I’m unoffended by Johnson’s immigration plan, but I’m not thrilled with it either.

    I’d be all for someone whose immigration policy was “do what Obama did, minus the unilateral EO actions.”

  22. If you want to advocate for the free market it helps to do things like pay for your stock images. Just saying

  23. You have to assume the American voter is smart enough to want a guest worker program for this to help Johnson. Most voters, unfortunately, would want to block the guest worker and force employers to pay very high prices for unpleasant labor.

  24. But somehow, the central issue driving the 2016 presidential election is what to do with about 3.5 percent of the American population that works hard, pays taxes, and delivers untold consumer benefits: undocumented immigrants.

    Illegal immigrants are about 3.5% of the US population, but about 37% of federal criminals:

    The median household income for illegal immigrants is $36000, compared to $50000 for Americans as a whole (and it’s likely even worse on a per capita basis).

    ObamaCare is collapsing. An entitlement crisis is looming. The national debt is exploding.

    Yes, and the debate about “undocumented aliens” is in part about whether many millions of people should receive medical services and “entitlements” essentially for free simply by walking illegally across the border. And it’s about whether that’s an incentive structure we want to create.

  25. No, actually, Gary Johnson’s immigration plan is completely ridiculous. He is the first person to my knowledge to ever run for President advocating open borders. He has repeatedly said that any one who wants to come to the U.S. should be allowed to. Considering this would entail allowing millions of people to immigrate to the U.S., without any regard for where they will live and how they will assimilate, it is hard for me to understand how this is a realistic or even desirable plan. And the claim that lack of guest worker visas will just lead to more border crossings, so we might as well just admit these people legally, is equally silly. We do almost nothing to enforce our immigration laws at the employer level. Are we really to believe that if we adopted a system such as e-verify that our immigration laws would be unenforceable? And for the record, Johnson is against e-verify. A large portion of the illegal population are people that overstay their visas, so even with Johnson’s proposal we would need to have some mechanism of enforcement.

    1. That was more or less the policy for more than 100 years….

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  28. I don’t mind Mexicans because they’re Mexican. I’m probably part Mexican on my moms side, although it could be straight Aztec Indian from Mexico, family history is contradictory. I mind Mexicans, and anybody else from any country, coming here that is “low skill.”

    This isn’t the 1850s anymore. There is not a job for anybody with a strong back. We can’t even provide enough jobs in the free market to employ our native born low education folks. That’s mainly because we don’t manufacture as much here anymore, and because what we do uses higher levels of automation.

    Those are facts. So given those facts is it wise to import more of an already saturated commodity? It may be good for businesses that employ low skilled labor, but it’s surely not good for the general standard of living of other low skilled laborers. I own a business, and I like cheap labor, but I don’t know that it’s good for the country overall. Especially not when we have a welfare state that redistributes wealth to support people who can’t find jobs, or who make so little because of the low wages they still qualify while employed.

    At a certain point there’s also an assimilation problem. I don’t think we’re there by any stretch, but with real open borders we surely would be.

    I hate how on some of these areas where there is plenty of grey area, people love to just spout stuff off like you have to be Hitler to be against whatever their high horse idea is.

    1. I’m pretty sure low education black guys in LA who can’t find a job that pays as good as his low education fathers did doesn’t appreciate all the illegal immigrants. Yet to even mention that reality is somehow wrong? I call bullshit.

      We need unlimited high education immigration, and then the economy may grow enough to allow us to import more low skilled workers. It’s all ultimately a ratio thing in the free market, and the ratio is heavily disfavoring low skilled labor in this country right now. We should surely try to encourage native born folks to NOT be low skilled, but the reality is that everybody ain’t cut out to be a programmer or brain surgeon.

      I don’t think the government is going to manage it well, because they don’t manage anything well… But if we ACTUALLY had open borders for realz tomorrow we would have 10s of millions of illiterate foreigners here in a matter of a few years. I think we can all agree that’s a bad thing. So the question is where in the middle is within reason. I’d rather have too few than too many honestly, because while that would be “artificially” increasing wages on the lower end, I don’t think that’s an especially horrible thing in the labor market.

      I’m all for libertarian principles IN PRINCIPLE… But there are some areas where there’s plenty of fluff room in the real world to work within. As long as the concept of a nation-state exists, borders are part of that, and controlling who crosses said borders is too.

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