The "I'm for Legal Immigration" Dodge

My response to a common, but vacuous trope often brought up in debates about immigration policy.


Imagine a debate about marijuana legalization. One participant avows that "I'm for legal marijuana. I'm only against the illegal kind." Most people will readily see that he is evading the issue: the whole point under discussion is whether existing laws banning the sale and possession of marijuana should be liberalized, or perhaps abolished entirely.

Along the same lines, imagine a debate over racial segregation circa 1960. One participant says: "I'm for legal integration. But I'm against the illegal kind." Here too, it's obvious that the person who said that is missing the point. The question at issue was whether existing segregation laws should be abolished (or at least severely curtailed). If she wants to argue that segregation laws are fine in some states (those that had them at the time), but wrong in others (those that did not), she needs to provide some explanation for why segregation is right and just in the former locations, but wrong elsewhere.

The same goes for almost every other context where there is a debate about liberalizing laws restricting some activity. Everyone who follows such questions recognizes that "I'm for legal X" is an evasion of the real issue, one that does nothing to advance the discussion.

The big exception is immigration policy. There, we routinely hear variants of "I'm for legal immigration, but against the illegal kind." And many see this is as a serious argument.

In reality, it is no more valid than similar statements in the context of segregation, the War on Drugs, or anything else. The whole point at issue in discussions of immigration policy is whether various types of immigration should be legal. Saying "I'm for legal immigration" does nothing to address that question.

If the idea is that you support currently legal immigration but oppose any that is not currently legal, than you need to explain how and why status quo policy draws the right line—much like the person who supported segregation in some states but not others in the example given above had to explain what the difference between the two types of states is. The "I'm for legal immigration" mantra does nothing to refute arguments to the effect that current immigration restrictions are unjust, cause enormous economic harm, and threaten the liberty of natives as well as would-be immigrants.

If the claim here is that people have a moral duty to obey immigration restrictions until such time as they are properly repealed by Congress, that still isn't a response to claims that some or all of those restrictions should be abolished. Indeed, the greater the obligation we might have to obey even unjust and harmful laws, the greater the moral imperative of repealing such laws as quickly as possible.

Even on its own terms, the duty-to-obey-the-law theory has to confront arguments to the effect that many immigration restrictions are so severely unjust that migrants do not have a duty to obey them. That challenge is especially hard to meet if you, like many Americans, accept the idea that it's perfectly fine to routinely disobey a wide range of less onerous laws, such as speed limits and various petty economic regulations. Regardless, the issue of whether people have a duty to obey a given law is conceptually separate from the issue of whether that law should exist in the first place. Most debates over immigration policy are actually about the latter issue.

Similarly, if your objection to currently illegal immigration is that it undermines respect for the rule of law, then that's a great justification for legalizing it! That would solve the problem far more thoroughly than any crackdown possibly could. If you think that illegal immigration undermines the rule of law in ways that the lawbreaking most of us engage in on a routine basis does not (most adult Americans have violated federal criminal law at some point in their lives), then you must explain what it is that makes immigration law special.

Finally, if you really do support all currently legal immigration, and oppose only the illegal kind, then you should oppose Donald Trump's and some other Republicans' efforts to severely truncate currently legal immigration. If you are indifferent to such plans or actually back them, then you are not for currently legal immigration. You're for massively cutting it, and you should defend that position.

There are plenty of intellectually serious arguments for restricting immigration, including some for cutting it below current levels. I address a wide range of such claims in my recent book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. But the "I'm for legal immigration" trope is not a serious contribution to the discussion. The sooner we can retire it, the sooner we can focus on the real issues at stake in debates over immigration policy.

NEXT: Trump Imitates King Joffrey From "Game of Thrones"

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

  1. American policy and practice with respect to immigration will soon enough cease to be cruel, authoritarian, and bigoted.

    Bigoted right-wingers to be hardest hit.

    Which suits me nicely.

    Open wider, bigots.

    1. What are the changes your foresee taking place in the next couple of years? For purposes of this exercise, you can assign the Georgia senate results as you see fit.

      1. More immigration, which of course translates to more gay rights and more legal marijuana. And trans right – what immigrant could possibly be against that? It’s all intersectional, an injustice to one is an injustice to all.

      2. America no longer is a worrisome laughingstock among our allies and an unexpected source of succor among the world’s retrograde authoritarians. It reclaims its international standing.

        America stops treating immigrants, gays, people who rely on reason, and the like like dirt. The ‘dreamers’ will become citizens. The debate concerning the wall will involve dismantling it or abandoning it. Immigration will increase substantially, if not enormously.

        America benefits from adult supervision and science with respect to pandemic management.

        Consumer and environmental protection agencies resume protection and abandon predation.

        Saudi Arabia and Israel, among others, will be held to account for their right-wing belligerence. The cost and immorality of the American political, economic, moral, and military skirts they hide behind will decrease.

        The Department of Justice will resume traditional civil rights enforcement.

        Two or three states are to be admitted.

        The Trump family will be bankrupted.

        If the Supreme Court gets too frisky, it will be enlarged, leashed, or both.

        1. All the black, white, brown, yellow and orange people will come together and make beautiful amber babies.

          1. Why do incels care so much about interracial sexual relations? Do vegans operate ‘best ribs’ or ‘worst fried chicken’ blogs?

            1. What the hell are all your incel slurs?
              You must be a castrato

            2. “Why do incels care so much about interracial sexual relations?”

              Are you an incel, Kirkland? Because you have condemned interracial sexual relations on this blog previously. You’re not fooling anybody.

              1. “Because you have condemned interracial sexual relations on this blog previously. You’re not fooling anybody.”

                When did I act as you describe, you bitter, bigoted rube?

                Perhaps decades of getting stomped in the culture war by better Americans have diminished your cognitive skills.

                1. And that’s not a denial.

          2. But then who will there be to blame when some amber babies grow up to be more competent and successful than other amber babies? That’s not something the progressives would want as it would end their ability to gain support by using racism to explain all negative outcomes.

            I’m actually hopeful that within several generations it will become difficult to identify the “race” of most newborns in the US except in isolated pockets. That may put the last nail in the coffin of racism that liberals are increasingly practicing. Then we won’t have to hear liberals saying things like “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black” or calling Justice Thomas “Uncle Tom Thomas” or declaring him to be “self loathing” because he doesn’t “think like a Black man”.

            1. Indeed, I have that same hope, as many inter-racial couples as I see here in South Carolina. It will take a few generations, but we’ll put this race insanity behind us, and it will retain all the significance of whether or not you’re a red head.

              1. ‘Beaten, like a red-haired step-child’.

                1. In the sense that people would be aware that it had formerly mattered to people, but it wouldn’t mean anything to them.

        2. I wonder if Kirkland really doesn’t know about the more restrictive immigration regimes the countries he’s thinking of.

        3. Who gives a fuck what the Germans think?

          America treats immigrants and homos just fine. What did Trump ever do to homos?

          “Adult supervision” and “science” = more lockdown and mask mandates, which you leftie slaves like to cheer.

          Environment and consumers did just fine under Trump. Pollution down, carbon emissions down. Trial lawyers made a little less money, though.

          “traditional civil rights enforcement” = frivolous lawsuits that drain resources, blaming natural disparities on racism.

          Somebody’s gotta check Iran (instead of giving them billions of dollars like Obama). And that’s what Saudi and Israel do.

          No new state will be admitted with a Republican Senate.

          Trump and his family will remain rich.

          Not gonna happen with a Republican Senate.

          1. “America treats immigrants and homos just fine. What did Trump ever do to homos?”

            Would the Volokh Conspiracy — a White, male, movement conservative blog — even exist without the bigotry?

            Carry on, clingers . . .mostly at schools such as Liberty, Regent, Ave Maria, and South Texas, though. Strong liberal-libertarian mainstream schools will, I believe , becoming increasingly disinclined to engage in affirmative action for right-wing legal academics.

            1. You keep using this word ‘bigot’. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        4. America will again be plundered by the Chinese Communist Party. The tech billionaires want access to its market, and will do anything to please the Chinese Communists. They care about their enrichment but not about our country.

          Trump caused high wage pressure and had to be taken out. They exploited a weak cold virus to do that. Most of the deaths were among the moribund people in nursing homes. The shutdown of elective care caused a spike in deaths from cancer and from heart disease. Deaths of Despair from poverty surged over 40% (murders, suicides, overdoses). Those must be deducted from the daily screaming headlines in the media owned by the tech billionaires. The shutdown took out $4 trillion from the GDP of the world in 2020. The tech billionaires scored an extra $trillion overt their usual profits. The poverty from the shutdown will kill 130 million people by starvation. It is the biggest mistake in human history. These statistics are from the UN. It is not a mistake. It is the biggest mass murder in history for the enrichment of the tech billionaires.

    2. There are people who would like to move to America. They file the papers. They wait. There are others who decide they don’t have to wait. They break into the line.

      The media, aka Democratic Party operatives with bylines, will not press the man from Delaware on this issue. They are too busy singing his virtues.

      Those of us who think the laws ought to be respected and line breakers not rewarded are called names and consigned to the basement of hell. You have no respect for anyone who has the temerity to call you out, and the professor does not believe in the right to control borders. To the latter, if you can’t control your border, you have no country. It’s an intellectually dishonest column worth of something that would come from the Democrats.

      1. It’s not much of an argument to simply repeat the very same thing the professor just showed to be a “vacuous trope.” Maybe try to actually engage with what was written and show why the professor is wrong.

        1. The professor calling something “a vacuous trope” doesn’t make it so. The key starting point here is that, contrary to Ilya’s assumption, nobody but an American has any right to be in America.

          He disagrees with that, but his is decidedly a minority viewpoint.

          So, it’s more a matter of “I’m in favor of legal entry into private property, not trespassing or breaking and entering.”. Or, “I’m in favor of legal bank withdrawals, not bank robbery and safe cracking.”

          We’re in favor of the people we’ve decided may enter our country entering, and not the people who didn’t ask or were turned down sneaking in.

          1. Since I don’t agree with your key starting point, I find your argument less than persuasive.

            1. This makes my point: Ilya has, as his primary premise, a position that is contested. But he treats it as though it were self-evident.

              As a result, HIS argument is less than persuasive: It only ‘persuades’ people who already agreed with him, and moves nobody who starts out disagreeing with him. It’s less an argument than simply a statement of position, because the entire argument is dependent on the hidden premise, which the ‘conclusion’ simply restates openly.

          2. It is remarkable how liberal theology can twist logic.
            Congress passes laws. The President signs them into law. Nowhere does a provision exist allowing individuals to violate them if they believe that don’t need to be followed.

            Here’s Constitutional Law 101. US citizens vote for Congresscritters based on their positions on social matters. Congresscritters pass laws. If US citizens don’t like the laws they passed, they can vote for new critters.

            Non-US citizens don’t get to vote. And they certainly don’t have the right to decide if US laws that apply to them when they reach the US should apply to them.

          3. Maybe, Ilya does believe in an inherent right to migrate, just as Congress’s power to pass immigration laws relies on an asserted inherent immigration power given that the Constitution doesn’t enumerate an immigration power. If immigration restrictionists say that we ought to amend the Constitution to grant Congress an immigration power, would a good counterargument be to say, “I’m all in favor of Congress exercising *enumerated* powers; I just don’t think Congress should exercise *unenumerated* powers?”

      2. And there are also groups who do the exact same thing but suffer different outcomes depending on what country, religion, etc. is involved.

    3. Given that you are authoritarian and bigoted, I strongly suspect you are speaking from experience. And I see your fascination with oral rape is undiminished. Low signal to noise, Kirkland.

      1. “Low signal to noise”,

        That’s the term Prof. Volokh uses when censoring liberals and libertarians at his movement conservative blog.

        Is ‘Hank Ferrous’ a sock puppet?

        1. “That’s the term Prof. Volokh uses…”

          Hank Ferrous isn’t the first guy to refer to Kirkland’s posts as “low signal to noise? I, for one, am shocked.

          1. Sounds like a sock puppet to me.

            Lathering the rubes . . .

            1. Incel knows all about lathering.

  2. Let’s have a new compromise immigration law. Propose one. Get people to agree on all sides of the issue. Let’s get it passed.

    You are for the current law being systematically ignored to create a de-facto policy most Americans are against.

    America is supposed to be a government by the people, not a wink-and-nod organized crime regime where specific extremists get whatever they want and the rest of Americans’ priorities and needs are ignored.

    1. ^^^this is why it was so stupid to not get behind Rubio’s legislation in 2013. So under no circumstances could illegal immigration have been worse since then than had that legislation been passed…which is why you just have to pass whatever Democrats will compromise to.

      1. Obama would have ignored the Rubio law just like he ignored the non-Rubio law:

        1. Actually not much changed with respect to immigration/border policies from Obama to Trump…just like the first 3 years of the Trump economy were almost exactly like the last 3 years of the Obama economy. Other than judicial appointments and Trump’s rhetoric and a few mostly inconsequential executive orders…Trump didn’t really do anything all that different from what Obama did.

    2. That happened in 1986. It did not stem the illegal immigration that suppressed all wages, from laborer to professional. That served the unjust enrichment of the billionaires. Trump causes a labor shortage, and wage pressure. That cut into their profits. Trump had to go, and they got rid of him, with a bogus exploitation of a weak virus.

      1. We learned from 1986. That’s why they won’t negotiate a new compromise law: because we won’t make the same mistake again.

        Besides, they decided they can just ignore laws and implement whatever illegal policy they want. John Roberts was happy to help with that.

        If you don’t want laws ignored and illegal policy implemented against the will of the American people, Ilya Somin will be cross with you.

    3. I think we also would also need to pass a constitutional amendment to permanently ban entry, citizenship, and permanent residency to anyone who had ever entered or remained in the country contrary to the law after the amendment was ratified. It would also need to eliminate birthright citizenship unless at least one parent was a citizen or, perhaps, permanent resident legally in the country at the time of birth. As well, the amendment should make it clear that anyone not in the country legally shall be promptly removed and shall receive NO benefits, directly or indirectly, from the federal coffers.

      Each election cycle the people could then decide what criteria they like for granting permanent residency or citizenship to adjust to changing conditions. However an administration wouldn’t find it fruitful to just fail to enforce immigration laws. As well, immigrants would be very hesitant to enter or stay in the country illegally as they would eventually be removed and never could return, let alone become citizens or permanent residents.

      Then voters might be willing to accept a more lenient policy of giving existing illegal immigrants a “pathway to citizenship”. This amendment would make voters much more confident that this “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants wouldn’t be instituted every time the Democrats get into power regardless of immigration laws at the time of the person’s entry or overstay etc. It would also make illegal immigration much less of a problem as few people would even try to enter/stay illegally knowing the consequences of a permanent ban and virtually guaranteed removal at some time in the future.

      Too many voters, myself included, remember or are aware of the failed 1986 “immigration amnesty” which granted amnesty to around three million illegal immigrants but failed to provide the promised crackdown. As the saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”.

  3. The whole point at issue in discussions of immigration policy is whether various types of immigration should be legal.

    But it’s not: there’s also the question of what should happen to people who violate the immigration laws as they stand (and, for that matter, if they’re amended, assuming any still exist). Indeed, that question has substantially more practical significance at present, given how odds against any significant amendment to our system happening for the next few years.

  4. When people say they don’t mind ‘legal immigration’. It means they don’t mind immigrants per se, they just wish for certain controls or safeguards such as numbers/filtering out criminals/assimilation/background/following a process etc.

    As opposed to you who wants complete open borders, no process, and wants to allow people in who break the law both by crossing the border and also committing additional crimes such as murder.

    Two distinct positions. This is not rocket science.

  5. I won’t go as far as supporting open boarders, at least not until the welfare state has been dismantled.

    I am opposed to “illegal immigration”, but I don’t support our current immigration laws either.

    I think that the overall caps on allowed immigration should be raised significantly, and that country by country limits should be eliminated entirely.

    I think the process and paperwork required ought to be streamlined significantly.

    I think we should have a guest worker program for agricultural migrant workers and seasonal workers.

    1. I am willing to negotiate to all of those things. Now, what penalties are imposed for those that violate your laws? Negotiated in good faith to show “the other side” are not bigots? Because the last time, leftists promised to never again seek amnesty for illegal aliens. Just that once was it…promise.

      1. I haven’t specifically thought of penalties. Probably not much different than the current penalties for entering the country illegally, primarily deportation.

        I conceive of “amnesty” for illegal aliens very differently than what has been done in the past.

        My amnesty:

        Go home. Or at least back to the country from which they entered the US.

        Apply for immigration status through the new easier and more readily available process and we won’t hold a prior history of illegal entry against you.

        1. How about a prior history of identity theft, using forged documents, and driving without insurance, to name a few ordinary crimes citizens aren’t allowed to get away with, that illegal immigrants are commonly guilty of?

          1. Sure, if and only if you have specific evidence that a specific applicant had specifically committed any of those crimes.

            Generalizations about large groups don’t cut the mustard.

            1. Specific evidence will generally be available, yes, unless the illegal in question stuck to the underground economy.

  6. Why are you omitting the key fact that there is legislation detailing how people are permitted to immigrate? That makes a clear distinction between those who follow the laws (legal immigrants) and those who deliberately enter the country illegally.

    Do you make the same argument about voting legally vs voting illegally? Paying income tax vs deliberate tax fraud?

    You just don’t want to admit the damage flooding the country with illegals has done socially, legally and economically because you got the lower wages you wanted.

    1. Did you turn on Trump for all the indictments, convictions, guilty pleas, pardons, etc.? And we’re supposed to believe you really care whether someone drives across the border with the right papers. Sure.

  7. When a politician says “I support legal immigration”, it is implied heavily that their issue is with those who break the law, but they are just peachy with those who immigrate according the the laws. But then turn around and support policies that tightens, or makes life harder for legal immigrants, I simply don’t believe that they support any immigration.

    1. all policies that allow even one fewer immigrant in any area or category than the current maximum legal number of immigrants are against all immigration

    2. I need example to make any sense out of your contentention. What laws are passed that single out legal immigrants? The would be discrimination by country of origin.

      1. For example: Tightening the rules to get a green card, lowering the immigration quotas, and lowering the refugee quotas.

        1. “Tightening the rules to get a green card”
          Are you referring to the “public charge” rule? I suspect Stephen Miller’s greasy fingerprints are all over that one. I would like to think that Miller will soom just be a bad memory but I fear that his pong will linger.

          1. The public charge rule wasn’t so much a change to the requirements, as it was, (As much of Trump’s immigration policy.) a decision to start enforcing existing law.

            1. It’s a gratuitously cruel policy aimed at punishing people who don’t have much money for the crime of not having much money while having a vanishingly small affect on immigration or government finances. And, contrary to your assertion (no surprise) we’re talking about changes in the rule, not increased enforcement.

    3. There’s a difference between policies that tighten immigration, and a lack of support for “any” immigration.

      1. If they claim “We don’t have any problem with those who follow the rules”, then change the rules, it is clear that they had a problem with it in the first place.

        1. Any change of rules is evidence of hypocrisy? That’s not a serious argument.

          1. Consider the source.

          2. Not any change, major changes, which is what we are seeing. If they truly have no problem with people following the rules, then why go though the effort to change the rules to hurt those who are following the current rules?

            1. ” then why go though the effort to change the rules to hurt those who are following the current rules”

              It’s not a retroactive change (for the most part). You’re not stripping away citizenship from anyone. You’re not stripping away green cards from anyone. They’re changes to the rules going forward. For people who aren’t “following the rules” yet.

            2. Major changes may be necessary as circumstances arise, it still does not prove hypocrisy.

  8. Everybody draws a line as to who should be able to come. Yours appears to be anybody who wants to show up. Mine is more stringent. But make no mistake the line exists.

    Saying your line is more valid than any other is BS. Especially since no other country on earth favors or implements it.

  9. Looks like Prof. Somin has saved up all his question-begging and strawman-punching for Friday.

    1. One wonders if Prof. Somin cares about legal vs illegal cash removals from his checking account.

  10. I dare anyone who believes in this unlimited immigration to try that with any other country. Let me know your opinion once you get out of jail.

  11. This post is manifestly wrong. There is indeed a lot of discussion over how much we should enforce various types of laws, from drug laws to immigration laws.

    And in many cases the folks arguing against enforcement have won. We have policies of not enforcing laws against immigration and marijuana in many cases. We have DACA, and we have an official policy of non enforcing federal laws against MJ in states that have legalized it.

    So people claiming that we ought to enforce immigration laws are not making a spurious argument, the “issue under discussion” is quite often whether or not we should allow illegal immigration or drug use.

    1. I think the argument is that just simply saying “I’m for legal immigration” is just a way to avoid discussion of whether current immigration law is just and effective. He isn’t saying that we should never discuss how much we should enforce various laws, even immigration laws. He’s making a more basic argument. I think. I could be wrong. My blood is still mainly stuffing and shoo fly pie.

      1. “I think the argument is that just simply saying “I’m for legal immigration” is just a way to avoid discussion of whether current immigration law is just and effective.”

        I don’t know. There are plenty of people who are independently bothered by the perceived lack of enforcement of current immigration law, regardless of how they feel about immigration policy.

        1. One problem is that having immigration laws, and then not enforcing them, effectively puts a filter on our border, that blocks law abiding people, but lets through people who have contempt for our laws, or at least no particular impulse to obey them.

          Our legal immigration system specifically prohibits immigration by people with criminal records, (Which is a major reason that legal immigrants have a lower crime rate than native Americans.) then we say, “Hey, if you’re willing to break our laws, just come on in!”

    2. “We have policies of not enforcing laws against immigration”

      But this just demonstrates the breakdown of democracy in America. If public opinion were actually in favor of anything remotely like open borders, those laws could have been repealed. The reason that they’re simply not enforced, instead, is because repeal is politically impossible, but failing to enforce them is survivable as long as you’re not too open about it.

      If democracy were actually capable of controlling government policy, the immigration laws would be enforced. It was a big enough issue to put Trump, with all his defects, into the White House.

      1. If public opinion were actually in favor of anything remotely like open borders, those laws could have been repealed.

        I doubt it. Look, public opinion strongly favors legalizing the dreamers, but that can’t pass our sclerotic system.

        I don’t think you can talk about the importance of “public opinion,” and “democracy,” and at the same time defend the structure of our government.

        1. The statement is false = Look, public opinion strongly favors legalizing the dreamers…

          If this is true = but that can’t pass our sclerotic system

        2. “Look, public opinion strongly favors legalizing the dreamers, but that can’t pass our sclerotic system.”

          Does it? Or is it just the way the argument is framed? A different possibility: Public opinion is against amnesty for illegal aliens.

          1. I think public opinion does favor amnesty in cases where the illegal alien came to this country not of their own volition, but because they were brought by their parents or guardians. You lumping them all together as illegal aliens is the framing of the question to get the answer you want.

        3. The reason it hasn’t been “able to pass our sclerotic system” is because it was attempted by people who wanted a larger amnesty and no enforcement. Public opinion favors doing something for a specific, narrow group, but only for that group.

          The advocates of DACA didn’t want to settle for what public opinion favored. They wanted more, and were holding the ‘dreamers’ hostage in an effort to get it.

  12. This article misses one of the reasons why this argument is used so frequently by politicians.
    This argument is intended to keep the focus on people who arrived in the country in violation of current law. One of the reasons they want to keep the focus there is that a politician without a boogeyman to protect against is a politician without any power over the people they govern.

    This allows them to tap in to so many different positions and prejudices that attempting to make someone defend their position is moot. Disassbling the argument as decided is fine when engaged in earnest debate but that is an incredibly rare even in modern American, both between the elite ruling classes and the average citizen.

    If you want to make a difference then don’t pick partisan arguments but examine the responses from those who have reasoned excuses for their apathy toward or impotence in the political system.

  13. I disagree with the professor. If He doesn’t like the immigration law, work through the process to change the laws. The people, through their elected representatives have set immigration policy. A bi -partisan coalition have set immigration policy.

    1. “A bi -partisan coalition have set immigration policy.”

      A laughable assertion considering the last several presidents have all claimed to have the authority to unilaterally alter immigration policy on a whim.

      1. We have to distinguish between “policy” and “law”. Any given law admits a certain range of “policy”. But only a certain range.

        In some cases, the President’s policy has been to violate the law. In other cases, the policy has been to start/resume enforcing it.

        These are not legally equivalent cases of “unilaterally altering immigration policy on a whim”. The former is a direct violation of the President’s “take care” obligation, the latter compliance with it. They should not be treated as interchangeable.

  14. BOOM! Straw man goes DOWN!

  15. Hmm. So you would agree that there is no distinction between the legal and illegal practice of law? That the statement, “I have no problem with lawyers who have been admitted to the state bar representing a defendant in a criminal case, but I think it should be a misdemeanor for a non-attorney to do the same” is a nullity?

    1. By his own argument, since he supports unrestricted immigration, he must also support unrestricted discrimination and unrestricted drug use.

      Or, his “argument” isn’t one, and it’s nothing but nonsense tossed out to post more links to his own articles and books elsewhere – the usual Somin tripe, in other words.

      1. …Or maybe immigration is distinguishable from discrimination and drug use?

        1. I’m merely using the examples that Somin used in his post, as I’m sure you know since you must have read it.

          1. No, once again I think you are completely misreading his point. He is saying let’s have meaningful discussions about immigration policy, which the “I’m for legal immigration” trope avoids. Using the example correctly would be to say “Let’s have a meaningful discussion about our current drug laws,” not that he supports unlimited drug use.

        2. “…Or maybe immigration is distinguishable from discrimination and drug use?”

          Maybe, but if so you should be pointing that out to the OP, not Toranth, who was merely extending the analogy.

          1. Sarcastr0, call out Ilya for his ridiculous “arguments”? Lol, never.

  16. I wonder if the author is a supporter of the single state solution Tlaib supports with respect to Israel/Palestine?? So Congresswoman Tlaib supports giving Palestinians citizenship in Israel along with access to their welfare system…that would be like just moving the Texas/Mexico border to include Monterrey and Juarez and Tijuana and just converting those Mexicans living on those regions to US citizens.

  17. People are risking their lives to come to America. Fill it with enough Third World cultured Democrats, make it another subtropical shithole, none will want to come anymore.

  18. I just looked up Somin’s background. He is an Ivy indoctrinated scumbag. He wants to make our country a permanent, one party Democrat state. He lives in the Washington Beltway. Dismissed.

  19. Pretend we have a regime in which immigration is quantitatively unlimited, but qualitatively restricted: people with communicable diseases (TB, AIDS, etc.), felony convictions, terrorist backgrounds, a prior history of illegal immigration and deportation, etc. might be subject to a rebuttable presumption against admission, or simply excluded. Why then would Somin reject the idea that one could validly support immigration, but not the violation of immigration laws? Reasonable people may differ about whether there should be quantitative limits on immigration, but I don’t see Somin, or anyone else trying to introduce legislation changing the quantitative limits on immigration. Suppose we offered them the right to increase the legal limits tenfold, so long as they agreed that anyone caught here illegally would be deported, never to return — do you suppose they would take that deal? (Also, I may violate speed laws, but when I am caught and cited, I don’t whine about how CRUEL speed laws are.)

  20. Sigh…

    Let’s try this again.

    “I’m for legal drugs. But I’m against illegal drugs”.

    What this implies is that there is a large continuity in the types of drugs available, from the largely benign (caffeine) to the extremely dangerous (fentanyl) to the weaponizable ones (Sarin, Botulinum toxin), and that the laws we have in place as a country have a purpose in regulating these compounds. Somin’s argument would say “all drugs should be legal and available OTC” and anything less isn’t pro-drug at all.

    Any context or gradient or compromise is lost in Somin’s extreme version.

    1. That is just a massive straw man. All he is saying is that we should have meaningful discussions about our immigration policy, and that tropes that intentionally avoid those discussions are counter-productive. “I’m for legal drugs” is fine, but it doesn’t lead to any meaningful discussions about drug policy. Just the opposite. That’s his point. “All drugs should be legal and available OTC” doesn’t follow from anything in the OP.

      1. When anyone on Team Blue wants a “discussion”, what they really want to do is lecture you.

      2. “That is just a massive straw man.”

        You’re right, Ilya’s argument is a massive straw man. That’s what you meant to say, right?

  21. I have to at least partially disagree with Ilya here. “I’m for legal immigration,” largely dates to a period where the United States had both a legal immigration system as well as a de-facto tolerance significant amounts of illegal immigration. During this period, saying, “I’m for legal immigration” without anything further was a fairly clear message expressing support for the amount of immigration allowed by law, while disavowing tolerance for illegal immigration above that amount.

    That said, the amount of illegal immigration and de-facto tolerance of it has been diminishing over time, starting with the George W. Bush administration, continuing with Obama, culminating with the Trump administration. Where this becomes somewhat more complicated (and I do have sympathy for Ilya’s position) is that the Trump administration accompanied it’s crackdown on illegal immigration with reductions in legal immigration, which makes it rather less clear what “I’m for legal immigration” means. Are you for the levels of legal immigration prevalent under the Bush and Obama administrations? The reduced level under the Trump administration? The even lower level that the Trump administration sought?

  22. Somin is incorrect.

    Saying that immigration law should be followed regardless of what it is makes a lot of sense in a world where mass amnesties have been proposed and even implemented in the past.

    Such amnesties suggest that the “real rules” aren’t the ones on the books, but some other unwritten rules.

    One can coherently say that it is debatable what level of immigration should be allowed but that whatever rules are in place ought to be enforced strictly and with no amnesties that reward rule-breaking and suggest that the “real rules” of immigration are something other than the actual law.

    I am not sure what immigration rules should be in place myself. But I tend to think we are much too strict with our American neighbors like Mexico and not strict enough with H1B visas and the like. It is perfectly coherent to say that whatever the rules are, they should be enforced strictly rather than rewarding people who break the rules.

    It is natural that someone like Somin, who probably thinks there shouldn’t be immigration rules at all, wouldn’t find that position persuasive.

    Ultimately, this issue is about power. Rules that are strictly enforced locate power in the hands of those who make the rules. Rules that are enforced less strictly shift power into the hands of those willing to break the rules. Somin likely wants to shift power into the hands of those that are willing to immigrate in defiance of the rules. That might be a defensible position, but the position that the rules that are decided democratically ought to be the “real” rules is defensible as well.

  23. Completely open immigration would be insane. It would also be unlike every other country’s policy.

    Currently, the US has fairly generous quotas. Probably the most generous nation on this planet.

    I’m fine with that. Immigration is one factor that led to the greatness of our nation.

    I think the case for broadening our immigration policies must be made in addition to curtailing it. The onus of persuasion is on those seeking change.

  24. What a ridiculous viewpoint. I support folks withdrawing money from their account legally; therefore, I must support Bank Robbery. These two are NOT equal, and you know it. What an obfuscating fool you are Ilya, and the idiots that agree with you.

  25. I think this may be the most disingenuous post I’ve ever seen from a member of the VC and I’ve been following the VC since it was in diapers.

    When someone says “I’m for allowing legal driving”, they are NOT saying that they are against all forms of driving on the public roads, just those that have been deemed, via a democratic process, to be ill advised and dangerous – such as drunk drivers. Saying “I’m for allowing legal immigration” is no different – it’s not “anti immigrant” any more than the former is “anti driving”.

    I’m a perfect example of this – I think we should allow more immigration – but to those with the skills and education that make them a net gain to the country. If that means wages drop (as they would in my field), that’s fine as inflated wages due to severe shortages of particular skills (broadly including initiative, knowledge, intelligence, work ethic and other attributes) help those who are getting those excessive wages but hurt the country in general as development/production moves to countries with the necessary skills and usually never comes back.

    Sure, we can have open borders. But that effectively eliminates almost all government social programs. Suppose we declared open borders while retaining government social programs like SNAP, Medicaid, TANF, and housing assistance. It would be a matter of days before one or more well intentioned rich people or organizations would begin the process of buying a few old cruise ships (and refitted to cram as many people on them as possible) or aging, but still certified, airliners and just run a continuous stream of hundreds of millions, perhaps even a billion, people from the poorest most “god forsaken” environments into the US. Refugee camps around the world would begin to disappear as they were drained into the US. That, of course, is unsustainable with our current government social program.

  26. Another example. I’m for Legal sexual relations with a consenting adult. Not equal to 54 year old Ilya demanding sex from a 6 year old. If sex is ok… False equivalence is your forte. Why would anyone think you add value to anything? Are the cocktail parties worth, being a pederast? Enjoy the opprobrium you so richly deserve.

  27. “The crux of modern America’s problems is not left or right, but too much and too soon. Our national population has soared in recent decades. The 1950 federal census recorded 131,669,275 people living in this country. Fast forward sixty years, and the most recent census states that 308,745,538 persons live here.” Is Quality of Life better today than it was in the1950s? The Conscience of a Realist by Joseph Cotto, Monday, December 9, 2013

    1. “Is Quality of Life better today than it was in the1950s?”

      Yes, except in the illusory ‘good old days’ for which right-wing culture war casualties fervently pine.

      1. Beat up that strawman! It’s the only opponent you can defeat.

      2. It’s better in some ways, and worse in others. Missing the ways it was better does not imply wanting the ways it was worse back.

  28. “If you disagree with me, you can’t be sincere!”

    We have a legal immigration system. He knows it. But he will say anything to push his open border obsession. Any lie. Any obfuscation. Any sophistry.

  29. I come at this from a somewhat different angle.

    So long as the standing immigration laws are not enforced, there will be no impetus to change them. However, although they are not enforced, they leave the illegal immigrants in a legal limbo, which makes them easier to exploit. Enforce the laws, and the people who are profiting off of their NOT being enforced will be motivated to change matters. With the laws changed, all immigrants will enjoy the full protection of the Law.

    That said, the Open Borders advocates on the Left blundered badly when they started to tell people who wanted the laws enforced that they shouldn’t use the term ‘illegal immigrants’ (which is, technically, accurate) and that illegal immigrants wren not criminals (which, technically, they are). Tell somebody that black is white and up is down and they will naturally conclude that you are a liar or a fool, and stop listening to you.

    1. “,,, the term ‘illegal immigrants’ (which is, technically, accurate)”

      Actually, no. Alien is the correct term.

  30. With respect to my own views, anyway, Professor Somin’s analysis is in error.

    For him, the whole point may be whether existing laws around immigration should be liberalized. For me, that’s not the issue at all.

    I’m an immigrant myself and have no hostility to immigration. I don’t know whether more or less immigration is better, and I don’t have strong views either way. I suspect that as with much public policy, there are tradeoffs involved regardless of what immigration policy is settled on.

    What I object to, then, is the violation of immigration laws per se, regardless of what those laws happen to be at the moment.

    The reason is that I believe:
    a) that immigration policy is likely to make a difference—that is, have some material effect on the country in various ways
    b) that because of a), immigration laws (whether restrictive or unrestrictive) are important and should be enforced
    c) that because of b), elected officials have an obligation to seek to determine whatever the “best” immigration laws are (however defined), to seek compromise, to pass “good” laws (again, however defined) and see to it that they are enforced
    d) that despite c), politicians—especially those in favor of less restrictive policies, but not only them—would much rather avoid the risk to their political capital in taking action to implement and effectively enforce policies that support their views
    e) that because of d), politicians wink at and fail to effectively fight illegal immigration in an effort to evade their responsibilities and that
    f) they should therefore be tarred and feathered.

    Want to open immigration up? Great. Vote for that, and stand judged by the voters. Want to slam the doors? Great. Vote for that, and stand judged by the voters. Either way, obey and enforce the laws, whatever they are.

  31. I suspect we wouldn’t have such a problem with illegal immigration that we have if we’d punish those that exploit undocumented labor. I find the notion that illegals are doing those jobs Americans won’t do to be offensive. I did some of those jobs.
    If we really need to import labor, provide work visas and do it legally.

    1. ^^^^ This
      Remove the draw (make e Verify mandatory and functional, throw a couple of Tyson or Cargill execs in jail) and the issue goes away.

    2. The point is that the illegals are typically doing it at a lower rate, and with less workplace protection, because they have to worry about their employers ratting them out if they make a fuss.

    3. See, that is where my head is also = we wouldn’t have such a problem with illegal immigration that we have if we’d punish those that exploit undocumented labor. I am all for jailing employers, and the executives of a company, who use illegals. What they are doing is a modern-day version of slavery.

      Frankly, I think Professor Somin is completely off-base.

      1. I think we should offer a bounty, and a very large one, on any employer who knowingly hires an illegal immigrant. Said bounty to be paid only once per employer, (So don’t wait to collect it!) and if you’re an illegal, you can only collect it in your home country.

        This would turn illegal aliens from ideal employees, low cost and easily threatened, into serious threats: Any illegal you hire would stand to earn several years pay by turning you in.

  32. So if random law prof says law is immoral you don’t have to follow it. I’m sure that is going to end well when it gets applied to all the laws that various people don’t like…

  33. I support the recognition of the Mexican legal license. A good Mexican lawyer makes $40000 a year instead of $400000 a year. They serve clients by video, not even moving to very expensive Washington Beltway. They can teach law school at Mason University. When Ilya supports that olimmigration, he will not be dismissed.

    Indian lawyers make $25000 and know English conmon law. There are millions of them. Open the practice of law to them in the USA, remotely.

  34. This is one of the few times I agree with Somin. “Legal” versus “Illegal” immigration is a smokescreen. The fact remains that most Americans oppose unlimited immigration of un skilled migrants from the third world, or policies that help to promulgate that, like “family reunification.” Those people are a financial and cultural burden whether they do so illegally or legally, just like medical doctors from Seoul or Bombay would be a benefit to American even if they did do so illegally.

    We need more high-IQ, skilled immigration, and less low-IQ, unskilled immigration.

  35. Labeling arguments with which one disagrees ‘vacuous tropes’ while dishonestly representing the views typical to those arguments is intellectually immature sophistry. One can simply say “I am against illegal immigration,’ or ‘I only support legal immigration,’ or ‘I support immigration reform.’ The chance of finding what this means lies in the consequent conversation, if there is one. Prof. Somin is an ideologue where immigration is concerned, and this tendency is often not to his credit.

  36. I can only speak for myself. When I say that I’m for “legal immigration” I’m simply saying that we have laws about who can–and how they can–immigrate, and I support those people who follow the law.

    I’m not taking a stance on whether those laws are just, correct, the best, or can improved. I entrust that to our “experts” and legislators. Those “legal” goalposts may be moved back and forth over time, and I’ll continue to support them as laws that Must Be Followed. (I might come to disagree with some, and champion others–but it’s simply not my role to simply ignore them).

    Somin’s argument seems to be arguing something that we don’t believe. It’s not that the KIND of immigration which is illegal is necessarily bad–it’s that it’s *prohibited by law* (wrong or right–that’s for you lawyers to argue and judges to decide–but until then it’s the law that we follow).

    “I like immigrants who follow the law,” is what we’re saying. When I go to Mongolia, I get a visa and follow the law. If I show up in Mongolia without a visa, I expect them to kick me out or put me through some legal process. I expect the same anywhere else–why wouldn’t I? I’m not a citizen or resident of their country.

  37. This might come as a surprise to many academics, but there is a huge amount of people in the country who focus on their families, jobs, and other things, and really don’t focus much on immigration policy.

    And people who enjoy a sense of order that helps them focus on their families, jobs, and other things don’t like to see laws flouted.

    These are generally the folks who say that they support immigration as long as it’s done legally. And also most legal immigrants.

    1. Which is all fine. But it begs the question of what our immigration policy and laws should actually be. And that’s his point.

      1. No, his point is that we shouldn’t have any policy except open borders. To this end he wants to conflate opposition to illegal immigration with opposition to all immigration.

        It’s a standard rhetorical ploy among open borders advocates.

  38. I have lived in nine countries including the U.S. that all had immigration laws (I am a natural born U.S. citizen). I am unaware of any country that does not have immigration laws. Such laws require registering with the country’s government department responsible for immigration and meeting the requirements for immigration including among other things taking oaths to obey laws, background checks etc. etc. All countries have immigration departments that screen visitors and persons wishing to permanently live there; these set / inform the immigrant of the terms, ,details and their obligations for residing in the country … e.g., in some cases for a period of time and others permanently if they have met the requirements for permanent immigration. The author’s blanket statement that immigration laws are unjust is blowing in the wind. Why are they unjust? Would you just have completely open borders… apparently Democrats are in favor of this (since it would increase their political base). If the immigration law is unjust change it. If an immigrant comes to the country and violates immigration law they should be removed or jailed.

  39. If there is anything the conservative fans of this White, male, faux libertarian blog can’t abide, it is genuinely libertarian content (and a genuinely libertarian writer).

    1. Libertarian and support for the Democrat Party are not compatible. The Democrat Party is a front organization for the interests of the tech billionaires, and their need to kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party for access to its market.

    2. “If there is anything the conservative fans of this White, male, faux libertarian blog can’t abide, it is genuinely libertarian content (and a genuinely libertarian writer).”

      Whether or not that is correct, the specific issue with this post is that a genuinely libertarian writer is making a terrible argument.

      1. I was an activist within the LP from the late 70’s until the late 90’s, and I assure you that, for most of that time, the libertarian position on immigration was open borders, but only after everything else.

        We were well aware of path dependence, and that opening the borders while we were still a welfare state bordering on a third world country would be insane. We’d become a magnet for every person in the world who aspired to live in a wealthy welfare state!

        Whereas if you opened the borders after America became a libertarian night watchman state, you’d only be a magnet for people who wanted to live in THAT sort of country.

        Well, the left’s push to accelerate inevitable demographic transition joined with the business right’s push for cheap, easily intimidated labor, and the wealthy’s desire for affordable gardeners and nannies, and something like open borders were imposed on the country in defiance of statutory law.

        And the window for libertarianism winning the day closed, just as we’d known premature open borders would close it.

        To the extent Somin even is a libertarian, he’s a self-defeating one, eager to sow the seeds of a less libertarian America, and feel righteous while doing it.

    3. Why is it acceptable to disregard immigration laws but follow laws that you agree with? Are you advocating that everyone is free to follow only the laws that you decide to follow? Is there something about immigration that makes it different from other laws? If you feel that everyone in the world can take advantage of US citizenship, do you fund it with a worldwide tax?

  40. Why is it acceptable to disregard immigration laws but follow laws that you agree with? Are you advocating that everyone is free to follow only the laws that you decide to follow? Is there something about immigration that makes it different from other laws? If you feel that everyone in the world can take advantage of US citizenship, do you fund it with a worldwide tax?

    1. Right now, we’re not even funding our own people. We’re basically just taking advantage of the fact that we’re the reserve currency (for now) to print and borrow unlimited amounts of money. When this game will end I don’t know, but it won’t be pretty when it does.

  41. It’s a practical argument more than a legalistic one.

    With generous health care, welfare, and education benefits, and citizenship for children, the incentives are massive for the world’s poor to move here.

    Philosophical libertarians will say the freebies should be removed, but that ain’t gonna happen.

  42. This is about the worst argument I’ve seen anywhere.

  43. Sorry, Ilya. Your argument is just a plea for begging the question poorly bolstered by false analogies.

  44. This is disingenuous. If I disagree with unrestricted legalization of marijuana, but agree that there should be some legal marijuana (perhaps only sold in some places, or not sold to minors), I could legitimately reply, when accused of opposing marijuana legalization, “I’m not against all marijuana legalization”.

    The argument isn’t really “I’m for legal immigration” exactly the way you phrased it. The argument is more like “I’m for some legal immigration, so stop accusing me of being for no legal immigration”.

    1. I have another comment here that is in line with yours–but I just re-read the article, and I think you and I are a bit off with our response to the article..

      Mr. Somin is specifically addressing *debates* about immigration policy. And he’s right I think: Taking a position in a *debate about immigration* that says “I’m for following the law” is not a substantive argument. And it is vacuous.

      It’s like having a debate about whether to drink milk or not and saying “I’m for the correct decision.” You haven’t addressed anything about the topic at all in your “argument” about milk, nor have you taken a position on the substance of the controversy–you’ve just taken a generic position.

      Immigration is governed by law. To have a debate about it (again, what the article is about), one needs to question (or argue in support of some aspect of) the law–not just accept it (“I’m for legal immigration.”) Why are the laws, as set, the right ones to follow?

  45. How about “I’m for driving, but against the illegal kind”? Or “I’m for starting fires, but against the illegal kind”?

  46. The worst part of this post is that “I’m for legal immigration” is almost always a response to a disingenuous claim that people who support enforcing immigration laws are somehow “anti-immigrant”.

    1. That is exactly correct. Why is Somin, employable with such a terrible concept of logic? I thought Lawyers used Logic in their arguments. Apparently Profs are not required to be intelligent, at all.

      1. They’re supposed to be advocates for their clients’ interests. In the case of immigration law, he’s his own lawyer, and you know what that says about his client.

  47. A person can be against racial quotas without being a racist, against gay marriage without being opposed to gay couples, against bootlegging without being against drinking and against illegal immigration without being against immigrants or immigration. You don’t convert many people by being intolerant and insulting just because they hold a more nuanced position than you do.

  48. Is it also a dodge to say that I’m in favor of an immigration process where the immigrants, before they are allowed to enter the country, are required to be vetted as to whether they have a serious criminal background?

    1. Oh my god! No, it’s not a dodge, and that’s exactly what he is calling for, discussion about the specifics of our immigration policy. Rather than just saying “I’m for legal immigration.” That’s all he’s saying. He also happens to endorse looser immigration controls. That’s why he supports discussion.

      What is up with all the straw man arguments here?

      1. The problem is that, as someone else in the thread observed, “I’m for legal immigration!” isn’t an argument in the first place. It’s a response to people like Somin who conflate a desire for immigration law enforcement with an unqualified opposition to immigration. It’s the response of somebody being accused of being anti-immigration.

      2. “Oh my god! No, it’s not a dodge, and that’s exactly what he is calling for, discussion about the specifics of our immigration policy. Rather than just saying “I’m for legal immigration.” That’s all he’s saying. He also happens to endorse looser immigration controls. That’s why he supports discussion. ”

        LOL. Of course you think Somin is thinking what you want him to think, instead of what he actually wrote.

  49. There is an obvious difference between immigration and the examples Professor Somin gives. The examples – marijuana and segregation – involve yes/no choices, legal or not legal. But immigration, like many things in life, is a question of degree.

    Imagine Bernie Sanders dismissing any objection to his free tuition program by saying you can be either for education or against, and a person who claims to be in favor of federal funding for, but only up to a limit, is being logically fallacious, self-contradictory, dismissae as a patently irrational position. It would be Bernie Sanders who would be in the wrong. Or imagine someone dismissing the idea of speed limits on similar ground – how can it be logically possible to say you are in favor of automobiles, but only so fast? You’re either in favor of them or against them.

    Many things in life, and especially in government, incolve compromise where one is in favor of something, but only up to some limit. Spending is like. Speed limits are like that. There are perfectly rational positions on marijuana legalization that involve limits and compromise — possession quantity limits, giving localtiies the ability to opt out by ordinance, zoning restrictions, and others.

    The same is true with immigration. A person who favors immigration but only up to a legally established limit – legal immigration but not illegal immigration – is being just as rational as the person who favors speed limits – legal driving but not illegal driving – pollution limits – legal factories but not illegal ones – noise limits – legal parties but not illegal ones – and numerous other situations where something is tolerated up to some limit based on a compromise between competing values and policy considerations. Keeping the peace by forging these types of compromises is a big part of what government is all about.

    Professor Somin claims that forging this type of compromise on immigration in not merely undesirable, but somehow logically fallacious, against reason itself, defeatable with a simple logic proof.

    This is a rediculous position. Professor Somin has allowed his zeal to get the better of his reason. He would be wise to retract it now, shortly after having ill-advisedly posting it, rather than risk making a bigger fool of himself.

    Professor Somin is of course free to explain why he thinks that immigration limits would be bad policy and why he thinks completely unrestricted immigration would be better.

    But immigration limits – allowing legal but not illegal immigration – are just as rational a potential policy choise as speed limits (legal driving but not illegal), noise limits (legal parties but not illegal), marijuana possession limits (legal pot but not illegal pot, pollution limits, spending limits, etc.

    Last, but by no means least, I will point out that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 contains several major exceptions and limits. It doesn’t apply to businesses with fewer than 15 employees, certain businesses (e.g. local taxicabs or prostitution), originally didn’t allow for punitive damages, has a strict and short statute of limitations, and has other limitations. So yes, legal segregation but not illegal segregation is the law of the land. Even segregation is only prohibited up to limits based on other policy considerations. We see that even Professor Somin’s own examples – marijuana and segregation – are matters on which legislatures compromised, did not approve advocates’ complete positions, and ended up making some things legal but other things illegal.

    There is absolutely nothing irrational about advocating partial legalization or a similar compromise position. It might, of course be bad policy. But it’s a completely rational thing to do.

    1. The same is true with immigration. A person who favors immigration but only up to a legally established limit – legal immigration but not illegal immigration – is being just as rational as the person who favors speed limits – legal driving but not illegal driving – pollution limits – legal factories but not illegal ones – noise limits – legal parties but not illegal ones – and numerous other situations where something is tolerated up to some limit based on a compromise between competing values and policy considerations. Keeping the peace by forging these types of compromises is a big part of what government is all about.

      You completely misunderstand the point. Some people say, “People who drive 65 MPH on this read should be ticketed. It’s not that I think there’s something dangerous about driving 65 MPH on this highway; it’s just that the speed limit is 55 MPH, and people should obey the law.” And then one replies, “Okay, you’re right; people should obey the law. So let’s raise the speed limit to 65 MPH on this road to reflect reality. Then people can drive at that speed without breaking the law.” But when they respond in horror, “No!!!!!! If anything, we should lower the speed limit to 45 MPH instead!!!!!!” you can get the sense that their original claim was a lie, and in fact their objection to people driving 65 mph had nothing to do with the fact that it was illegal.

      Prof. Somin’s post is not directed at those who forthrightly say, “There should be fewer people immigrating to the U.S.” It’s directed at those who pretend that their position is, “I have nothing against immigrants; I just think people should comply with the established procedures,” but who actually just want fewer people to come here.

      1. “You completely misunderstand the point. Some people say, “People who drive 65 MPH on this read should be ticketed. It’s not that I think there’s something dangerous about driving 65 MPH on this highway; it’s just that the speed limit is 55 MPH, and people should obey the law.” And then one replies, “Okay, you’re right; people should obey the law. So let’s raise the speed limit to 65 MPH on this road to reflect reality. Then people can drive at that speed without breaking the law.” But when they respond in horror, “No!!!!!! If anything, we should lower the speed limit to 45 MPH instead!!!!!!” you can get the sense that their original claim was a lie, and in fact their objection to people driving 65 mph had nothing to do with the fact that it was illegal.”

        Or, the objection to people driving 65 was that they originally thought the speed limit should be 45? Somin’s argument is that those people objecting really think that you shouldn’t be able to drive at all. So, it looks like you’ve completely misunderstood the point. And Somin’s argument is that there should be no speed limit at all.

      2. “It’s directed at those who pretend that their position is, “I have nothing against immigrants; I just think people should comply with the established procedures,” but who actually just want fewer people to come here.”

        So, it’s directed at approximately no one. The worst you could find is the vocally extreme racists who might want no Mexicans allowed, or no Jews allowed, or something absurd like that.

        You pretend that’s the argument so that you can completely ignore anyone who doesn’t agree with you. You argue, in bad faith, that anyone who doesn’t fully agree with your position is a liar. Which isn’t surprising, it’s the Democrat platform to redefine the terms of any argument they are losing. Double standards are the Democrats standard.

  50. “I’m for legal marijuana. I’m only against the illegal kind”

    So, I suppose you wanted to start off by immediately pointing out that your whole argument is based on an incredibly ridiculous false equivalence? Good job signalling early on that your post is shit that isn’t worth reading. Print it out on toilet paper, and I wouldn’t even use it to wipe my ass.

Please to post comments