President Obama recently indicated his intention to pursue immigration reform as a priority. Although there are many other projects on the administration plate, this is one that warrants attention.
You would think Pandora’s box had been opened anew to judge the negative attention the floating of this important issue has engendered. Talk radio and cable news have given the matter some time and most of the comments center around three points: economy, jobs, and border security. There may be other threads but these seem to be the hottest.
On the economy, immigration critics are saying that the economic recession is still a serious matter and Obama can’t afford to be spending time on immigration now. Frankly, I wish Obama and his administration would keep their meddling, interventionist paws off economic matters. No one can afford the government policies of deficit spending, which can only lead to destruction of capital, excessive taxation, and a permanently depressed economy.
On jobs it is the old saw that all these immigrants are taking away American jobs. Most of the immigrants in the US right now are already holding jobs so I don’t think the threat is very real. Also, if you favor–as I do–a free market in jobs as well as everything else, then the only fear being expressed is that some immigrant might be able to do a particular job better than you can and for less wages. Jobs are not ends in themselves but means to ends. Wealth and capital formation are developed by the productive efforts of individuals. The US should be competing with other countries to attract anyone who wants to come to the US and work. A growing economy needs these workers. Finally, immigration is not about you. It is about the immigrants, who are individuals like you except that they risk their very lives to come to the US and seek a better future to everyone’s benefit. Everyone, immigrant or native born, should have the opportunity to be productive wherever they want.
On border security there is the assumption by some that walls or other emblems of statism need to be constructed on US borders before opening up the flow of legal immigrant traffic. Two things come to mind immediately. First, if there is open immigration there is no one coming illegally. That fact alone would reduce the burden for border agents to simply checking documentation rather than using armed force to round up women and children as well as potential breadwinners and sending them packing back to whatever hell they escaped from.
Secondly, the main border security issues stem from the illegal drug trade and the associated crime that permeates the continent. Ending drug prohibition would curtail that problem very quickly, as well as the extreme costs associated with drug law enforcement. A quieter border would result, making it much easier to expend resources on legitimate government work like catching terrorists, criminals, pirates or others who threaten US borders and shorelines.
So, in a rare–for me–show of support for Obama, I say get on with immigration reform. Just don’t foul it up.
Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske