Archived: What Immigration Problem?

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Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia have each enacted stringent laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Before saying more, let’s be clear about the alleged problem. What is an “illegal immigrant”? It’s simply a person — possessing natural rights, mind you — who comes to the United States without the permission of the U.S. government. Now isn’t it curious that in this country, which began in rebellion against and secession from an empire, people are upset about other people moving around without government permission? In revolutionary times the smuggler of goods was a hero, and the customs agent was a villain.

If we were true to the best parts of our heritage today the “illegal” would be a hero, and the border agent would be a villain.

This shows how far we have slipped from America’s substantially libertarian origins. This is really quite sad.

Imagine if we Americans needed government permission to move from state to state. We’d be appalled at the hassle, not to mention the grave interference with our freedom. Would we put up with it? I hope not.

Then what is the justification for having an elaborate, presumptuous, tax-financed bureaucracy whose purpose is to determine who may live in this country? Rights belong to all human beings, not just to Americans. Note that the Constitution expressly protects the rights of persons, not just those of American citizens.

But, we are told, a country is not a country without secure borders. Why? This premise goes unexamined.
A country is defined by its traditions and attitudes rather than by its border checkpoints and armed guards. It is disheartening to hear people claim to believe that America is not synonymous with government and yet favor harsh measures to “secure our border” and stop free migration.

All the economic arguments for stemming the flow of immigrants fall when examined even casually. The nativists can’t quite get their story straight. Are the newcomers ambitious go-getters trying to “take our jobs,” or are they freeloaders planning to collect welfare? Those who are afraid of the former fail to understand that people not only produce when they hold jobs, but also consume. Newcomers expand the market and the division of labor, which Adam Smith taught us is the path to higher living standards. Some opponents of immigration bring up the current high unemployment as an objection. But that is purely a government-produced phenomenon, and it has nothing to do with immigrants. Seriously, scapegoating does not become us.

As for any government-financed services that immigrants might use, let’s not forget that they also pay a good deal in taxes. There’s no reason to think they are a net drain on the welfare state.

But that is really beside the point. If we don’t want people living off the taxpayers — and this should apply to American citizens as well — we should transfer welfare services to private charity and the free market.

There is no good reason for government — the essence of which is physical force — to be running schools and hospitals, which are the tax-financed facilities most likely to be used by immigrants. I really see no moral difference between a citizen and a noncitizen taking advantage of a government program. The most objectionable aspect of government largess is not who accepts it but how the politicians obtain the resources that they then distribute. Taxation is robbery.

Finally, there is a good deal of worry on the Right these days that immigration is making “white America” a thing of the past. Those who hold this view say earlier immigration presented little concern because most newcomers were European and could assimilate into American culture. But this is selective memory in the first degree: virtually every group from Europe was at one time spoken of in the same degrading and alarmist terms as are today’s Latino and Muslim immigrants. In fact, as Thaddeus Russell documents in his fascinating book, A Renegade History of the United States, almost every European immigrant group — including Italians, Irishmen, Poles, and Jews — were initially not considered to be white! As a result, many of the new immigrants felt close to blacks and African-American culture. Only with the passage of time were they admitted into the ranks of the white race by the establishment.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.

Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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6 Comments


  1. MORE POLITICIANS ARE HEADING FOR THE FINISHING LINE TO ENACT E-VERIFY

    Every day now the House of Representatives are moving this most crucial of bills, to institute E-VERIFY–Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885.) It is political anguish to learn that Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) and many Democrats are withholding many other bills from reaching the Senate floor. Nevada is currently another epicenter for swarms of illegal migrants and immigrants who headed there to work, before the housing boom collapse. Senator Reid of all people should desire to begin the removal of illegal aliens, who have moved into the state and living of taxpayers. As of today they are progressing quite rapidly towards a ‘Balance Budget Amendment’ so that the federal government can at least in essence, establish a platform for keeping discretionary spending down. No matter how it hurts—as painful as it is– we must start to reduce the 15 Trillion dollars, However, having to Repeat continuously a wearisome mantra, that this country has a colossal illegal immigration problem and that its emptying the welfare safety-net for the legal population falls on deaf ears, specifically in the Liberal section of Democrats. To telescope the estimated $113 billion (Heritage Foundation) dollar figure and climbing, so we must demand that both Democrats and Republicans sponsor these run away arrears.

    CALL TODAY! AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

    Phone the Washington switchboard at 202-224-3121 and then undeviating callers to all House Representatives, accountable for moving Chairman Lamar Smith’s ‘Legal Workforce Act’ (bill H.R.2885) to the House floor and enactment. Call the ‘Ways and Means Committee led by Majority Speak John Boehner (R-OH) must adopt the Mandatory E-Verify Bill (H.R. 2885.) and should be under ceaseless condemnation of challenging voters, as never before. In just over two weeks, American activists have added Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Reps. Shelley Moore…


  2. “we are told, a country is not a country without secure borders. Why? ”
    Well for one thing you now have two sets of rules. Citizens and legal immigrants must pay ALL their taxes and all, but the very wealthy, have little to no means of hiding their income from the Government. When legal residents go to the hospital they will be charged and billed for services until they pay off their bill or until the end of time, which ever comes first. Citizens are required to perform jury duty and serve in the armed forces if called upon, they have no choice. Legal residents are required to have a drivers license and insurance before they drive, etc., etc., etc. In other words citizens and legal immigrants are required to follow ALL the laws of the Country or face the very real consequences. They are not allowed to pick and choose.

    Illegal immigrants start off by breaking rules the moment they enter the Country illegally or over stay their visa. They only pay the taxes they have to or want to. If they feel the need to drive they do. If they are ill they go to the hospital and are cared for, if they wish to pay they do if not they don’t. They can commit some crimes and may not stand trial but be deported. Then they return illegally again. Etc., etc., etc.

    Although you can’t see how these things may rightfully piss some people off doesn’t mean that legal residents don’t have a right to their feelings of injustice.

    One of the must ironic things about this article is that the author seems to want the same type of government, or lack of government, that is practiced in many of the countries that illegal immigrants come from. However most people come here, whether legally or illegally, because of the life our laws have been able to provide to our residents. All backed by and secured by our government.


  3. yo Sheldon….You are soooo Liberal that You REEK!!!–if you want to support the 3rd world South American’s nations, then Fine, move on down Mexico way!!…but last time I looked the Constitution of these United States does NOT require Me, as a Taxpaying, Voting Citizens to support LAWBREAKERS…Really what part of the word ILLEGAL is puzzelling you…???!!!!???!!!!!!!!!!!

    numbersUSA.org–Stop the Stupidity!!
    JudicialWatch.org–Sign the Petition…Tell Your State Gov’t to Enforce Existing Immigration Laws…DUH!!!


  4. Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

    The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

    Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

    What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

    How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

    And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.


  5. Reasonable people can disagree about what level of immigration there should be, and we should in any event be spending more time and effort to ensure that however many immigrants we have are successfully assimilating.

    Here’s my top-ten list of what we should expect from those who want to become Americans (and those who are already Americans, for that matter). The list was first published in a National Review Online column a decade ago [link: http://old.nationalreview.com/comment/comment091200d.shtml ], and it is fleshed out in Congressional testimony [link: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/May2007/Clegg070523.pdf ]:

    1. Don’t disparage anyone else’s race or ethnicity.
    2. Respect women.
    3. Learn to speak English.
    4. Be polite.
    5. Don’t break the law.
    6. Don’t have children out of wedlock.
    7. Don’t demand anything because of your race or ethnicity.
    8. Don’t view working and studying hard as “acting white.”
    9. Don’t hold historical grudges.
    10. Be proud of being an American.


  6. Oh my goodness. EGP News publishes possibly the most moronic defense of illegal immigration ever…and then has a disclaimer above the comments that virtually assures that anyone trying to respond to this laughably idiotic opinion piece will not be published. I mean, seriously, how else can any reasonable person respond to that nonsense up there without calling it what it is?

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