Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Immigration punditry

A couple of conservative pundits on the immigration issue:


Activists who are organizing mass marches and demonstrations in cities across America may well be congratulating themselves on the huge numbers of people they can get to turn out to protest efforts in Congress to reduce illegal immigration.

No doubt that will impress many in the media and intimidate many politicians. But how these marches will be seen by millions of other Americans is another question entirely.

The Mexican flags and the strident assertions of a right to violate American laws are a danger signal to this society, as they would be to any society.

The releasing of children from schools to take part in these marches and the support of the marchers' goals by some religious leaders demonstrate that this contempt for the laws of the land has spread well beyond immigrant communities.

For some, this is just another extension of their general anti-establishment attitudes and activities. They are ready to protest virtually anything at any time.

Both liberals and free-market libertarians often see this as an abstract issue about poor people being hindered from moving to jobs by an arbitrary border drawn across the southwest desert.

Intellectuals' ability to think of people in the abstract is a dangerous talent in a world where people differ in all the ways that make them people. The cultures and surrounding circumstances of those people are crucial for understanding what they are likely to do and what the consequences are likely to be.

Some free-market advocates argue that the same principle which justifies free international trade in commodities should justify the free movement of people as well. But this ignores the fact that people have consequences that go far beyond the consequences of commodities.

Commodities are used up and vanish. People generate more people, who become a permanent and expanding part of the country's population and electorate.

It is an irreversible process -- and a potentially dangerous process, as Europeans have discovered with their "guest worker" programs that have brought in many Muslims who are fundamentally hostile to the culture and the people that welcomed them.

Unlike commodities, people in a welfare state have legal claims on other people's tax dollars and expensive services in schools and hospitals, not to mention the high cost of imprisoning many of them who commit crimes.

Immigrants in past centuries came here to become Americans, not to remain foreigners, much less to proclaim the rights of their homelands to reclaim American soil, as some of the Mexican activist groups have done.

In the wars that this country fought, immigrant groups were among the most patriotic volunteers, earning the respect of American citizens on the battlefield with their blood and their lives.

Today, immigrant spokesmen promote grievances, not gratitude, much less patriotism. Moreover, many native-born Americans also promote a sense of separatism and grievance and, through "multi-culturalism," strive to keep immigrants foreign and disaffected.

So here's the funny part. As my colleague Rich Lowry has noted, liberals and Democrats tend to oppose free trade agreements, most recently the Central America Free Trade Agreement, on the grounds that they "export American jobs" to underpaid Latin American workers. But the same people generally favor importing underpaid Latin American workers into the United States to take many of the same jobs. One hand giveth, the other taketh away. The cynicism in all of this is fairly breathtaking. It seems that what many liberals prefer is not preserving American jobs or bringing more undocumented workers, but importing undocumented Democrats.



  1. wow. i loved this article. thanks for citing it

    def worth a blogspot =)

  2. "Unlike commodities, people in a welfare state have legal claims on other people's tax dollars and expensive services in schools and hospitals..."

    I view this as a problem with the social services themselves. Immigrants just make a bad system worse. Further, they pay more in taxes (mostly through payroll taxes)than they take from social services.

    fact is, immigrants make our economy better. Remember, wealth is created, so the more people we have, the more wealth gets created. Cities like Miami prosper, thanks to all those Cubans. There's just no reason not to support amnesty.

  3. Illegal immigrants do not pay income tax or payroll tax unless they are using a counterfeit S.S. card.

    BTW, Miami has an astronomical crime rate. Is that your model for the future?

    Cuban immigrants are not illegal immigrants.

  4. MIami's crime rate is a not relevant to its economic prosperity. It's doing great, but we do need to get the crime under control. And there are tons of illegals in Cuba.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. anonymous, are you sure about the costs? Not according to this study:

    [quote]Based on Census Bureau data, the study estimates that households headed by illegal aliens used $10 billion more in government services than they paid in taxes in 2002. These figures are only for the federal government; costs at the state and local level are also likely to be significant. The study also finds that if illegals were given amnesty, the fiscal deficit at the federal level would grow to nearly $29 billion.[end quote]


    The full report is here:
    Those numbers are from 2003 and continue to climb, not lessen.

    Those are just a few numbers in this whole situation. Mexico has a $1 trillion plus economy. It's not our generousity that's the problem it's Mexico's corruption. Our politicians should really be putting the pressure back on Fox and compadres.


  7. Cuban immigrants are not illegals. They enjoy refugee status under the law. As a carryover from Cold War politics, they receive special treatment.

    Moreover, the original Cubans represent a different social class than Mexican illegals. The merchant class fled Cuba after Castro took over. That's quite different from the average illegal from Mexico.