A Plea to Conservatives on Immigration

My Forbes column this week is up, and it is a sort of open letter to Conservatives, trying to demonstrate that their stance against immigration is inconsistent with many of their other principles.  A quick exceprt:

Just to be clear, it is perfectly reasonable that the government might set restrictive or difficult eligibility requirements for participation in government activities we normally associate with citizenship, such as voting, holding office and receiving welfare benefits. But selling one's labor or participation in commerce are natural rights to which happenstance of birth location should be irrelevant. It should mean no more to these rights that someone is born today north or south of the Rio Grande river than it meant to our founding fathers that someone was born with or without a hereditary title.

  • Drex Davis

    Spot on. "Conservatives" need to realize that they are well along on the path toward a regulatory state as stifling and stultifying as anything "Liberals" have devised. The burdens they've been laying on "free market participants" in the name of immigration regulation have been extremely burdensome and inimical to freedom.

    There really aren't many conservatives left anymore . . . Just republicans who have tastes for different forms of regulation and intervention than do democrats.

  • Stan

    I agree on principle. But it does not necessarily follow that we should pursue an open border policy. I think, once you secured the border, many conservatives would be fine with a generous guest worker program, and even making the citizenship process easier. Unlike libertarians, conservatives more often believe natural rights have limits.

  • Jody

    At least the excerpt is a really weak argument in light of Uncle Miltie's rejoinder.

    Even with total immigration restriction, you (and your extranational counterpart) remain perfectly free to exchange labor and goods (and capital!) across borders. Thus both are able to sell one’s labor or participate in commerce without regard to the happenstance of birth location.

    However, goods and remotely contracted services have much lower external costs in the modern political socio-economy.

    The argument you're ultimately making is that forcing the exchange to occur via international trade adds cost to the transaction that would not be necessary if the exchange happened in person. But then to complete the argument, you must weigh the comparative costs of international versus in-person exchanges.

  • Mary

    I enjoy your thoughts on this issue - my first reaction was, "Duh, of COURSE!". I'd not thought the issue through - thank you.

    Having an open border would imply a series of changes, to wages, to how education, healthcare and public assistance is managed. Such coherence of policy is unlikely, but would be interesting to speculate about.

  • D-man

    So where in The Book Of Natural Rights do we find "and (The United States) shall protect each of them (the States) against Invasion"?

  • Dave

    In a free society, open immigration makes perfect sense. In a society where property rights can be revoked via a simple majority vote, open immigration is untenable.

    The above is a simple point, but I have given up hope that you will ever seriously address it. Like a global warming zealot, you prefer only to engage the weakest arguments of your opponents.

  • http://mangyredbonehound.wordpress.com/ mangyredbonehound

    I respectfully disagree. The fundamental premise of the column is that "[u]nder current immigration law, the government is in effect licensing labor, requiring that individuals get the government’s permission to work."

    This strikes me as little more than a fleshed out version of the “undocumented immigrant” label used as a euphemism for the term illegal alien. It presumes that there is nothing wrong with entering the country without permission, other than a failure to acquire the appropriate paperwork in advance, which makes it like my forgetting to carry my driver’s license when driving to the store to pick up a loaf of bread. No harm done, just forgot to bring the right papers.

    But the failure to carry or acquire the proper paperwork is not the essential violation. It is a crime to enter the country without permission. Period. So far as I know, it is a crime to enter any country without its permission. And why is that? Because once immigrants enter a country, there are consequences — for example, increased competition for employment, increased demand for housing, increased use of natural resources, increased burdens on infrastructure, and so on.

    More here if anyone is interested. http://mangyredbonehound.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/146/

  • http://evilredscandi.blogspot.com Evil Red Scandi

    @Kevin Spires - it's good that you've applied some thought to this, but I think you're glossing over the mechanisms through which free markets work: they balance supply and demand through the mechanism of price. In order for this to occur, the parties involved need reasonably transparent and accurate communication as to what the state of supply and demand are. If there was open communication to potential immigrants with regards to what jobs and opportunities are available, there would be mostly rational decisions made on the parts of people wanting to come here.

    What people need to get their heads around is that at the end of the day, markets always win. The only decision you can make is whether it's going to be a black market or a free market. Black markets are chaotic, inefficient, and often incorporate violence and chaos. Free markets are imperfect, but are pretty good and self-correcting as long as the government keeps its thumbs off of the scales. If people want stuff, they're going to get it. There is a heavy price to pay to interfere with this process, and people need to take hard and realistic looks at what and where it's worth it to stand in the way. Murder for hire? Certainly. Verifying the work eligibility of who mows your lawn? Not so much.

    I have a lot of friends and family that grew up in the Soviet Union, one of the most restrictive societies in the history of mankind. They had no free markets, but plenty of black ones taking up the slack for everything from blue jeans to hard currency, from video and audio tapes to hard drugs. You could literally be thrown into prison for owning a VHS tape of a James Bond movie - but people did it anyway. If black markets for something as trivial as that can't be stopped with levels of brutality and severity that we would (hopefully) never tolerate in this country, what hope do you think you have here?

    I live pretty close to the Mexican border. So close that I can see into Mexico from by bedroom window. I know very well the problems caused by current immigration situation. But I also understand that these problems are not caused by immigration itself, but by government policies written by people living in a world of make believe where every iota of human behavior can be modified by passing a law. It's caused by government policies that try to stop the laws of supply and demand on a scale that's just not possible in any society, especially a free one. At the end of the day, SB1070 is fighting the results of stupid and impractical government policies with another layer of stupid and impractical government policies.

  • Dr. T

    At the time of the Founding Fathers, new arrivals to our nation were not legally entitled to any government services: no free public schooling, no welfare, no food stamps, no WIC, no Medicaid, no Medicare, no free hospital ER visits, etc. There also were no minimum wage laws, no overtime pay laws, no maximum work hour laws, etc. New immigrants either worked to survive or lived off the charity of relatives, friends, or neighbors.

    Advocating open borders without eliminating taxpayer-financed handouts is a recipe for disaster. This isn't a conservative vs. liberal issue; it is a straight economic issue.

    We have to put the horse before the cart. First, we should establish a guest worker system that provides no government entitlements, that exempts guest worker employers from minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, that requires the guest workers to prove that they can pay for emergency medical care (either with insurance or escrowed health savings), and that requires them to pay if their children attend public school (unless they own and pay taxes on a home within the school district). When such a system is in place, then we can let in guest workers after minimal screening for communicable diseases and for nonpolitical criminal records.

  • GaryP

    I hate to say this, Coyote, but to use one of your phrases, "You've jumped the shark on this one."

    To say that natural law requires open borders is like saying natural law requires me to leave the doors to my home unlocked and to allow anyone to enter and live there.

    As your commentors have already pointed out (much better than I could) open borders are both a security and an economic disaster that will result in the destruction of the American system of government and our way of life.

    The goal of open borders is to bring in enough new voters with no stake in this country to ensure that the Democrats are never voted out and we cannot reverse the "Road to Serfdom" we are currently on. In essense, open borders are a slow-motion coup d'etat and you are a "useful idiot" (to use Lenin's phrase) to provide cover for the elites that wish to finalize the destruction of our nation.

    I realize that you have strong feeling on this but please, open your eyes to the results of what you advocate. I am sympathetic to a very large "guest worker" program but "guest workers" are not citizens and cannot vote. You are advocating the destruction of our country. Wake up!

  • Gil

    Would open borders be a global form of wealth redistribution? The poor of the world could migrate to the wealthiest parts of the world, compete with the native born and bring down the cost of labour. On the other hand, why should immigrants only compete with the low-skilled? T'was interesting to hear India also engages in high-skilled outsourcing such as software development.

  • me

    Interesting article. I agree with your stance on immigration in principle - the current system of governance is unwieldly, adds a high overhead cost to legal labor and selective and inconsistent enforcement against illegal work. None of these are conducive to a free market in which the participants are free to pursue their individual happiness.

    Now, there are a number of points I'd like to make:
    (1) The stance you take is probably more Liberal than Conservative. One problem: Both labels have no official shared or precise definition. So, your target audience might not sympathize with your stated beliefs.
    (2) Human beings tend to be very protective of what they perceive as a set of advantages they have and have trouble reflecting . It's probably built-in wiring. Overcoming mercantilism is all about realizing that there is added value in freer markets (as opposed to making sure lots of rules and process prevents members of what whatever the complement of the current in-group is from competing on an even footing)
    (3) There is an implicit assumptions you and me are probably making that isn't might be worth making more clear - allowing people to freely exchange labor doesn't imply that there are no overhead costs or rules associated with this exchange (ie, nobody gets a "free ride" on the social support systems in the US).
    (4) The corner case of "what if we completely opened the border" is one that needs more (and careful) argument. But that's a separate article in and all by itself.

    Thank you for taking such a very unpopular stance, because it's correct and beneficial and the people who should be pursuing it as part of their agenda have reverted to a rather primitive and shortsighted approach. To me, that represent the prototypical best of American values.

  • Streetfighter

    Once again the libertarian headless horseman rides! LOL Check out a thing called reality! lol

  • Survival

    Coyote Blog: There appear to be alot of intelligent bloggers commenting on this subject. I would, also, suggest that you rethink your stance on "open" borders. A beautiful thought ... however, Not realistic. This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue. This is a human issue. Secure America's borders "first" ... then, and Only then, can we even begin to workout the rest of the issue.

  • Survival

    One more thought, Coyote Blog. Conservatives are Not against immigration. In fact, Conservatives Love fellow immigrants. Conservatives are against "illegal" immigration. When someone has to "sneak" across the border of another country, they are "breaking the law" = "illegal".

  • Cardin Drake

    While I agree with several of your major premises, I just don't see where you are going with this. Are you seriously suggesting that the border be completely open, and anybody be allowed into the U.S. who wants to come in?
    I do think that most of the illegal immigrants are fundamentally just people who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their family, and I'm sympathetic to them as individuals.
    But either you have a completely open border, or you make some policies and you enforce them. And I don't see how a completely open border would work.
    Perhaps you could elaborate on that.

  • http://stopthebreathing.blogtownhall.com/ astonerii

    "Just to be clear, it is perfectly reasonable that the government might set restrictive or difficult eligibility requirements for participation in government activities we normally associate with citizenship, such as voting, holding office and receiving welfare benefits. But selling one’s labor or participation in commerce are natural rights to which happenstance of birth location should be irrelevant. It should mean no more to these rights that someone is born today north or south of the Rio Grande river than it meant to our founding fathers that someone was born with or without a hereditary title."
    1) Your a racist. You seem to think we only care about illegal aliens from Mexico. We also are concerned and care about illegal aliens from every single country that is not the United States of America.

    2) What is the purpose of government? Who gave government the power to exist? Where does the power come from? What reasons are there to have a government? Government is intended to protect the rights of the people who created it. Government is granted power from We the People, those natural rights for which you so valiantly speak, within those natural rights is the right to defend ones property, a power which we have granted to our government, and our private property consists of of every single square inch of land encompassed by the defined borders. The powers are the natural human rights endowed upon us from our creator and then endowed upon our representative government. Defend our defined borders and protect the residents from outside forces, not all of which happen to be armies, would be one big reason to have a government.

    3) Eligibility requirements will mean nothing if we are overwhelmed to the point that those who come here demand through use of force to be part of the government, they may just kill us all if we do not cater to their needs and their numbers, up to 6,000,000,000 people are not currently citizens of the United States of America and with your natural rights argument to work anywhere in the world, nothing stops them from coming here and taking your company away from you, they have the natural right to work anywhere regardless of border, and that means regardless of your private enterprise or home border as well.

    4) So looking at your rant, it certainly seems as though you are no longer a libertarian, but a pure anarchist, and you want to talk about a governor having jumped the shark, you have gone completely Andrew Sullivan and Little Green Footballs over this issue. Congratulations.

  • Frederick Davies

    "Just to be clear, it is perfectly reasonable that the government might set restrictive or difficult eligibility requirements for participation in government activities we normally associate with citizenship, such as voting, holding office and receiving welfare benefits. But selling one’s labor or participation in commerce are natural rights to which happenstance of birth location should be irrelevant. It should mean no more to these rights that someone is born today north or south of the Rio Grande river than it meant to our founding fathers that someone was born with or without a hereditary title."

    Just from that paragraph I can see three easy problems with your stance:

    1. In reality giving illegal immigrants indefinite leave to stay (as they say in Britain) implies they will eventually become citizens. Your contention that presence in the country can be separated from citizenship is historically untrue in the case of the USA (do not dare mention that they manage to do it in Saudi Arabia or Switzerland, those are different countries with different cultures and politics; this is not a point of Law or principle, just a point of fact). In practice, in the USA "open borders" implies "open citizenship", which is a perfectly fine stance to take, but if that is your position, you should state it clearly instead of hiding behind factually false assumptions.

    2. Considering the medium we are using for this conversation, your equating physical presence in the country with the ability to sell one's labour is ridiculous. The Arizona law that started all this mess does not stop any Mexican selling his labour to any American via the Internet, it just stops him from physically being in the country to do so. As a result your attempt to tar the conservative position as incompatible with natural rights is a lie.

    3. Even from the Libertarian point of view, arbitrary restrictions on aliens' presence in public grounds (territory common to all who are citizens, but outside their private property) would be perfectly valid, whether they be decided by unanimous consent, some form of mayority vote, or hereditary entitlement. You do not need to be an anacho-capitalist to be a libertarian.

  • Kill The Tyrants

    Yes-now this guy is a TRUE conservative..He proves that the right see illegal immigrants as cheap labor and merely want to use them to get around all those pesky labor laws we has passed over the last century or so....That's exactly why we need regulation..People are the same greedy savage animals they were 100 years ago,we just have cooler toys now..

  • GaryP

    Coyote,

    "It is perfectly reasonable that the government might set restrictive or difficult eligibility requirements for participation in government activities we normally associate with citizenship, such as voting, holding office and receiving welfare benefits"

    How naive are you? There are restrictions on the these activities and they are routinely ignored. If illegals are in this country, they "will be voting, holding office and receiving welfare payments." The goal of the Alinsky cabel (Obama and is minions) is to overwhelm our current system of government by insupportable welfare costs and to use any means necessary to retain power. Using illegals to vote "early and often" already occurs anywhere there are ACORN or SEIU operatives. Saying it is OK to have uncontrolled illegal immigration and trusting a corrupt government not to use those people for their own ends is incredibly naive.

  • GaryP

    Not to beat an expired quadriped but:

    Just out: Philidelphia will not allow the Immigration guys to see their arrest records.
    Obviously, this is to prevent illegals from being picked up. Even criminal illegals are to be protected because they are great candidates to assist in the takeover of our government using illegals to vote in the "right" (ie, Democrat) candidates. We have already seen voting precincts were more votes are tallied than they have registered voters.
    Either bury your head in the sand and let this coup occur or help get control of illegals by closing the border and setting up a guest worker program with some tough controls on non-citizen behaviour.

  • Mark

    Forbes will love your stand on illegal immigration. They have always been for corporations breaking labor laws if it will make them a buck - and I know since I have read the magazine for a long time.

  • Commenter

    How is allowing people in to live and work, but not vote, different from apartheid? If you do not support allowing all new arrivals to exercise all of their natural rights you are heading towards a situation of social unrest. In contrast, if you support unlimited immigration with full rights and no deliberate integration policies, you are advocating the overthrow of our society. So, most people feel a balance of allowing a limited number of people in, with full rights, to be the best solution.

  • bryab

    Nice work Warren! You certainly stirred a hornets nest at Forbes. Three things I find amazing:
    1. How many people comment here and there with the "illegal=illegal=illegal and so they are bad and wrong and you are stupid because you can't understand ILLEGAL IS BAD", when it is fairly obvious that you are suggesting we alter our laws to make it so that more of these people wouldn't be illegal. You think they would support you since you are advocating reducing the amount of those bad illegal things!
    2. I think it is important to take on such issues from a moral perspective before you address practical and utilitarian concerns, otherwise you run the risk of advocating eugenics and other such distasteful and liberty destroying policies. I think that is mostly what your doing hear, and pretty much all the arguments returned are utilitarian and ignore the moral issue... unless you consider the one above a moral argument. Namely I would like to hear someone explain a consistent moral philosophy that advocates individual liberty AND includes a reason for valuing the comfort of Americans over the lives of foreigners. Excluding the "we built this country" schtick because I'm pretty sure no one commenting picked up a musket in the 18th century.
    3. How many people are blowing you off as a liberal. HA!

  • Jody

    I think it is important to take on such issues from a moral perspective before you address practical and utilitarian concerns, otherwise you run the risk of advocating eugenics and other such distasteful and liberty destroying policies. I think that is mostly what your doing hear, and pretty much all the arguments returned are utilitarian and ignore the moral issue… unless you consider the one above a moral argument. Namely I would like to hear someone explain a consistent moral philosophy that advocates individual liberty AND includes a reason for valuing the comfort of Americans over the lives of foreigners.

    Utilitarianism is a consistent moral philosophy.

    ....

    Picking out for valuing the comfort of Americans over the lives of foreigners for special treatment, that same logic makes for an equally good (or bad) argument for all sorts of Progressive leveling programs, right?

    For example, why do you need the comfort of your property when Joe over there is dying? Of course you know of the negative ROI that results from separating ownership which in turn leads to making everyone worse off.

    Now the two are clearly not the same situations, but the logic is the same as you formulated it (and it's a moral utilitarian argument to boot!), namely, you should give up X to make the other person better off because it'll increase their lot in life more than it will decrease yours.

  • caseyboy

    First and foremost I hope all conservatives are in favor of enforcing our Federal laws. If they are bad laws we should work to change them, however, for so long as the law is what it is, illegal immigrants are just that, ILLEGAL. Get out and get in line.

    I'd look at open borders more favorably if we could greatly reduce entitlements. As long as someone can cross our border legally or illegally and then claim some type of assistance (paid by taxpayers) I am against open borders.

    Lets fine ways to make legal immigration faster and easier, especially for those that have something to offer in exchange for the opportunities this country offers. After all they want to come here for a reason. Doesn't it make sense to make sure they are here to pursue their dreams through hard work rather than receive our tax dollars and treasure.

  • Shawn

    In a world with no tax on labor or wages (income taxes, FICA, Medicare etc.), your argument for an open labor market may make sense. That is, if there is no governmental burden imposed on work, there is no reason for the government to care or regulate who works. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. The competitive advantage of some illegal labor is the ability for the laborer to work outside of the system.
    Your answer, of course, would be that this why we need a guest worker program to bring those laborers into the system. However, to make such a claim, the assumption that must be is that the guest worker program will be enforced with such gusto that it will prevent circumvention by those that will seek to obtain a competitive advantage in the labor market by working without registering for the guest worker program to avoid the tax.
    By looking at the way the government enforces the existing rules, which are much less complex than a guest worker program, there is little reason to believe a guest worker program will be enforced with less ineptitude than the current laws. All that a new program will do, if implemented before enforcement becomes competent, is create a new bureaucracy (the guest worker administration) and a new class of illegal workers (illegal immigrants that do not participate in the guest worker program).

  • bryan

    Jody,
    Not sure what you are trying to say exactly, but when you "picked out" that line you made it a little out of context when you left off the "advocates individual liberty" part. That is the clear difference, my insistence that using gov't force to discriminate against individuals is wrong (pro-liberty) is not the same as advocating the use of gov't force to steal from one person to give to another (pro-liberal). Where you go from there seems to suggest that you have to give something up in order for someone to immigrate to this country, and that is simply not the case. Zero sum fallacy. There is not one american pie, each new citizen does not cause your slice to shrink.

    A devout utilitarian might have a consistent philosophy, but I wouldn't call it moral. And it isn't consistent beyond that person because it all depends on who's utility you are trying to maximize.
    This is of course besides the point because I'm certain that no one making the utilitarian arguments would claim to be guided solely by utilitarian principles. Conservatives seem to be guided much more by a sense of what is "fair", and I think that is what most of the anti-immigrant arguments boil down to, "illegal=illegal" really means "they didn't play by the rules i play by, that isn't fair". And the desire to restrict immigration is "America is ours Mexico is theirs, switching teams isn't fair". Both of those arguments are fine, but I think being born in a 3rd world shit hole is kind of unfair too.

  • bryan

    Shawn,
    I agree that we need to reform our system of gov't handouts before opening up immigration, but I don't think there is as much of a problem on the tax paying side as you say. In my experience most illegal workers and the companies that hire them pay the required taxes, of course this varies by area and industry, but it's more advantageous for a company to take advantage of the cheaper labor while still maintaining plausible deniability than to out and out flout the law and risk huge penalties and jail time. I think the vast majority of companies and workers would rather operate above board if given the option. What you are saying is sort of analogous to the argument that even if we legalized drugs it wouldn't reduce crime because people would still buy from a gangsta' on the street corner to avoid sales tax.

  • shawn

    Brian -

    Taxes was an example, not the only issue. There are other governmental interventions in the labor market that can be circumvented by use of illegal labor. For example, minimum wage laws. In addition, other laws are not envoked by illegals for fear of their immigration status being discovered -- less workers comp claims, OSHA standard claims etc. These all give an employer a reason to hire outside of the system. Eliminate all of these government interventions and a completely open labor market makes sense. But, as long as some intervention is in place, it should be applicable to all market participants.

    Absent complete governmental withdrawal from labor market intervention, it comes down to a matter of enforcement of the rules (whatever they are). That is where the problem lies.

  • bryan

    Shawn, of all the things you've listed the only item that I would buy is significant enough to encourage working outside the system would be minimum wage, which should be gotten rid of for a multitude of reasons. And still, I think it only effects the most unskilled jobs (agricultural industry). In other industries it is already impossible to hire low skilled illegals at the current minimum wage.
    I agree that labor market intervention should go the way of the dodo, and whatever the rules are they should be enforced fairly and uniformly, but I think people underestimate the severity of the penalties and the amount of active enforcement that we do currently have. My point is that there already is a large incentive to hire even illegal workers "above board", and finding some way to make those workers legal would only increase it.

  • Jody

    Where you go from there seems to suggest that you have to give something up in order for someone to immigrate to this country, and that is simply not the case. Zero sum fallacy. There is not one american pie, each new citizen does not cause your slice to shrink.

    I was not making the zero-sum suggestion. I was saying that by you writing valuing the comfort of Americans over the lives of foreigners, the comparison was *your* assumption.

    Also FWIW, the trade of comfort for life (as *you* wrote) is not "zero-sum", but "strictly competitive" (i.e., the loss in utility to one is not exactly equal to the gain in utility to the other).

    And FWIW 1.8 million google hits would seem to put utilitarianism within the traditional realm of moral philosophy. (http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=moral+utilitarianism&aq=f&aqi=g1g-m1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=CfDo7V1EuTM_BHYXyzASyxoD_CwAAAKoEBU_Qs4GZ&gs_upl=3593%2C140%2C14%2C4%2C93%2C141%2C8%2C5&fp=4cb5f508e49085f6)

    And the best part - we're on the same page as far as the immigration debate goes. I'm just cleaning up inconsistencies.

  • bryan

    Jody,
    Well, i appreciate the help with the inconsistencies, but i think if they are there it has more to do with my writing ability than my logic. I suppose the sentence cited above wasn't a good one, but I was trying to paraphrase the anti-immigrant view, that we need to limit immigration to protect "our way of life", or our jobs or reduce crime etc.. I wasn't conceding that it was a valid point.
    Your google hit counter isn't going to do much to dissuade my opinions on utilitarianism. But that is beside my point which was just that we should concern ourselves first with protecting everyone's basic human rights and AFTER that worry about policies that maximize utility.

  • shawn

    As you said, the current system is created upon an employer showing "plausible deniability". With any guest worker program, how do you stop the creation of a new "plausible deniability" system.

    Any new system is just a different name for the same thing until the government can show some competence at enforcing the rules.

    Either there needs to be no rules or rules that exist need to be enforced.

    If there was confidence that a new guest worker program would be implemented in a competent manner, there would be overwhelming support.

  • bryan

    Shawn, I'd agree... except that if you demand the gov't become competent before any changes are made, that is no different than saying no changes can be made.

  • shawn

    Bryan,

    Yes! That is the whole point. The government should not create a whole new incompetent, toothless, labor licensing bureaucracy that has no effect.

  • twice guessing

    "their stance against immigration" What??? When did conservatives come out against immigration? I had thought better of you. I guess you're just like all other hacks - twist your debate opponents words and be intellectually dishonest to try to score points.

    Conservatives are not against immigration, so long as it is controlled and done legally. And not many citizens of this country, conservative or not, are for illegal immigration.

  • http://herdgadfly.blogspot.com/ gadfly

    Warren:

    Lets get some terminology straight, because words are not as Obama says "just words," they mean something. "Immigrants" are those who lawfully migrate into a place, while "illegal aliens" are those who cross borders in violation of laws.

    The U.S. Constitution's Article I, Section 8 grants the U.S. Congress power, “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” The 14th Amendment to that contract says, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside,” because through the War Between the States it was assumed that each state had the right to determine who had rights of citizenship and who didn't. Of course, the proviso, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” means that some are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; but the U.S. Constitution says nothing else about aliens, other than they can't hold federal office.

    Article I, Section 10 details the powers prohibited from the states, yet nothing limits any state's authority over illegal aliens within its borders. In fact, this section's prohibition against states declaring war is restrained by, “unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.” Arizona's S.B. 1070 has been the focus of the liberals, the media and perhaps Warren Meyer, but in fact, Article II, Section 35 of the Arizona Constitution already specifically denies illegal aliens citizen rights. Article XVIII, Section 10 actually denies illegal aliens any employment rights.

    So the Arizona constitution trumps your statement that:

    Under current immigration law, the government is in effect licensing labor, requiring that individuals get the government's permission to work.

    Any administrative procedures put in place by the AZ governor and legislature to assure compliance with the Constitution would generally be considered prudent and necessary but certainly not abusive.

    As for Governor Brewers concern for increased cross-border activity by two drug gangs who are (1)fighting among themselves, (2)fighting the Mexican Army (at the behest of Felipe Calderón, who got his marching orders from Obama)and (3) suffer economically because oil demand is down, putting Mexico's economy in the tank. While Gov. Brewer did not have her facts straight about beheadings in AZ, these despicable deaths are happening almost daily in Mexico, perpetrated by the drug cartels.

    So we can conclude that Arizona needed no additional laws to enforce its own constitution and that all the feints toward brown-skin social injustice is all about socialism, which I would think Warren Meyer would not favor. True Conservatives are not racist, but we need for nt-picking libertarians to get on top of the concepts of public safety and rule of law and cool their jets about individual rights not granted in an orderly society.

    We have ignored the flood of illegals since Reagan's 1986 Amnesty and their population has quadrupled. What happens if and when we were to adopt a totally open borders policy?

  • forest

    I'm a conservative, and I have no "stance against immigration". That's a straw man worthy of Barack Obama himself.

    I'm in favor of permissive immigration and guest worker policies, but the anarchy we have now is no good. Enforcing a defined border and maintaining a defined concept of citizenship are two basic thing that government is supposed to do to create an environment where commerce can flow freely and personal and property rights can be protected. I don't think it makes me a progressive to expect government to provide some law and order and enforce parameters of citizenship along with national borders.

  • http://http//www.tinyvital.com/blog John Moore

    Once more, Coyote conflates a free labor market with open borders. As others have pointed out, open borders creates much more than free labor - it creates a flood of immigrants into a nation which is not heartless enough to let those who cannot earn their keep starve, and those who cannot earn their medical care die. In other words, from a utilitarian economic standpoint, the approach is folly.

    But there's more to this than labor and economics. How about national sovereignty? Does Coyote value American exceptionalism? Our Constitution for example? If so, does he consider it worth defending? Some of us have put our lives where our mouths are on that regard.

    America cannot remain America with unconstrained immigration.

    I challenge Coyote to point to any modern nation that has open borders.

  • bobby b

    Piling on, I know, but . . .:

    Yeah, in a perfect world, we'd all merely be EarthHumans, without further division into nations or states or races or clubs or maybe even genders. All would be our siblings in arms, all would have an equal right to share in our wealth, just as we would have to share in theirs. It'd be (sniff) beautiful, man!

    Well, okay, no it wouldn't. Here's why:

    Those of us who live in the USofA enjoy a standard of living that, on average, exceeds 94% of the rest of the world. Due to an abundance of resources, and to a market-based economic system that, for so many of the important formative years, kept government out of the way of expansion and investment and achievement, we've developed into an incredibly efficient machine for producing the foods and the products and the concepts that everyone in the world wants to buy, and we've been selling to them at a nice clip, and we've managed to gather a very highly disproportionate share of the world's goodies unto ourselves because of this.

    Think of our border as a cell membrane. Take off a pressurized cell's outer covering, and the internal cellular pressure will bleed right out until inside and outside pressure are equal.

    Open our borders - meaning, place no quantitative restriction on entry - and people will flood into our country seeking the disproportionately high wages we've been paying due to our internal scarcity of labor.

    This influx will continue until labor becomes much less scarce - so scarce, in fact, that the average auto worker will command the wage of a Thai tennis show canvas sewer, or a Mexican assembler of spark plugs.

    Why would we agree to do that? Why would we voluntarily give away our status as the luckiest rich people in the world?

    Frankly, were our government to begin seriously suggesting such a course, I believe that assassination would come back into vogue.

  • hunter

    This position of yours explains why you let your Climate Skeptic blog got taken over by trolls.
    You apparently confuse asking for an orderly conversation with censorship over there, and you confuse a lawless immigration non-policy with interfering with a free market over here.
    The logical extension of your philosophy into banking would be to the effect that bank robbers are simply acting to cure their money shortage.
    A free market is not the same as a lawless market.
    A dialog where all parties are allowed to speak is not censorship.
    Walls, vaults, etiquette, and borders are restrictions that allow free markets to work.
    How can there be a free market if the market is overwhelmed by and dismantled or drowned out by fraudulent ill mannered impersonators?

  • beasn

    New immigrants either worked to survive or lived off the charity of relatives, friends, or neighbors.

    Um, it was still that way when my in-laws came to this country in the 50s. And it should be that way now.

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