We have seen this movie before: Congress is rushing to vote an unread bludgeon of an immigration reform bill that does nothing to reform immigration.
This is getting predictable, tedious and boring. Neither party has had an original thought on the immigration issue in decades – the Republicans would send the National Guard to the border, while the Democrats would send Rev. Al Sharpton to Phoenix.
It is easy to criticize Arizona’s decision to enforce federal immigration law when you don’t live in Arizona. Libertarians are conflicted: property rights and personal safety need to be protected - indeed that is the first and only rightful purpose of government. On the other hand, we oppose restrictions on the free flow of labor across borders.
But this dilemma is not resolved by the false choice between amnesty and deportation; neither approach will solve the problem off illegal immigration. That will only be solved by making immigration legal.
The reason we have millions of illegal immigrants in this country is that the process to admit them legally is totally broken down. That is the problem that needs to be fixed – that is why people come here illegally. Neither party has addressed this fundamental problem in its reform proposals.
It can take several years to get a visa to come here work legally; the system is full of quotas, loopholes, preferences, restrictions, corruption, and at the end of the day, decisions are arbitrary, political, and irrational. NAFTA was supposed to facilitate labor migration among the three North American countries - it has made things more complicated and difficult.
Labor is like any other over-regulated market - prohibitions and quotas create black markets and criminal enterprise whose effects on the community are much worse than the underlying free market effects the government originally sought to dampen.
In an unregulated labor market, where it would be easy to immigrate and emigrate legally, people would come and work for a while, save some money, and then go home. The inflow and outflow of labor would be managed by supply and demand, not by armed criminal gangs.
Labor moves around the world every day; Americans are up in the Oil Sands of Alberta, setting up factories in China, running banks, building roads and bridges, mining coal, and teaching in Universities all over the world – we work there for a while and then we come home. We are not unique – transactional labor is commonplace.
It is ridiculous that 3rd world countries can figure out how to admit, welcome, and track temporary foreign workers routinely while our own government continues to dork it up year after year.
In recent years, we have kicked the insanity up a notch: while we have made it nearly impossible to come here legally and work, we offer generous welfare benefits to people who come here illegally and don’t work. And our minimum wage laws drive the illegal immigrants and business owners into a criminal underground economy. Lastly, our drug laws add violence and gangs into the mix.
None of these are immigration problems; they are the consequences of welfare, economic interventionism, and prohibition policies.
These ill-advised government programs are not only attracting undesirables from abroad, they are producing home-grown undesirables in far larger numbers. They should be dismantled for the good of citizens and non-citizens alike.
Securing the border does nothing to alleviate the perverse incentives that welfare, tax, economic, prohibition, and our newly minted health care entitlement policies create. And amnesty for those here now will only encourage more to come tomorrow.
Immigration is a good thing, and open borders are a good thing. We are a nation built upon the character, drive, and idealism of people from all over the world who came here to work, to own property, to start a business, to live in Liberty. We need many more of them, and we need many less of the deadbeats who come for a handout.
The only real solution to illegal immigration is to make labor migration legal, to dismantle the welfare state magnet for undesirables, and then to let free markets manage the flow of documented workers across borders.
“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.