More Big Government is Not the Solution to the Immigration Crisis
February 19, 2015—When a staggering 52,000 kids (toddlers to teenagers) were detained by US Customs and Border Protection last summer, it was an unprecedented crisis in American history. At a time when Obama was vulnerable to political attacks of corruption and incompetence, he actually gained popularity in his handling of the migrant/refugee situation. How could conservatives and Republicans drop the ball? Some may ask how couldn’t they.
What the public saw was the base, reactionary, mean mad dog face of the modern conservative movement. And not a single elected Republican voice of rationality offered the pro-liberty alternative. It’s time for liberty Republicans to raise the level of the immigration crisis debate.
Throughout this article you’ll come across videos of under-acknowledged libertarian and conservative voices for free immigration. Ronald Reagan proposing to “open the border both ways” and describing his vision of America as a shining city on a hill where “if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone.” Milton Friedman on illegal immigration as “a good thing” and the welfare conundrum. Grover Norquist on President Eisenhower’s approach. And more.
There is a tradition for libertarian Republicans to resurrect that will solve the immigration crisis.
Everyone wants common sense reform. Prevention of yet another unmanageable influx of migrants, refugees, illegal aliens (or pick your favorite immigrant label) should be a top priority. But there are no Pollyanna solutions for what happened (and what is bound to happen again) on the Southern border. Mass deportation and amnesty won’t work. Both require way too much government and would result in more unintended consequences.
So, what to do now? When pundits from all around are screaming at Washington D.C., “Don’t just stand there! Do something!” that should trigger our collective instinct to reply, “No! Undo something!”
As a general rule, politicians and their lackeys would rather you and me not question what policies brought us to a calamity. While Obama’s irresponsible allusions to amnesty should be called out, they should not be singled out. The task at hand demands more of us than simple scapegoats.
Illegal immigration should be seen as a symptom, not the disease itself. America can’t afford to hack at branches every few years while ignoring the root of the problem. Combine federal mandates to provide welfare to illegals with the violence in Central and South America exacerbated by the War on Drugs, and now America’s expected to be the policeman and caretaker of the world. Such policy is unsustainable. Not to mention unconstitutional.
I hear a lot of people ask this reasonable question: Why can’t El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries solve their own problems? After all, we Americans are the most charitable people in the world, but we’re limited in our resources, people say. The problem with this approach is the fact that Washington, D.C. has over the decades (and centuries) intervened in these foreign lands. Apparently D.C. doesn’t believe the resources of Americans are limited!
As someone who grew up listening to the likes of Michael Savage, I understand the arguments for closed or restricted national borders. They’re not exclusive to the right-wing, though many conservatives would like to think it’s the liberals who advocate open borders. Some on the left might claim to favor open borders, but usually that’s not the case. But “open borders” is a tricky term. What does it mean? Is it even an accurate description of the practical effects it presents as policy?
Open borders doesn’t mean no borders. It doesn’t even necessarily mean no immigration laws. It certainly doesn’t mean amnesty. What it means is recognition of human liberty and respect for the US Constitution.
By simply following the US Constitution, the president and Congress wouldn’t be there sowing the seeds of humanitarian disasters. We The People are the rightful ones to set policy on welfare and controlled substances through our localities and states. Up in the White House and Capitol they are supposed to guard the national security, not meddle abroad with puppet regimes. The American people must not settle with being mere spectators in this process.
The US Constitution also doesn’t grant any authority to the central government to regulate immigration. This comes as a shock to most, but it’s true. You won’t find the authority there. There is some power mentioned revolving around naturalization, but that’s not the same thing. The right to travel and trade labor is a right, and rights don’t stop at borders. In fact, one of the complaints against King George in the Declaration of Independence was his restrictions on immigration:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
All the federal government has been able to conjure up recently are schemes to reform the immigrant’s status, but not to actually address the broken immigration system. Fundamental change will have to start somewhere other than in the heart of Washington, D.C. So what should be the approach of the American people?
Say no to amnesty, yes to liberty. For the mass conservative, this seems untenable. But think about it this way. Freedom is paid for in personal responsibility and strife, not delivered by bureaucrats (even if those bureaucrats carry guns and patrol a border). As Americans, we owe immigrants nothing. But to acknowledge that they are endowed by the same creator with unalienable rights is not philanthropy or self-sacrifice. We don’t actually lose anything by opening up our borders.
Our rights do not come from government, they precede government. That means every single person now on American soil who isn’t a criminal ultimately has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – altogether that’s the right to work. I’m not talking about citizenship, granting voting privileges, expanding social services, or even the leftist idea of a “right to a job.” All of those things constitute amnesty. But green cards and visas? Simply recognizing residence sounds like a cheap and fair proposal to me. That would mean a more productive economy, growth in capital, and an increase in the standard of living for Americans.
Others disagree. They want to see tax dollars redistributed for a border wall built by politically-connected cronies. I wonder if they have considered these numbers:
With over 63,560 employees including 21,444 border agents and a near $13 billion annual budget, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the largest law enforcement agency of the federal government. Then there’s the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made of 19,330 employees and $5.34 billion annual budget. Yet these are small parts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which itself boasts an annual budget of over $60 billion. Their 10 arms-capable Predator drones are able to fly 22 hours at a time each, gathering 16,000 hours of surveillance a month. Isn’t this enough to secure the border? Does this not further a big government, big brother agenda at the expense of liberty and security?
Still, there will be others who want to see your tax dollars redistributed for complete amnesty, entitlements or more. I have to wonder if they’ve considered these facts:
The national debt is racing past $17.5 trillion. The US owes $1.4 trillion in public pensions with absolutely zero in savings to fund them. Shouldn’t America begin delivering on promises already made rather than making new ones? By increasing government spending, won’t newcomers to our country be greeted more as burdens instead of fellow contributors to a more prosperous economy?
Consider these figures then ask yourself what is to be the task at hand. Ought we to reform just the immigrant, or look within and truly reform our broken immigration system?
If conservatives and libertarians find common ground in gratitude for living in the freest country in the world, then the immigration crisis will be seen as a gift dropped into our laps. Let’s not spoil this opportunity with appeals to more government, but more appeals to belief in the optimism of America – where free people, free labor, and free trade build more prosperity and greater peace than the world could have imagined.
The key is understanding that government intervention in the economy and personal behavior has far-reaching consequences. Americans pay the price as do foreigners and it costs us all a great deal. So let liberty Republicans lead the way to winning America a great deal. One based in free trade, free labor, and free markets that will focus on downsizing and abolishing the welfare state and War on Drugs.
What do you think should be done about the immigration crisis? Make your voice heard in the comments.