Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Welcome, New Immigrants!
I'm sure that most people have heard about the recent influx of people, including many children, coming over the border. This is part of a long-term trend of many thousands of people coming to this country "illegally" over the last several decades. I'm no fan of putting children in dangerous situations, but as long as children are taken care of by their parents or guardians, I don't mind at all how many people decide to come live here.
I didn't use to think this way. Before I became a libertarian, I used to hold a typical conservative view on immigration. I believed that there was a right way and a wrong way to come into the country. I didn't really think about the reasons behind it all so I just accepted the laws without question. And then I was led to a blog post about immigration by Connor Boyack. I had read some of Connor's writings before and, at the time, I thought he was a conservative like me. I read the first sentence of his blog post and it said, "I, an advocate of liberty and staunch defender of the Constitution, support amnesty for illegal immigrants." I couldn't believe it. I simply could not understand how a conservative could support such a thing. So I was driven to understand how he came to his conclusion. It was a very long blog post but I read it all, and by the end of it, I had completely changed my perspective on immigration and I no longer recognized governmental authority to interfere with the free movement of individuals. Thus began my journey into liberty.
Looking back on it, it is interesting that Connor did not use the non-aggression principle as his main argument. He mostly used the U.S. Constitution and he showed how the government has violated it in order to keep people out of the country. I strongly recommend that you read that blog post. It is long, but you will learn some really cool things about the constitution, history, and economics, among other things.
While my views on immigration were changed by constitutional arguments, my views are now based on the non-aggression principle, which simply states that the initiation of force is illegitimate. Immigration is a peaceful action, made almost entirely by people who simply want to improve their lives. Immigration is not a crime when an immigrant can buy or rent a place to live from a willing property owner, work for an employer who agrees to hire him, and obtain goods and services by freely exchanging with a merchant. All those things are voluntary transactions between consenting participants and do not require the approval of other people. Any attempt to prevent those things from taking place will necessitate the initiation of force, which is evil. That is why I do not have a problem with people who want to come live in this country.
The thing that I DO have a problem with is when money is stolen from taxpayers to assist immigrants. I love and encourage private charity, but what the government does is not charitable. Charity based on robbery is not charity at all. It is outright theft, and the use of such stolen funds is often wasted because of the lack of accountability, a chronic problem when any government is involved.
There are many positive things that can result when people are free to immigrate. When more people are around, there are more people that engage in economic trade, which increases the efficiency and prosperity of the community as a whole. The fact that there are more workers means that there is more competition for labor, which results in lower prices for goods and services. Lower prices for goods and services means that your paycheck has more purchasing power, increasing your standard of living. While nominal wages may go down, real wages will increase. That is how society gets wealthier. An often-overlooked benefit of lower nominal wages would be the return of many jobs that previously went overseas. Additionally, money and manpower currently wasted on patrolling the border can be used more efficiently by focusing it on the real bad guys - people who actually harm others.
When you think about immigrants, "illegal" or otherwise, think of their goals and dreams. Think about what they want to accomplish. Think about their talents and skills that they want to put to good use. Think about the courage it must have taken to leave their homeland to come to a different country and culture in order to improve their lives. After taking all those things into consideration, think about the way that you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.
Special thanks to Thomas Bogle for some economic insight for this blog post.