Thursday, April 29, 2010

Musings on Immigration

Arizona has been in the news lately. Apparently we are all a bunch of horrible racists because 70% of surveyed respondents support the new law Gov. Brewer signed (SB 1070) making it illegal to, well, be here illegally.

Or as I call it the "illegal to be illegal" bill.

First lets talk about what the bill actually says, rather than the hysteria behind it. The bill says that if you are a non-citizen you have to carry your alien registration papers on you. It also says that if you are here illegally (by Federal definition) that that is a crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail.

The language is copied verbatim from the existing federal statute. It's already the law everywhere in each and every one of these united States (and districts and territories). All Arizona has done is to say, ok, it's illegal under AZ statute as well.

This is what is known in constitutional law circles as the principle of concurrence. That is to say, the state concurs with the federal statute. The courts have repeatedly ruled that concurrence is allowable, even in matters that would otherwise be the sole preview of the Federal government.

For example, it is pretty clear that counterfeiting of US Federal Reserve Notes (the stuff we whimsically refer to as money) is purely a federal matter. Nevertheless Arizona (or any of the other 49 states) can pass laws making it illegal to manufacture your own $100 bills.

As long as the AZ statute does not exceed the federal statute (i.e. it concurs) that's legitimate. So if caught, you could be charged by the state of AZ. There is still a double jeopardy argument to be made, but it's really no different legally from taking an accused murderer and deciding whether to try him in state or federal court.

Thus SB 1070 passes constitutional muster on grounds of concurrence.

The other thing that SB 1070 does is to make it illegal to block or delay traffic while soliciting or hiring day labor. This is unrelated to the immigration part of the bill, other than the fairly obvious observation that most day laborers are not here under legal auspices.

Given the way traffic works around here, I think obstructing or delaying traffic for ANY reason out to be peanalised by a good horse whipping.

Polls show that 66% of the people support the bill, and 14% simply Don't Care. Think about that, that means only 20% at most are opposed to this thing. Mostly it's the bleeding heart left, though there are a few philisophical libertarians in the mix.

That brings us to the main point of this little missive:

The Libertarian view on Immigration

Libertarians are generally open boarders sort of folk, if only because they believe that individual rights always, always, trump any perceived rights of groups or states. The standard Libertarian argument back in the 90's was always: We do not have an immigration problem; we have a welfare problem.

Well, in many ways they are right. Lets look at things from an economic standpoint.

People come to this country because of opportunity.

Opportunity is a pretty big brush though.

1 - They come here for the opportunity to work and make a better life for themselves and their families.

2 - They come here for the opportunity to feed at the public trough and abuse our generous welfare system.

3 - They come here for the opportunity to rape, pillage, steal, and murder.

And in fairness, some come here to take advantage of 2 or more of the above.

The Libertarian solution to the second item is to dismantle the welfare state in it's entirety, solving item number two. They are also pretty keen on applying the death penalty to rapists and murderers, preferably at the hand of the intended victim, at the time of the intended crime. And frankly, a lot of us would be happy to extend that, Texas Style, to property crime as well.

That pretty much leaves only the folks in group number one, and frankly most Americans are pretty happy to let hard working folks come here to work and be productive members of the society. Yeah, we'd kind of like you to go through the proper channels and do it legally like everyone else has to, but that's mostly based on this nebusous American idea of fairness than anything else.

Let me explain this in simple terms to my Libertarian friends. Dismantling the welfare state, Ain't going to happen.

And while I'd like to see a lot more criminals dead in the streets, mostly that's not going to happen either.

So how does on pragmatically deal with the issue. I know I used the p-word. We hate being pragmatic, it makes us feel all dirty, as if accomplishing things was more important than the ideas and ideals behind it all.

All right, here is my pragmatic solution:

1) Secure the border.

That means building a real border security fence. If it means calling up the Israelis and asking them nicely for the blueprints to their security "fence", then do it. While you are at it, lets relocate some of our military bombing ranges to the border region as well, nothing there but sand and wasteland anyway. (but put up a fence first, don't want folks wandering in accidentally)

2) increase the number of permanent legal admittees from South America.

Once the border is secured, we can afford to let in a much larger number of legal immigrants from south of the border. Go ahead and raise the quota to a couple hundred thousand a year. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the millions a secure border will stop. Same rules as anyone else who comes here you have to have a sponsor, pass a physical, etc...

3) A large guest worker program similar to the old Bracero program.

See Bracero. 6-9 month unskilled labor visa. They want to pick lettuce for $2 an hour nobody is going to object. Numbers admitted to be adjusted by the current national unemployment rate. If the rate is 5% we let a lot more in, if it's 12 % a lot fewer. Braceros are not eligible for resident benefits.

4) Criminal aliens get deported.

Criminal guest workers are not allowed to renew their guest worker visa for 5 years or more depending on the severity of the crime. Criminal permanent residence get their green cards revoked. Illegal aliens caught as a byproduct of other other criminal activity - deported.

After you did that, there might be a way to talk about normalization of existing illegals, but any solution acceptable by the American people is going to be heavily predicated on number 1.

No comments: