Thursday, December 01, 2005

Illegal Immigration 2

My reply to comments to the post below, Illegality is Crime. Duh.

The government has a basic duty to control the borders and regulate who comes and goes. That is one of the fundamental responsibilities of the nation-state and has been for centuries. Control over the border and a monopoly on legal violence are two of the hallmarks of the nation-state. Call me old fashioned but I am a big fan of the nation-state and see no reason to weaken it or dilute its powers. BTW, I am not what goes by the term ‘conservative’ as it is used in popular discourse. I am conservative in the sense that I want to conserve many aspects of our way of life. I do not believe in unlimited free trade. What the commenter means by conservative is closer to libertarianism.

If the American people voted to increase immigration to 50 million I would accept that. However, they would not do so. Indeed most (really all) polls on this subject show that Americans of all types support reducing legal immigration. I am a democrat in the sense that if most people, over a long period of time want to reduce immigration then I believe immigration should be reduced.

I refuse to accept the all-too-easy dismissal of my cultural concerns as “Aryan” or racist. I am a "culturist" in that I value our culture. If you think that makes me a wild-eyed reactionary or a brownshirt then I pity you for you are truly lost. Preserving our culture, however you choose to define that, is a worthy cause and an important undertaking. It is neither parochial nor shortsighted. In many ways culture, our unique American culture, is our greatest treasure and passing it down to future generations is our duty. Whether you define American culture as baseball and hamburgers or Abstract Expressionism and Henry James novels it is unique in world history and something to be valued, not disparaged and taken for granted.

If you are an American, our culture permeates your person from your body language and your speech (including how being a native speaker of American English has shaped the muscles in your jaw and face) to how you interact with others to your most basic values. To reject this, to reduce it to merely a set of transactions, is to deny some deep part of oneself. I am not a cultural purist trying to put my version of Americana under glass safe from the dirty hands of foreigners. I know that cultures change over time. I expect that and I welcome it. American culture is remarkably flexible and accommodating to outside influences. This is part of its near-universal appeal and one of its greatest strengths. But it is neither large enough nor strong enough to simply absorb another country of 100 million people who speak a different language, have widely different historical experiences, values and customs.

The government clearly has a right to tell you who you may hire. You cannot employee children in most industries, for example. You cannot hire ex-convicts in certain circumstances. People without security clearances cannot be hired for lots of public and private positions. You cannot hire people without certain qualifications, for example certified doctors or pharmacists. I do not see how one can serious argue that there is a right to hire an illegal alien without either advocating the abolition of the nation-state or professing a desire for simple anarchy.

This country was built on a faith in human freedom but not an unlimited faith and not unlimited freedom. The Founders harbored no illusions regarding human nature, unlike the naiveté that is rampant today. I do not believe any of the Founders would have advocated unrestricted immigration. Throughout our history we have had periods of more open immigration policy and periods of more restricted immigration policy. Both are part of our national political traditions. Today, the Left and corporate interests are united in spreading the myth that open immigration is the only tradition. The Left does this out o f ideology. Corporations do it out of greed. In any case it is factually wrong. Until the 1960s we had quite a restrictive immigration policy.

Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. The victims are numerous but largely anonymous. Taxpayers, citizens and those who work here legally, foot the bill for health care and education of illegals. This includes bi-lingual teachers and texts for K through 12 schooling. In many states illegals pay in-state tuition for state colleges and universities. This is a direct cost of thousands of dollars per student per semester. We pay for the infrastructure used by illegals. We pay for policing, judging and incarcerating illegals. Low wage workers, especially manual laborers, pay in reduced wages or lost opportunities. Then there are the intangible costs to our culture at large.

The question that I have not seen raised in any discussion of illegal immigration is this: why is Mexico so poor? They share a border with the largest economy in the world. They have oil. Yet Mexico has persisted in its poverty for decades while other nations have risen. In 1950 Korean was a war-torn nation just emerging from a long and brutal occupation. It spoke a unique language and had virtually no natural resources. Yet today Korea is a vibrant economy. Look at India. A nation independent for a little over 50 years that was born during violence and mass migration, a nation without a common language - yet today a vibrant economy.

This is a post for another day but I'd like some answers: Why is Mexico so poor?

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