Enlightenment Ideals and the Immigration Crisis

Today is a great day to reflect on the Enlightenment ideals that fueled a Declaration.

As they say, let’s go to the text:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This passage, one of the most famous in American history is a basic statement of some key Enlightenment ideals:  natural rights, liberty, and equality of human beings.  Jefferson largely lifted that line, and the basic logic of the Declaration of Independence, from the work of a key enlightenment philosopher, John Locke and his Second Treatise on Government:

The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…

There is a lot that could be said about this (including Jefferson’s own failings in upholding these ideals), but let’s focus on one simple point:  it is this notion, that human beings have rights as a consequence of their birth that underscores that governments do not grant human rights, governments either protect them or they don’t.

This fundamental ideal, therefore, means that how the US government treats immigrants, regardless of their visa status, should matter to all of us as a matter of principle.

If you think that those who cross without visas do not deserve due process, you are violating this ideal.

If you think it is okay to use children as bargaining chips against their parents, or as some kind of deterrent, you are violating this ideal.

If you thing that “illegals” don’t deserve basic legal protections, you are violating this ideal.

In my youth I recall that American conservatives used to like to talk about how government does not grant rights.  That rights are natural.  If you truly believe that, then one has to support humane treatment of the undocumented.  One especially has to take seriously asylum-seekers and refugees.

If, on the other hand, one believes that being a foreigner makes one less of a human being in terms of natural rights, then one does not believe in natural rights, and instead one believes only in power.

I am not saying that natural rights means we have to have utterly open borders–I don’t think it is unreasonable to have regulations regarding border crossings, residency, and citizenship (although, there certainly is a freedom-based logic that suggest more or less open borders is a legitimate position to take–such discussion are for a different post).  The problem is that we do not have a rational immigration system that can accommodate (and, dare I say, adequately secure) the flow of persons into the United States, especially on our southern border.

I will offer this:  any system that we deploy needs to take into consideration the worth and dignity of each individual human being, regardless of skin color, income level, country of origin, or visa status.

Either we take seriously the prospect that all are created equal, or let’s stop pretending we uphold our own alleged values.

It is possible to have immigration policies and border controls and still respect human rights and basic ideals–but we aren’t doing that at the moment.

 

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Best of OTB, Borders and Immigration, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Kit says:

    Either we take seriously the prospect that all are created equal, or let’s stop pretending we uphold our own alleged values.

    The American Right no more believes in the country’s founding principles than it does in Jesus. The Constitution and the Bible serve as symbols to rally around, like the flag, a way to distinguish between us and them. As long as those documents can be mined for the odd justification, they serve their purpose. Jefferson, brought back from the dead, would by lynched; Jesus crucified. The children of the Enlightenment are not fighting amongst themselves, but rather against those who believe in blood and soil, and who are opposed in their bones to philosophy and science.

    Still, as distasteful as the whole rise of the nationalistic Right has been to many of us, are these people any worse than the bulk of humanity? Here’s what Voltaire had to say:

    Enlightened times will only enlighten a small number of honest men. The common people will always be fanatical.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    It is possible to have immigration policies and border controls and still respect human rights and basic ideals–but we aren’t doing that at the moment.

    Ideals are for intellectuals. This is what we’re seeing with people like Max Boot, George Will, et al: the intelligentsia on the Right thought it was all about ideals, and it turned out to be all about race and spite and stupidity.

    The situation’s reversed on the Left, where I trust the people and suspect the intellectuals are soft-headed. But still there is a disconnect between people who deal in abstractions and people who deal in me, me, me, mine, mine, mine.

    Somehow, after 242 years, the American people are still ambivalent at best, hostile at worst, to fundamental American ideals of equality, freedom of speech and the press, a balance of powers, etc… The country is far better informed about Kim Kardashian than about the Constitution. What good is an ideal in a democracy where no one can see beyond un-enlightened self-interest and tribalism?

    It’s 2018 and as you point out, Steven, better than a third of Americans have no difficulty reconciling their view of America with tearing families apart and caging children. Not 1939, but 2018. Kind of hard to maintain much optimism in the face of that fact.

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  3. @Kit: @Michael Reynolds: I take all of the points being made.

    I am not foolish enough to think that I have any chance of persuasion on a mass level. In many ways I am writing to those who are still letting preferences for tax cuts and conservative judges (and so forth) justifies a blind eye (or to rationalize) what is going on right now.

    I am writing, mostly, to family members, acquaintances, co-workers who still cannot quite admit what the current administration is doing because of abortion or her e-mails or whatever. I suppose I am writing to me a quarter of a century ago who might have duped as well.

    I write to the relatively small numbers of voters who would be enough to stem the tide of this current moment.

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  4. @Michael Reynolds:

    Kind of hard to maintain much optimism in the face of that fact.

    I will say this: the Enlightenment project has, objectively, improved life around the globe, even if it has done some imperfectly. I see some optimism in this that needs to be kindled. I am not a Pollyanna, and hopefully never come across as such. I do have a soft spot for the notion that evidence-based argumentation can change minds (but am also pragmatic enough to know the limitations thereof).

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  5. MBunge says:

    The American immigration system, particularly on our southern border, has been broken for decades. People like Donald Trump didn’t break it and people like Donald Trump didn’t let it fester all that time. Those actually responsible are people just like you, Mr. Taylor. So let’s ease up on the self-righteousness, shall we?

    And let’s certainly not pretend you care about immigrants as human beings because, as previously mentioned, people like you have now spent most of their adult lives unconcerned with the vicious exploitation of illegal immigrant labor and indifferent to the misery in their home countries that has pushed them into the U.S. After all, how many illegal immigrant families live in your neighborhood?

    Putting the empty platitudes about “ideals” to the side, the reality of immigration in America is that it’s almost always been paired with a demand for assimilation that’s brutal in the extremes and it has been sharply curtailed when Americans thought it was in the best interest of their country to do so. Try and incorporate those truths into your thinking before lecturing anyone else on the subject.

    Mike

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  6. @MBunge:

    The American immigration system, particularly on our southern border, has been broken for decades.

    I agree.

    People like Donald Trump didn’t break it and people like Donald Trump didn’t let it fester all that time

    Trump is the one using as he is, to include a public declaration for eschewing due process. You are simply lying if you want to say that what is going on now has been going on for decades. Zero tolerance and child separation have been practiced in a very specific way by this administration.

    Those actually responsible are people just like you, Mr. Taylor. So let’s ease up on the self-righteousness, shall we?

    Mr. Taylor has argued for a very long time that the current immigration system needs reform.

    And Mr. Taylor thinks his stance in this post is, in fact, righteous and he is also amused at the amount of power you think he has.

    He also notes that Mr. Bunge constantly supports the violations of those ideals.

    the reality of immigration in America is that it’s almost always been paired with a demand for assimilation that’s brutal in the extremes

    Mr. Bunge should note that this makes no sense as a statement of historic fact. And, further, that even it was accurate, it has jack to do with the policies that this administration has pursued.

    Mr. Taylor wonders if this assertion about history comes from the same source as Mr. Bunge’s previous claims about 4% GDP growth..

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  7. That last observation has special weight when considering this:

    Try and incorporate those truths into your thinking before lecturing anyone else on the subject.

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  8. MBunge says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I write to the relatively small numbers of voters who would be enough to stem the tide of this current moment.

    Don’t flatter yourself. This has nothing to do with good or bad, right or wrong, truth or lies. If it was about any of that, it would be easy for you to acknowledge when Donald Trump was in the right and when his opponents were in the wrong. You could be worried about Trump but also worried, for example, when people start embracing mob action as a response to Trump. You could condemn Trump for his policies but also notice that nations around the world are dealing with the same issues and not having any easier a time of it.

    No, Mr. Taylor, this is not about how wonderful people like you are and how tragic it is for you to be so unappreciated by the world. This is about authority. You are self-consciously a member of the class that has held authority in America for a good long while now. That doesn’t mean you have any authority, of course, just like the water boy for the Philadelphia Eagles isn’t an NFL player. But you think of yourself as being on the team and luxuriate in the conviction that the people with authority are just like you.

    This is about you correctly seeing Donald Trump as a challenge to and repudiation of your authoritarian class. But instead of accepting how badly your class has failed so that Trump could get the better of you and focusing on improving the performance of your class, your response has been denial and undemocratic presumption.

    You’re not trying to persuade anyone, Mr. Taylor. You are merely trying to reassure yourself.

    Mike

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  9. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    Careful. Your class envy is showing …

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  10. Kathy says:

    Right now the dominant GOP position on immigration is: throw out all the illegals, and don’t let in so many foreigners legally either.

    You can’t compromise with that.

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  11. @MBunge: Make up your mind. Either I am the dreaded elite who is responsible for all the horrors of the world or I am a water boy.

    And I will remind you again: you are choosing to read what I write. You are not required to do so, nor are you required to comment.

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  12. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I suppose I am writing to me a quarter of a century ago who might have duped as well.

    To pat you, me and most of the rest of us here at OTB on the back, I think we really are the children of the Enlightenment: we have an honest interest in the public good, and trust in the power of truth and persuasion to guide us, stumbling, along the right path. Pity that history will likely judge us as the kids that squandered the inheritance bickering over the wallpaper ,while termites brought down the estate. In my defence, nothing in my education ever led me to believe that the old anti-Enlightenment forces were anything more than living fossils.

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  13. dmichael says:

    @MBunge: Your posts are both egregious personal attacks on Steven and unsupported by any evidence while ascribing to him positions he didn’t take or statements he didn’t make. You must lead a sad and angry life when you post such comments to someone who is trying to remind us about how this country was founded on July 4.

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  14. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    Right now the dominant GOP position on immigration is: throw out all the illegals, and don’t let in so many foreigners legally either.

    You can’t compromise with that.

    Actually, one can compromise with that. The Republicans just refuse to compromise.

    We could ramp up enforcement on the employers, to keep illegal immigrants from coming here. I would accept a more vigorous than normal border enforcement (less than the Trump administration wants, but more visible than under Obama) for that.

    We can tie legal immigration limits to employment numbers, so we naturally hit the right numbers. And, that can have carveouts for skills-based immigration (bring in software engineers, when unemployment in that field is low, even if unskilled labor unemployment is high).

    There’s lots of ways to compromise with those policies.

    There’s just no way to compromise with people who refuse to compromise.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    We could also remove some of the pressure along the southern border by helping to fix the problems in Central America.

    A stronger Mexico with more opportunities means fewer people coming here. Honduras is a mess (I think… I can never keep track of which country down there is having problems when), and we may be able to solve some of the problems there so the refugees don’t end up here (I mean, first I would want to make sure I have the right country, and then understand the problems… the key word there was “May”)

    I don’t think we can look at illegal immigration as a problem that starts at our border.

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  16. TM01 says:

    You don’t want open borders, yet you also don’t want actual border enforcement, which naturally means detaining children sometimes.

    What then? Laws, but ones you are unwilling to see enforced? How does that make sense?

    Pick a law, any law. At some point children will be effected, and you’ll cry some more tears and wonder about the US and how ANYONE can stand to see children hurt, Oh The Humanity! Curse you, President Trump!

    Maybe we can start by building a wall to funnel illegals towards specific, controllable entry points. That actually seems to fit in with your views here.

    But then what? Just let everyone in? Vet people? Do we detain them, all of them, while we’re checking backgrounds? Or just let them all in? They aren’t going to take *your* job, just the jobs of poorer American citizens, who evidently you no longer care about.

    I also note that you say our immigration laws are a mess. Laws that far predated Trump, yet you blame Trump for dealing with the problem that was created by his predecessors.

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  17. TM01 says:

    So, does anyone think we should adopt the immigration laws that the EU is starting to adopt?

    Maybe we can at least start there as a discussion point.

    Who thinks Merkel is going to last the year? She’ll probably need those Starbursts that Trump gave her.

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  18. TM01 says:

    @Gustopher:

    A stronger Mexico with more opportunities means fewer people coming here.

    Indeed.

    Unfortunately, the new guy wants to nationalize the oil industry there, which means it’s going to end up like Venezuela. (Which, admittedly, is the new home of the American Dream per Bernie Sanders.)

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @TM01:
    It’s interesting that Trump’s policies are so inhumane that even you, a full-fledged cultie, have to lie about them.

    Trump deliberately caged accompanied children. No, that has never been US policy before. When we’ve had kids in custody it was unaccompanied minors – teenagers who crossed on their own. We are now talking about babies – literally babies – being taken from their mothers so Trump can bully refugees. That is cruel and unprecedented – facts testified to by your inability to talk honestly about them.

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  20. Kathy says:

    @TM01:

    Unfortunately, the new guy wants to nationalize the oil industry there, which means it’s going to end up like Venezuela.

    I usually ignore you, because it gets tiresome replying just to tell someone how stupid they are, but, man, you’re so stupid it’s hard to believe. Seriously, try and learn something about a subject before you spout idiocies on it.

    In 1938, 80 years ago, Lazaro Cardenas nationalized the oil industry in Mexico. It’s been nationalized ever since.

    The new guy can’t nationalize an industry that’s already nationalized. that should be obvious even to the likes of you.

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  21. TM01 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Obama just kept entire families in dirty, rotten detention centers. Including children, beyond 20 days, in violation of the law.

    But you had no tears then. Throw them in cages and wrap them in aluminum foil! Thanks Obama!

    What’s YOUR solution? Start locking up entire families again, like Obama did? Let’s hear something that doesn’t start with I’m Not Advocating Open Borders, followed by advocating open borders. Is anyone with a child allowed to just walk in? What?

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  22. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    There’s lots of ways to compromise with those policies.

    There’s just no way to compromise with people who refuse to compromise.

    No offense, but I find your ides far too restrictive (and way too prescriptive to boot). Which, I know, these days passes for moderation, perhaps as a result of earlier compromises with even more restrictive postures.

    I favor open borders (everywhere), but that’s not a realistic expectation in a climate of nationalism, which has been building up for the last three centuries or so. Curiously it began to break down where it was born, in Europe, but it hasn’t broken down enough as yet.

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  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I write to the relatively small numbers of voters who would be enough to stem the tide of this current moment.

    moment… moment… moment… moment… moment… moment… Is there an echo in here?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. On the more serious side, I appreciate your efforts.

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  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @TM01:

    Not to belabor any interaction with your ridiculously stupid ass, but your whataboutism is self-defeating. If Obama was wrong to detain families, then so is Trump.

    That said, the vast majority of illegal immigrants consist of visa overstayers. Are you and your fellow Nazis just ignorant about them, or are they not problematic for you people because they tend not to be brown?

    Just asking …

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  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: The problem begins in Central America and ends here. Addressing only half the equation is not going to solve the problem. And lets admit it, we’ve only applied 1/8 measures to the problems here and negative measures to the problems there.

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  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Beat me to it.

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  27. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    No offense, but I find your ides far too restrictive (and way too prescriptive to boot). Which, I know, these days passes for moderation, perhaps as a result of earlier compromises with even more restrictive postures.

    I favor open borders (everywhere), but that’s not a realistic expectation in a climate of nationalism

    We are a nation. We have an obligation to the people who are living here, more than to the people living elsewhere, and we have a right to determine who we let in and how we will shape our country.

    If all of South and Central America wanted to come live here, we couldn’t accommodate them all (same with Africa, Europe and Asia… not sure about Australia, and we could definitely support the population of Antarctica). There have to be limits, and the only question is where those limits should be, and whether we are anywhere near those limits.

    “Give me your hungry, tired and poor…” is all well and good when we have the resources and opportunities for them to thrive. We have a moral obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves, but not at the expense of ourselves.

    It’s like they say on airplanes — in the event of decompression, put on your oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.

    That said, we can help more people than we are helping now. But we need better controls at the same time. Open the spigot, but have the ability to slow it in the future if we need to.

    I also think we should be getting rid of the work-visa programs, and pushing everyone towards citizenship — we want more Americans, who have a stake in America. We want them to adopt American ideals and values, not just be working here for five years and sending money home.

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  28. @TM01: To bolster points already made, I would note the following from the Mexican constitution (Article 27): “In the case of petroleum and solid, liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons found underneath the surface, dominion by the Nation shall be inalienable and imprescriptible, and no concessions shall be granted. In order to obtain revenue for the State and contributeto the long-term development of the Nation, the State shall explore for and exploit oil and other hydrocarbons through assignment to productive state-owned companies, or through contracts to be executed with them or private parties, in accordance with
    the implementing law. To fulfill the purpose of said allocations and contracts, the productive state-owned companies may enter into contracts with private parties. In any event, subsoil hydrocarbons shall remain property of the Nation and it shall be so expressed in the allocation and contracts.”

    It is foundation to the Mexican Revolution that the state own the oil under the ground. And, as Kahty noted, PEMEX (the state oil company) was formed in 1938. This is not some new thing AMLO thought up.

    No doubt there are concerns in the oil industry that AMLO will be less sympathetic/friendly than have previous presidents.

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  29. @Gustopher:

    A stronger Mexico with more opportunities means fewer people coming here.

    And the irony for Trump and his followers is that Mexico, for all its problems, has gotten stronger (NAFTA and globalization more broadly is a huge part of the reason).

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  30. BTW, whatever AMLO may be, he is not Hugo Chávez.

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  31. An Interested Party says:

    You could be worried about Trump but also worried, for example, when people start embracing mob action as a response to Trump.

    Oh that’s quite amusing…it is the Orange Toddler himself who has argued for mob action

    This is about you correctly seeing Donald Trump as a challenge to and repudiation of your authoritarian class.

    Good grief, what a fucking idiotic thing that is to type…the Orange Toddler himself is a part of the class he supposedly challenges…and I notice his tax cuts went to help members of that class more than anyone else in this country…

    Laws that far predated Trump, yet you blame Trump for dealing with the problem that was created by his predecessors.

    None of his predecessors had a spiteful pathetic bully boy like Stephen Miller deciding on policies of family separation and locking children in cages…following immigration laws does not require such savagery…

    BTW, whatever AMLO may be, he is not Hugo Chávez.

    I just love how anyone to the left of Attila the Hun is painted as some evil, scary SOCIALIST!!!!! Oh, the horror! This fearmongering is really pathetic…

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  32. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It is foundation to the Mexican Revolution that the state own the oil under the ground.

    Not exactly, but close enough.

    No doubt there are concerns in the oil industry that AMLO will be less sympathetic/friendly than have previous presidents.

    That’s fairly complicated.

    You may recall I listed as one of His Majesty’s big failings his need to be the protagonist of everything. Well, some years ago he wrote a book about policies which should be implemented to make the country better. One such was to allow private companies to exploit oil fields in exchange for royalties and/or a share of the crude extracted.

    When a PRI-led government with support from other parties passed the Energy Reform, which allowed private companies to exploit oil fields in exchange for royalties and/or a share of the crude extracted, then His majesty came out against it.

    The good news is he probably won’t be able to simply undo the reform, because that required amending the Constitution, and that requires a 2/3 majority in Congress. Manuel Andres probably won’t have that large a majority.

    The other good news is he had proposed something very similar tow hat was adopted, so he could say “Hey, I said it was a great idea all along.” Then explain how he could have done it twenty times better than what was actually done, then push some changes through legislation, for which he will have better than a simple majority, declare victory and move on.

    If this sounds like Trump, it’s because his Royal highness is very much like Dennison, only not so rich, smarter, and about a million times more competent. See, the private oil extraction contracts are for fields in deep water, or shale oil inland, for which PEMEX lacks the money to develop them. So there’s no loss in allowing it. And the man is smart enough to see it, and probably a good enough politician to sell it to his base.

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  33. wr says:

    @TM01: “I also note that you say our immigration laws are a mess. Laws that far predated Trump, yet you blame Trump for dealing with the problem that was created by his predecessors.”

    You and Bungles keep playing this game that the only two choices are to do exactly what Trump is doing or do nothing at all. You sound like middle-class Germans in the 30s: “You keep whining about sending Jews to concentration camps, but we had problems with the economy before Hitler and no one else did anything about it, so of course we have the Final Solution and it’s all your fault, libtard.”

    Maybe you’re convincing yourself here. I guess if you’re gullible enough to believe anything coming out of this administration you can talk yourself into swallowing this line of crap. But you’re not convincing anyone who isn’t already a true believer or a moron — or both.

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  34. wr says:

    @TM01: “Unfortunately, the new guy wants to nationalize the oil industry there, which means it’s going to end up like Venezuela”

    Oh noes!!! He’s going to nationalize the Mexican oil industry. Of course he’s going to have to go back to 1937 to do it, since Pemex, the state owned oil business was started in 1938.

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  35. An Interested Party says:

    For all the Christians out there

    Although nativity scenes are common across the country people often forget what it means, Carlsen said. “That was a homeless couple who weren’t welcome anywhere, who took refuge in the barn, and it was to that couple that the Christ child was born,” he told the Washington Post. “The heart of God is always with those who are on the margins, who are vulnerable and have no voice.”

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  36. @Kathy:

    Not exactly, but close enough.

    Fair enough–I am being too cavalier in my language. How about: it was central to the long-term consolidation and institutionalization of the revolution and the development of the regime under what became the PRI until 2000?

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  37. @wr: Indeed. I have repeatedly noted our immigration laws are a mess, and I have never blamed Trump for those laws, just the way he seeks to enforce them.

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  38. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    That said, we can help more people than we are helping now.

    It’s not a matter of helping people, it’s a matter of rights and a free market.

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  39. Lava Land says:

    @Michael Reynolds: have you ever heard the term child trafficking? Just MAYBE we are trying to prevent this, please research.

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  40. An Interested Party says:

    @Lava Land: Have you ever heard of Stephen Miller? Just MAYBE you should research…

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  41. Lava Land says:

    @An Interested Party: trust me, I have. Nice to see my comments are being deleted, go AMERICA

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  42. @Lava Land:

    Nice to see my comments are being deleted,

    I have not deleted any of your comments and I can see no evidence that anyone else has, or that they were caught in the spam filter.

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  43. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I often see my posts right after I make them (on the page refresh from posting), but then they appear to vanish for a while if I come back (along with any comments after mine), only to reappear. I’ve had this issue ever since the site work a few months ago (along with it never remembering my name and email).

    I think it is a caching issue, either with OTB, or my browser (Safari? inside Feedly on an iPad) — no cache on the page render after you post, but cached with data up to 30 minutes old when coming in “fresh”.

    If Lava Land is seeing those same behavior, he or she or they might well assume that someone has deleted their comment right after they posted it.

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  44. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: and I just saw it again. I expect that I will see both my “missing” comment, and this comment when I post this one (at least until I go back to the RSS feed and then open this page again…)

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  45. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @TM01: Yeah, fella, in your mind there are only two alternatives: Galt’s Gulch or Venezuela.

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  46. TM01 says:

    @wr:

    but we had problems with the economy before Hitler and no one else did anything about it

    Yea! Finally the Hitler comparison!

    And I see that no one really had an answer to immigration control here. It’s not the laws themselves, it’s just the enforcement of those laws.

    Well, every law that you enforce is eventually going to tug at your precious little heartstrings

    So tell me what immigration laws you want to see and how you’ll effectively enforce them.

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  47. TM01 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    “That was a homeless couple who weren’t welcome anywhere, who took refuge in the barn, and it was to that couple that the Christ child was born,”

    That is one of the stupidest things you’ve ever typed.

    And that’s saying something.

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  48. teve tory says:

    I love this concept that poor donald trump’s hands are tied because he’s just so gosh darn compelled to follow the law. That could keep me laughing til October, when his charity goes on trial for fraud.

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  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @TM01: And this is the purest expression of Dunning-Kruger I have ever read.

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  50. @Gustopher: I don’t see that on my end, but good to know and I will pass it along to James. What happens if you refresh the page?

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  51. teve tory says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I saw a Trumper on twitter tell Tony Schwartz that he should read The Art of the Deal to understand how trump thinks.

    Trumper foolishness knows no bounds.

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  52. @TM01:

    And I see that no one really had an answer to immigration control here. It’s not the laws themselves, it’s just the enforcement of those laws.

    I would suggest you are not paying attention if you think that is the prevailing view.

    Note:

    1. We do have existing immigration laws, and how they are enforced matters (that is, by the way, true of every single law on the books).

    2. One can note #1 and still think that the laws should be changed.

    Just off the top of my head, we need easier access for work visas, we need more immigration judges, we need a far less labyrinthine pathway to legal residency and citizenship. We need a fix for DACA. We need a clearer pathway for refugees and asylum-seekers.

    It should be noted that the last major immigration bill was passed during the Clinton administration and, really, the last serious overhaul was during Reagan. We have not addressed a host of complex questions and challenges, and now find ourselves where we are.

    Well, every law that you enforce is eventually going to tug at your precious little heartstrings

    This is a cartoonish statement. Yes, I know that the long-standing insult of libs by cons is that they are bleeding hearts without brains. But if you can defend the separation of babies from their mothers, and really the entire process that Sessions and Trump have undertaken here, then you either really don’t understand or you don’t care about human rights.

    The issue is not whether my heartstrings get tugged. The issue is whether the United States of America is going to abuse vulnerable people.

    Own your position. Understand what you are defending. Don’t just spout talk radio level jibes.

    The US government is perpetrating human rights abuses in the name of border security and traumatizing thousands of vulnerable people in the process. If you understand that fact and still are cool with it, don’t be surprised by Hitler references, even if they are hyperbolic.

    Own your position. Own what you are supporting.

    And if human rights abuses aren’t something that worries you and you are sure that MS13 is massing at the gates, may I point out that creating trauma in a bunch of children is a fantastic way to push them into the arms of gangs?

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  53. Franklin says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Refreshing does the trick for me.

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  54. An Interested Party says:

    @TM01: Oh look, another fake Christian, if Christian at all…I notice there’s no explanation why that was supposedly “stupid”…of course, such is to be expected of someone who supports human rights abuses…

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  55. Mike Schilling says:

    Note that it’s a crisis only in that people are insisting it’s a crisis.

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  56. @Mike Schilling: For the families separated because of a conscious policy choice by the administration, it is most assuredly a crisis.

    And for anyone, to include myself, who thinks that purposeful engagement by the US government of clear human rights abuses is a crisis, this is a crisis.

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  57. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Just off the top of my head, we need easier access for work visas

    Why?

    Totally serious question. I don’t understand why anyone wants a bunch of people flowing back and forth across our borders. It’s not like there is a shortage of people who would want to come and stay, and become part of our country.

    I worry about creating an underclass of people without full rights. I see that now with software engineers on H-1B visas, whose presence in the country is tied to their work, and who cannot negotiate for better wages and working conditions. This also puts a downward pressure on my wages and working conditions, because there is always the threat that I could be replaced by someone who cannot make those demands, rather than simply being replaced by someone who will not make those demands.

    And I worry that people who aren’t here permanently don’t contribute to their community as much. They have no vested interest in solving problems because they aren’t here long anyway. It’s the renter vs. owner issue.

    I don’t want a lot of Mexicans or Indians living in America, I want a lot of Mexican-Americans and Indian-Americans.

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  58. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: A force refresh did fix it. (Ugh, finding the refresh on Feedly is a nuisance as the button seems to disappear every time you want it).

    It’s definitely browser cache, but I don’t see that problem on other sites (for instance, Dave Schuler’s place). The browser cache is often controlled by headers from the website — I’m not sure why you would want the whole page to be cached on the browser when the people who are loading it multiple times in a short period are likely the commenters who would want up to date comments.

    (Now I feel like I am doing work…)

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  59. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: I understand your points, and I too am concerned about downward wage pressure regarding the H-1B visas.

    It’s clear though that there are people who are interested and willing to come here for seasonal work (such as agriculture). Americans don’t want those jobs, and I think there should be some mechanism that allows for this type of situation.

    Right now, one of the big factors that allows these types of workers to be exploited is the threat of exposing their illegal status. A visa work program that actually acknowledges that we have seasonal work needs might help with that.

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  60. Monala says:

    @MBunge: Every time I read one of your comments, I think, “What the f*ck is he talking about?!”

    What “authoritarian class” is Steven Taylor a part of, that has failed and somehow Trump is correcting? The professorial or intellectual class? Well, Trump certainly isn’t that, but I fail to see how how such people are in control of much more than their graduate lectures. The wealthy elites? Trump is far more that than Dr. Taylor will ever be (I’m guessing — professors aren’t known for making big bucks), and has done nothing but tilt the scales even more in favor of the wealthy since he took office.

    I get it — a lot of the problems in our nation right now didn’t originate with Trump, be it immigration, race relations, or the hollowing of the middle and working classes. But he is certainly making them far, far worse with his vile, ignorant actions.

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  61. @Gustopher:

    I don’t understand why anyone wants a bunch of people flowing back and forth across our borders. It’s not like there is a shortage of people who would want to come and stay, and become part of our country.

    In simple terms, this policy suggestion is a recognition of economic reality: there is seasonal work in the US that a lot of migrants want to do, but also want to go back home. This was the norm for most of our history. It was the 1986 (IIRC) Reagan bill that led to increased security and made crossing back and forth more difficult that led to the explosion of undocumented residents.

    I am all for making it easier to migrate permanently, but there is clearly space for seasonal workers to enter and leave.

    I worry about creating an underclass of people without full rights.

    A legitimate concern. Of course, that is exactly what we have now. A regularized system of work visas helps solve that problem–for those who want to go back and forth.

    And I worry that people who aren’t here permanently don’t contribute to their community as much.

    There needs to be a pathway for that as well. Of course, marriage and birthright citizenship are part of that pathway (which stops the kinds of multi-generational problems we see in places like Germany and France.

    I don’t want a lot of Mexicans or Indians living in America, I want a lot of Mexican-Americans and Indian-Americans.

    Sure–and see my answer above: the 14th Amendment makes that happen within one generation if people stay. But you are discounting the fact that there are people who live in Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana who would happily come work in south Texas or CA and go home again.

    Our current laws don’t accommodate, adequately, the natural cross-border traffic that happens when two populations live this close to one another (and, to be clear, there are a lot of crossings of this nature on a daily basis as it is).

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  62. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: This is exactly the same thing that England is thinking of doing, now that they’re kicking the nasty EU out, as well as all those nasty EU furriners who pick crops: short term visas so they can turn around and hire the exact same people back again (since UKers don’t seem to be interested in picking up the slack.)

    The fact that what with the better economy in the EU the “nasty EU furriners” are likely to now say “naw, man, not interested; especially not interested given how you natives treat us” just never occurs to the English.

    So make sure you enjoy your strawberries at Wimbledon this year, guys–might be the last opportunity to have them.

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  63. @Monala: I think he is making some broad neoliberal/globalist point, but I am honestly not sure. I have tried to directly ask him several times, but have given up due to lack of responsiveness.

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  64. @grumpy realist: To be clear, the EU has free movement between member states, so it is not a direct comparison to US-Mexico.

    Part of why I would suggest temporary worker visas is that is a compromise position between the more restrictive policies we have now (and which encourage undocumented entry) and open borders wherein labor could flow freely.

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  65. @Gustopher: This all falls into the “I just work here” category–James hires the tech guys and I gave up trying to run a site when I abandoned PoliBlog a number of years ago.

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  66. (Not to be dismissive, I just no longer worry about such things).

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  67. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Perhaps it is just being a tech worker in Seattle that I see far more people using work visas as a stepping stone for permanent residence — I don’t even consider migrant workers.

    Yes, we need something to support them. But I would generally want to limit the work our work visas allow to seasonal things.

    And if there are good workers in Tijuana who cross the border every day to work here… I just want them to move here. We are a stronger, better country with them.

    OT: Pruitt just resigned. Given all the things he hasn’t resigned for, I cannot begin to reasonably guess what is about to be made public.

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  68. mattbernius says:

    @Gustopher:

    Perhaps it is just being a tech worker in Seattle that I see far more people using work visas as a stepping stone for permanent residence — I don’t even consider migrant workers.

    This is not an uncommon situation. Unless you are involved with seasonal industries — like farming — how would you know these jobs exist?

    Beyond that, the idea of migrant workers doesn’t fit into our national narrative of American Exceptionalism. We’ve been conditioned to think of being American as the ultimate goal. So the thought that someone would only want to come to this country to work for limited periods of time and then return home seem abhorrent.

    Which gets to:

    And if there are good workers in Tijuana who cross the border every day to work here… I just want them to move here. We are a stronger, better country with them.

    Serious question, why?

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  69. @Gustopher:

    I see far more people using work visas as a stepping stone for permanent residence

    I have hired a fair share of H1B holders who often go on to get a green card, but like with the tech sector, that is a different issue than is faced by seasonal work by migrant labor.

    Although I don’t see a problem with work visa leading to permanent status leading to citizenship. What is the objection?

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  70. Jen says:

    Speaking of immigration, what on earth would be the logic behind a “denaturalization” search process? Actively looking for people who are naturalized US citizens with the intent to find some hole in their applications and kick them out?

    https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/uscis-starting-denaturalization-task-force/

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  71. @Jen: I saw that headline yesterday, but have not had a chance to read, let alone think, about the situation.

    It does suggest that the ideological drive here goes well beyond worrying about the MS13 barbarians at the gate.

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  72. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Although I don’t see a problem with work visa leading to permanent status leading to citizenship. What is the objection?

    The years of economic uncertainty and mild indentured servitude for the people affected.

    I have no objection to the people who are on work visas seeking permanent residence — that’s the system we have, and that’s the game they have to play. I just object to having so many people pushed into work visas — and dependent on their employer to be allowed to stay in the country — when what we really need are more slots for permanent residence that leads to citizenship.

    If the policy was work visa for two years leads automatically to a green card, I would have fewer objections.

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  73. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But you are discounting the fact that there are people who live in Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana who would happily come work in south Texas or CA and go home again.

    It’s a little known fact that plenty of immigrants who came to America in the XIX Century, eventually returned home to retire.

    Temporary work permits for seasonal work would be great, if they’re implemented right. Currently all such things, from permanent immigrants to work visas and so on, are given grudgingly, with the goal being to limit how many foreigners are allowed in. You’d need an open system and reasonable vetting.

    Also, this would not address the surge of Central American immigrants, whoa re fleeing violence and other adverse conditions at home, not looking for seasonal work. and still not all would want to stay permanently. Some might return if conditions improve.

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  74. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius: We need to rope in hard working, productive tax payers before the bill for Republican deficits comes due. Get them committed to our country.

    Only about half joking. Social Security is structured to require a higher birth rate than America has. We need those people from somewhere. If we can skip the costs of educating children, and just have people suddenly appear on tax roles, that’s even better.

    Also, they create a demand for better Mexican restaurants— and that’s good for all of us.

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  75. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I just object to having so many people pushed into work visas — and dependent on their employer to be allowed to stay in the country —

    Work visas, or temporary work permits, don’t have to work that way.

    Suppose you were to grant all comers permit to work in your country (any country) for six months, regardless of whether they have a job offer or not; and assuming they pass reasonable vetting. Let’s say these permits are renewable indefinitely, in six month installments, so long as the holder commits no felonies and pays all applicable taxes.

    Seasonal workers would likely not stay even six months at a stretch, but would return home sooner. Next year they’d apply again (and not all of them).

    This would make for free trade on labor, with each worker doing their own trade.

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  76. @Kathy:

    Also, this would not address the surge of Central American immigrants, whoa re fleeing violence and other adverse conditions at home, not looking for seasonal work. and still not all would want to stay permanently

    Sure. I wasn’t trying to propose comprehensive solutions in a blog comment box 😉

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  77. @Gustopher:

    The years of economic uncertainty and mild indentured servitude for the people affected.

    I think you are now offering a broader critique that my quick list of things to address can bear.

    I cannot see a situation in which the options are no visa or automatic pathway to citizenship with no category in between, however.

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  78. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Sure. I wasn’t trying to propose comprehensive solutions in a blog comment box

    Don’t you have more than 140 characters available? 😉

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  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Nah, he’s just shooting off his mouth, but I thank you for holding a more optimistic opinion; society needs people who will do that.

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