More on Immigration
Jeff at Caerdroia has an interesting post on immigration.
OK, but we have these laws about immigration, and as a matter of curiosity, I’d like to think about how we could enforce them, to prevent the aforementioned terrorists from getting and staying here. And here’s where the bad thinking comes in. Most people I’ve been able to find recommend that we go after the employers, or that we build a wall on the border, or some other magic bullet method. Here’s something that I’ve learned about magic bullets in my life: there aren’t any. Perfection simply isn’t attainable except in very, very limited areas for very, very limited times. Try going to the store to get something, and see how many times such a simple trip goes wrong due to a flat, or the store being out of stock, or forgetting your credit card.
I think Jeff raises a very good point here (I can’t tell you how many times I go to the store and forget to buy one of the items I wanted to buy…and this is something simple, not big and messy like illegal immigration). If you put a wall on the southern border then the people wanting to come here will look for another way to get in. Granted, the cost of coming to the U.S. has gone up, and as a result fewer people will attemtp to make the trip. But will it be zero? I doubt it…and we have a much, much bigger border with Canada.
The only kind of defense that works is a defense in depth: it is necessary to put so many different layers between your core and that which you want to stop, with different characteristics (both strengths and weaknesses) in each layer, that one of the layers will catch any given attack or effort. If we want to stop illegal immigration, we need to do all of these:
- Make legal immigration easier for non-criminals and non-terrorists (or terrorist supporters). This includes such efforts as guest worker programs, as well as dramatic reductions in the wait times and paperwork necessary to come here.
- Patrol the borders much more vigorously, land and sea.
- Make deportation of non-citizens who do not have legal documents illegal unless they make a valid claim for asylum.
- Make that deportation fast.
- Make deportation ironclad: do not release illegals from custody until they are in their destination country.
Heavily fine any employers who hire illegal immigrants.
- To catch such employers, offer a conditional amnesty: the first illegal immigrant who turns in a particular employer, provided they are otherwise eligible to be here (ie: would not be kept out if they applied legally to immigrate), gets citizenship short-circuited, while the rest of the illegals that work there are deported.
- Do not give automatic citizenship to children born in the US: only if their parents are here legally should they be given citizenship.
- Require proof of legal residence before issuing any government identification or providing any government services.
- Hold liable, and fine, anyone who knowingly aids an illegal immigrant in remaining in the country.
Looks pretty good to me. I’ve noted before the economic arguments for limiting illegal immigration is pretty lame.1 But at the same time there is indeed a serious issue with regards to national security. The idea of making legal immigration simpler and easier will also mean we’ll have fewer people slipping into the country unbeknowst to our law enforcement/national security agencies. If immigrants are comming at designated entry points they can in theory be screened.2
Will Jeff’s proposal cost more? Sure it will. But maybe we should spend our limited government resources on that than another give-away for the elderly (e.g. the Medicare Prescription Drug Budgetary Blackhole). Anyhow, I suggest reading all of Jeff’s post, as well as Mark’s post.
1Here is another reason that the arguments are lame. Many of the anti-illegal immigration folks say it is only illegal immigration they oppose. Well if we had legal immigration that let in numbers similar to what we see with illegal immigration we’d get the same outcome economically speaking. This economic outcome is what many of the anti-illegal immigrant people argue against. Hence, while they claim they like legal immigration what they really mean is they like very little legal immigration and zero illegal immigration, or more simply they are anti-immigration.
2And screened not just for national security risks, but more mundane crimes and disease as well.