Stopping the Flow of Illegal Immigrants
Steven Taylor has a long post on the futility of our current supply-side approach to illegal immigration. Among the problems he details are the sheer size of the border with Mexico, the incredible demand that drives people to risk everything to take menial jobs, and the unbearable costs entailed in measures that would actually work.
Illegal immigration presents exactly the same enforcement problems as illegal drugs. As long as the demand for a good is sufficiently strong that people are willing to break the law to secure it, all criminalization does is drive prices up and create ancillary crime. In the case of drugs, we get junkies robbing and killing in order to get the money to support their habit and an entire organized crime apparatus to protect the sellers and their market share. In the case of illegal immigration, it’s smuggling, forged documents, unpaid taxes, and other mostly white collar crime.
Ultimately, then, this becomes a problem to be solved on the demand side. Ideally, this would entail bringing the Mexican economy to the level where a job picking lettuce in the hot sun is not worth dying for while simultaneously allowing more workers to come across legally.
As the story this morning about subsidizing the medical care of illegals demonstrates, we’re not willing to bear the burdens of enforcing the law. That’s a bad thing. There should be no laws on the books that we don’t actually intend to enforce, let alone that are impossible to enforce. Doing so undermines respect for the law.