Over the past several weeks, I have been hearing various stories of often very young immigrants from Mexican and central America crossing into the United States in great numbers. It view this as a humanitarian crisis and support anyone who has been doing anything to help. A friend asked me what I thought of this as well as immigration in general and a few thoughts came to mind.
First off, I favor letting those who have made it here stay. My understanding is that many if not most of them do even have family to be returned to, and I think they are honestly better off here in the states. Generally speaking I am in favor of allowing people to freely move across the earth’s surface as they please (with the exception of allowing them to invade the justly acquire personal property of others, however one defines that). I tend to favor generally open borders. I tend to find it that so many self styled conservatives, small government types and free market types are so bent on restricting the crossing of boarders. After all boarders are barriers to trade and free association.
I also dislike the fact that we have a large class of people who are in the US working but have to live in constant fear and suffer various kinds of abuses because they have no legal standing and the people who employ them can turn them over to the authorities to be deported at anytime. It is especially troublesome since it is often easier to enter the country illegally than legally and the distinction between legal and illegal immigration strikes me as irrelevant to the persons actual situation. An illegal immigrant can come here and work his butt off while a legal one can come and live off the welfare system, this hardly strikes me as fair or sensible.
My stance is only reinforced by the fact that US drug policy has also played major role in creating the chaos that immigrants crossing our southern boarder are seeking refuge from. This is not to mention that these central American kids are coming from a region where the US has a long history support nasty dictatorships, exploitative (literal) banana republics and murderous death squads, and this I’m sure has contributed to the general poverty and instability of the region. On some level a case could be made that this is a humanitarian crisis that the US contributed to and that it should take some responsibility by providing for the needs of incoming refugees. Additionally the usual incoming flows of immigrants from Mexico, are here in part because NAFTA has forced their country to buy (often US government subsidized) American agricultural goods, undermining the local rural economies.
This is not to mention that much of the neoliberal structural adjustment reforms that many of the Latin American countries were subjected to (at the behest of the World Bank and IMF) largely, took government held resources, (often stolen from the general population) and handed them over to multinational companies. Furthermore, I have to question whether expanding things like American Corporate liability and entity norms, and the enforcement of US patents and copyrights into these countries has really benefited the local populations much.
That said, a line has to be drawn somewhere, there are going to be limits to the US taxpayer’s willingness and ability to feed clothe and school every any kid who can make it across the border and we do not want to create a situation where we are attracting increasingly more people by giving out free amenities. I do think it is perfectly reasonable that they should be protected by law enforcement as well as have access to emergency services. I hated seeing those Fox news pundits who seemed to imply that the local emergency people should not have answered the calls requesting water or emergency assistance. Ultimately If we are ever forced to choose between cutting back on the government services we offer or restricting the freedom of those wishing to enter the country, I prefer the former. I dislike the idea, of restricting freedom in order to cut down on the demand for using government services. This why I do not particularly like seat belt laws or the various types of “sin” taxes.
That is why I generally favor allowing people wish to come and live here peacefully to do so and I also support getting rid of the drug war, NAFTA and the above mentioned agricultural subsidies. In addition to these, measures I favor doing what we can to make it easier for immigrants and working class people to get by without many of the obstruct attempts by working class people to support themselves or stretch their budgets. This means getting rid of zoning laws and regulations that arbitrarily limit how many non-related people can live in one home, or that make it difficult or impossible do things like starting restaurants, barber shops, or day care centers from one’s home (or taxi services from one’s car). Additionally I tend to oppose zoning restrictions that prohibit people not only from operating businesses out of their homes, but also forbid them from growing foods in their yards or keeping animals like chickens on the property.
Additionally, I think people should be freer to build things out of local supplies that they are able to scrounge or get for cheap. Building codes that require all building designs to be signed off by a licensed architect basically give people looking to build a choice equivalent to having either a steak dinner or starving. Additionally I would like to see policies that would make it easier for people to settle in unused pieces of land or abandoned buildings, and eventually get to own these places if they are able to reside on them long enough or convert them into livable homes.
That generally summarizes my thoughts on immigration issues in the United States. Thanks for reading.