Immigration has always been an issue in the Americas, not just North America. But all the Americas. Starting several thousand years ago, homo-sapiens crossed the Siberian land bridge, entered what is now Alaska, and over several generations, made their way all the way down to what is now Argentina and Chile. We’re something of a parasite here on planet earth. I say that, use that word jokingly although with dictionary accuracy. But a lot people use it to degrade and lower the value of their fellow human beings. Everyone has pretty much taken their turn at being ostracized – Jews, Irish, Catholic, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, and worst of all, the Native Americans who were pushed from east to west when Europeans colonized. And they were firstees!
When I was younger and roamed the alternative music scene in Detroit, there were several groups and cliques and associations and although we all got along, I remember a particular prominent group called the skinheads. Easy to pick out, they had shaved heads, worker type uniforms with suspenders, combat boots and assorted garments that gave one a military look. The boots were important. The laces even more so. You see if the wearer had white or red laces, it meant they were the Nazi type; if the wearer had blue laces, it meant you were cool if you were an American, and if you had yellow laces it meant you liked looking like a skinhead but had no political leaning or affiliation. It was strange that men who looked nearly identical could spar over the smallest thing – shoelaces.
Now if shoelaces are enough to set one group apart from another, with everything else remaining equal regarding appearance, is it any wonder more defined and obvious differences set us apart?
Color of skin, religion, married/unmarried, gay, straight, southern, northern, Harvard/Yale, height, weight, etc. You name it, if it can be different, someone is willing to fight about it, shun another and try to seal off the border over it. A silly rivalry here in Michigan is that we have two universities claiming rights to be the Michigan university – University of Michigan and Michigan State. And every time they get together on the football field, a civil war (although most of the time, cold civil war), ensues. About the only truce over a difference is Star Wars vs Star Trek fans but they still snarl at each other over their lightsabers and phasers set to stun.
People seem to have an innate fear of the other. It’s a what is not part of my tribe, could be dangerous mentality. Evolutionarily speaking, this makes sense. Outsiders could disrupt a family unit however large or small that is. An outsider could rob, rape or steal from the tribe and surely did much more often before modern law and order. But we can’t let innate fears drive us. We’re in the age of reason, after all.
We understand the fact that people want self-preservation, to care for their family (even if it’s just themselves as an individual), to obtain wealth and avoid pain and violence. People seek out the best way to provide for their basic needs like being accepted, belonging, nourished, housed and the like.
From the very beginning of the founding of the United States, people left Europe to accomplish those things. Not finding it in their homeland, people came to America for a better life. America was founded on such principles that we’re better over here. The Declaration of Independence was a document saying that’s the goal, the Constitution (particularly Bill of Rights) was set up to let people make their own life choices and then France sent us a lovely lady statue with a poem by Emma Lazarus which reads, in part, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” *
So we have it in our rhetoric we’re all welcoming and in our nature to wanna push away the other. So what do we do?
Easy, we stop listening to the innate blanketing fear mongering.
Despite many coming into the United States illegally, they’re not coming here to board airplanes and fly them into skyscrapers. They’re not raping and pillaging. There are no Mad Max caravans of roving raiders headed to the castle gates to steal the princess and prizes. In fact, most come here and work jobs Americans complain they don’t want. And because they’re unskilled and desperate for a better living, they can’t afford to wait it out through a lengthy immigration policy. Needs gotta be met quickly or things like starvation and disease set in.
The libertarian solution to immigration, legal or otherwise, is simple: People should be allowed to come and go as long as they remain peaceful.
Some argue immigrants come here and leech off our social welfare programs. That’s an easy fix too. Social welfare programs are government programs. And government programs don’t work. So, get rid of them. Everyone coming here would be doing so with the understanding they have to earn merit and work to achieve need satisfaction.
Of course there will always be people wanting a short cut, to rob and pillage, but crime has been dropping in all categories since the nineteen-eighties and we can chalk this up to everything just keeps getting better and better all around. I can’t recommend any higher than reading Steven Pinker’s, “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress” which examines all areas of human activity and shows we just keep getting better. Everything from life expectancy, overall health, water and food quality, air quality, work safety, housing, and so forth. The barbarity of humanity is still with us but nothing at all like the fears and irrational scares one might hear out on the street.
So, despite all this good news and world development, still worried about people coming in from other countries that are diseased, criminals, unproductive? Okay, well do you worry when a new neighbor moves in from a neighboring city? Or from a different school district? Or a new participant is in your yoga class? Or at your gym? Or when a new face shows up to landscape your lawn? Do you do extensive background checks? No, you don’t. You have no idea where the new face came from. You probably pay no attention at all as long as something isn’t demonstrably wrong. You rate their behavior not country of origin.
Think about it. Why should I, in Michigan, worry about someone crossing from Mexico into Texas? Or Canada to Wyoming?Shouldn’t I pay more attention geographically to the person who moved in a few houses down from mine? And yet neighbors coming and going, houses selling and being built and people moving in and out of our local area happens daily and yet, we only get frightened about it if we find out they came in first by crossing an imaginary line in the sand.
Look at it with this example:
“John, from down the street, was just arrested for burglary.”
“John, from down the street, who illegally arrived here from Mexico, was just arrested for burglary.”
To me, the addtion of “who illegally arrived here from Mexico” isn’t helpful and doesn’t change the fact that someone burglarized a home.
Proponents of a strict immigration policy are bent on finding every possible person who could be a danger. The problem is that until we get a Minority Report, mind reading system (ain’t gonna happen), you’re not going to have a perfect people-gate. But what we do know already, even if we removed immigration policy entirely, is that the majority of people coming here are not doing so via Trojan Horse of violence. They just wanna meet needs and do so through honorable work and mingling in neighborhoods and community. In fact, I’d argue most coming in illegally will keep as much to themselves as possible to avoid deportation.
People get across the border regardless of laws. Same as people obtain guns regardless of the law. If you can tell me one more law or regulation that would keep guns out of the hands of school shooters then maybe we can find one more law or regulation that would keep people from crossing the border without proper papers. But we can’t, we won’t and maybe instead of increasing and piling up laws we should look at reducing them. That way, more people will apply properly for entry rather than do whatever they can to avoid the hassle.
So one more time for those in the back, the libertarian solution to immigration, legal or otherwise, is simple: People should be allowed to come and go as long as they remain peaceful. The occasional bad egg is not preventable. But the loss of many good people is inevitable with a draconian, red tape, border wall policy. Make it easier, not harder. Most people are good.
* True, Africans didn’t have such a choice. Slavery was an awful carry over from the old world but in keeping with the founding principals of the United States, was thankfully done away with after the Civil War. And as noted in the essay, the Native Americans probably got the worst of the deal, another carry over from colonization mentality. The point is that the iron of being better with more humanity and civility is a current of America that eventually rights wrongs, or at least, does the best in can.