Illegal Immigrants and Emigrants

by Don Boudreaux on September 5, 2006

in Immigration

Marshall Fritz is the moving force behind the noble effort to separate school and state.  He recently sent me an e-mail, chiming in on the debate over whether or not immigrants who don’t possess official government permission to be in the United States truly are wrong-doers worthy of our scorn and deserving punishment.

What percentage of the American public are opposed to illegal emigration?  You know, people who disregard the law and hop the Berlin wall or who disobey Castro and leave Cuba?

If an immigrant’s failure to get government permission to come into America is sufficient to render him or her a criminal worthy of scorn and punishment, then the same arguably is true of emigrants who fail to get government permission to escape from a particular country.  Telling a Cuban, for example, to wait his "turn" — telling him that law and order and decency and fairness require that he first get permission to leave from Castro’s government — would be a most absurd exercise of the myth that the state defines all that is right and wrong.

It’s true that some governments are less evil than others (with Cuba’s among the most heinous), but no government creates rights.  If no government — not even Uncle Sam — creates rights, then people have rights (as the American founders understood) independent of government.  And if people have rights independent of government, then the popular anti-immigrant tactic of pointing at "illegal" aliens in America and accusing them of wrong-doing simply because they are here without Uncle Sam’s official blessing is illegitimate.

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{ 25 comments }

Michael Giampaoli September 5, 2006 at 1:57 pm

To a large degree, arguments opposing open immigration stem from anticipated crushing weight on the welfare apparatus. While I agree with the "rights" perspective, the fear that the existing welfare state will explode to accomodate the new immigration is real. The rights argument is more persuasive coupled with a disintegration of the welfare state.

TGGP September 5, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Why even bother restricting emmigration from Cuba if the Cubans do their restricting for us? When they shipped their criminals and insanse asylum inmates is when we should have restricted them.

The real answer to your question is that Americans don't give a whit what other governments say. We don't live there and their laws do not apply here. We do care about our own rule of law.

Henry September 5, 2006 at 2:48 pm

There's a relationship between illegal emigration and illigal immigration? This is news to me. Maybe I should tell the prison system that there's a relationship between the fact that some people are not allowed out of prison without permissions and … what? … that some people aren't allowed INTO prison without permission?

All kidding aside, there is absolutely no relationship between being disallowed from leaving an organization, and being disallowed to join an organization, except inasmuch as in the case of citizenship, one must always belong to at least one club, and leaving a club must correspond to joining another. Unfortunately the current debate on illegal immigration does not encompass the topic of political asylum.

CS September 5, 2006 at 2:55 pm

Prof. Boudreaux,

Isn't there an important difference between immigration and emigration here? In the emigration case people oppose the legal order of a country, *so they leave it behind and make no further demands of it.* In the case of illegal immigration to America, immigrants are demanding acceptance, transfer payments from taxpayers, and other benefits *from the very legal order they have defied in entering the country.*

Further, in general one can oppose false imprisonment without endorsing trespass. Suppose I travel to Mars, homestead an area, and establish a gated community with set rules of admission and various regulations. As owner of this property I could also require that parents have their minor children comply with the rules, and that maturing adults either promise to abide by them or depart my property. Surely in this case there is no unlimited obligation to accept individuals into the property/community.

Now, one can make a plausible argument that actual states do not have such rights, as they are established through coercion and the forced incorporation of land. But essentially every 'title' to real property anywhere on Earth has its distant origins in some sort of violent expropriation, and thus the same argument would allow me to justify setting up camp in your living room.

Ann September 5, 2006 at 3:16 pm

I agree with Henry and CS. Surely there's a difference between locking up guests in my home and refusing to allow them to leave, and locking people out of my home and refusing to allow them to enter whenever they want. The two are simply not the same.

dj superflat September 5, 2006 at 3:34 pm

i assume that you were trying to make a point by a very strained analogy. but if you really think the comparison holds, this is the first of your posts that i think is just plain silly (that is, not well thought out, rather than something thoughtful i might nonetheless disagree with). giving the benefit of the doubt, i assume we're all missing some aspect of the analysis, some subtlety you believe justifies the comparison. care to elaborate further?

shecky September 5, 2006 at 4:39 pm

"Surely there's a difference between locking up guests in my home and refusing to allow them to leave, and locking people out of my home and refusing to allow them to enter whenever they want. The two are simply not the same."

Your example doesn't apply. It's more like you locking people out of your house, while your spouse lets them in the back door. America clearly speaks out of both sides of it's mouth on the issue, deriding illegal immigrants while seeking their labor. In one way, this issue is like Walmart bashing, moaning and groaning about how bad Walmart is for America, so bad we can't stop ourselves from shopping there.

"In the case of illegal immigration to America, immigrants are demanding acceptance, transfer payments from taxpayers, and other benefits *from the very legal order they have defied in entering the country.*"

It seems to me illegal immigrant demands boil down to, "leave me the hell alone and let me work".

More curious is that making immigration open and legal would allow immigrants to legitimately add to the taxpayer kitty. However, it would make them legitimately eligible for the benefits. Interestingly, most seem to pay into the coffers already (yet may never see many of those benefits).

Bob Smith September 6, 2006 at 12:25 am

Prof. Boudreaux,
I think that the point that is trying to be made is that in both instances the individual is coming here without the prior approval of the American government. In the case of the emigrant from Cuba or East Berlin, we were/are willing to accept them freely; in the case of the illegal immigrant less so. Having worked with "undocumented workers" I will tell you that they are not looking to join hands with those on the welfare rolls, but rather are looking for the same opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their families as anyone else. Isn't that the American Dream? Isn't that the true meaning of the words on the Statue of Liberty? While I am unwilling to point a finger at anyone specifically, I doubt that there would be all this Sturm und Drang if we were seeing similar numbers of "undocumented workers" coming over the border from Canada or England.

xteve September 6, 2006 at 12:42 am

"To a large degree, arguments opposing open immigration stem from anticipated crushing weight on the welfare apparatus. While I agree with the "rights" perspective, the fear that the existing welfare state will explode to accomodate the new immigration is real. The rights argument is more persuasive coupled with a disintegration of the welfare state."

If you were saying that so-called illegal immigrants who did NOT take advantage of the welfare state were exempt from your fears, & that natural-born citizens taking increasing advantage of the the welfare state WERE a matter of concern, I would understand your point better, as a criticism of the welfare state. As it's written, though, it sounds like quite a double standard, & I'm unsure why one would feel the need to couple the immigration debate with the welfare debate, except as an excuse to emotionally manipulate the immigration debate.

As for the house analogy: I see how that could discredit the emigration analogy, but it ends there. The immigration debate is nothing like me denying someone entry into my house; it's like YOU denying someone entry into my house. America doesn't own my house.

Jeff Younger September 6, 2006 at 4:55 am

I want into George Mason University, and I will lie on my transcripts, and I will hide from the campus police when they come looking, and I will use all the campus resources you pay for, and y'all will help me. Why? Because keeping me out is unjust: it is equivalent to refusing to let anyone graduate and leave the university.

Sorry Don, but your's is the dumbest crypto-anarchist argument ever.

Borders are a vital national interest, tantamount to the existence of the state. Therefore, borders are one of the very few entities that the state can legitimately subject to collective control.

Christopher Rasch September 6, 2006 at 11:38 am

So, if I'm to understand the border control advocates, the Berlin Wall, when built and staffed by East Germans, was a symbol of totalitarian dictatorship, but if built and staffed by West Germans, would've been a legitimate defense of a nation's sovereignity?

If so, it's curious that the morality of shooting would-be refugees changes with the color of the shooter's uniform.

Geoffrey Brand September 6, 2006 at 11:43 am

The important point is that people have rights ..
governments do not.

People have property rights …
governments do not have property rights..

Legitimate governments are organized by the consent of the governed to protect peoples rights..
Legitimate government’s do not exist to exert non existent rights of some abstract entity called “the State”

Feel free to keep people out of your own home..

Please do not use government to exert control over property you do not own..

John Locke’s discussion of natural rights is always a good review..

JohnDewey September 6, 2006 at 2:35 pm

Jeff Younger,

You do have a chance of being legally accepted into George Mason University. Unskilled Mexicans with no relatives in the U.S. have no legal means to gain entrance to the U.S. employers eager to hire them.

We need the labor of the 7 million illegal workers here in the U.S. Like it or not, we've become dependent on them. Our economy would suffer without those workers, and without the other 5 million illegal aliens that some would have deported.

Jeff Younger September 7, 2006 at 1:22 am

John Dewey, with an eye to stasis: I agree that "our economy would suffer without those workers, and without the other 5 million illegal aliens that some would have deported." But Don went much farther than that, offering an absurd justification for no borders at all. To agree with you, I need not jettison the concept of "national border" and the concept of "nation" with it.

Even though I agree with your points, there is a very serious problem with consequential justifications of illegal immigration. Right now citizens are being prosecuted and imprisoned for violating US tax laws, fraudulently submitting federal forms, social security fraud, and the like. Moreover, legal residents are being deported for conspiracy, income tax evasion, social security fraud, and the like. Amnesty proposals suspend some laws for illegal immigrants, simply because violating those laws are valuable to one social group, while still allowing prosecution of other groups of people for the same crimes.

Giving illegal immigrants amnesty and allowing them to stay thus violates the sacred principle of equal protection of the laws. In my opinion, that principle trumps any consequentialist justification for illegal immigration. We should change the laws, or apply a moratorium on their enforcement — for everyone. Let's not discard equal protection of the laws, let's change the law.

xteve September 7, 2006 at 3:38 am

"Borders are a vital national interest, tantamount to the existence of the state. Therefore, borders are one of the very few entities that the state can legitimately subject to collective control."

All that national borders mean is that on one side of a line you have the juristiction of one government & on the other side of the line you have the juristiction of another government. When a government "protects its borders" it's to keep the other government, usually in the form of an army, from excercising its juristiction on your side of the line. Borders are not "entities" for the government to "subject to collective control" (what an unnerving phrase!) for the purpose of social engineering. The "nation" is not the govenment's property, thus cannot enforce any property rights over it. I agree that we should change the laws, but in the mean time unust laws may be justly ignored.

JohnDewey September 8, 2006 at 12:37 pm

Jeff Younger: "Giving illegal immigrants amnesty and allowing them to stay thus violates the sacred principle of equal protection of the laws."

Well, I disagree. Not enforcing one law – which we haven't done for decades – doesn't mean that we're sacrificing equal protection when we enforce other laws.

But what are you proposing be done anyway? Immigration law requires that all suspected illegal immigrants be granted an individual hearing. We simply do not have the lawyers and immigration judges to deport 12 million people.

What solution do you have for the employers – and their customers – who now depend on 7 million illegal immigrant workers?

If you are truly concerned about our nation's security, it seems to me the only solution is to somehow document these 7 million workers and every other immigrant worker who resides in our country. How is that documentation going to happen if those workers do not document themselves voluntarily? Do you really think we have the resources to find 12 million illegal aliens? especially when at least half the U.S. population has no intention of turning them in?

Yeah, I believe we need to change the laws. I also believe we should end the arrogant attitude some have about these workers – workers who have been welcomed with open arms by millions of U.S. citizens. These workers are victims of those idiotic laws you so cherish – the ones we enacted but refused to enforce because the cost is astronomically high.

Jeff Younger September 8, 2006 at 11:16 pm

John Dewey wrote: "Well, I disagree. Not enforcing one law – which we haven't done for decades – doesn't mean that we're sacrificing equal protection when we enforce other laws."

Actually, legal immigrants are subject to and prosecuted under the same laws that amnesty provisions forgive for illegal aliens. The same is true for tax evasion, social security fraud, and the like. You err by claiming the laws I’ve listed exempt illegal aliens. This is a factual dispute, not a qualitative one. Failing to apply the immigration laws to one group, solely because it advantages one social group, is a clear violation of equal protection, and I think it trumps consequentialist justifications.

John Dewey wrote: “But what are you proposing be done anyway? Immigration law requires that all suspected illegal immigrants be granted an individual hearing. We simply do not have the lawyers and immigration judges to deport 12 million people. What solution do you have for the employers – and their customers – who now depend on 7 million illegal immigrant workers?”

I have little sympathy for employers who have chosen to build a business model on illegal activity, and that includes the illegal aliens themselves. Because the laws were well known and always subject to various levels of enforcement, such difficulties must be considered a well-known business risk. Advocating for amnesty on the basis of harm to employers is thus tantamount to a government bailout of business, and no capitalist would do that.

Democrats axed the guest worker and migrant worker programs which provided for orderly entry of foreign workers. I’d like to see that program return. One reason that it hasn’t is widespread lawlessness, which allows the government to look the other way for some workers — while imprisoning and deporting others. Unequal enforcement of the laws is the reason we have no guest worker program.

Xteve wrote: ‘The "nation" is not the govenment's property, thus cannot enforce any property rights over it. I agree that we should change the laws, but in the mean time unust laws may be justly ignored.’

If you mean that the government cannot enforce it’s laws (and I do think you mean that) then neither the just nor the unjust laws will be enforced — we arrive again at anarchism.

Xteve wrote: ‘When a government "protects its borders" it's to keep the other government, usually in the form of an army, from excercising its juristiction on your side of the line.’

True, and not only to prevent exercise of foreign jurisdiction but to prevent a loss of jurisdiction “on your side of the line.” Widespread lawlessness IS a loss of jurisdiction, and the actors causing it need not be an army.

Xteve wrote: ‘Borders are not "entities" for the government to "subject to collective control" (what an unnerving phrase!) for the purpose of social engineering.’

Actually they are. Government itself is a form of collective control, and borders are one the most important jurisdictions of government; hence, the borders ought to be collectively controlled. I should think the experience of governance under the Articles of Confederation would have demonstrated this point most aptly.

xteve September 9, 2006 at 9:00 pm

Jeff, what exactly do you believe the purpose of government to be? From reading your last post in particular, I would almost gather that you believe it is to enforce whatever laws it comes up with, regardless of their merit, right or wrong. I'm not being flippant. It really seems to me like that's your possition.

If the government enacted a truly immoral law, would you insist that they enforce it? If yes, why? If no, would you be willing to acknowledge that some of us might view the current immigration laws as immoral?

Are these immigrants causing damage to anyone or their property? Some surely are, like some people do in any group, & when they do, someone should stop them from commiting those particular crimes. But failure to submit to the whims of others is not a transgression against people or property. So why punish them? Just to maintain power? Doesn't that strike you as somewhat authoritarian?

"Advocating for amnesty on the basis of harm to employers is thus tantamount to a government bailout of business, and no capitalist would do that."

Failure to punish someone for not doing anything violent or immoral is not the same as presenting them with a gift. That's almost like saying that anyone who has not harmed you is your benefactor. It's a sloppy approach to ethics.

"True, and not only to prevent exercise of foreign jurisdiction but to prevent a loss of jurisdiction “on your side of the line.” "

The existence of a border seems incidental to whether the government cracks down on someone under their jurisdiction. A border is just the line between two juristictions. We can debate the issue of who the government should let cross that line, & under what circumstances, but I don't see how a border possesses any other properties apart from that, nor any benefit to assuming any of these new properties.

"I should think the experience of governance under the Articles of Confederation would have demonstrated this point most aptly."

I'll confess ignorance here. To what are you refering?

Jeff Younger September 10, 2006 at 11:09 pm

Xsteve wrote: “If the government enacted a truly immoral law, would you insist that they enforce it? If yes, why? If no, would you be willing to acknowledge that some of us might view the current immigration laws as immoral?”

Yes. I acknowledge your point. I wholly disagree with it. Will you acknowledge that no law whatsoever could be enforced, if we abandoned enforcement because some people think the law is immoral? Will you acknowledge that republican government exists to allow an orderly means for the people to change the laws?

Xsteve wrote: “From reading your last post in particular, I would almost gather that you believe it is to enforce whatever laws it comes up with, regardless of their merit, right or wrong. I'm not being flippant. It really seems to me like that's your possition.”

I subscribe to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, so you are very wrong on this point.

Xsteve wrote: “Are these immigrants causing damage to anyone or their property? Some surely are, like some people do in any group, & when they do, someone should stop them from commiting those particular crimes. But failure to submit to the whims of others is not a transgression against people or property. So why punish them? Just to maintain power? Doesn't that strike you as somewhat authoritarian?”

I agree with some of your points. You have given a good case for changing the law, but it is a poor case for exempting some people from the law while imprisoning others, i.e. for violating the principle of equality under the law.

There is nothing unreasonable in the establishment of border controls oriented towards barring entry to violent criminals, people who have committed fraudulent acts, and people suspected or known to seek the overthrow of the US government.

Xsteve wrote: “Failure to punish someone for not doing anything violent or immoral is not the same as presenting them with a gift. That's almost like saying that anyone who has not harmed you is your benefactor. It's a sloppy approach to ethics.”

Well, this may be the crux of our disagreement. You are essentially arguing that equality under the law is a “sloppy approach to ethics.” Failure to punish one nationality under a law while aggressively punishing all other nationalities is a serious harm, in my opinion.

Xsteve wrote: “The existence of a border seems incidental to whether the government cracks down on someone under their jurisdiction. A border is just the line between two juristictions. We can debate the issue of who the government should let cross that line, & under what circumstances, but I don't see how a border possesses any other properties apart from that, nor any benefit to assuming any of these new properties.”

Here you’ve completely missed the point. My claims are not oriented towards establishing the nature of the border, but the nature of a jurisdiction. Jurisdiction can be lost by ways other than an invading army, in particular by lack of enforcement leading to widespread lawlessness. Your original claim, that borders are only intended to prevent exercise of jurisdiction by a foreign army, is thus incorrect. Under you scheme, government has no jurisdiction whatsoever, since anyone who feels a law is unjust need not obey it. That is anarchy, and your arguments amount to advocacy of anarchism.

Xsteve wrote: “I'll confess ignorance here. To what are you refering?”

You are aware that US had a national government under the Articles of Confederation, and the manifest failures of that form of government lead to the “more perfect union” of the Constitution…right?

xteve September 11, 2006 at 7:40 pm

"You have given a good case for changing the law, but it is a poor case for exempting some people from the law while imprisoning others, i.e. for violating the principle of equality under the law."

Oh, but I never advocated that. I'm against the imprisonment of anyone & everyone who has not transgressed against persons or property. You must be confusing my position with someone else's.

"Will you acknowledge that no law whatsoever could be enforced, if we abandoned enforcement because some people think the law is immoral?"

&

"I subscribe to the principles of the Declaration of Independence"

Contradiction? Or is this some other Declaration of Independence?

"My claims are not oriented towards establishing the nature of the border, but the nature of a jurisdiction."

I thought you were when you described borders as "a vital national interest, tantamount to the existence of the state" & "one of the very few entities that the state can legitimately subject to collective control." I must have misunderstood.

"Jurisdiction can be lost by ways other than an invading army, in particular by lack of enforcement leading to widespread lawlessness."

How do you define jurisdiction? Absolute power over the subjects? Still sounds authoritarian. I would think more people would respect the laws if the laws were more respectible. i suspect we would have a different approach to governance.

"You are essentially arguing that equality under the law is a “sloppy approach to ethics.”"

Absolutely not. The "sloppy approach to ethics" was in reference to your conflation of subsidizing a business with not locking up non-violent people merely for not asking the state for permission to work there. My exact phrase was: "That's almost like saying that anyone who has not harmed you is your benefactor" which makes no reference to equality under the law.

I'm actually in favor of equality under the law. Our disagreement is on how to secure it. I'm advocating amnesty for ALL who do not trangress against persons or property, while it seems you're advocating locking them ALL up. We agree on the ALL part, hence equality under the law. When the state imprisons those who have committed no such trangression, it then become the state who is transgressing.

Do you deny the possiblilty of an "unjust law"? If there is such a law, should we all just take our lumps & blindly obey?

"He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."

That's from the Declaration of Independence (whose principles you subscribe to) & is one of the "repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States."

So were the Revolutionaries in fact traitors who should have had the full weight of the British jurisdiction forced on them? They saw unjust laws & ignored them. They didn't wait around for the government to "give" them the freedoms that all men are born with. In fact, the entire Declaration of Independence could be summed up as "we have the right to justly ignore unjust laws." Eventually the crown granted them amnesty, while still infringing those same rights to others in Canada, Britain, & elsewhere. By applying your arguments, you would disagree with this outcome on the basis of these inequities that resulted, yet claim to subscribe to the principles that called for it. Which one of us actually believes in the principles of the Declaration anyway?

"There is nothing unreasonable in the establishment of border controls oriented towards barring entry to violent criminals, people who have committed fraudulent acts, and people suspected or known to seek the overthrow of the US government."

Sounds reasonable. Under which of those catagories falls those who get a job, rent an apartment, raise a family & coexist peacefully with their neighbors? I suspect you'll tell me it's fraudulent to not ask the government's permission first, but that just means we have a different definition of fraud. I would assert that there must be evidence of an injured party.

"You are aware that US had a national government under the Articles of Confederation, and the manifest failures of that form of government lead to the “more perfect union” of the Constitution…right?"

Of course. I was asking what about it "demonstrated [your] point most aptly." Incidently (not that it's relevant) the "manifest failures" of the AOC relative to the Constitution are not universally agreed upon. Ever hear of the so-called "Anti-Federalist Papers"? Did you know that many signers of the Declaration & other prominent patriots actually opposed ratification? But perhaps that's another debate for another time.

Jeff Younger September 15, 2006 at 2:13 am

xsteve wrote: "Oh, but I never advocated that. I'm against the imprisonment of anyone & everyone who has not transgressed against persons or property. You must be confusing my position with someone else's."

Or you are obfuscating. So let's see, citizens who commit social security frauds shouldn't be prosecuted? I really didn't think you'd go that far.

xsteve wrote: "Contradiction? Or is this some other Declaration of Independence?"

Remember this? "Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes."

Again, if people can simply ignore laws they think unjust, that is anarchy because the laws have no power over anyone. People ought to try and use the legislative power of government, and if still "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism" then there is a right of revolt.

But asking people who come here to submit to a simple check of their criminal background and insisting that they follow our laws simply does not amount to a "long train of abuses." The genius of the Declaration is that is preserves the right of revolt while simultaneously upholding the orderly process of lawmaking. The Declaration’s approach contrasts sharply with your anarchism.

xsteve wrote: “I'm actually in favor of equality under the law. Our disagreement is on how to secure it. I'm advocating amnesty for ALL who do not trangress against persons or property, while it seems you're advocating locking them ALL up.”

Well, your just being obfuscatory again. I’m advocating the equal enforcement of the laws, not locking everyone up. The law clearly does not call for locking everyone up, but it does call for deporting all people who violate immigration law. I’m definitely for that.

Moreover, I’m not sure you can advocate locking anyone up, since many will claim the laws protecting property are unjust — merely note the abundance of soft socialists in the country. Since they believe the law is unjust they need not follow it. Right?

xsteve wrote: “When the state imprisons those who have committed no such trangression, it then become the state who is transgressing.”

But they do transgress. As Milton Friedman observed, “But…[illegal immigration] is good for freedom. In principle, you ought to have completely open immigration. But with the welfare state it's really not possible to do that…If there were no welfare state, you could have open immigration, because everybody would be responsible for himself…At the moment I oppose unlimited immigration. I think much of the opposition to immigration is of that kind — because it's a fundamental tenet of the American view that immigration is good, that there would be no United States if there had not been immigration.”

The welfare state makes each illegal immigrant a transgressor, another mouth at the teat of the taxpayers. The fallacy of your thinking is to assume a free economy. The US economy is not free, and that must be address before talk of free immigration makes any sense whatsoever.

xsteve wrote: “Do you deny the possiblilty of an "unjust law"? If there is such a law, should we all just take our lumps & blindly obey?…By applying your arguments, you would disagree with this outcome on the basis of these inequities that resulted, yet claim to subscribe to the principles that called for it. Which one of us actually believes in the principles of the Declaration anyway?”

More obfuscatory drivel. Re-read my comments on the Declaration.

xsteve wrote: “Sounds reasonable. Under which of those catagories falls those who get a job, rent an apartment, raise a family & coexist peacefully with their neighbors? I suspect you'll tell me it's fraudulent to not ask the government's permission first, but that just means we have a different definition of fraud. I would assert that there must be evidence of an injured party.”

Not really. I’ll tell you that it’s fraudulent to tell an employer that you have a social security number when you do not, to steal the identity of someone else to get a job, to use fake identification in the process of contracting, to under-report your income to qualify for a tax refund, etc. Those are fraudulent acts with a definite harm to definite people. We may have a different definition of fraud, but I’m quite sure yours is wrong or you are overlooking essential elements of the illegal labor market. The welfare state creates the conditions of injury. You err by ignoring this essential fact.

xsteve wrote: “But perhaps that's another debate for another time.”

Fair enough.

xteve September 16, 2006 at 5:06 pm

The problems with the welfare argument, Jeff, are that:

(1) it tars with the same brush those immigrants who don't use the welfare system;

(2) it would also apply to legal immigrants who use the welfare system, making it not an issue limitted to illegals;

(3) it would also apply to native-born Americans who use the welfare sytem, making it not an immigration issue;

(4) it assumes that those who use the welfare system are responsible for propping up an inherently immoral & unworkable welfare system.

Then under the guise of "equal protection under the laws" you advocate punishing all members of a certain group (illegal immigrants) whether or not they commit this so-called crime but not those of another group who also commit this so-called crime. & I disagree with Milton Friedman on a lot of other issues, too, so that appeal to authority won't work with me.

You also failed to clarify your position on the Declaration of Independence, but that's mostly not relevant. Except:

"Remember this? "Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.""

They thought the immigration issue important enough to list it, as I pointed out before, so I doubt they considered the right to immigrate as light & transient. But that's not important. I only brought it up because I was confused by what I saw as your conflicting values. I still am, but I now recognize that as not being pertinent to the issue.

Don's original thesis seemed to boil down to his sentence "If an immigrant's failure to get government permission to come into America is sufficient to render him or her a criminal worthy of scorn and punishment, then the same arguably is true of emigrants who fail to get government permission to escape from a particular country." Perhaps I overlooked some finer points of your previous posts, Jeff, but until now I read you as saying that they do deserve scorn merely for breaking immigration law. Now I think you suggest that illegal immigrants who commit other crimes should not be exempt from prosecution merely because they're illegal immigrants. If that's your position, then I agree, but I question what that has to do with them being illegal immigrants.

But then you say "it does call for deporting all people who violate immigration law. I’m definitely for that" which suggests I was right the first time, rendering your other stuff about any other crimes they may or may not commit irrelevant.

"since many will claim the laws protecting property are unjust — merely note the abundance of soft socialists in the country. Since they believe the law is unjust they need not follow it. Right?"

On a more relevant thread I'd be more than happy to debate whether private property is just or unjust. But we're talking about whether the immigration laws are just or unjust. If you're arguing that since some laws are just then therefore all laws are just, & if I don't agree then I must be suggesting that since some laws are unjust then therefore all laws are unjust, then I should point out that that contains at least two logical fallacies.

I think our disagreement boils down to these issues, so I see no point in dwelling on the others tangents we got on. But one more quick tangent: you keep spelling my name wrong.

Jeff Younger September 21, 2006 at 12:02 pm

Then under the guise of "equal protection under the laws" you advocate punishing all members of a certain group (illegal immigrants) whether or not they commit this so-called crime but not those of another group who also commit this so-called crime. & I disagree with Milton Friedman on a lot of other issues, too, so that appeal to authority won't work with me.”

Re-read your sentence. It’s self-refuting. You call the group “illegal immigrants” and then write “whether or not they commit this so-called crime.” If they are illegal immigrants, then they committed the crime! That’s what ‘illegal immigrant’ means. LOL

Any immigrant who comes to America benefits from the welfare state. I’m not buying your argument, and I’m pretty sure you think it’s sophistry yourself.

Let me refute your points one by one.

Xteve wrote: “(1) it tars with the same brush those immigrants who don't use the welfare system;”

See my previous remarks.

Xteve wrote: “(2) it would also apply to legal immigrants who use the welfare system, making it not an issue limitted to illegals;”

Not really. Legal immigrants are subject to imprisonment, deportation and the same onerous taxation as citizens. If a green card holder enters into illegal employment arrangements, commit social security fraud, and the like, then they are subject to punishments for which illegal immigrants get a free pass.

Xteve wrote: “(3) it would also apply to native-born Americans who use the welfare sytem, making it not an immigration issue;”

Yes it does. Fraud is illegal, even for citizens. So, why do you want to exempt illegal immigrants from legal enforcement?

Xteve wrote: “(4) it assumes that those who use the welfare system are responsible for propping up an inherently immoral & unworkable welfare system.”

Huh? I’m not sure what you mean by “propping up.”

Xteve: “Now I think you suggest that illegal immigrants who commit other crimes should not be exempt from prosecution merely because they're illegal immigrants. If that's your position, then I agree, but I question what that has to do with them being illegal immigrants.”

Uh….have you read any of the amnesty proposals put forward by the Senate? And being an “illegal immigrant” is itself a crime.

Xteve: “But then you say "it does call for deporting all people who violate immigration law. I’m definitely for that" which suggests I was right the first time, rendering your other stuff about any other crimes they may or may not commit irrelevant.”

Huh? I wrote: “There is nothing unreasonable in the establishment of border controls oriented towards barring entry to violent criminals, people who have committed fraudulent acts, and people suspected or known to seek the overthrow of the US government.”

People who deceive and defraud the government in pursuit of these reasonable aims are justly considered criminals themselves and justly subject to deportation. You can keep dropping context, but in a written discussion you only be embarrassed.

Xteve wrote: “On a more relevant thread I'd be more than happy to debate whether private property is just or unjust. But we're talking about whether the immigration laws are just or unjust. If you're arguing that since some laws are just then therefore all laws are just, & if I don't agree then I must be suggesting that since some laws are unjust then therefore all laws are unjust, then I should point out that that contains at least two logical fallacies.”

You are purposefully obfuscating again. Here is what I wrote: “I’m not sure you can advocate locking anyone up, since many will claim the laws protecting property are unjust — merely note the abundance of soft socialists in the country. Since they believe the law is unjust they need not follow it. Right?” Do you think I oppose property rights? If you do, you are wrong.

I’m attacking the general principle you established: “If the government enacted a truly immoral law, would you insist that they enforce it? If yes, why? If no, would you be willing to acknowledge that some of us might view the current immigration laws as immoral?”

I challenged you to explain why the socialist cannot simply ignore laws protecting property rights, simply because the socialist believes the laws to be unjust. Under your principle of authority, it seems anyone can ignore any law whatsoever.

Your four points above are merely peripheral. Our REAL disagreement comes down to these three points:

(1) What are the legitimate ends of government?
(2) What durable authority do laws have? (You seem to believe the law has none, and I do.)
(3) Are laws restricting immigration just? (You seem to think they are not, and I do.)

I can’t wait to read your next obfuscation, your next failure to address the charge of anarchism, and the next bit of context that you will drop. Am I annoyed about? Yes. If that was your purpose, you succeeded.

xteve September 22, 2006 at 2:31 am

"Re-read your sentence. It’s self-refuting. You call the group “illegal immigrants” and then write “whether or not they commit this so-called crime.” If they are illegal immigrants, then they committed the crime! That’s what ‘illegal immigrant’ means. LOL"

The "so-called crime" I was referring to was that of using the welfare system, as that is not a crime. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough.

"and I’m pretty sure you think it’s sophistry yourself"

Don't tell me what I think. Stick to what you know.

I was merely pointing out the weaknesses of the welfare arguments, which you refuted via the fraud strawman. Sure, if they use bogus social security numbers, by all means arrest them, whether they're native or immigrant, legal or illegal. But that's not a welfare argument. It's not an immigration argument at all. It's an argument against social security fraud. One or both of us hasn't been making his arguments clear. If that's me, then I apologize. But I stand by my analysis of the welfare arguments & how they don't apply to the argument of whether current immigration law is just.

"Any immigrant who comes to America benefits from the welfare state."

By that broad definition of "benefit", anyone born in America benefits from the welfare state, too, which is why, logically, it is not an immigration issue, much less an illegal immigration issue. But I'm not going to repeat all my arguments.

"Uh….have you read any of the amnesty proposals put forward by the Senate?"

I don't recall defending any Senate proposals. That's another strawman.

"You are purposefully obfuscating again."

Don't tell me my intentions. Stick to what you know. I'm sorry you misunderstood my reply. Perhaps I had misunderstood your point. If so, I still do.

"I challenged you to explain why the socialist cannot simply ignore laws protecting property rights, simply because the socialist believes the laws to be unjust."

If he felt the laws were unjust & said so in a blog post I would happily debate him & explain why I felt he was wrong, rather than just tell him it's the law. I would defend my rights if he violated them. I'm asking you specifically why you feel that illegal immigration is wrong, & the only answers I hear from you are because the law says so, plus a bunch of irrelevant tangents & strawmen. Perhaps I misunderstand your points, as surely you misunderstand mine.

"Under your principle of authority, it seems anyone can ignore any law whatsoever."

I addressed that already. You seem to suggest that if I think one law is unjust & should not be enforced, then I'm suggesting that all laws are unjust & should not be enforced. This is a logical fallacy. I assume this is the basis for your charge of "anarchism" you claim I fail to address. We can debate the moral legitamacy of a particular law without throwing out the entire United States Criminal Code if we judge that one law invalid. I'm suggesting we can debate the moral legitamacy of a law separately from what the law actually states, & if we find that the law has no moral legitamacy, then not only should we advocate changing the law (I suspect we agree here) but (& here is where I suspect we disagree) it would be morally unjust to call for increased enforcement of that law, because to do so would conflate submission to authority with justice & would constute a moral transgression on the part of the government. There are many examples in history of people legitimately subverting truly unjust laws in spite of the government's will, whether it be taxation without representation, slavery, prohibition, gold confiscation, cohabitation laws, hiding jews in your attic, the draft, etcetera. We disagree regarding whether current immigration law is another example of such a law. Fair enough.

You seem to think I'm deliberately trying to frustrate you. It's not my intention. I think it's more likely that each of us is trying but failing to fully understand the other's arguments, & that compounds over time, particularly in such a spirited debate.

"(1) What are the legitimate ends of government?"

I tend to agree with Frederic Bastiat's essay The Law. You can find it at bastiat.org.

Perhaps I would benefit from your own answer to that question.

"(2) What durable authority do laws have? (You seem to believe the law has none, and I do.)"

I'm not sure what you mean by "durable authority".

"(3) Are laws restricting immigration just? (You seem to think they are not, and I do.)"

I believe the immigration laws as currently written are not. They cannot be enforced without violating other, more sacred, rights, both of the immigrants & our own. Failure to enforce the current immigration laws may demonstrate some problems with other laws, but does not mean they cause the problems with these other laws. I acknowledge your point regarding barring violent criminals (I'll add those with infectious deseases to that list), but I don't think the laws, as written, reflect that goal. Poorly, at best. I believe that anyone in the US, regardless of immigration status, should be prosecuted for violations of persons or property, but do not feel that merely violating immigration laws constitutes a violation of persons or property.

Does that help?

Danuta January 5, 2007 at 4:47 pm

just turn TV on Wolf Blitz program, and some ugly news from OUR current President::: Social Security benefits for ilegall emigrants.?????

Is thid a joke, or OUR Ptesident is juzt proving, that US citizens ans legal emigrant does not count.
Iligalls, are commiting a crime, and then will be rewarded for. What about US???????, what about fellow americans, legalls. Iligals should be behind southern border, , not reward for their crime.
What is going on with current President, it is some revanege for a lastelection ,this man out of HIS mine????
Can someone tell US all Americans,how anyone in Congres can vote for aa such ugly proposition. This is a stub in a back to all of US citizens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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