Comical Immigration

by Russ Roberts on October 12, 2006

in Immigration

Don’t miss this clear and insightful comic strip on immigration from

(HT: BoingBoing)

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Kent Gatewood October 12, 2006 at 5:30 pm

Dr. Roberts do you support affirmative action, do approve of Mexican immigrants overwhelmingly voting for the Democratic party, and since the border is only for the purpose of collecting taxes, do you back removing restrictions on entry by people who would kill me.

tarran October 12, 2006 at 9:10 pm

Mr. Gatewood,

I am puzzled by your self-centeredness:

1) The federal and state governments' fondness for racial discrimination (which they call affirmative action) has nothing to do with borders.

2) Neither does their political views. Last time I checked there were millions of your fellow citizens who supported the Democratic party. Should they be prevented from moving into your home state as well?

3)As far as restrictions on the movements of people who want to kill you, unless I am mistaken, a vanishingly small percentage of illegal immigrants have murder in their heart. I doubt any more than a handful of people outside of the U.S even know of your existence let alone want to see you dead. Or do you behave so offensively that you have made alot of enemies? If so, my condolences.

Lowcountryjoe October 12, 2006 at 11:45 pm

Sorry, Professor Roberts, I didn't share your sense of humor on this one. The truth is that there is so much hyperbole coming from various factions within the Partido, Grande y Viejo on this issue, that the veteran voices from the comic ring too loudly and, unfortunately, too truly. Former RNC Chairman Gillespie's WSJ op-ed on April Fool's day of this year didn't hit the intended audience – nor will it ever, as fools never seem to learn.

But then you have the left-leaning entitlement-growing crowd [wait…check that; any-which-way-leaning crowds support growing entitlements, so let me not just pick on the Left], advocating and supporting the squeaky wheels [disenfranchised immigrants?] that want to publicly voice their grievances and their right to be here, laws (as ill formulated as they might be) be damned, into the faces of the xenophobes that disdain them for being here and consuming public resources. It's really not a laughing matter – certainly nothing that warrants a cheesy comic…and it was heavy on the cheddar and light on chistoso!

Nope, despite standard of living increases and all the great things that capitalism and cooperation can bring about, the majority's fear of things foreign and the propensity for "do-gooders" to make "good" decisions on your behalf, and (of course) in your own individual "best interests", this society shall not overcome the damage we will do to it unless a serious third party emerges (or some type of major realignment materializes). Let's hope that classical liberal ideas – and comics that are actually funny – make a fashionable comeback…SOON!

Martin October 13, 2006 at 4:56 am


Was this meant to be funny?

Where are the studies that crime rates are lower amongst immigrants than natives?

Forgetting the PC bull for a moment, when was the last time an Indian died of TB?

Go ask Dave White Elk if he would prefer his ancestors' brutal struggle against disease and the elements over part-owning a casino or owning a camera phone and a convertible. He'll probably be too busy organising a PAC in favour of Internet gambling to answer your questions.

You are highly educated and economically sheltered. That makes you a very privileged person, so your should feel ashamed of your irresponsibility in linking to such garbage. I can only assume you weren't sober at the time.

So-called 'economists' like you forget that if the Pilgrim Fathers had stayed at home instead of deciding to brace the unknown then your life would have been radically different.

They spoke of a shining city on a hill – you would turn their legacy into a shanty town, complete with open sewer.

God Bless America. I'm not an American, but I'll say it if you won't.

JohnDewey October 13, 2006 at 5:49 am

Professor Roberts,

I walked with my 500,000 Dallas neighbors in protesting Congress's anti-immigrant bill. I've written letters to local papers explaining why immigant workers are vital to our economy. But I cannot support elimination of national borders – not as long as U.S. welfare programs require my taxes.

If immigrants can find jobs and support their families – which they are doing here in Texas – I say let them stay. If not, they need to go back home.

We need reform of our welfare and social security disability laws before we can consider open borders.

Dennis Mangan October 13, 2006 at 9:24 am

The cartoon is leftist, xenophilic, anti-American garbage which fits with my thesis that libertarians are leftists who like money. It speaks volumes that you recommend it.

bbartlog October 13, 2006 at 10:00 am

Funny thing about that cartoon; seems like bringing out stereotypes and asserting the existence of group differences is OK as long as it's in the service of greater immigration. Never mind that once we acknowledge the reality of differences, studying the statistics suggests that unchecked migration from Mexico does, and will, have a lot of drawbacks.
Also the cartoon claims that illegals commit fewer crimes than native citizens, which turns out not to be true – see for example.

Russ Roberts October 13, 2006 at 12:56 pm


The Pilgrims were our first immigrants. I'm glad they came. My great grandparents came a lot later. I'm very glad they came as well. They helped create America. I'm blessed to be here and want to allow others the opportunity to thrive here and help make our lives better just as previous waves of immigrants did.

JohnDewey October 13, 2006 at 1:20 pm

bbartlog: "Also the cartoon claims that illegals commit fewer crimes than native citizens, which turns out not to be true "

You may be correct that the cartoon claim is not precisely true. But the link you provided does show that young males who immigrate from Mexico are only slightly more likely to be convicted of crime than young males from the U.S. population:

"The adjusted male rate for Mexican immigrants between ages 15 and 34 (47.61) is particularly notable because it is quite similar to the U.S. citizen rate (45.51). By this measure, the image of Mexican immigrants as more criminal than citizens is somewhat misleading…"

The author at your link did adjust for age and gender differences in order to compare apples with apples. But they apparently did not adjust for income differences. Had they compared Mexican immigrants with a population of natives with like ages, gender, AND INCOMES, they would likely have found that Mexican immigrants were less likely to be convicted of crimes.

perroazul del norte October 13, 2006 at 2:23 pm

The Pilgrims were our first immigrants.
(1) Jamestown came before Plymouth Rock, and(2) the Pilgrims were pioneers and settlers, not immigrants in today's sense of the word: there was nothing remotely resembling a nation-state in North America(north of New Spain AKA future Anglo-America/USA and Canada) to immigrate to , only a collection of some 500 pre-literate aboriginal tribes with a combined population of a few million.

Noah Yetter October 13, 2006 at 3:21 pm

I'd seen this before as I subscribe to Reason. I laughed when I read it the first time and I laughed again now.

You people need to lighten up.

Also, did Martin actually say anything? I cannot for the life of me discern the thesis of his comment.

Martin October 13, 2006 at 3:32 pm


In all sincerity, if you were motivated to post a link to the cartoon out of a desire to help others then that is very noble.

However immigration laws don't just create themselves. They come into being as an expression of the culture's will. It is in the nature of men to prefer the company of either their own kin and kind or of those who wish to be like them.

Illegal immigrants don't have the same rights as citizens because the native culture, for better or worse, demands that that be the case – so how does a Mexican waving a Mexican flag on the streets of Dallas make the flagwaver like an American? What does that tell Americans about what the flagwaver thinks of them? And of their laws and culture? What are Americans to make of such impudence?

The reason your country worked and works is precisely because it was founded by English speakers from a relatively open culture who weren't prepared to be dictated to. They congealed their beliefs, experiences and prejudices to produce the only culture from which your great and wonderful nation could ever be created, a juggernaut that steamrollered an entire continent.

It was not created by Somalis for a reason. It is extremely difficult to assimilate Somalis at the best of times, as assorted police forces in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada could tell you – but Somali culture is not strong enough to create a successful Somalia, let alone a USA. All it can do is export the defects of an inherently defective culture.

Where is the Somali GM? Monsanto? Microsoft? Where is the Somali Trump? Buffett? Gates? There are none because there can be none. It's not easy for the Somalis to live with, but it's very simple for us to understand.

Russ, it would be nice to think we're all the same – but we're not. Immigration laws and closed borders do not exist to frustrate the operation of markets but to act as guardians of the culture. Lose land? You can get it back, but lose the culture and you lose everything.

The mass immigration of the unassimilated and unassimalatable causes cultural haemorrhage. All that was good and wholesome will be lost, bleeding from gunshot wounds inflicted by MS-13.

Are very slightly cheaper groceries and table service worth that price? Really, are they?

Russ Roberts October 13, 2006 at 3:48 pm


Your comments could be made at any time in American history as the Jews, Irish and Italians who came here created similar worries. Those worries proved to be wrong Today's worries will prove to be wrong as well.

Slightly cheaper groceries and table service? You have a dismal view of what motivates this economist.

Isaac Crawford October 13, 2006 at 3:55 pm

Martin, your response is interesting, but there's a rather large problem with it. There is no such thing as "American culture". Or at lest, there isn't any way to cut out any part of it and label it American, or not. This country's history is a rich one, and it is impossible to single out any particular thing that is more American than anything else. South Beach, Billy Graham, Jesse jackson, The Cato Institute, PETA, Playboy magazine, Telemundo, the BTK killer, Microsoft, the AFL-CIO, Mother Earth magazine, Christina Agulara, Garrison Keillor, Edison… the list could go on almost forever. There is no homogenous, singular thing that you can point to and say that it is "American" moreso than anything else. The "cultural hemorrhage" that you refer to is an infusion, not a loss. I am glad that there are so many immigrants and I wish that as many people that wanted to could become Americans. Your response reeks of xenophobia, fear of what you do not know about, and a devotion to an imaginary institution. Once you realize that whatever it is that you hold dear is in fact millions of individuals, you might come to appreciate how rich we really are.


JohnDewey October 13, 2006 at 4:23 pm

Martin: "so how does a Mexican waving a Mexican flag on the streets of Dallas make the flagwaver like an American? "

Martin, last April I was in the Dallas streets with 500,000 other area residents as we protested Congress's proposed anti-immigrant bill. Everyone in the streets waved an American flag or carried hand made signs proclaiming their love of the U.S. A small percentage – much less than 5% – carried Mexican flags as well. Only a handful of the many thousands I saw carried only a Mexican flag. But the media did display these irrelevant handful prominently that night on television.

From September 12, 2001 to September 18, 2001, I distributed red-white-and-blue ribbons to hundreds of people I met. Almost every Spanish-speaking construction worker near my workplace and near my home asked me for ribbons to wear as they worked. It was obvious they wished to show, long before the anti-immigration bill, that they supported the United States.

Based on what I've read in your post, I'd say that those Mexican marchers and those Mexican construction workers have a much better understanding of what it means to be an American than you do.

Dennis Mangan October 14, 2006 at 12:43 am

"…the Jews, Irish and Italians who came here created similar worries. Those worries proved to be wrong…" Did they?

Martin October 14, 2006 at 12:58 am


My blogging team-mate Dennis beat me to the punch on that one. Those groups you define came from relatively stable cultures. Somlais don't. Case closed.

A libertarian acquaintance has sent me the following link to an article by Stephen Cox, a libertarian opposed to mass immigration-

It answers your points far better than I can.


No such thing as 'American culture'…. tell that to Thomas Jefferson.

For the avoidance of doubt, Hugh Hefner was not amongst the authors of the Federalist Paper.

And you should keep a handle on that xenophobophobia. It reeks.

You might even turn into an incurable xenophile like John Dewey. John, the wearing of ribbons means nothing in relation to one's commitment to a nation. That well-known humanitarian Yasser Arafat publicly gave blood for America after 9/11 – mind you, if GWB had to told him to don a tutu and dance the Can-Can through Ramallah at that particular point in history he would have done so without complaint.

Isaac Crawford October 14, 2006 at 8:21 pm

"No such thing as 'American culture'…. tell that to Thomas Jefferson."
Wow, ouch, that hurt… Care to make a point? Here's a little something that Jefferson did write, you might recognize it…

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…" Later on down the line, he lists a series of grievances against "George" (ahem..)

"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."

I'll stand with Mr. Jefferson on this. Immigration is a good thing. On a more practical note, if you don't want the US to fall victim to the same population issues that plague Japan and much of Europe, you either need to embrace the immigrants or somehow convince all those "natives" to start having more babies… BTW, I'm quite proud of my "xneophobephbia", history bears me out. Our country would not be nearly as great without the waves of immigrants that we have welcomed (some begrudgingly) over the years. My original point still stands, you have taken a slice out of this incredibly rich culture and labeled it "American", but surprise, many people disagree with your choice of what is representative of America, including Thomas Jefferson apparently.


Kent Gatewood October 14, 2006 at 11:59 pm

If open borders are a great idea, why don't we try an experiment with Denmark and Israel? Send ten million Turks to the Danes and ten million Iranians to the Israelis. Wait fifteen years see how it turns out and design the next experiment.

Martin October 15, 2006 at 8:20 am


The document to which you refer is not the one to which I referred.

That was one of A series of grievances, not THE grievance.

Roy Stogner October 16, 2006 at 12:59 pm

The reason your country worked and works is precisely because it was founded by English speakers from a relatively open culture who weren't prepared to be dictated to.

My own ancestors spoke German, Swedish, and French. Are your language prejudices sincere, implying that you think my great-grandparents should have been kept out of the USA? Or are all those other languages okay by you so long as white people speak them?

Roy Stogner October 16, 2006 at 1:06 pm

Hmm, it looks like we're silently dropping HTML tags here. That first paragraph of mine was intended to be italicized, as a verbatim quote of Martin's comment.

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