I Agree: The Horror Is Caused by Government

by Don Boudreaux on July 16, 2014

in Immigration

A reader writes to me:

You appear to be sanguine about the loss of life engendered by the effort to immigrate to the US.  South Texas has become a dying field, as a direct result of the actions or inactions of our federal government (along with the Mexican government, the Honduran government, the Guatemalan govt., etc,. etc.). In my view, the atrocity created by our political leaders is of a piece with the killing fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, though the numbers might not be quite as great.  You also seem sanguine about the political process necessary to achieve a different result at the border, and appear to verge on a desire for autocracy in place of Constitutional Republican efforts to address the issue.  You seem to avoid assigning responsibility for both (I for one would place most blame on Barack Obama for both his incitement of illegal immigration, and his poisoning of the well politically to ensure that Congress will not be able to work with him to ameliorate the immigration problems and revise the system, although both parties have colluded to produce the current disaster and we the people have elected them–we have no one to blame but ourselves; I tend to agree with your position, but am rather appalled at the seeming political naivety and human indifference you evince).

I emphatically am neither indifferent to, nor sanguine about, the horrors taking place today along the southern U.S. border.  They disgust and sadden me.  These horrors, though, are an artifact of the very political process that anti-immgrationists turn to as the means through which immigration into America is kept restricted.  I assumed that this much is obvious.

The solution to this horrible problem is easy: open the U.S. borders, or at least return to the immigration regime we used until 90 years ago (the one symbolized by Ellis Island).  No quotas; no numerical restrictions of any kind on immigration.

Tourists to America aren’t sneaking north in their quests to spend a few days at Disneyland or to visit cousins in Missouri or Maryland.  Therefore, tourists are not dying in the desert southwest.  Tourists arrive here openly and safely and in relative comfort.  (I say “relative” because the annoyance at passport control adds discomfort to any trip into the U.S. these days.)  The reason is that there are no numerical restrictions or quotas on tourists coming to the U.S.  And so it should be for immigrants.  Get rid of immigration quotas and immigrants would not be suffering and dying as they are today when immigrating to America.  That problem is easy to solve.

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