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Immigration Restrictions Restrict Freedom of Association

Here’s the opening paragraph of an announcement that my e-mail brought this morning:

WASHINGTON (June 2004) — Lou Dobbs of CNN has been named the recipient of the 2004 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. This award, presented since 1997 by the Center for Immigration Studies, is intended to promote informed and fair reporting on this most complicated issue.

Lou Dobbs, like the Center for Immigration Studies, is skeptical of immigration. This skepticism is consistent with Dobbs’s more general belief – evident in his opposition to free trade – that the path to prosperity is paved with monopoly protections for domestic workers. Here is a sample of Dobbs’s economic “analysis” of immigration.

I admit that immigration raises some questions not raised by free trade, such as those involving national-security issues and those centered on immigrants’ access to welfare-state handouts. These questions are important, but they are neither as serious nor as difficult to answer as immigration opponents make them out to be.

Here’s my take on immigration: I’m for it. I resent government pre-screening the people who I am permitted to associate with in the U.S. I can do my own screening, thank you. I’m sure the same is true for each of my fellow Americans.

Every foreigner the government prevents from entering the U.S., or (more commonly) prevents from remaining here more than a few months, is a foreigner with whom I am prevented, by “my” government, from associating freely in my home country. Every restriction on foreigners working in the U.S. is a restriction on my ability to strike mutually advantageous deals with foreigners.

In short, immigration restrictions do not limit only the rights of non-Americans. They limit the rights of each and every American. They are an offense against everyone’s freedom – an especially noxious offense.