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An Open Letter to George Will

30 April 2010

Mr. George Will
Washington Post

Dear Mr. Will:

As you’re aware, I almost always agree with you.  But I believe that you miss the boat in your column defending Arizona’s new immigration statute (“A law Arizona can live with,” April 28).

It’s true that the traipsing of Hispanic immigrants across Arizonans’ backyards at 3am is an intolerable problem.  But this and other problems are artifacts of the severe restrictions that Uncle Sam currently places on immigration.

Instead of excusing Arizona’s current statute – one that only further tightens the very sorts of restrictions that cause such troubles – why not instead propose that Arizona’s government take a more direct and sure route to solving such problems?

Why not suggest that that state open its borders to the same degree that America’s borders were open until as recently as the mid-1920s?

With such openness, there would be no need for immigrants to stealthily steal in to Arizona in the dark of night.  There would be no massive wasting of taxpayer resources on the surrealistically counterproductive task of preventing these alleged welfare-seeking, public-goods-destroying sponges from working legally and paying taxes.  (More than half of Arizona’s new statute is aimed at stopping “illegal” immigrants from finding jobs in that state.  What does this fact tell you?)  Crime rates would fall as immigrants would come out of the shadows and have greater access to legal, gainful employment.

Such a policy as I propose here for the State of Arizona would undoubtedly be challenged on constitutional grounds.  But this fact is of no moment because Arizona’s new legislation is itself sparking, however wrongheadedly, its own constitutional challenge.

And because you’re correct that actions taken locally deserve more deference than do actions taken by Uncle Sam, why should we stand idly by as Uncle Sam determines, from his distant and insular perch, the number of immigrants who can legally enter Arizona?  If we truly should defer to state-legislators’ trustworthy knowledge of local conditions, then surely Phoenix is better positioned than is Washington to determine immigration policy for Arizona.

I agree that Arizonans ought not continue to suffer the ill-consequences unleashed by Washington’s highly restrictive immigration policies.  But champions of freedom, such as you, should encourage Arizonans to fight today’s problems, not with more of the same bitter and pricey medicine that causes these problems, but rather with more liberal immigration policies – policies that would put an end to nearly all the problems visited today on that great state by restrictions imposed by a distant, arrogant, and unknowing government in Washington.

Donald J. Boudreaux