Right Thinking From The Left Coast
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti


Posting from yours truly will be a bit sporadic for the next two weeks thanks to some computer issues. On the menu today, immigration, and how it relates to the swine flu.

I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration. We’ve heard for years from reckless open-borders ideologues who continue to insist there’s nothing to worry about. And we’ve heard for years that calling any attention to the dangers of allowing untold numbers of people to pass across our borders and through our other ports of entry without proper medical screening — as required of every legal visitor/immigrant to this country — is RAAAACIST.

9/11 didn’t convince the open-borders zealots to put down their race cards and confront reality.

Maybe the threat of their sons or daughters contracting a deadly virus spread from south of the border to their Manhattan prep schools will.

We’ve had our first death from the swine flu already. A seperate post about that whole can of worms would be very much justified. I am more interested in the immigration angle. Being a more libertarian site than many others in the conservative blogosphere, I am curious as to where our readership falls on the immigration issue generally. Does a potential pandemic change anyone’s minds as Malkin seems to hope?

For me, there are really three key questions at the heart of the debate overall.

1. What do you think about current legal immigration levels?
2. How should we treat the illegals here now?
3. How do we secure our borders? Do we even need to? Do we need a physical wall?

What’s your take?

Here’s mine:

1. Way too low. I think we should be taking in a lot more immigrants and the restrictions and red-tape barring legal immigration should be greatly relaxed. For its size the U.S. is way underpopulated.
2. I don’t think we should deport them. I think we need to find a way to offer them a legitimate status without necessarily a path to citizenship. Keeping them as a perpetual serfdom in fear the INS isn’t practical or moral.
3. We should be doing more to secure the borders, but fixing our legal immigration would do a lot to solve the problem in itself. I don’t think a physical wall is really necessary but more agents, check points, and better electronic surveillance wouldn’t hurt. If anything the swine flu suggests the risks of doing nothing.

Posted by The Contrarian on 04/29/09 at 06:15 PM (Discuss this in the forums)


Posted by on 04/29/09 at 07:55 PM from United States

1. Not knowing much on the numbers of legal immigration, I won’t weigh in.

2. I think that when an illegal is caught in America, everything he owns should be seized and he should be deported back to Mexico wearing the cheapest gray coveralls we can buy. The assets they brought or obtained during their illegal stay should be liquidated and used to fund border guards.

Yeah, harsh, whoopty-do. Actually living in a border state and working in insurance, I have to deal with the fallout of illegal immigrants every day. People who angrily demand that someone in our office has to speak Spanish. An overabundance of hit-and-runs because illegals remember how it is in Mexico and think they’re going to get beaten and thrown in jail automatically for having a car accident. Not being able to order food in a fair number of places because the guy behind the counter doesn’t speak any English.

And the thing is, having lived here long enough, I can see that these problems started with illegals and are perpetuated by illegals, but enabled by the screams that doing anything about it is racist. That’s why you have people of Mexican descent who were born here, raised here, went to school here, and might still only speak a handful of words of heavily-accented English, because the illegal population is so dedicated to not adapting or conforming that they pretty much actively avoid teaching their kids English.

They’re not just poor saps who were strangled by red tape, they’re not “undocumented Americans”, they’re not people that love this country more than those who were born here, they’re just Mexicans looking to make more cash. And maybe if we make the penalties for them breaking the laws and coming here illegally steep enough, it might give some of them at least a moment’s pause because if they get caught they won’t get to go back to Mexico with an ATM card and a couple suitcases of electronics.

3. I’m not sure that a physical wall is feasible, but you know what? I’d be willing to give it a go. While I think it does send a bad message about hospitality or whatever, I think the Mexican government handing out pamphlets to their citizens on how to sneak across our border warrants it. When the Mexican government gets their act together (hahahahahahahaha) and stops acting like the funny-costumed rulers out of a bad old vaudeville-inspired movie, then maybe a wall wouldn’t seem like a logical move.

Posted by on 04/29/09 at 07:55 PM from Germany

OK - I’ve been seeing these flu scares since the first “swine flu epidemic” under the Carter administration, and I have this to say about them.

They are all total bullshit hype pushed out by a slow news day.

The flu kills tens of thousand every year without it ever being a pandemic killer variety superbug.  From SARS to Carter’s swine flu, to this inaptly named swine flu, your risk of catching it and dying is almost non-existent.  Go check the actual know stats and data - you have a better chance of being killed by a drunk driver on the way home this weekend.

As for immigration - we let too many people in now without giving our society a chance to absorb them all.  I’d shut down 99% of immigration for the next generation (or two), but allow in workers with papers for temporary stays.  Of course, any children these workers have would NOT get citizenship, and overstaying your time limit would mean you NEVER come back, ever, for any reason.

Posted by on 04/29/09 at 08:07 PM from United States

Also, I’m a little leery of the logic on the originally-posted #3. Making our restrictions more lax on immigration requiring less border guards is like saying that by legalizing urinating in public, we don’t have to have so many cops watching for public indecency around bars. This isn’t really fixing the problem so much as institutionalizing not giving a shit about it.

Besides, human nature dictates that any restriction is too much restriction for some. You could make the only restriction to coming to America legally be that you have to line up at certain points and wave to the border guards as you come through, and there would still be people who’d sneak across because they didn’t want to stand in line. And people arguing that we were xenophobic racists for making them stand in line in the first place anyway. (There would probably be some comparison to lining up cattle to be taken to auction, or whatever.)

The people we’re most worried about getting in… those who have criminal/violent pasts, those who want to live off the radar, those who don’t want to pay the same taxes as the rest of us, those who want to cheat the system, those who consider it a point of pride to thwart America and American culture… aren’t going to immigrate legally no matter how easy to make the process, because their entire goal is to avoid the legal process.

Saying we’d have less problems with immigrants if we made it easier for more immigrants to come here is kind of like saying we’d have less problems with guns if we made them illegal. The people most interested in causing the trouble with the issue are the least likely to care.

Posted by on 04/29/09 at 08:12 PM from United States

For me I’m all for letting people in, but they have to take some legal measures. I don’t have a problem at all with deportation for those who don’t play by the rules coming in, but we sure as hell need to have less red tape for the people who are doing it the right way. No doubt there.

As far is this pig flu, it’s a bunch of bullshit. Just like the bird flu, west nile, and some other one. Oh yes, SARS. Every two years there is some fricken scare that causes more harm than the virus ever will. This is not to say these things shouldn’t be taken seriously, but every time they go overboard on this stuff and cause unnecessary panic. I’m willing to bet people die all the time of unexplained crap, and the only thing keeping it from a ‘that’s too bad’, to ‘oh shit we’re all going to die’ is a few news reports and more government attention to the matter.

1) If this were a huge pandemic, then the hospitals would be full by now. It’s been out there a month now at least.

2) The common flu is a hell of a lot scarier when looking at death tolls so far.

3) By the time anyone even knows there is something unusual out there, it’s already too late. Just too much travel these days with the world interconnection. So if they are going to use the border as an excuse, they might just halt travel altogether.

The virus could have made it here from a Mexican crossing the border, or it could be an American tourist crossing the border, or the from the President visiting Mexico for all we know. In this day and age, it is about finding cures and not living in fear of something spreading, because like I said, by the time they identify something, it’s already made its way around the world.

Posted by HARLEY on 04/29/09 at 08:44 PM from United States

1. What do you think about current legal immigration levels?
2. How should we treat the illegals here now?
3. How do we secure our borders? Do we even need to? Do we need a physical wall?

1.  the numbers are porblay too low, but we do need more well trained and educated people immigrating into the USA, im all for loosing up restrictions and allowing those that have good education have a fast track.
2. Deport them, and ask then to use legal channels which should be loosened up to allow more in annually.
3. walls dont work, see <Hadrian’s wall, and Great wall of china.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/29/09 at 09:06 PM from United States

1. What do you think about current legal immigration levels?
2. How should we treat the illegals here now?
3. How do we secure our borders? Do we even need to? Do we need a physical wall?.

1. About right, but I would prefer we issue more visa for people with technical, scientific and business backgrounds.  I also think a critical issue is to make it easier for legal immigrants to come to this country.  The red tape my wife has to deal with is absurd.

2. I wasn’t averse to the McCain plan.  If they pay back taxes and a fine, I don’t mind them getting legal status as guest workers.  I’d like to see a program of legally getting people who want to work into this country, matching them up with businesses and the sending them back home when they’re done.

3. Walls are ridiculous. It takes seconds to tear through one.  More men and patrols would be good, not necessarily to stop immigration but to end the lawlessness in our border towns.

Posted by on 04/29/09 at 09:48 PM from United States

1. What do you think about current legal immigration levels?
2. How should we treat the illegals here now?
3. How do we secure our borders? Do we even need to? Do we need a physical wall?

1.  It is pretty tough to emigrate here. BUT I don’t mind it. I think the rewards of being an American are higher than most countries and the requirements to become a citizen should match.

2.  Round them up and send them back in the back of a WWII era troop transport trucks (with no cover). There are way too many people out of work than to have illegal aliens working here, paying no income tax and sending most of it back to Mexico. There are Americans that will work those jobs. If it costs some scumbag business owner to pay a little bit more in payroll, so be it. harsh I know, but I agree with Rann in that these folks don’t want to be citizens. They want to work the system. Plus, I imagine living here beats the shit out of living down there.

3.  Ditto above. Walls never work. How about we put 3 or 4 firebases spread out near the border with patrols and all that shit? Use the remote areas in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona for military exercises. I think that kind of stuff would be a pretty good deterrent.

BTW-Contrarian, I appreciate your level headed style. As a long time reader and sporadic commenter, your a nice addition.

Posted by on 04/29/09 at 09:51 PM from United States

The biggest problem with Immigration is the red tape caused by a need for oficial papers. Most of the people coming here from Mexico do not have any papers at all. It was too far to walk to register the births of their children, so large swaths of Mexicans are essentially illegal aliens within Mexico. So there is no guilt about being here illegally when they are already there illegally. In their shoes.....I’m here too.

1. & 2. I think we allow anyone who can get a job entrance and issue them some form of paper credentials and I.D. so that we can track and remove real criminals, after minor health screanings. Cut the red tape entirely.

3. We need to secure our borders better. Don’t know how, but I got a funny and creative email recently suggesting we dig a moat between the U.S. and Mexico and fill it with excess alligators from Florida and use the dirt from the dig to raise New Orleans above sea level.

A twofer.

Posted by on 04/29/09 at 11:12 PM from United States

1) Not sure of exact numbers.

2) I’m all for work visas for all types of labor.  For the farming crowd, seasonal visas could be issued.  As for taxes, at the state level anyway, lower the income tax and increase the sales tax so they pay something into the system.

3) Minefield.

Posted by on 04/29/09 at 11:39 PM from Australia

The people we’re most worried about getting in… those who have criminal/violent pasts, those who want to live off the radar, those who don’t want to pay the same taxes as the rest of us, those who want to cheat the system, those who consider it a point of pride to thwart America and American culture… aren’t going to immigrate legally no matter how easy to make the process, because their entire goal is to avoid the legal process.

Exactly. The problem is, how do you filter them out from those who aren’t causing problems except to the racist fringe? If you make legal immigration easier, the good ones will filter themselves out by going through the proper channels. Those who know they won’t make it through the checks will still try it illegally, but there will be two important restrictions on them doing so:

1) The number of illegal immigrants will be a lot lower, so they won’t be able to take advantage of the economies of scale they have at the moment. Less professional border-crossers, less tacit support from American employers, less support from the Mexican population in America ("If we could get a green card, why couldn’t you? I’m calling the INS!").

2) Much less weight to the “anti-illegal immigrant = racist” argument. The fringe will still blather about it but it’ll get less support from the silent majority.

Basically if you make legal immigration easy to obtain for those who pass a fair set of criteria, you pull out the rug from the “But it’s the only way they can” crowd.

Posted by NativeSon on 04/29/09 at 11:47 PM from United States

BTW-Contrarian, I appreciate your level headed style. As a long time reader and sporadic commenter, your a nice addition.

Ditto what he said!

Posted by on 04/30/09 at 12:26 AM from Europe

1. What do you think about current legal immigration levels?
2. How should we treat the illegals here now?
3. How do we secure our borders? Do we even need to? Do we need a physical wall?

The glove is laid, I’ll pick up the challenge.

1. No idea about the exact numbers. Leave that one to the number crunchers that can do that so much better than me.

2. When found boot them as fast as we can. Put them on Cattel Cars and bott em across the boarder. We treat illegals a hell of a lot better than Basic Trainees. should they have property leftin the states, secure it and sell it on ebay. the money going to local schools.

I have to ask the question (yet again) Why, if they are sooooo hard working and only looking for a better life for their family AND love thier country so much as to hold protests in the US, that they don’t stay in their own countrie(s) and work ohhhhh soooooo hard there to make a better life THERE? The only answer I have gotten to that question is “YOU ARE A RAAAAAAACIST!!!!”

3. A wall is not the right idea unless you have well trained men and women policing that wall. Those men and women also need to KNOW that the government is behind them. Not blindly but in some cases the government has sold out out Boarder Patrol officers for political gain.

I served 4 years in the US Army as an infantryman. I can tell you first hand that the only military unit that is even close to being trained for the job would be the Military Police. I also still have friends serving and this topic has come up more than once. Not only is sending the US military to the southern boarder against the constitution but it is also a very stupid idea. It took the US Army about 3 years to shift to the tactics needed in Iraq. One of the men I served with is now a 1st Sgt. He told me it would take about a year to train the units to do a half assed hob on the southern boarder. In the age of Obama the funding alone would kill the defense budget.

Call me an asshole. I honestly don’t care. My mother was born in Copenhagen Denmark. She married my father. Not wanting a “free ride” she worked damn hard to gain citzenship. It took time, patience and a lot of hard work. But she did it. She felt it important enough. Why do most ilegals want it handed to them? If they want to work then first step freakin prove it. Stay legal, get yer green card, pay taxes and stay out of trouble. Is that such a hard concept to grasp?

Posted by The Contrarian on 05/01/09 at 05:53 AM from Germany

Thanks for the compliments. Just thought I would elaborate a bit since I’m in the minority.

Being strongly libertarian I don’t believe in any sort of collective ownership of the physical land of the United States by the American people. We are all individuals and all ought to have the right to enter voluntary agreements and engage in voluntary exchange with whomever we want be they foreign or native. The only restriction that the federal government ought to enforce would be against potential threats to our safety, i.e. criminals, terrorists, and people with dangerous diseases.

Thus I support border security. I think in a world of dirty bombs and swine flu it is dangerous to allow a situation where millions of people can walk back and forth undocumented.

Still I am against mass deportation. The criminal minority among them certainly have no right to stay, but for the most part all they are doing is trying to make a life for themselves. The economic problems that people scapegoat them for are natural consequences of a mixed economy. We don’t deport high school kids for being willing to work for $8 an hour, and welfare cheats come in all stripes. Dismantling the welfare state and fundamentally reforming our entitlement programs is more important to me than keeping foreigners out of them.

The zero sum game mentality we have toward immigrants is a testament to how socialized our economy has become. We have this attitude of “they’re coming here and taking our stuff” thanks largely to an out of control public sector that has artificially limited our productive capacity. It is our own fault that we vote for and tolerate politicians that toss away billions of our dollars to illegals and AIG alike, all the while stimulating the need for illegals to come here with agricultral subsidies and other trade restrictions.

In truth I think Americans are defacto supporters of illegal immigration. How many people take the time to boycott companies that use undocumented labor? How many people would be willing to take the price increase in everything from groceries to construction that would result from shipping all of them out in cattle cars? How many people refuse to look the other way with their contractors, nannies, and gardeners? Simply put, millions of illegals find housing and work here because Americans are by and large willing to trade with them.

And yes, there is a racial component. Certainly it isn’t like Japan where they are literally paying foreigners to go home. Finding a decent job or apartment without learning the language is extremely difficult for most immigrants here. Still, there hasn’t been an outcry against government offices offering English-language brochures. I think America may in some ways be too acommodating of non-English speakers, but we have to put it in perspective. I don’t tarnish all people who complain about illegals, but I do think some are just paranoid about brown people talking in moonspeak.

Posted by Sean Galbraith on 05/01/09 at 07:06 AM from Canada

Dear America,

Please keep your immigrations policies exactly how they are now, or make them even tighter. They are working out great for us.


Posted by on 05/04/09 at 05:17 PM from Germany

What might my fate be if I set up shop in Mexico and did whatever I felt like doing for personal gain, for profit - or anywhere else on earth, for that matter?

Or what say I live under a bush behind your house and we just ignore each other.

Posted by on 05/05/09 at 06:20 AM from Germany

I thought about this some more and have concluded that nobody but Native Americans may decide who gets to live on their lands. Its all theirs.

However, I will relinquish my stolen property to them only if assured that they will under no circumstances ever force anyfuture immigrants to assimilate to their cultures, rites, rituals, habits, laws, or languages in any form or fashion.

Finally, Europe on both sides of the Atlantic.

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