Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 425, July 8, 2007

"Freedom in trivial things matters too."


Belaboring the Immigration Point
by Jonathan David Morris

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

I've spent the last two weeks writing about immigration. I'm going to do it one more time this week, for two important reasons: (1) Because I have another point to make; and (2) Because I've never written about the same topic three weeks in a row before, which I'm pretty sure constitutes a "series," which excites me. Now, whenever I'm discussing stuff with important people, I need only say, "I need only refer you to my Immigration Series from the Summer of '07," to make my point perfectly clear.

Don't be surprised if I do this at some point within the following article.

At any rate, back to immigration:

You know how they say misery loves company? Well, the same can be said for tortured thinking. Tortured thinking inspires more tortured thinking, which inspires more tortured thinking, which usually results in involvement by Congress. You can see this principle in play in the immigration debate—and not just from the pro-closed-borders perspective, which is what I was certainly arguing lo these last two weeks.

A new trend has recently started emerging in towns like Burbank and Mountain View, California, where local governments have chosen to deal with their quote/unquote "day laborer problems." For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, day laborers are essentially illegal immigrant panhandlers—only instead of wandering subways panhandling for loose coin, day laborers wander home improvement store parking lots looking for an honest day's work.

In an effort to stop day laborers from antagonizing ordinary, everyday citizens, the local governments in question have decided that stores like Home Depot should have to build day laborer facilities on their premises—complete with benches and restrooms (since sitting and peeing in the grass just won't cut it). Naturally, Home Depot wants to subsidize these facilities about as much as they'd want to subsidize hookers selling their wares behind the dumpster. So in order to stop local governments from forcing their hand, Home Depot's parent company has appealed for help from Congress.

Let's take a look at how this all breaks down:

1. Illegal immigrants aren't sure how to get jobs, so they gather at Home Depot, where they're likely to find some.

2. Local governments aren't sure what to do about these gatherings, so they write up a fun law that tells Home Depot, "Here. You fix it."

3. Home Depot isn't sure how to make sense of paying for something that isn't a part of their business, so they ask Congress.

4. Congress isn't sure what to do about anything ever, so they vote themselves a pay raise and then go home.

There's really only so many things Congress can do about solving a problem all the way on the other side of the country. They can spend untold billions trying to close the border, which makes no sense, since the border is just an imaginary line. Or they can find a way to protect Home Depot from local governments, which would still somehow end up costing us untold billions, and which wouldn't solve the aforementioned quote/unquote "day laborer problem," since illegal immigrants would still be coming here.

The real issue when it comes to immigration is the rise of Spanish in an English-speaking country. (I need only refer you to the second article in my Immigration Series from the Summer of '07, where I've made this point perfectly clear.) If we accept that Congress should find a solution to the immigration issue—and to be quite honest, I'm not sure I accept that—then any solution they come up with will be totally fruitless, unless it starts with assimilation.

Local governments shouldn't pass the buck to Home Depot. And Home Depot shouldn't pass the buck to Congress. This is flawed thinking on top of flawed thinking, and spending untold billions on closing the border would only complete the cycle. The answer here is for Congress to divert whatever money it's spending on immigration towards building day laborer facilities in home improvement store parking lots. These facilities would double as assimilation centers, teaching English and the U.S. Constitution to anyone who comes here looking for work.

This plan isn't perfect, but it's more sensible, and more pro-business, than anything else I've seen floated around lately. Plus, if Congress gives home improvement stores the money to build these facilities on their own, the stores can hire the day laborers already waiting around for labor in their parking lots. Everybody wins. Well, except for the unions. But that's another story for another day. . . .

Jonathan David Morris writes from Philadelphia. He can be reached at


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