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L. Neil Smith's
Number 463, April 13, 2008

"Throw it Together and Go Lie Down"

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We Must Bring Back Free Immigration and Free Trade
by Todd Andrew Barnett

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

The collectivistic Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and collectivistic Sen. John McCain (the Republican candidate from Arizona who's already coronated by the mainstream "government" media and even the GOP delegates) must be enjoying themselves with the immigration and trade issues, which have been a matter of public discussion for the bulk of the Election 2008 season. Immigration certainly has already faded from the political scene. Trade, on the other hand, is one that hasn't, considering that the Democrats, with the heavy hand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, want to "table" the "free trade" deal with Columbia. (The reason it is not truly free trade, because President George W. Bush and his collectivistic stalwarts on both sides of the aisle are primarily interested in touting government-managed subsidized trade, given the Columbian trade agreement and other past trade agreements like CAFTA and NAFTA are ladened with so many arbitrary rules and regulations that are aimed at protecting certain industries while harming others in the process.)

When it comes to trade, Democrats love trade controls because of their claim that globalization threatens our economy by outsourcing jobs to foreigners for "cheap labor" — that is, sending jobs to foreign countries where the private sector can hire foreigner workers and pay them the lowest wages at the expense of the American workforce and, according to them, our economy suffers because of the "trade deficit" that threatens our nation. When it comes to immigration, the Democrats posit similar collectivistic, statist rhetoric that you would almost always hear from the Republicans: we must protect the borders and American jobs from illegal immigrants and foreign labor. Pro-government leftist unions like the AFL-CIO and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) have jumped on the anti-trade bandwagon, claiming that Bush's "free trade" agreements hurt American workers by simply globalizing our trade with countries that allegedly have the worst "human rights and workers' rights violations" on record, when actually they just oppose free trade in every great detail.

Not only that, according to the Democrats, illegal immigrants "broke the law" simply by not arriving on our soil through the "legal channels"—that is, the government-approved channels for entering the United States. Oh, and let's not forget: the Democrats are, by and large, jingoistic and xenophobic too but less arrogant about it than their conservative counterparts. The only variation that one can often hear from the Democrats in contrast with their Republican counterparts is that, in reference to their Democratic agenda as pointed out on their website, Americans must prevent the "exploitation" of "immigrant workers" by greedy, evil private employers a.k.a. capitalistic entrepreneurs who knowingly hire them. Because of that, private employers must be stiffly fined for breaking the law, even if it means shutting their businesses down for good. Such socialist canards would make the Chicken Little anti-free traders like Lou Dobbs proud.

When Republicans get into the immigration and trade game, the collectivistic conservatives on that partisan side of the aisle certainly love to dredge up the protectionistic, jingoistic, and flippantly racist rhetoric that underlies their xenophobic-laced and anti-trade arguments against these two issues. Collectivistic, populistic conservatives like Congressman Tom Tancredo, Tucker Carlson, and Pat Buchanan and groups like the Minutemen Project, Federation for American Immigration Reform, and Carrying Capacity Network are constantly crying wolf over the more than 12 million illegals with claims stating that such immigrants—under the politically-correct guise of "undocumented workers" — have crossed through our borders with the expressed, intent purpose of sapping our welfare state, pilfering our American labor, and destroying our culture by eroding our "national identity." Oh, and if private employers (like Wal-Mart) are caught with hiring illegals off the street, they should be penalized to the fullest extent of the law because their actions, in the eyes of these anti-immigration zealots, are treasonous, unpatriotic, and anti-American.

Their anti-trade rhetoric smacks of nationalism, protectionism, alarmism, and economic ignorance as well. They claim that free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and GATT violate the United States' own "national sovereignty." They labor under the delusion that the United States is somehow a living, breathing collective entity that is independent and sovereign from other socialist nations and must be closed off from the global economy. Since when did the U.S. have "national sovereignty"? By taking that absurd leap of logic, they destroy their own credibility in the process.

Their premise is even erroneously predicated on the notion that the country and the government are one and the same; therefore, in the collectivistic sense, the interests of the "country" — the combination of both the government and the people of the United States of America—must take precedence above all other considerations. The government, as that living, breathing collective entity, shrouding itself as the "country" and its collectivistic agenda must be protected at all costs, as the collectivists think.

Moreover, they erroneously believe that free trade destroys jobs, corporations (including multinational corporations) are selling the country down the economic river by outsourcing (also known as offshoring) good jobs to countries like China and India, and American wages are depressed because of unrestricted free trade. They even believe that countries that have high trade barriers even as we lower ours must be slapped with tariffs and other government machinations as ways to save American jobs. Therefore, companies that compete in open, global markets with other foreign markets in countries that are labor-starved must be punished with fines (or even threats of fines) or, worse, face imprisonment.

The problems with both the collectivistic Democrats and Republicans and their anti-immigration and anti-trade groups is that their scaremongering and hollow arguments don't hold water. So let us start by debunking their anti-immigration and anti-free trade claims:

First, their claim of illegal immigrants—I prefer the term "independent migrants," over the other publicly-accepted terms "undocumented workers," "illegals," "illegal aliens," and "illegal immigrants" — "breaking the laws" by not asking for permission to enter the country is ludicrous on many grounds. The migrants, as libertarian author, blogger, and commentator Sheldon Richman once noted, had never been under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government until after they crossed into our country. It's hilarious yet outrageous to believe that they are covered by the state's anti-freedom immigration laws and not the Constitution. If that's not wanting and having it both ways, I don't know what is. The Constitution, as crafted by our Founders, was never meant to and does not distinguish citizens from noncitizens. Any collectivist regardless of political ideology who says otherwise is either lying or disingenuous or both.

Moreover, it is immoral to vilify these migrants who break these laws, considering these laws are bad and immoral to begin with. Since when did obeying bad laws become a good thing? And since when did such bad laws require an obligation upon the migrants in the first place? And, if they "broke the laws" that many conservatives and even progressives love so much, from whose permission should the migrants have sought? The entire American populace? The U.S. federal government? Since when did either of those collectives possess the right to grant or deny permission to a foreigner who wants to move here? This is a nation, not a private club. We have neither the constitutional nor the moral right to decide who can and cannot walk through and reside within our own imaginary borders that were drawn by the busybody politicians and immigration bureaucrats in the federal government. Besides, all individuals regardless of geography have a moral, ethical, and human right to roam anywhere freely, as long as they do so at their own expense and do not violate private property rights along the way.

Second, independent migrants are not here to milk the welfare teat. They're not even here to game the socialist system as many collectivists erroneously believe. Most migrants, if not all, are here to make a better life for themselves and their respective families. The idea that we are simply subsidizing them is unfounded. In fact, it's the other way around: Immigrants are subsidizing us. As a matter of fact, these migrants are paying sales, income, and property taxes when they move to and live here. Because of all that, Americans are getting tax money that is provided by the illegal immigration population in the U.S. Plus, American employers withhold money from their paychecks for both income and payroll taxes, including Social Security taxes. By the way, those same employers even pay the withholding taxes that reduce their wages as much as the wages made by native-born Americans. All that said, while many of them may be filing for federal income-tax refunds, there are certainly some who are scared to do it because the federal government can and will most likely crack down on them and their private employers for hiring them and withholding a portion of their tax monies to pay into the system. Thus, they remit a "free gift" to the U.S. Treasury.

Besides, if the migrants wanted to milk the welfare teat, wouldn't they have made a claim on their Social Security benefits before (or even after) they return to their native homelands? The fact is that they don't receive a single penny from Social Security, the point that they get the shaft notwithstanding.

Moreover, if they really wanted to be on the welfare plantation, wouldn't we all have heard about them lining up at their local welfare offices applying for welfare, especially when their documentation that they have to provide to the welfare bureaucrats is forged? Why, as an "illegal," risk exposure when getting caught can and will mean being rounded up, thrown into an immigration detention center, brought to at an illegal immigration camp, or, worse, deported and repatriated to your native country?

Here's the last portion of this point. The xenophobes who lament the illegals allegedly going on welfare are guilty as charged of the same problem that they are complaining about. For example, I have no children. Yet, even though I pay very little state and federal income taxes and largely pay FICA taxes (which are your Medicare and Social Security taxes), other parents in my township in my county have no qualms about using the tax system to steal from me just to subsidize the education of their children. And then after they steal from me and other people who are in the same boat as I am, they then say, "Please make it illegal for illegals to steal from me because I don't want to pay for their kids' public schooling."

The other side of the coin is that conservatives and liberals who are very xenophobic in secret don't want to end the welfare state, especially when the system benefits their special interest allies, particularly their senior citizen, Big Union, and corporatist allies. That even goes for their Big Military allies who don't want their "veterans' benefits" gone. After all, if either one of the partisan sides begin to develop a conscience (if they were to publicly state their opposition to the welfare state), their vote buying days would be over. They would stand to lose everything if that all were to come to pass.

Third, these migrants are not snatching up jobs at the expense of Americans. Most of these jobs are either in construction or agricultural jobs, although the migrants are mostly landing the latter. Besides, these are jobs that most Americans will not accept, given the dirty and unpleasant working conditions and very low wage rates that come with them. Companies that offer these jobs to these foreigners find that they are able to free up other monies to hire Americans for better lines of work at the lowest cost available to them. This certainly does tie into free trade as well: free trade and free immigration allows companies to purchase new labor hires on our shores and abroad, allowing them to get the most value out of their labor for the least cost. In other words, we can produce new products and services with new and better skilled labor for less. As the old saying goes, less is more.

Furthermore, the division of labor and specialization, thanks to open, free markets, is a great thing, thanks to free immigration and free trade. Independent migrants not only come here to accept these jobs, but they also come here to open businesses as well. They are the biggest and best entrepreneurs that one can meet in person. They are hard working and hungry for the American Dream. Free trade, along with free immigration, allows us to find the best deal and labor at the lowest cost. When that happens, labor and money is freed up to produce new products and services that couldn't be offered before. Those migrants are making it possible for allowing us to free up the labor and resources that were tied up to manufacturing and providing other goods and services. Free trade is not limited to the voluntary exchange of goods and services between two or more parties regardless of where they reside (regardless of where those locations are different neighborhood, cities, counties, states, or even countries); they also apply to the voluntary exchange of jobs between two or more parties. It makes no difference where they live; if those parties benefit from the transactions, they will engage in them. Otherwise, they would not.

Moreover, those on the left and the right who object to globalization and free immigration certainly don't get it. Protectionism hurts not only American workers, but also the U.S. economy as well. Look at President George W. Bush's protectionistic record on trade. In his first term he tacked tariffs on steel, shrimp, lumber, catfish, furniture, lingerie, brassieres, sugar, cotton, and computer chips to name a few. As a result of those tariffs on each of these imports, jobs from within those industries were destroyed. Adding insult to injury, the prices of those imports rose sharply by 20 percent, which killed more companies that produced those imports than saved them. Almost immediately, after having faced with threats from the World Trade Organization (WTO), Bush withdrew his tariffs. So much for free trade and free enterprise!

Even more so, these arguments against migrants, especially when one of the arguments alleges that immigrants are job thieves, are reminiscent of the sentiments aimed at the Chinese, Irish, and Catholic immigrants of the 19th century and the Italian and Jewish immigrants of the early 20th century. These similar sentiments reflected a prejudicial bias against certain groups of people who weren't native to the United States, who didn't speak English, and who represented a grave threat to the government-protected laborers who believed in and favored a paradigm of nationalism ("We must defend America from those who are attacking our national sovereignty!") and protectionism ("We must protect our jobs from these illegals who have no respect for our laws!"). Even the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was passed by Congress and signed into law by Republican President Chester A. Arthur, considering that the law made it illegal for Chinese laborers to arrive and work on American soil for 10 years. (The law came about when, in 1872, Congress was lobbied by many special interest groups for economic reasons—one of them being the need to stop low-wage competitors on our soil. The law was later extended by the Chinese Exclusion Extension Act of 1904, which made Chinese immigration illegal for the next 60 years.)

Fourth and finally, this point is tied to the anti-free traders' argument in relation to "national sovereignty." The xenophobic zealots purport that the migrants are harming our "national identity" by bringing multiculturalism to the United States. Only individuals have a "national identity," not a piece of land mass. Not only that, imagine a world without immigrants in a country. The music, art, literature, food, and culture bring more economic and personal benefits to the American people than one would think possible. The idea that a national land mass, from a collectivistic standpoint, is more sovereign, has a more legitimate identity, and has more rights than the individual regardless of land boundary is repugnant and antithetical to freedom to the core. Nothing could be more anti-freedom than that.

Even more, the xenophobes claim that they are not anti-immigration but anti-illegal immigration. Yet they are disingenuous when they say that. If one favors federal immigration controls that restrict or illegalize immigration, then it stands to reason that one opposes immigration across the board. That implies that one must have government-approved permission, under the vile and diabolical rubric of government regulations and laws, to cross the borders and reside within that territory.

This claim is analogous to the statists who claim, "I'm not against the right of individuals to use drugs for medicinal use; I'm just against illegal drug use." Individuals who wish to engage in recreational drug use, even if that usage is outlawed by federal decree, is engaging in the act of civil disobedience. The same applies to individuals who wish to freely cross imaginary boundaries that divide territories, as they are engaging in an act of civil disobedience. Moreover, those statists who oppose illegal drug use are those who support government-approved drugs that they deem appropriate for individual usage, not drugs that individuals deem appropriate for said usage. The same goes for statists who oppose illegal immigration; they support government-approved immigration that they deem appropriate for individual applicants, not immigration that individual migrant applicants deem appropriate for entry into the United States.

This, of course, brings us to a foregone conclusion: there is no such thing as legal and illegal immigration. "Legal" immigration is government-controlled, government-subsidized, government-protected, and government-approved immigration. It is a highly-profitable government-financed industry. How so? Think about it. When migrant applicants apply for "legal immigration status," especially when they apply for their H1B-Visas (which are temporary government-approved legal immigration cards for U.S. employers who hire migrant guest workers for certain occupations) and U.S. Green Cards (which allow immigrants to come and live in the U.S. on a legal, permanent basis), immigrants must shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to immigration bureaucrats at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency (formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service a.k.a. INS) who have no incentive to guarantee approval of their applications for legal residential status and keep their paperwork on file. Very often, these bureaucrats will either lose the paperwork or misplace it, which means that the immigrant who filed for legal status has to re-apply, which means that more thousands of dollars must be doled out, leaving the immigrant broke and not able to legally enter the country. Jumping through these bureaucratic hoops is a time-consuming, taxing task and migrants who play by the bureaucratic rules are given the short end of the stick. How are that entire system and its processes fair? This ties to the free trade angle, because protectionists wouldn't mind hiking the immigration fees to lock out foreign labor that threatens their trades.

"Illegal" immigration is a government concoction as well. Keep in mind that these migrants under this system are breaking the government's precious rules and are operating under the laws of the black marketplace. Migrants who cross the borders underground hire coyotes to bring into the U.S., even though these coyotes, who are often unsavory transporters, have no incentive to protect the welfare of these people. Because these migrants are poor, they are forced to steal or even commit other crimes (like selling illegal drugs) in order to pay for their trips across the borders. This is one reason why the U.S. Border Patrol is not able to stop the underground influx of migrants who are breaking through the immigration controls. The idea that "illegals" are arriving across the border on foot with Border Patrol agents standing on the edge of the border is nonsense, because most of those migrants are finding enterprising ways, including the above-mentioned coyotes, to get around the insane controls.

Additionally, the idea that a wall or a fence, as so many conservatives endorse, will lock out migrants from coming into the country is a canard all by itself. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, the entire U.S.-Mexican border is 1,969 miles (3,169 kilometers). Yet many immigration experts contend that the cost to build a 700-mile wall or fence on the border between Mexico and the U.S. is cost prohibitive. It is highly expensive to build a wall or a fence on that entire border. Even Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff believes the expense to build is huge. If it were to be erected, it would cost taxpayers an estimated amount between $4 billion and $8 billion just to build a state-of-the-art fence. This means that taxes would possibly have to be raised — and even expanded—to pay for the construction of that boondoggle. Are American taxpayers really interested in paying more taxes to fund a massive government program that would fail to prevent migrants from setting foot on our soil? Let's be honest with ourselves. Are they really going to go along with that? And, even if it were a good idea, it would cost us our liberties more because immigration officials could use the wall or fence to lock Americans already living in the U.S. inside the country. You might as well forget about the passports that are already issued to the over 290 million Americans who have already applied for them. Will the officious government bureaucrats allow Americans to leave the U.S., even if and after many of them decide that the country is too totalitarian to live in it? I think not.

The anti-free trade angle applies to this as well: if outsourcing jobs (I prefer to call it "free trade of jobs") is "terrible" as many collectivists, statists, and social engineers widely believe and want people to believe, wouldn't putting up a wall or a fence lock out unpatriotic companies from sending the working class and the U.S. economy down the river by sending jobs to other countries for cheaper and more productive labor? Unfortunately, they never think about these things on a consistent basis. That much is certain.

Moreover, the idea of open borders leading to absolute anarchy is absolutely idiotic. There is no evidence in U.S. history which substantiates this. If this were true, then wouldn't that immutable principle apply to us within our own borders as well? If the "let's-secure-our-borders" canard were true, wouldn't that also apply to the borders between the states, or, even more locally, the borders between the counties of every state? If that claptrap had a scintilla of truth in it, then how come we haven't heard the same "problem," given that our own borders between the counties and the states are very much open? That same principle also applies to the anti-free trade argument as well: within our own respective borders between counties and states, aren't companies committing treason and destroying the local, county, and state economies for offering jobs to people from different cities, counties, and states?

Let's not forget that the 19 hijackers who attacked us on 9/11 flew into the country legally on student and tourist visas, so the conservatives' canard that the "illegals," — many of whom are considered to be terrorists—are here to commit acts of violence and terrorism is idiotic and baseless. Where were the immigration bureaucrats then when 9/11 transpired on their watch? Why did they allow these men on our soil if they truly believe government can effectively micromanage and centrally plan the labor and immigration market? What good are they if they can't effectively stop immigration at the domestic level? (Oh, and the 19 hijackers even overstayed their visas, which is a common practice not unheard of in today's times. Where were the "great" immigration bureaucrats on that one? What's their excuse for that?)

By the way, free immigration and free trade are great deterrents to war. If our trade barriers are lowered, so will the other countries that have kept their barriers up. Isolationism, protectionism, and mercantilism will only stir up tensions and resentment in the long run. Free trade and free immigration are our only tickets to peace, as they prevent unilateral military action on foreign soil. Without them, it will lead to the economic stagflation, economic sanctions on the citizens of other countries, and contentious attitudes and actions that can result in war. Once that happens, we can witness the loss of innocent civilian and military lives on both sides of the warring aisle.

If we truly want to bring personal and economic freedom back to this country, we must reject the current-welfare-warfare state, the protectionistic claims about free trade and free immigration, and the xenophobic panic pertaining to "national identity." While we're at it, let's bring back free immigration and free trade on a true level. We would serve our country in a better capacity if we were allowed to do so.

© 2008 by Todd Andrew Barnett. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to reprint any portion of or the entire article is hereby granted, provided that the author's name and credentials are included.


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