Coffee With Cato: I


I love CATO.  And their blog.  You should go read ’em both.  Anyway, I am going to try to work out a piece every Tuesday that grabbed my attention over there and discuss my take.

This is the first installment.

For a long time now I have found the immigration thing incredibly frustrating.  I find myself in the very strange position of being AGAINST illegal immigration but very PRO illegal immigrant.  And it doesn’t jive well with me.  I understand that the two are connected; perhaps two sides of the same coin?  I dunno.

And I think I figured out my solution and last Thursday Daniel Griswold echoed it.

Requiring successful enforcement of the current immigration laws before they can be changed is a non sequitur. It’s like saying, in 1932, that we can’t repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we’ve drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could “get control” of its unintended consequences.

Daniel compares immigration and its problems with prohibition and its “problems”.  Looking back now we all know that the only reason we had bootleggers was because the government passed laws that made a service we all wanted to be done illegal.  Everyone wanted booze.  When you make the creation of booze illegal, you create criminals.

And the same is done in the immigration “dilemma”.

Look, no one disputes that we don’t need to watch over alcohol; and in some cases, very closely.  We don’t let minors buy or consume.  If adults do it, we do let’em drive.  No one is condoning “devil may care” attitudes.  And the same should apply to immigration.

The problem that we are seeing so prevalent in the border states and elsewhere is largely of our own making.  If you were to ask any of us if we would support the citizenship of nearly ALL illegal residents we know, we would answer with a resounding “Yes”!  And for separate reasons.  We have come to know them as outstanding people.  As friends; perhaps family.  We appreciate their skills and labor.  Perhaps we enjoy their cultural contributions.  So what’s preventing them from becoming legal?  Why, the law of course.  And the results are killin’ us!

Illegal immigration is the Prohibition debate of our day. By essentially barring the legal entry of low-skilled immigrant workers, our own government has created the conditions for an underground labor market, complete with smuggling and day-labor operations. As long as the government maintains this prohibition, illegal immigration will be widespread, and the cost of reducing it, in tax dollars and compromised civil liberties, will be enormous.

The cost of this disconnect is high; both in terms of monetary cost and reputational cost.  It’s silly.

Do we need to watch our border?  Yes, without a doubt.  Do we wanna keep known felons and violent criminals from other countries out of ours?  Certainly.  Can you cross if you are actively infected with H1N1?  Prolly not.  But if you wanna come here, live amongst us, work amongst us and just try to make a better life, should we make it very much harder than getting a cell phone for you to do that?  No way.

Quit making it illegal for decent people to come here.  And when ya do, you’ll find that decent people won’t be illegal.

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