Sunday, April 16, 2006

Self Interest & Immigration

There is a double standard operating in the immigration debate, one set of rules exists for those who support porous borders and a different set exists for those who are against them.

On the one hand, we have illegal immigrants themselves, corporations, and politicians vying for the future Latino vote. Each of these parties is obviously and unapologetically pursuing their self interest. Illegal immigrants want to live and work in the US and make a better life for themselves and their families. Corporations want cheap labor and a higher profit margin. And politicians want to ingratiate themselves to the growing Latino vote.

On the other hand, we have those concerned about the costs of illegal immigration (and there are many: potential balkanization of American society, crowded and lower quality schools, rising medical costs, uninsured drivers, increased crime, lower wages, high unemployment among the unskilled) who cannot advocate their self interest without being labeled a racist, xenophobe, nativist, bigot, or a 21st century "know-nothing yahoo." This is the sort of debate most often practiced by the left, but that last epithet was hurled by no other than William Kristol of the Weekly Standard. Argument by ad hominem is the preferred method of the open borders lobby for good reason--massive illegal immigration is not in the national interest. It's high time that the Kristols in this debate recognize that those hurt by illegal immigration also have a right to be heard and considered, without being maligned as irrational xenophobes.

A low-skilled worker who wants to restrict illegal immigration because he believes it lowers his wage and ability to support his family is a xenophobe and racist. But an illegal immigrant breaking our laws and demanding amnesty is merely pursuing the American dream. A mother who opposes illegal immigration because the local schools are flooded with students who need additional help at the expense of native children is a racist yahoo, whereas an illegal promoting the interests of her children is, again, just pursuing the American dream. A corporation that seeks to maximize its profit and ensure a steady supply of cheap, compliant workers is business-as-usual, but anybody concerned about illegals driving up the price and availability of healthcare is an insentive nativist. Monetary interest is sufficient for corporations, but how dare taxpayers resent the burden illegals place on local, state, and federal government. How dare they pursue their economic interest as vigorously as Big Business!

My advice to those opposed to amnesty and lax enforcement is to pursue your perceived self-interest as vigorously and unapologetically as those promoting open borders do. The American dream is for Americans, too, right?

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