An Obligatory July 4 Immigration Post

Finally, somebody says something reasonable about immigration. Being anti-immigrant and being disturbed by the porousness of the borders are not remotely the same thing. For many people, the concepts of “an immigrant” and “a person who crosses the border illegally” occupy completely different places in their heads.

An example. I’m preoccupied by the porousness of the borders. The issue began to matter to me since I found out about the opioid epidemic, which is something I care about deeply. Before I didn’t give a toss.

I’m sure we are all aware that finding any bias against Hispanic immigrants in me is a hopeless enterprise. There can never be too many Hispanic people around me. I don’t blame anybody who doesn’t share this idiosyncrasy of mine and I recognize people’s right to be discomfited by a different culture and language. God knows I’ve experienced what it feels like to be in a place where you don’t understand many or most of the people and I know how traumatic it can be. I, however, live in the grip of an almost physiological affinity for the Spanish language and the Hispanic culture. At the pool in Florida, there were many Spanish speakers, and I can’t tell you, folks, what it feels like. It’s like being on drugs. I experience little explosions of pleasure in my brain. I can’t explain it, it just is.

But I do recognize there is a problem at the border and that it needs to be addressed. If that’s anti-immigrant, I’m a graceful swan.

14 thoughts on “An Obligatory July 4 Immigration Post”

  1. Part of the problem here is that you create a Trojan Horse. It is not going to be easy for the casual observer to tell the difference between you wanting to tighten the border up and a Trump person, who is likely to make a point of imitating your rhetoric and claiming he wants the same thing. Furthermore, any system you create is going to be run precisely by those pursuing a strong ideological agenda. For example, reasonable moderate religious people might support modesty, but they are not going to care enough to join a modesty squad. So in practice, a moderate modesty squad is not practical. It is either no squad or a goon squad. Similarly, reasonable people are unlikely to join the ICE. Therefore, we can take it for granted that it will be run by unreasonable people as a goon squad.


    1. There are way too many assumptions here. One is that I care if anybody thinks I’m a Trump supporter. 🙂 Another is that I believe that a strong ideological agenda is a bad thing. And yet another one is that a large group of people none of whom either of us met is by default made up of unreasonable people.


      1. The problem is not that someone might think you are a Trump supporter, but that someone might think a Trump supporter is you? Is it reasonable to assume about a group of men whom we have not met and that we only know that they were found in a brothel that they were looking to have sex with prostitutes? I readily grant that one or two of them might have been trying to bring the prostitutes to Jesus. On this topic, I would recommend the chapter in Hayek’s Road to Serfdom on why the worst get to the top. An essential principle in politics is that you have to start with the assumption that your system will be taken over by bad people. In essence, whatever system you create, assume Trump will become the leader. The question then becomes how to Trump proof the system so it will not matter that he is in charge. For example, it may be a good idea for the president not to be in charge of the border.


        1. I honestly don’t think there’s much value in trying to deduce who is a Trump supporter. I also don’t share the obsession with Trump. There have been worse presidents in recent memory. But so what? My principles exist outside of the concerns over who sits in the White House at the moment.

          Yes, the nation-state model has many defects. Yet it also has enormous benefits that, for me, outweigh the defects.


  2. The first sentence of your post (“says something reasonable about immigration”) and the rest of your first paragraph contradict each other.

    Trump-hater Digby, like the New York Times article that she links, makes no distinction AT ALL between voters’ opinions on legal versus illegal immigration. Apparently, the “political science experts” who did the research can’t tell the difference, either.


    1. The reasonable point I was referring to is that most of the people in the US are not anti-immigrant. I’m yet to meet a bunch of folks as kind, welcoming and open to immigrants as Americans. There is no comparison between them and Canadians, especially Quebecoise, and Western Europeans. So it pains me to hear all the truly offensive and baseless blabber about how anti-immigrant Americans are. For instance Mexicans in Mexico and Dominicans in the DR are so anti-immigrant in comparison that it’s not even funny.


  3. “The reasonable point I was referring to is that most of the people in the US are not anti-immigrant.”

    But that’s not what the article says. It says that most white people who voted Democratic aren’t anti-immigrant, and that most white Republicans are. Without a distinction between legal and illegal immigration, the article is psuedo-intellectual garbage.

    Trump doesn’t know how lucky he is to have feckless opposition like this.


  4. “Without a distinction between legal and illegal immigration…” Not really because there is effectively no way to immigrate legally if you don’t fit certain categories — yet we want these people working, and they need the work.


      1. Except that US appears not to be interested in that. The immigrants would like it, I’m sure, since they wouldn’t have to be a shadowy underclass any more. But US has them where it wants them, and therein lies the problem. Undocumented immigrants are the people we love to hate: they are working to grow my food while I waste time fretting over an article on racism I am trying to write (this is literally true); if they go legal, then they’ll have to be paid better (since they’ll then be eligible for other jobs, school, etc.) … so, hmmm …


  5. “Again” he added politely as he set his gin and tonic down on the table with perhaps a little too much force. “I have addressed this before.”….
    Some of the problems are partly caused by not having the vocabulary (or conceptual space) to discuss the issue.
    Different people move to other countries (for longer or shorter periods of time) for different reasons. Having the same laws and regulations for people who want to do seasonal semi-skilled work (for more money than they can make at home) and a professional who wants to settle permanently is kind of…. incredibly stupid.
    In Europe conflating the ideas of refugees and immigrants and economic migration leads to nothing but misery and political disruption.
    But there’s not an infinite number of reasons, which is why I tried to come up with a preliminary taxonomy of people who move to other countries. I was hoping that some people would point out where my categories are wrong…


  6. Also… I’m less than thrilled with the idea of skills based immigration (beyond basic education). I’m not crazy about the idea of immigration being primarily a way for those who are well off in one society to become even better off somewhere else. I have an emotional attachment to the idea of immigration being a way for smart hardworking people who can’t get a break in their own countries being able to get a chance that they are denied at home.

    But migration has become a consumer good, something to do for domestic status (or something to do because everyone else is doing it) now and neither lawmakers nor the populations of target countries have come to grips with that yet.


    1. It’s skills-based because it seems fair that not only the working classes should face competition for jobs. I think it would be interesting to observe all those academics who are screeching about the wonderfulness of open borders try to compete for jobs with colleagues from Latin America who teach ten courses per semester and don’t whine. I’d love to find out how fast they’d find themselves a Trump to vote for.

      Other than that, I don’t care either way. As long as lottery is abolished, the drug deluge stops, and people don’t have to negotiate their immigration status at the border, I’m happy.


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