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Immigration and Individual Rights

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If you haven't already, I'd suggest reading Craig Biddle's new piece in the Objective Standard " Immigration And Individual Rights ".

I was wondering just how Mr. Biddle and many Objectivists who are pro-open immigration would enforce the few exceptions outlined in this article and elsewhere.

These exceptions are: people with a criminal record, people with infectious diseases and terrorists or other foreign aggressors like spies, ETC. To prevent these people from coming, would we indeed need to build a wall? Or have massive deployment of national guard along the border? Does open immigration mean no guards for our borders whatever?

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I was wondering just how Mr. Biddle and many Objectivists who are pro-open immigration would enforce the few exceptions outlined in this article and elsewhere.
Towards the top of the article (6th para), you will find his answer: "Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration."

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... would we indeed need to build a wall?
It may be required, but it is hard to say. Today, the few "bad" illegals are lost within the much larger set of "good" illegals. Also, there is a whole illegal infrastructure that has grown up in order to support the "good" illegals. This is somewhat analogous to criminals taking over large parts of the liquor trade during prohibition. If the "good" illegals are no longer illegal, that removes a major support base for the criminal gangs that aid illegal immigration and are sheltered inside illegal immigrant communities.

I suspect that if the laws were fair, and the punishments for infringement were severe, one would be able to control the situation without a full-fledged wall. One would probably still need walls in populated areas, but I doubt a wall across the whole southern border would be a cost-effective solution. Still, if that's what has to be done, after the majority of today's illegals are allowed to immigrate legally, then so be it. I think that if major legalization takes place, we will be better able to judge the problems that remain.

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However, more than just the impractical cost of a superwall, there are many strips of private property on that 700 mile stretch of land, and in a perfect world, it would all be private property would it not? Then we run into the problem of the government infringing on property rights.

Also, I missed that David. Thank you.

Edited by TheEgoist

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As an abstract issue, I don't see any problem with there being a rule that a strip of land along the border n-feet wide, cannot be owned by private individuals, or that it can be owned only on condition that the government can use it for certain border-monitoring functions. From what I know, there already are some fences in the more populated areas. So, I doubt there is a real issue here.

I'm against having any more policing of illegal immigration than is already in place, unless immigration is opened up first. SO, that makes the problem even more remote.

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[The exceptions to Craig Biddle's policy of open immigration] are: people with a criminal record, people with infectious diseases and terrorists or other foreign aggressors like spies, ETC. To prevent these people from coming, would we indeed need to build a wall? Or have massive deployment of national guard along the border? Does open immigration mean no guards for our borders whatever?

These are definitely good questions on how to implement such a system. However, right now I think it is more important to argue for the principle of open immigration, which is presently not accepted by either major political party in the United States. Once individuals agree on the principle of what we should do, we can discuss how to put it into practice.

I personally am confident that we will be able to implement such a policy through documentation and border security technology.

I'm against having any more policing of illegal immigration than is already in place, unless immigration is opened up first.

Building on this point, I am still appalled how there is still political inaction to lifting the cap on H-1B visas issued annually for this country, which would allow foreigners with advanced degrees to work in the United States. There are many bright and industrious doctoral students in my department who would make excellent business consultants, researchers in industrial laboratories, professors or entrepreneurs. However, several of them might have to return to their countries of origins simply because they cannot obtain a H-1B visa. This is a monumental injustice. Even Bill Gates travels to Capitol Hill to campaign for an increase in H-1B visas.

Edited by DarkWaters

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Building on this point, I am still appalled how there is still political inaction to lifting the cap on H-1B visas issued annually for this country, which would allow foreigners with advanced degrees to work in the United States. There are many bright and industrious doctoral students in my department who would make excellent business consultants, researchers in industrial laboratories, professors or entrepreneurs. However, several of them might have to return to their countries of origins simply because they cannot obtain a H-1B visa. This is a monumental injustice. Even Bill Gates travels to Capitol Hill to campaign for an increase in H-1B visas.

As a Canadian, I'm not very familar with U.S immigration law. What is the official justification for restricting the number of visas to individuals that MUST have a bachelors or similar degree in their given field? I simply cannot understand how it makes sense to limit the number of talented individuals that may enter a country, especially if such visas expire after a limited time in any case.

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Another point made by that excellent article is that if immigration is free, only criminals have a reason to attempt entering the country in places other than the designated entry points. It makes it much easier to have a "trespassers will be shot" border policy when you are not dealing with innocents.

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I'm not convinced that this is as simple a matter of individual rights as Mr. Biddle claims.

The ability of any and all businesses (or any other individual) to bring as many people as they want into the country at will constitutes a form of attack on the freedom of people already there to sell their own labor in a competitive marketplace. The law of supply and demand says that under such conditions numbers will not just force wages down but effectively limit the ability of people to do anything about it. Since unlimited immigration would apply in all sectors and to all professions and to all levels of skill, the factors that make free markets competitive would not apply. Indeed, it would not be a free market if one part had no ability to actually bargain in a meaningful sense for no other reason than that numbers overwhelmed them. This is not the same situation as a particular company flooding a market with its own product, a product that it may produce more efficiently than anyone else or a company that operates so efficiently that no one can compete with it. In those cases, the ordinary risks of living and the fact that no one has a right to a job or a share of a market would apply. People would have alternatives. It is also different than a company taking its assets and going abroad. The situation with unlimited immigration is more analagous to the situation in a mixed economy in which political power is used to exclude people from markets in which they could otherwise compete, even though in this case it is numbers and not political power as such that is involved.

Historically, periods of large scale immigration have been followed by periods of virtually no immigration. The intervals of low immigration have allowed for both assimiliation and for the economy to absorb the immigrants in a manner mutually beneficial to both the indigenous population and the immigrants. Continuous, unlimited immigration prevents both. More on that point momentarily.

It is recognized that businesses may have perfectly legitimate needs to hire people from abroad and also that demand for labor may be real and well beyond what the country's indigenous labor force can supply. However, it must also be recognized that neither of those conditions requires unlimited immigration to be addressed. And, it must also be recognized that people wanting to force the price of labor down i.e. to create an uncompetitive market as described above can use open immigration to achieve just that. Therefore, the question of how much immigration a country has seems to me a question best decided in and through the political process and not as a matter of individual rights.

The cultural and national security implications of open immigration are also real and I think Mr. Biddle has minimized both of them.

First, the criteria for admitting immigrants (i.e. no diseases, criminal records and the like) would still allow millions of people to come here who could still present major national security challenges, particularly if they were brought in by other members of their own community none of whom might have actually broken any laws. The situation in the UK and in Europe more generally, in which people from Pakistan and India entered the country legally in the late 1960s is instructive. None of these people broke any laws. They filled an economic niche. They then proceeded to bring in their relatives and to otherwise maintain a connection with their homelands (and more importantly with the culture of their homelands) that enabled them to create economic, political and cultural enclaves within their parent society's borders, enclaves in which the parent culture's ability to enforce its (legitimate) laws is now frustrated by numbers and passive resistance. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the children of all of these immigrants are now citizens of the countries to which their parents immigrated and thus able to participate in the political process. In practice, this has created enormous difficulties in dealing with the threat posed by the ideologies, religion and culture of those communities. A somewhat similar process, albeit without the violence, is already happening here with groups like La Raza pushing an ethnic agenda aided by Hispanic communities large enough to resist assimilation. In the long run, the likelihood of a country whose politics, already interest and identity-group based to an unhealthy degree taking effective action against other countries when very large blocs of their own citizens claim kinship with those countries and their culture is low. And, that's what's happened everywhere that anything approaching open and unlimited immigration has taken place. In fact, there has never been a successful example of a country practicisng continuous, open and unlimited immigration, including our own.

Second, a country is more than just the authority that has responsibility for protecting individual rights within a geographic territory. A country is defined by its culture i.e. by the sum total of the effects of the philosophy that defines it. The reason why the United States has developed as it has is because its culture was based on the values of the English and Scottish Enlightenment (and beyond that on Aristotlean ideas). Our country would have a radically different shape had its underlying values been anything else. One need only look at the nature of most of the other countries in the world to recognize that. This is important because people will bring their cultural values with them. If they do so in numbers large enough to sustain their culture, then we will have a very big problem. Historically, the American identity was strong enough to assimilate the values immigrants brought here. As noted previously, though, our ability to do that depended in a large part on being able to shut down immigration long enough to do just that. It also mattered that historically immigrants came from a variety of countries and from countries that were within the West (although not exclusively). It should also be self-evident that the effects of the entire population of Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia arriving here tomorow would be quite different than those of a similar number of people arriving from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. Economics does not trump culture or philosophy, something that Objectivists of all people should recognize.

Open, unlimited and continuous immigration will do more to prevent the development of an Objectivist society in the United States than just about anything else.

For these reasons, the number, nature and rate at which immigrants enter a country is a legitimate political matter, subject to restriction as deemed necessary, and not open immigration is not an individual right.

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The law of supply and demand says that under such conditions numbers will not just force wages down but effectively limit the ability of people to do anything about it.
Actually, the law of supply and demand does not say that. In a free market, people do have the ability to do something about it, most obviously, become competitive on the labor market. It's only when government force is added to the equation, by prohibiting people from freely hiring and being hired, that you have a limitation.
Indeed, it would not be a free market if one part had no ability to actually bargain in a meaningful sense for no other reason than that numbers overwhelmed them.
You've confused the free market with something else. The free market does not mean "I can do whatever I want and always succeed", it just means that you can make your choices and live with the natural consequences. Thus if you want to demand $50/hr in a market where the competition is willing to work for $35/hr, then you are free to be unemployed. Or, if you can make the case, you can be hired if your more expensive labor is that much better.
However, it must also be recognized that neither of those conditions requires unlimited immigration to be addressed.
How is that relevant? The justification for unlimited immigration is that limits on immigration are immoral. It's not based on a labor shortage.
And, it must also be recognized that people wanting to force the price of labor down i.e. to create an uncompetitive market as described above can use open immigration to achieve just that.
But that's not force, that's allowing the price of labor to reach its natural level, once the existing forced restrictions on labor are removed.

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The ability of any and all businesses (or any other individual) to bring as many people as they want into the country at will constitutes a form of attack on the freedom of people already there to sell their own labor in a competitive marketplace.

Unlimited immigration is not a "form of attack". It's competition.

How does immigration threaten anyone's freedom? Aren't the people who were there first still free to choose where they work and to set a minimum on how much they want to be paid? What specific freedoms do you think are impaired?

The law of supply and demand says that under such conditions numbers will not just force wages down but effectively limit the ability of people to do anything about it.

The law of supply and demand says that if more people with the same abilities enter the marketplace, everything else staying equal, then wages will decline. It doesn't interfere with people's ability to do something about it; for example, they can choose not to work at the new, lower wage -- or they can improve themselves to the point where an employer would be willing to pay more -- or they can start their own business.

Since unlimited immigration would apply in all sectors and to all professions and to all levels of skill, the factors that make free markets competitive would not apply. Indeed, it would not be a free market if one part had no ability to actually bargain in a meaningful sense for no other reason than that numbers overwhelmed them.

Why would free markets stop applying just because there was an abundance of labor at all skill levels?

Why would your ability to bargain be impaired? Your ability to be paid the same amount as before the immigrants arrived might well be impaired, but that is because of the free market, not because the free market doesn't apply.

This is not the same situation as a particular company flooding a market with its own product, a product that it may produce more efficiently than anyone else or a company that operates so efficiently that no one can compete with it. In those cases, the ordinary risks of living and the fact that no one has a right to a job or a share of a market would apply. People would have alternatives. It is also different than a company taking its assets and going abroad. The situation with unlimited immigration is more analagous to the situation in a mixed economy in which political power is used to exclude people from markets in which they could otherwise compete, even though in this case it is numbers and not political power as such that is involved.

It sounds like you're assuming that there are only a limited number of jobs, and that the unlimited number of immigrants will somehow take those jobs from the people who currently hold them. That's not logical. With an "unlimited" number of immigrants, an "unlimited" number of jobs would be required to provide the materials and services that the new immigrants require. The immigrants would compete for those jobs on the basis of their skills, experience and the pay they're willing to accept. People would still have alternatives.

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I agree that the free market does not say you can do anything you want and succeed. Becoming competitive in the labor market, as several posters have commented, however, is not as straightforward in reality as is stated due to the effects of time on economic activity. If all else remains equal, excess supply will drive prices down, as AceNZ noted. Competition in this sense is prevented because in an unlimited immigration environment, businesses can now alter the labor supply as it pleases. It thus creates a condition specifically intended to preclude competition for labor. This is very different from a condition in which a business improves its own processes.

I also agree that a free market doesn't stop working just because there's an excess of labor. There is not a fixed number of jobs and, given time, the market will adjust. Historically, that has been the pattern with immigration. That is the normal case. And, in fact, historical immigration was based on the demand for more labor, not to replace existing labor. What is currently happening is different. In many cases, labor is being imported specifically to replace workers in certain jobs because employers want to pay less for those jobs or to force wages in those industries down. The people who are being displaced lose work and wages and all of the other things that would normally fuel economic growth. Immigration in e.g. the early 20th century was not like that. Similarly, when a company creates a new product that is in demand or a new industy is born, more work is usually created and thus those that lose their jobs find new work. If, however, one is simply replacing a current worker with a new, lower paid one, doing exactly the same job, the broader market simply supplies the new worker as it did the old one, without creating all of the spillover benefits that have been addressed.

As an aside, firmly free market economists like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have been critical of unlimited immigration on precisely this basis, and one assumes that they understand economic principles clearly. Sowell is interesting in this regard because, like Bastiat, he looks at the full context.

Responses to an excess of labor, such as re-training, starting a business, lowering one's wages and the like, all reasonable responses, assume a context that may not be applicable under the current circumstances. That's why immigration is such a hot button issue for so many people. It's one thing to say to someone that a better product or service came along, or that someone with better skills came along, or even (within certain contexts) that someone will work for less (as is the case in the unionized versus non-unionized labor debate), and that they must accept those things. It is another matter altogether to say to someone, drop your wages or we'll bring in so much new labor that you'll have to accept the lower rate or starve. I still can't see that as an example of a free market working effectively. It amounts to businesses having control over the supply of labor, something that has never been the case before. Under those circumstances, telling someone that they can choose not to work unless they accept the new, lowered wages is thus not really a free choice because the only thing driving the lower wages is the influx of more, equally skilled people, all the time, without interruption. And, that is exactly the situation that has currently developed, especially at the low end of the labor market. Now, I'll grant that some of the factors driving this are artificially high costs due to government regulation, payroll taxes and the like, but even if one took those out, a continuous flood of new workers would create the same problems.

I agree that citizenship and immigration are different. My point was that the second generation automatically become citizens and do not necessarily assimilate. Even if one maintains the distinction between citizenship and immigration, a large enough body of unassimilated people can create trouble due to their numbers alone. My post gave several examples of this.

It is important to remember the full context within which any principle is stated and to make sure that one has accounted for all of the factors involved. There is, no offense intended, a rather casual "after the Revolution all will be well" attitude about the positions taken in Mr. Biddle's argument and that of some of the posters. The degree to which the historical evidence is at odds with the theory suggests a moral-practical dichotomy that should not exist. I have no doubt that Mr. Biddle and the posters who support him do so from a genuine conviction about the moral issue here, but I am equally convinced that the full context of these concepts has not been considered or this dichotomy would not seem to exist. This is important because there are many things that can and should be said to Americans who are losing their jobs because they or the industries in which they work are genuinely uncompetitive, to properly explain their own responsibilities and the need to change. I'm not convinced, though, that Mr. Biddle's argument is amongst them. With respect to the full context of an individual rights-based argument, consider the example of the owner of a business that has developed national security-related technology. He would be wholly free to sell it to anyone in any other country even though this would increase our country to unnecessary risk (a case in point was Toshiba selling milling machinery to the Soviets that allowed them to make quieter submarines back in the mid-80s). Would the government be violating his rights if it forbid him to sell such a product? Based on the position taken on immigration, I'd have to conclude that most in our community would answer yes. I would answer no.

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There is no such thing as excess labor because there is no such thing as too much wealth. Anyone who says otherwise and calls himself an economist is either dumb or dishonest.

Edited by mrocktor

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Competition in this sense is prevented because in an unlimited immigration environment, businesses can now alter the labor supply as it pleases.
That's clearly false. If Business could create super-human androids at will, then they could "alter the labor supply as it pleases", but then the notion of "labor" isn't really applicable, rather, you have automation. (I grant that you may also have in mind laws against automation, in order to "save jobs", but I'll leave it to you to make that proposal). Business cannot wish into existence huge hords of fluent English-speaking computer technicians willing to work for a penny an hour. With unlimited immigration, business may have access to a wider pool of temporary laborers who are willing and able to take certain kinds of jobs for less money than permanent residents. That's does not limit competition, in fact it increases competition by having more candidates for the same number of jobs.

I don't see how any of this stuff about history of immigration has any relevance to the issue. Historically, men walked or rode horses. That does not mean that the automobile should be outlawed.

In many cases, labor is being imported specifically to replace workers in certain jobs because employers want to pay less for those jobs or to force wages in those industries down.
That's a good think, btw. It means that their production costs are lower and therefore they can afford to cut prices even lower, to maintain their competitive advantage. I appreciate reaping that benefit, because it means my stuff is cheaper.
The people who are being displaced lose work and wages and all of the other things that would normally fuel economic growth.
That's not a necessary outcome. All they have to do is offer a superior product or a lower cost for their labor. Employers don't hire immigrant laborers out of spite, they do it because the local workers have unrealistic demands for wages and benefits.
It is another matter altogether to say to someone, drop your wages or we'll bring in so much new labor that you'll have to accept the lower rate or starve.
This argument is incomprehensible, unless you mistakenly conflated outsourcing with immigration. The Mexican day-laborers that are being hired in construction and menial service have to eat just like the permanent residents. How come they aren't "starving", unless the whole starvation claim is just a half a sound bite.

Yes, when there is a free market in labor, without government interference, then somebody probably will have to work for a lower wage. To quote Dick Cheney, "So?". There is no right to receive an inflated wage. You have the right to ask any wage you wish to hold out for; I have the right to hire the cheapest labor that I can find. Right now, we are suffering a number of consequences of socialism in our society, cashed out as drastically reduced business efficiency and runaway prices which are in significant part a result of the limits on business competition when it comes to labor. That's the full context that we need to keep in mind -- force is being used to prevent businesses from operating efficiently and to prevent them from cutting prices.

Atlas Shrugged is a good illustration of the absurdity of forcibly protecting "the greater good". You may want to give it a look; look especially for the "we have a right to that job, wage, product" parts.

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I don't see how any of this stuff about history of immigration has any relevance to the issue.
AMirvish asks people to look at history and to consider the fuller context, without pointing to some convincing historical facts, nor to important aspects of context that are being dropped.

History shows that the scare stories are not warranted. After many million manufacturing jobs went to China, and to South America; after thousands of software and call-center jobs have gone to India and Philippines, we have more than enough historical evidence to see that this has not caused U.S. unemployment of the type AMirvish is predicting.

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In first place, if inmigration policies were laxed, that is open borders, then everybody would enter through the proper channels. Only a minority of criminals and spies would violate the border to which the solution is to shot'em on the spot. I can't concive why a wall would be necessary. Furthermore if border land is private (in most0 cases as far as I know it is) then the owner is the one to set up a fence or whatever to protect his property.

Is inmigration good for America?

Hasn't it always been? Irish and German were not considered whites inthe 18th c., Scotts where deemed a risk. In the 19c. it was the same with Italians and Jews. Could you imagine an America without Italians, Russians and Irish? Could you imagine one without Chinese?

Inmigration is only in detriment of a country when this one is a socialist one, like Sweden, and the "natives" have to pay for the newcomer's welfare.

It is also in detriment when there's an agenda behing inmgration and a certain group is given priority over the others (like the E.U. and it's Brussel mandated islamization). Now this can't be applied to the states with Mexico. Mexicans would benefit more than any other country from open borders, but as a result of a geographic accident, not social engineering (like in Europe).

Jobs: when mechanization took the jobs of millions agricultural workers from "The South", could they have prevented that their sons would be working in Sillicon Valley? Some would have banned mechanization, and industrialization, in order to preserve those jobs. (I think you guys fought a Civil War on the matter).

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Let's say the arguments presented have convinced me of the economics of the matter, generally. The broader cultural and political arguments remain unaddressed and arguing that the historical record or practice is irrelevant because we once had horses instead of cars is a non sequitur.

There is, no doubt, a considerable contribution to the whole illegal immigration issue and that of outsourcing due to government regulation, payroll taxes, restrictive labor laws and the like. No argument there. However, socialism and regulation are not the only factors at work here or abroad. Europe's current experience, some aspects of which I referred to in my original post, provides overwhelming evidence that people can come to a country as part of a nominally economic arrangement and cause massive political problems in their wake. Kosovo provides an example. Over the last 30 years, it went from being the "cradle of Serbia" into a Muslim-dominated state through immigration and high birthrates. Now, the more numerous locals have declared independence. The entire issue of how immigrants can change the politics of a country represents the context that is being dropped. And, it isn't just because the European states offer welfare. The London bombers all had jobs, were all native-born, were all middle-class, and they simply came to so despise the society in which they were raised (particularly its secular elements) one day they strapped on bombs, went down into the subways and climbed aboard buses and killed their fellow citizens. One example after another of this can be found as terrorist cells and plots are discovered. Economics does not trump culture. Holland, France, Britain and Germany have all learned this. They constitute a fully warranted "scare" story. La Raza and like organizations here are not at that stage...yet. But, they have their agendas too. The fact that those agendas are racist and irrational don't change their reality.

I would suggest that the generally positive effects of immigration for our country has resulted from the willingness of people who came here to assimilate, the nature of the countries (and thus the cultures) from which they came, the fact that the countries from which most immigrants came were not right next door, the fact that immigrants did not come overwhelmingly from just one country, the greater cultural strength of our country at the time (i.e. greater agreement on the fundamentals of America's identity), the significant difference in technology that essentially forced people to leave their homelands behind permanently, and the fact that we periodically all but suspended immigration in order to let these other factors work so that the immigrants were assimilated, and not just the economics. Today, most of these factors do not apply. People can arrive here in enormous numbers easily and maintain strong connections to the cultures that they left behind. And, yet we argue that the logic of market economics will trump all of those things, most especially the cultural baggage of the immigrants themselves. If economics were enough, we'd never have had any form of socialism in our country at all. Rand herself made this point repeatedly. There is no basis for assuming that that observation isn't relevant to immigration.

As an historical matter, there was a significant German presence here at the time of the Founding, so much so that some consideration was given to German being the national language. The Scots, likewise, were here in force from the beginning. To my knowledge, the Germans were never held to be anything except white and the Scots were not deemed to be a risk. There were also Jews and Catholics here since the 17th century, albeit in smaller numbers. The 19th century hostility to immigration based on ethnicity applied primarily to the Catholic Irish and Italians, to eastern Europeans generally, and to eastern European Jews. The assimilation of the groups whose nature most aroused the suspicion of native Americans at the time took effort by both the native and the immigrant community. Many fundamental aspects of the Irish and Italian Catholic tradition as practiced in Italy and Ireland had to change for the full integration of those groups into the American cultural tradition, which was largely Anglo-Protestant. Understanding how and why this process took place is wholly relevant to this issue. Paranoids have enemies. Not all immigrants bring desirable cultural baggage. The fact that nativist views are usually unwarranted doesn't mean that they always are.

Claiming that if all immigration were legal everybody would enter through the proper channels and that we could shoot whomever didn't is, I would suggest, at best a half truth and decidedly silly, respectively. First, you can't argue individual rights as the basis for someone coming here and then shooting them on the spot if they don't come in where you want. Second, aren't processing controls of any sort a violation of rights? Would we check people before letting them write or speak or exercise their other rights? What then is the basis for any controls if it's a matter of rights? Either people can come here as a matter of right or they can't. As to criminals, the diseased and so forth, why not simply jail or quarantine them once they've actually committed a crime here or it becomes evident that they have diseases? Of course, such an approach would also allow actual invasion by stealth. It is, however, at least as practical as shooting them on the spot or wiping Iran off the map.

Assuming that processing controls of some sort are acceptable and not violations of rights, how would they work? To perform background checks on people would require the cooperation of the governments from whom they are emigrating. In the 70's Castro let loose scores of his criminals whom then came into our country. I'm sure he would have said, "They're otherwise honest people who believe in your society" had he been asked because he wanted to cause trouble. One could expect similar "help" from the governments of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, amongst others. Even with complete honesty on the part of all concerned, it would be a lengthy process. So, we'd either require visas and controls through our embassies abroad (and quotas based on how many people could be dealt with i.e. what we have now) or holding pens/camps here until processing occured. This would require an enormous bureaucracy and would invite people to circumvent it. So, we'd be right back to where we are now. But, then, all of this would be a matter for legitimate political discussion, not a question of individual rights. It would be a political issue because how much money, manpower and resources anyone wanted to expend on legitimate processing would absolutely be within the scope of government's responsibility to protect individual rights. And, so we'd be having a political debate on the numbers of people we could allow into the country. If there was enough data to suggest that immigrants from some countries posed greater challenges to this process than others, we might want to debate whether we should devote our legitimate processing efforts to those from other countries. Then, we'd be back to controls, quotas...and immigration as a legitimate political subject and not a matter of individual rights.

In addition to all of this, is the question of how things would play out given the current state of our culture and its political system. The fact is that we have a highly politically correct, heavily regulated, thoroughly politicized mixed economy. We have interest group politics and especially identity politics. We have a very strong religious element in our country and an extraordinarily nihlist and relativist but secular intellectual culture. Objectivism's profile and influence has grown over the years, but not to the extent that it trumps all of those other things. So, arguing for greater immigration as a matter of principle will cause even many people who might agree with much of what Objectivism says to once again see us as people whose ideas are not practical and whose outlook is wholly and narrowly theoretical. No converts will be made there. Meanwhile, the processes at work will continue with an ever more ethnically balkanized population, something that Rand herself did discuss in some of her essays. Good luck with all of that.

You can't ignore the details of the process just because they're messy. Proper theory proceeds from a consideration of all factors and integrates all facts, not just some of them. I'll acknowledge the logic and weight of the economics argument, but I see no evidence for dismissing the political and cultural ones.

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Given that you've conceded the economics argument, let's focus on the "cultural" aspect. Usually two different fears are rolled up into this argument. The first is the fear that the U.S. will slowly change away from being an English-speaking, apple-pie eating country, and that's we'll all have to learn Spanish. The second is the fear that the U.S. will change into a more socialist system.

The first is a not a question for government. Governments are not in place to enforce the optional aspects of culture like language, food and art.

The second is a legitimate question.

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The idea of open immigration is implicitly based on the (ethical) generalization that there are no conflicts of interests among rational men.

So it makes no sense to say that allowing people living in other countries (who respect rights), to openly migrate to America, a nation founded on the inalienable rights of Man, leads to an inherent conflict of economic, political and cultural interests between Americans-by-birth and Americans-by-choice respectively.

Furthermore, the economic, political and cultural nature of America is not determined by the number of people who migrate to this country but by the fundamental ideas they hold in their lives.

As long as the migrants hold the right ideas, they're a threat to no American, whether native or alien. But if they hold the wrong ideas and their practice does not violate the rights of any American, the battle against those ideas should be fought (and ultimately won) in the intellectual realm by those who hold the right ideas. In case their practice does violate rights, it's the moral responsibility of the American Government to enforce the rights of the victims of such violation.

When the American government restricts open immigration because there's an alleged 'risk' of people who hold the 'wrong' ideas entering the country and 'eroding' its economics, politics and culture, what such a policy leads to, in practice, is the state dictating, which ideas an alien can or cannot hold, to be allowed entry into, and residence in, the country of his choice.

Once the principle of total separation of state and intellect is abandoned in the case of aliens, there's nothing to prevent the government from eventually dictating, which ideas natives can or cannot hold, to be allowed to live in the country of their birth.

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Leaving aside the issue of cultural and economic factors for the moment, consider this: as the most basic individual right is the right to life, would it not be prudent to have a vetting system in place to determine if an immigrant is basically healthy? Would not free and unrestrained immigration carry the danger of reintroducing diseases that had been previously almost eradicated, such as TB? Would one argue that an immigrant's individual right to unrestrained travel takes precidence over yours or my right to life, i.e., not being unnessesarily exposed to contagion?

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...contagion?
Such a restriction would be rational if it was justified by the seriousness of the disease, by the risks of contagion, and was not used as an excuse to keep people out. I don't think there are many contagious but incurable disease out there today. Also, you'd want a way for people to come to U.S. hospitals for treatment of such diseases.

For instance, as far as I know, TB is curable but some treatments can take many months. BTW, currently, to get a U.S. Green Card, one has to be screened for TB.

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Building on this point, I am still appalled how there is still political inaction to lifting the cap on H-1B visas issued annually for this country, which would allow foreigners with advanced degrees to work in the United States. There are many bright and industrious doctoral students in my department who would make excellent business consultants, researchers in industrial laboratories, professors or entrepreneurs. However, several of them might have to return to their countries of origins simply because they cannot obtain a H-1B visa. This is a monumental injustice. Even Bill Gates travels to Capitol Hill to campaign for an increase in H-1B visas.

It appears that in this election year, the H-1B problem is getting worse rather than better.

American companies looking to hire nonimmigrant workers from overseas to work in specialty fields, including accounting, will have a slimmer chance of obtaining visas because of a change in the H-1B application process that takes effect April 1.

Under the policy change, visas will be granted to a randomly selected 65,000 applicants from a pool of applications consisting of those submitted within five business days after April 1. Before now, there was a set limit of 120,000 applications for the pool; last year the quota was filled in a single day, leaving companies that submitted applications on April 2 to wait to try again this year.

The number of applications to be granted remains the same, but with five business days in which they can be accepted, the size of the applicant pool is expected to be much greater, decreasing the odds that any single application will be selected.

http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/10943667/1/...944658?f=alerts

Edited by gags

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