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Border Patrol Agents Get 11 Year Sentence for Doing Their Job

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I understand that socialism is the cause of the illegal immigrants using free services. And, I understand that my having to pay taxes and their ability to avoid the taxes altogether is the fault of the government and not them. But it does not change the fact that their presence and behavior has a negative impact on my life in that I must pay for the services that they are provided. I have to pay more for health care or might have to do without much of it at all if the trend continues. In the lifeboat situation that socialism creates, there are conflicts of interest between rational men. This is one of them.

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In the current discussion, attempting to have open immigration without first correcting the underlying problems will have the same deleterious effect on the country.

It is unfortunate that socialism creates a lifeboat-type situation. I cannot deny the harm caused by immigrants where you live using services that you pay for through taxes, such as hospitals, schools, and welfare benefits. The same phenomenon exists here in New York City where large numbers of immigrants consume public housing, hospital care, public schools and welfare benefits. However, at the same time, most of these people are also working, and creating wealth. They work in multifarious jobs such as restaurants, cleaning buildings, etc. If they are legal, they can get better-paying jobs in offices, and send their kids to college, where they can do even better. If they cannot attain legal status, quite often all they can do is menial-type labor that is less value-creating. Why not legalize these illegal aliens, so that they can become even more productive?

Unfortunately, immigration laws also keep out scientists and engineers from all over the world. They keep out well-heeled businessmen from Hong Kong and other places who want to set up business here. They keep out software designers from India. They keep out bankers and doctors. They prevent spouses from working whose husbands or wives gain temporary permission to work here. They prevent productive families from being united.

And, they also keep out farm laborers who harvest crops and laborers who work in kitchens and clean offices.

On balance, even with the problem of some immigrants consuming government-provided services, I would contend that the benefits of immigration are far greater than the harms it causes. Immigrants create wealth, they advance the division of labor and the accumulation of capital; they advance our standard of living. This is especially true for the type of immigrants I mention above who are being excluded today.

Of course, that would not be any solace to you if, in your part of the United States, you were being harmed from too many immigrants using public services. (At the same time, you are also benefiting from the labor of the types of people I mention above, to the extent they are allowed in.)

I think it is reasonable to argue that free immigration should be one of the later reforms, like eliminating taxation. I would disagree, arguing that it can be one of the first reforms, that its benefits are much greater than the harms it causes. I would go further and suggest that it could help force the issue of government funding of welfare benefits, public hospitals and public housing in border areas. Governments might be induced to stop providing those services, which would be a good thing. But the main reason I want immigrants coming here is because of all the wealth-creating benefits they provide, on balance, as I describe above.

In any case, it appears we are both in favor of free immigration in a free society. That is good!

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I think it is reasonable to argue that free immigration should be one of the later reforms, like eliminating taxation. I would disagree, arguing that it can be one of the first reforms, that its benefits are much greater than the harms it causes. I would go further and suggest that it could help force the issue of government funding of welfare benefits, public hospitals and public housing in border areas.

The problem that you mention seems like it could be solved as well by a more properly selective immigration policy as it could by entirely open immigration.

It would be difficult to support either your view or mine with numbers as to how productive are the people interested in immigrating here. Their productivity vs. their consumption of government freebies is a pretty nebulous thing to pin down. I only suggest that our many easily attainable welfare benefits seem to be a strong draw for less productive people since it can be shown that they cost more in benefits then they pay in taxes. (I'm talking illegal immigrants here) . It also serves as a stipend which allows some businesses to hire them under market. In a free market state, what you say about immigrants would be invariably true as no motivation other then work could exist and they could only benefit me. As it stands, however, I do not think it is the case that illegals coming here are starting businesses and creating jobs in a way which benefits me to the degree necessary to outweigh the costs.

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The problem that you mention seems like it could be solved as well by a more properly selective immigration policy as it could by entirely open immigration.

It would be difficult to support either your view or mine with numbers as to how productive are the people interested in immigrating here. Their productivity vs. their consumption of government freebies is a pretty nebulous thing to pin down. I only suggest that our many easily attainable welfare benefits seem to be a strong draw for less productive people since it can be shown that they cost more in benefits then they pay in taxes. (I'm talking illegal immigrants here) . It also serves as a stipend which allows some businesses to hire them under market. In a free market state, what you say about immigrants would be invariably true as no motivation other then work could exist and they could only benefit me. As it stands, however, I do not think it is the case that illegals coming here are starting businesses and creating jobs in a way which benefits me to the degree necessary to outweigh the costs.

Well, the problem with using illegals as a reference point is that they are made less productive because they are illegal. They have to work under the table and for low wages because the higher paying jobs demand proof of legal status. Also, all of the other means of saving money, accumulating capital and starting businesses are made more difficult with illegal status. Legalizing the illegals would make them more productive.

If we had anything less than open immigration (which implies exclusion of criminals, enemies, et al.), I could only see it as a temporary measure under our welfare state. Even if we did have a temporarily more selective immigration policy, it would have to be far, far more open than the system we have today. In fact, why not just allow open immigration and forbid immigrants from receiving welfare benefits??

As for all those scientists, businessmen, engineers, software designers, et al., let them all in without any restriction whatsoever.

I would still argue for open immigration right now, even with our current welfare state. However, to really make that case I would have to do some statistical work in measuring just how much immigrants consume welfare benefits, etc., versus how much they produce (which I am not going to do!). My supposition is that even these immigrants represent a net economic positive. (For instance, I have heard how some California growers have had trouble harvesting their crops because border guards have kept out more Mexicans. All of us pay higher prices for vegetables and fruit as a result.)

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My supposition is that even these immigrants represent a net economic positive. (For instance, I have heard how some California growers have had trouble harvesting their crops because border guards have kept out more Mexicans. All of us pay higher prices for vegetables and fruit as a result.)

I don't think the equation for economics is quite that simple. What we stop recieving by keeping them out is less subsidized fruit and vegetables. Their labor shortage would self correct over time by an increase in the wage levels which the market would require to find equilibrium. This argument stems from the "they are doing the jobs we don't want to do" approach, which I view as being in error. They are not jobs which Americans are unwilling to do. They are jobs with artificially low wages which are not enough for most americans to do without heavy government subsidy and avoidance of taxation. I believe these are also jobs which many mexicans would be unwilling to do without heavy government subsidies or if they were required to pay tax on their income. If they could not use an emergency room as a free clinic, they would require healthcare or enough pay to afford insurance as part of their pay. If they could not put down 9 as the number of dependents on their W-2's and then get a new ID the next year, they would not be willing to take such a low paying job. Without taxes, $5/hour equates to $8.50/hour with taxes.

If you grant all illegals amnesty, you would have the same increase in cost of the fruit. Or the cost of construction for that matter. Just because the cost is apparently lower with them, does not mean that it is in actuality. The cost is just hidden in the purposefully ambiguos form of taxation. T'aint no such thing as a free lunch. Or cheap fruit, as the case may be.

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I'll just stand on the principle that immigration is good. It is good for immigrants, it is good for Americans, and it upholds the individual rights of everyone, foreign and domestic. I suspect that if a small portion of immigrants on balance hurt Americans by consuming government benefits, it really is small and largely inconsequential compared with the vast bulk of immigration, which is beneficial. Whether I am right or wrong on this issue cannot be determined without a good deal of empirical work, which I am unwilling to do for purposes of this debate. So, on this narrower subject of whether a portion of immigration should be curtailed until the welfare state is eliminated, I am unlikely to comment further.

If anyone still contends that open immigration (excluding criminals, enemies, et al.) in a free society is wrong, by all means present your arguments.

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But as I got older and more experienced with the fuller context of life, the workings and necessities of society, and the practical application of Objective ideas, I realized that there is a framework which Objectivism fits into but cannot replace. It is a philosophy for living on earth, but Rand only went so far with her concepts. The rest, have to be derived and some of the derivations I have seen lately may be in the letter of Objectivism, but not in the spirit of Objectivism. There is a difference between getting bogged down in mechanics of ethics and being ethical. Young people haven't fully integrated ideas--they are still discovering and lack the experience. When you've been around for eight decades, you start to see more, look beyond the simple black and white hypothetical concepts and into the application of social science. Young people may be smart, but they lack wisdom. And Wisdom, my friend, comes with experience and age.

Youth is wasted on the young.

Does anyone else find it hilarious that a guy who is that old and can't decide on a career, owes the gov't 100's of thousands of dollars, and is always complaining to us about how messed up his life is, is lecturing us all about how he can apply Objectivism to his life better than us??

Sorry dude, you opened yourself upo to a personal attack by using a genetic fallacy in the first place. Someone had to say it.

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I am not sure how to address your argument directly, except to repeat my point that all humans have individual rights and no government has the right to violate them.

Well, it doesn't really address my argument at all, really, since it is a question of whether non-citizens possess the right to cross a national border at will or not; not a question of whether any government should violate any rights. If a non-citizen does have a right to enter a country, then end of argument.

(1) Governments should and must keep out criminals
How is that possible, then, if everyone has the right to free movement? By what right could an ex-con be stopped? By what right could anyone even be stopped for a background check if the government doesn't have the right to do the same within its borders?

The problem I have with some of the preceding discussion is that it implies that somehow it is necessary to violate the rights of foreigners in order to protect citizens

No, not at all. It shouldn't have, anyway.

Yes, a border is legitimate. Governments function within a geographical region. Exercising authority over immigration is a policing function of government that is performed on the borders.
But, how can this by reconciled with the rest of your position? If we allow an ex-con to walk the streets then how can we justify turning a foreign criminal around at the border if he has a right to cross it at will. RationalBiker points out that it can't be (although he is in favor of no border, I think):

And really, if all land were owned privately (and private property rights were truly respected), this might be less of an issue. If a person owned land on the border of Mexico, what right would the government have to tell that person that he could not allow people onto his property just because they were from another country (so long as they are not violating anyone's rights)?

Governments are not an agent of "our" domestic gang of citizens versus "those foreigners" out there.
Well, yes... literally speaking, it is. We have decided to establish this geographic area as being ours, in the sense that our political institutions are exclusively in charge of the law and its enforcement. We establish a border for the purpose of our security and no foreigner has a right to cross it.

The criteria by which we offer permission to cross it is a separate argument which I think we would largely agree on. But it is a question of what we decide is in our security interests, not one of rights.

Those foreigners really are just like us, they just happen to live in another country.

Certainly, I harbor no ill will, resentment, or prejudice.

Foreigners who are criminals, we stop at the border.
But you see, it's not a question of that. "Criminal" is a status objectively decided by a court of law. What foreign courts have or haven't decided about someone can't really confer a status like that on someone for our country. In the eyes of our government, someone can't be a criminal unless we have convicted him of a crime. So we're not stopping criminals so much as we are stopping those we decide may be threatening to our citizenry, and the criteria is extremely different as a criminal is stripped of his legal rights to many things, but we don't violate a single right of a foreigner by telling him that he may not pass. The burden of proof is and should be quite stringent on the state to prove itself before using force against a criminal, because his rights are a factor. But for a foreigner asking to cross the border, the state can and should be far more careful about who it lets cross, because it isn't a question of rights.

or residents of an enemy country

Again, how could you stop them if they have a right to cross?

Even in today's world with its abundance of irrationalism, I would argue that most immigrants are simply productive people like "us".
Of course, but it isn't a question of that. It is a question of whether they have a right to... well, you get the idea.

I know I am beating a strawman here with these examples

Well, okay then. So long as you know it. :D

Whew, now that was a long post!

That's okay; it was a good post; you did give a sound thrashing to some fallacies, even if I don't advocate them. I look forward to hearing your continued thoughts on this.

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So we're not stopping criminals so much as we are stopping those we decide may be threatening to our citizenry, and the criteria is extremely different as a criminal is stripped of his legal rights to many things, but we don't violate a single right of a foreigner by telling him that he may not pass.

My prior posts are in agreement with this position. To put my overall position in its simplest form possible, Americans are entitled to take whatever actions against foreigners to protect ourselves, so long as we do not violate anyone's individual rights, including those of foreigners.

As I have stated, it is not a violation of the rights of foreign individuals to restrict their entry if we suspect they may physically harm Americans. We do not need to establish that they are criminals, only that we have a well-founded reason that they represent a threat. This includes actual criminals (using our standards of law, not, say, the standard of a dictatorship which views a dissident as a criminal), people who may not be convicted criminals but for whom we have objective reasons for fearing what they might do here (e.g., someone who in his youth trained at a madrassa run by a radical Islamic cleric), residents of countries with whom we are at war, suspected spies and saboteurs of enemy countries, etc.

The standard of evidence can and should be different. That is why I offered that special immigration courts would adjudicate situations when a foreigner was denied entry, and challenged that decision. It is permissible to have a different standard of evidence because the immigration proceeding is not a criminal proceeding. There are no penalties attached to the potential immigrant; he is only denied entry. Furthermore, as a practical matter, it would be impossible to have standard "trials" to adjudicate the entry of millions of people.

None of this violates anyone's rights; it protects Americans; and it is consistent with open immigration for those who are not a physical threat to us.

Finally, to state my position on your central point as explicitly as I can. Yes, foreigners have the right of entry, if they do not represent a physical threat to Americans. This is not some sort of primary right or self-sacrificial bestowal on foreigners. What is true is simply that foreigners possess individual rights, just as we do, and that includes the freedom to go wherever you want (as long as you are not threatening someone else).

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Does anyone else find it hilarious that a guy who is that old and can't decide on a career, owes the gov't 100's of thousands of dollars, and is always complaining to us about how messed up his life is, is lecturing us all about how he can apply Objectivism to his life better than us??

Sorry dude, you opened yourself upo to a personal attack by using a genetic fallacy in the first place. Someone had to say it.

Heh, I thought the same thing, but I wasn't going to be the one to say it. I'm far too young and bereft of wisdom to be making such judgements. :D

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The standard of evidence can and should be different.

I don't see how it can be, if one's position is that they have a right to enter. That they are no different than citizens in any legal way except they can't vote or join the army.

Perhaps you don't understand just how stringent security controls might be. We have basically no information except hearsay to go on when it comes to many people. It might be prudent to reject out of hand anyone who is a Muslim, once our government actually recognizes that Islam is the enemy in this war. Is this an objectively proven legal fact that such a person is a threat? It may not be; but we still may not be wise to let him in, especially given the enemy's strategy of intergenerational demographic warfare (which is overwhelming Europe right now).

To say they have a right to enter is to say that the burden of proof is on us to show, objectively, that they are a threat. But it is not. It is on them to show that they are not a threat. They may say they are not serial killers, but if they come from a lawless anarchy such as Liberia or the Congo, then how can we be sure? If the burden of proof is on us, then we wouldn't be able to say either way and would have to let them in.

The government is the agency of all citizens and its borders are a kind of meta-property-line. They say, in effect, that this geographic area is the property of the citizens that live here. A national boundary is a line that declares: "This is our sovereign border; people who aren't citizens of this nation may cross this border only by the permission of the citizens of this nation." It is a military declaration. The very existence of a nation is dependent upon the sovereignty of its borders.

Someone's right to free movement ends at your property line. Similarly, the right to a foreigner's free movement ends at the U.S. border. From there, he proceeds by our permission. The argument of which criteria it is correct to give this permission by is a separate matter, but it is not and could not be a right. The idea that it is violates the very concept of borders, nations, and government. It violates the right of a citizenry to establish a nation at all.

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Inspector, I don't think we are in disagreement. I consider it part of the government's policing powers and an exercise of our right of self-defense to restrict the entry of foreigners who could threaten us in some way. Does it violate the rights of foreigners to do that? If it does, it does so in the same manner that killing civilians of an enemy country in wartime violates their rights. I do not think rights are violated in either case, but I may be mis-understanding the concept of rights. We are in agreement in terms of what the government can and cannot do. Our disagreement is whether foreigners' rights are violated if we limit immigration in the manner I have described.

Edited by Galileo Blogs

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If it does, it does so in the same manner that killing civilians of an enemy country in wartime violates their rights. I do not think rights are violated in either case, but I may be mis-understanding the concept of rights.
I suggest that would be the case, here. It's not that killing innocent civilians isn't a violation of their rights, but rather the issue is who is responsible for the rights violation (the aggressor is), and whether the government should fail to do its job because innocent civilians will die (no, it shouldn't).

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I suggest that would be the case, here. It's not that killing innocent civilians isn't a violation of their rights, but rather the issue is who is responsible for the rights violation (the aggressor is), and whether the government should fail to do its job because innocent civilians will die (no, it shouldn't).

That makes sense. Extending the reasoning to immigrants, if we prevent a resident of a threatening Muslim country from entering, we are violating his rights, but the responsibility for that violation lies with the terrorist-sponsoring government he came from. That government forced us to cast with rational suspicion the residents from that country. In this case, the burden of proof would lie with the potential immigrant to prove that he is not a threat, even though he came from Iran.

So, it is moral if in the act of defending ourselves against foreign enemies, we unavoidably violate the rights of some individuals. If we unavoidably violate their rights, the blame for those violations lies with the foreign enemy.

Foreigners do have rights, like all of us. However, we are allowed to violate their rights (for example, with immigration or in war), if it is necessary for us to defend ourselves. Obviously, absent any need for self-defense, our government would not have the right to violate the rights of foreigners any more than it would have the right to violate the rights of its citizens.

I suspect we are in agreement here.

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At this point there seem to be two streams in this thread.

  • The ideal, free-economy case, and whether or not the principle of rights is applicable; and,
  • Today's welfare state case

This post is about the first: rights of foreigners to cross into a truly capitalist nation...

Foreigners do have rights, like all of us. However, we are allowed to violate their rights (for example, with immigration or in war), if it is necessary for us to defend ourselves.
I assume you mean it more generally than just for foreigners. In other words, I assume you're saying: everyone has rights, but they may be violated to protect the rights of others. Putting it that way, raises a further question: what further principle helps us decide when it is okay? For instance, a government may say that it wants to record all conversations, have a camera in everyone's house, stop every car, and so on, all in the name of "rights protection". One can probably make an argument that a lot more controls like that will actually cut down the violation of certain rights; and yet, we realize that it's possible to violate too many rights, and that governments actually have a tendency to do so.

As Objectivists, we agree that many government actions are immoral because they do not even meet the "rights protection" principle in the first place. Many economic controls do not; income re-distribution does not. That still leaves a large area of politics and law where lots of details are required. The Magna Carta, for instance, lays down certain rights; one such right is that a person's confession alone is not sufficient basis to try him. The U.S. Constitution speaks of "unreasonable searches" and "probable cause". Rand explored the area of property rights, and spoke of the Homestead Act of 1862 as being a good example of how the process by which rights are defined.

It is the government's responsibility to define the application of individual rights to a given sphere of responsibility.
In the particular essay Rand means this in the context of property rights. However, just as a government has to define the details of property rights, it has to define the details of other rights too.

Every now and then someone on an internet forum will ask a question like the following: The guy who owns the neighboring farm is a nice guy, but he's a bit clumsy. He's always calling in professionals to fix his DIY home projects. Now, he wants to experiment with a nuclear reactor. If I can't convince him not to, can a government legitimately stop him? Or, sometimes people will say that the only reason a government may do something about a person who's shooting bullets at you for the heck of it and purposely missing is that he's violating private air-space! However, that's not the real reason. We all know that the real reason is that the guy is a threat! We need to figure out the principles that go into the correct legal notion of a threat.

In this earlier thread we discussed whether the government may spy on its citizens, and when and why? In another earlier thread, we discussed if the right to a jury trial is really a right, or something else.

I think this whole area or law requires a set of principles that are consistent with, but more detailed than, the broader principle of rights. I don't think we have those sub-principles yet, so we simply go by a vague "standard" of reasonableness.

So, as the statement of a moral principle, everyone has the right to do whatever he wishes as long as he does not trample on the rights of others. However, whether this means the right to vote, the right to a jury trial, the right to refuse to be searched, the right to cross a police-line, or the right to cross a border is finer level of detail, and denying a person any of these specific things under certain conditions is consistent with the principle of rights, if it is done for the right reason, and if it is reasonable.

In summary, we're left with unanswered questions, but not with contradictions.

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Nice summary of where we stand in this and similar discussions, SoftwareNerd. As you say, "we're left with unanswered questions, not contradictions." To answer these specific questions of how individual rights should be upheld by government in many particular situations, moves us from philosophy to law. I don't think philosophy is the right conceptual framework to answer these questions. It is too abstract and broad. The types of issues you raise must be answered by reference to legal principles (which themselves reference philosophical principles).

Is there a lawyer in the house?

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To answer these specific questions of how individual rights should be upheld by government in many particular situations, moves us from philosophy to law.
Yes, one probably has to work upward from the various types of legitimate concrete rights/protections and from the various types of legitimate government powers. That probably means drawing on current law as well as laws from history, and abstracting the principles from those.

The lectures on "Concretizing the Principles of Objective Law" by Thomas Bowden are good, but they just scratch the surface in one area. In this year's OCON 2007, he is giving a lecture titled "Giants of Law", that has the following write-up:

Objective law is one of mankind's noblest achievements, yet its history is little known. This course surveys key individuals who caused (or symbolized) the legal innovations which, accumulating over many centuries, enabled Western civilization to flourish under limited government.

"Reason is the life of the law," wrote Sir Edward Coke in 1628, naming this course's theme. Mr. Bowden examines the accomplishments of fabled lawgivers (such as Hammurabi and Solon) ”of jurists, commentators and champions of law's supremacy (such as Gaius, Coke and Blackstone)”of unifiers and codifiers (such as Justinian, Edward I and the modern authors of uniform laws)”of constitutionalists (such as Madison and Marshall)”and many others.

The precious legacy bequeathed to us by these giants of the law will one day enable lawmakers, guided by Ayn Rand's concept of individual rights, to establish a fully objective legal system for the first time in history.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Inspector, I don't think we are in disagreement.

Not about the basic outcomes we're looking for, no. I do think, though, that the difference of whether someone has a right or is granted a permission to enter is an important one, even if we agree on when it should be allowed to happen.

A friend of mine put it this way: "A nation (at least a just nation) is established as an agreement between its citizens for the mutual enforcement of their rights. This obligation cannot be extended to an external party without their consent any more than I may declare myself a member of a private club without the permission of the members."

And since the obligation of protection must extend to everyone within the borders, then even being allowed in at all is extending a "guest membership" of sorts. Just as nobody has a right to a guest pass into a private club, so too here. A nation really is a private club.

Of course, I will re-emphasize here that the proper criteria for denying it is the security of our citizens and it would be irrational to deny a "guest pass" on other grounds. (And, citizenship is a whole other can of worms)

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Not about the basic outcomes we're looking for, no. I do think, though, that the difference of whether someone has a right or is granted a permission to enter is an important one, even if we agree on when it should be allowed to happen.

A friend of mine put it this way: "A nation (at least a just nation) is established as an agreement between its citizens for the mutual enforcement of their rights. This obligation cannot be extended to an external party without their consent any more than I may declare myself a member of a private club without the permission of the members."

And since the obligation of protection must extend to everyone within the borders, then even being allowed in at all is extending a "guest membership" of sorts. Just as nobody has a right to a guest pass into a private club, so too here. A nation really is a private club.

Of course, I will re-emphasize here that the proper criteria for denying it is the security of our citizens and it would be irrational to deny a "guest pass" on other grounds. (And, citizenship is a whole other can of worms)

I can agree with this. Everyone has rights; it is just that our government has no obligation to protect or enforce the rights of people living outside its borders. Our government, just like any individual member of our country, cannot violate anyone's rights, including foreigners, unless it is in an act of self-defense. Our government refusing entry to foreigners who could pose a threat is an exercise of that right of self-defense.

If a foreigner believed he was unfairly harmed by an action of our government, would he have standing in our courts to petition for redress? Or, would he have to file a lawsuit in a court in his own country?

I believe it would make sense for us to have special immigration courts that would resolve immigration disputes. It is in our self-interest to do so because it would ensure an orderly process of immigration that is ruled by law. It also makes sure that those productive, non-threatening individuals who should be able to get in have a means of appealing a mistaken or arbitrary decision by immigration officials.

Bottom line, I agree with your formulation.

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More examples would be helpful.

Well the limitations on types of jobs has also been mentioned, but I think that I have sufficiently demonstrated that voting is more meaningful than "wearing purple hats on Tuesdays" (unless one is ridiculously obsessed with fashion freedom), so I'll leave it at that. I'm not sure I could present an argument as to how much more meaningful it is, or that that is even quantifiable.

Eliminate the welfare state and then invite everyone in, otherwise we are attracting a great many of the sorts we do not want.

Since we disagree somewhat on this point, "we" might not the best word to use. :) "We" aren't convinced that we are attracting more bad people than good people (in totality) while in the process of trying not to violate individual rights.

And again I must respond by stating that I have not been given sufficient reason to be more concerned with any given foreigner versus any given US citizen. I see all sorts of US citizens everyday that I wish could be prevented from soaking up welfare money and perpetrating rights violations.

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And again I must respond by stating that I have not been given sufficient reason to be more concerned with any given foreigner versus any given US citizen. I see all sorts of US citizens everyday that I wish could be prevented from soaking up welfare money and perpetrating rights violations.

I agree with RationalBiker on this one, but I would go even further with some observations. Everyday I am impressed by the productiveness of foreigners all around me. These people, in general, are hard-working and ambitious. Does not that make sense given that they had the determination to move out of the countries they lived in? It is much easier to stay put; the less ambitious are left behind.

America was and still is a land of immigrants. Today's immigrants become tomorrow's business leaders, scientists, etc. That is not a cliche; it is true. Also, what was true in the past remains true today: the "native" Americans (i.e., those whose ancestors immigrated here in an earlier era) are often bothered by the customs and habits and, often, general poverty of the newcomers. I recall reading about signs at business establishments in the 1800s that said, "No dogs and Irishmen need apply." The same type of hostility to newcomers has been practiced against every new ethnic group that arrived here: Chinese, Jews, blacks, Italians, Latin Americans... you name it.

Just how successful some of those impoverished newcomers can become in a country like America can be surprising. Economist Thomas Sowell has done a lot of research on this topic. I do not have researched, up-to-the minute figures to provide, but I remember learning such things in college as: West Indian blacks made more money than whites in the United States. People from India who barely scratched out a living in India became millionaires here because of the much greater ease of setting up a business. Asians earn more than whites, on average. (That is a far cry from the Chinese "coolies" who came here in the 1800s to build the railroads. The Chinese were the ethnic group against whom the first-ever immigration law was passed, in California.)

[Caveat: these statistics are meant as an example. Because I am going from memory, they may no longer be true or I could be in error. Even if that is the case, many other surprising statistics come from looking at the economic achievements of immigrants.]

I also learned similar stories in first-hand narrations from Cuban immigrants who came here after Castro took over Cuba. Often, they were wealthy businessmen or professionals such as doctors who had everything stripped from them, often down to having wedding rings taken from their fingers. Some of these same people who lost so much, after they arrived in the United States, rebuilt new fortunes from scratch. These are the kind of people I want in this country.

So, I am an advocate of open immigration, subject to limitations for reasons of self-defense. It sounds like most people on this thread agree with that basic approach. However, there could still be disagreement on whether immigration today is on balance harmful or not. I contend that it is highly beneficial, even with our welfare state and prevalent irrationalism. Further, I contend that the American standard of living would suffer (or grow less than it would have otherwise) if immigration was restricted, beyond the limits imposed for reasons of self-defense.

Edited by Galileo Blogs

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