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Why the Government Cannot Ban All Immigrants from a Certain Country – Article by David Bier

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Categories: Justice, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
David Bier
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I previously reviewed the exceptionally poor arguments that the Trump administration used to defend its blanket ban on immigration from seven majority Muslim countries in the State of Washington v. Donald Trump. Now, in its appeal of the district court’s temporary restraining order to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the government has added a new argument in favor of its position that is still fatally flawed. It claims:

The State continues to argue that Section 3(c)’s temporary suspension of the entry of aliens from seven countries contravenes the restriction on nationality based distinctions in [section 202(a)(1)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)]. But that restriction applies only to “the issuance of an immigrant visa,” Id., not to the President’s restrictions on the right of entry [under section 212(f)].

The government was right not to attempt this argument initially. Their argument is that a visa does not entitle the recipient to entry in the United States, but merely to travel to the United States. Therefore, they are free to discriminate at the border. To bolster the argument, INA 101(a)(4) does specifically distinguish between admission and visa issuance.  Essentially, they are defining “visa” in section 202 to include only the visa document that permits travel to the border, but does not grant status in the United States. And status is what grants a person the legal right to reside inside the country.

The problem is that the definition of a “visa” in section 202 includes “status” that grants a right to enter and reside in the United States. The State Department’s regulations define visa in section 202 to mean visa or status and have for as long as the INA has been around. Eligibility for status is either determined by an adjustment of status application for immigrants residing inside the United States or at the border for immigrants entering the United States on an immigrant visa for the first time. It is the act of granting entry that confers legal permanent residency status.

Thus, the government would be violating the prohibition on discrimination in section 202(a)(1)(A) just as much by denying entry as by denying visas. An immigration officer cannot deny entry based on nationality without also discriminating in the issuance of status to an immigrant at a port of entry.

Why “visa” cannot be interpreted narrowly

Not only is this interpretation based on the government’s own longstanding regulations, the interpretation of section 202 that the government offered during appeal would require it to adopt a variety of other positions that are at odds with the statute and regulations.

If “visa” in section 202 was interpreted to mean only the visa document, then adjustments of status applications for persons inside the United States would be exempt from the numerical limitations on visas in that section and in section 203. The clear intent of Congress was to control the number of persons who are entering the United States, not visa documents issued, and so the department has always held this view. Thus, the U.S. attorney in oral arguments before the district court admitted that per-country limits were about allocating how many people the United States allows “to come into the country.”

If the person is determined ineligible to enter, the visa is revoked at this point, and the State Department considers it not to have been issued at all. In other words, the department only counts “status” determinations against the visa caps, despite the fact that the section never mentions status. It is interesting to note on this point that the original version of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 actually had consular officers grant immigrants “status” abroad, which could be revoked at entry if they were deemed ineligible.

Why the government cannot be biased in entry but not in visa issuance

This interpretation does not undermine the distinction between visa issuance and admission in section 101(a)(4) because a determination of inadmissibility under section 212 applies equally to admission at the border as it does to visa issuance abroad. Immigration officers inside the country rely on the same criteria to determine eligibility to enter that consular officials use to determine eligibility for an immigrant visa. A person granted an immigrant visa in an unbiased manner would not be entitled to enter at the border. He would just be entitled to similar unbiased treatment.

This proves that the law forecloses the idea that the government could be unbiased in visa issuance but not in entry. This is also why all presidential proclamations under 212(f) are immediately printed in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual. The manual explains, “Aliens who have engaged in conduct covered by a Presidential Proclamation issued under the authority of section 212(f) may also be inadmissible under other sections of the INA or other statutes. These statutory inadmissibilities are to be considered prior to determining whether a Presidential Proclamation applies.”

The executive order itself admits that the State Department will be enforcing it by suspending visa issuance just as much as the Department of Homeland Security by suspending entry, and indeed, it has suspended visa issuance to nationals of those seven countries.

Another problem for the government’s view is that it implies that Congress intended to create a system in which it required non-discrimination for applicants abroad, but not applicants at ports of entry or inside the United States. Indeed, their argument would free the government to discriminate based on nationality in adjustment of status applications for immigrants who are residing inside the United States right now, even without a presidential determination that they are a “detriment.”

Not only is this plainly absurd, this would create the bizarre result that immigrants adjusting in the United States would have fewer protections against discrimination than immigrant applicants abroad. This leaves the government arguing that immigrants abroad have fewer constitutional rights than immigrants in the United States, while somehow also having more statutory rights.

This obviously cannot have been what Congress intended. In fact, as I have previously explained, Congress debated this very question of whether ending discrimination would allow unvetted individuals to enter the United States from certain countries where information is difficult to obtain. They rejected this argument. No member of Congress in 1965—whether they were for the bill or against it—believed that President Johnson could then have immediately undone their work with a presidential proclamation.

David_BierDavid Bier

David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Banning Refugees Is Cowardice, Not Vigilance – Article by Sean J. Rosenthal

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Categories: Culture, Justice, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatSean J. Rosenthal
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Donald Trump’s ban on people of certain nationalities entering the United States – now buffeted about by court orders, clarifications, and defiance – is a systematic rejection of the principle of Freedom of Movement with no impetus other than unacceptable, widespread cowardice.

The September 11 terrorist attacks cannot excuse such a grievous violation of rights. Terrorism is domestically a statistically trivial threat. The countries banned by Trump had little relation to 9/11, and the people denied entry to the United States are just as harmless (if not more so) than the average American. Neither reasons nor sudden trauma justify Trump’s actions – only cowardice.

In opposition to courageous principles like Freedom of Movement, discretion is courage’s institutional nemesis. Fear-induced discretion splits principles like scientists split atoms, producing explosively dangerous results.

Except to the extent courts stop him, Trump has undermined Freedom of Movement through an order to keep out people from Middle Eastern countries designated as countries of concern by the Obama administration.

Refugees already thoroughly vetted as safe, including business owners and participants in the Iraq war who have lived for years in the United States – all denied entry, all forced to beg for the government to wisely exercise its discretion in the face of an arbitrary burden.

Trump’s immigration policies are unwise and unjust. More tellingly, Trump’s restrictions on movement suffer more fully from another sin – a lack of courage.

Individual or Systemic Courage

At an individual level, it’s true that courage tends to be an overrated virtue. The image of “courageous” people often looks like warriors courting danger guns-blazing because they lacked the patience and ingenuity to find better solutions. Thus, courage is for the warrior fighting to the death.

Among non-violent “courageous” acts, contrarians who “stand up for what they believe in” often get courage points for being edgy or brutalist, as if people deserve praise for offering unconvincing evidence against social pressure. Generally, courage tends to be praised relative to the inactions of other people, forgetting that people often avoid doing certain things because they should not be done.

Moreover, fear is often unreasonable in ways immune to argument, making courage a weak appeal. For instance, traveling by planes is much safer than traveling by cars, but planes paralyze people in ways that statistics cannot cure because the fear of flying is a feeling, not a fact.

Similarly, terrorism is a statistically trivial cause of death in the United States, even including 9/11 and especially excluding that outlier, but terrorism causes widespread fears orders of magnitudes more crippling than the actual violence. To give a personal example, I have a totally unreasonable aversion to walking over storm drains and similar parts of sidewalks that leads me to walk around them.

Condemning fear rarely assuages it, and demanding courage rarely emboldens, because personality, ingrained perceptions and idiosyncrasies matter more than reasons for explaining fear and courage.

The Courage to be Free

Nevertheless, good institutions require courage.

For example, Freedom of Speech is a courageous principle. Freedom of Speech allows people to profess the wise and unwise, just and unjust, beautiful and vulgar. The dangers of the government deciding which speech falls into which categories justifies overriding particularized fears because of the courageous belief that free people can generally promote a better, more beautiful world through discourse. The courage required to permit others to speak, not knowing what they may say, far exceeds the courage of merely saying something unpopular.

Historically, fear commonly led to censorship. The Athenians sinned against philosophy by executing Socrates for corrupting the young, a fear of the influence of discourse. Similarly, the Pope compiled an Index of banned books and sought to censor them, fearful of the influential power of written words. Fear governed the world’s old order.

After weighing the liberating potential and corrupting dangers of pamphlets, America rejected the old order and institutionalized courage as common sense. Freedom of speech is the courage of a brave new world.

(To digress briefly into unimportant news stories, you should not punch Nazis merely for expressing their views. Only cowards without such faith in discourse and alternative peaceful methods would do so – and the cowardly types who have forgotten Ruby Ridge.)

Similarly, the Bill of Rights institutionalizes one courageous principle after another. The Bill of Rights trusts people with guns, protects potential criminals through warrants and other procedures, and generally imposes substantial burdens on the government before it can override individual freedoms, all because of the courageous general faith in free people.

The Freedom of Movement

Along with the above principles, the United States has a long history of embracing the courageous principle of Freedom of Movement.

America was formed by immigrants who courageously journeyed thousands of miles to leave European persecution and seek wealth and freedom. Without passports or other border restrictions, America promoted friendship and growth across state boundaries by allowing Freedom of Movement. Though the Constitution does not explicitly include such a right, the Supreme Court has correctly recognized that people have the right to travel freely between states.

Freedom of Movement between states is such a strong principle that nobody even considers imposing border restrictions. People from St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and other American cities that rank among the world’s most dangerous can freely traverse anywhere else in America without legal barriers, even as national borders prevent the impoverished immigrants of safer foreign cities from doing the same.

Internationally, America also used to embrace such a broad principle. From the late 1700s until the late 1800s, though citizenship was unconscionably selective, the federal government allowed all foreigners to enter the United States – and, with the understanding that the naturalization clause only gave Congress control over citizenship, had no choice but to do so. To celebrate a century of such Freedom of Movement, France gifted America the statue of liberty with a famous poem dedicated to such American courage.

Unfortunately, around the same time, the federal government’s fear of the Chinese led it to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Supreme Court mistakenly upheld it. Thus, Freedom of Movement split from a courageous principle to a discretionary privilege, literally allowing fear to determine the borders of freedom.

Outside the context of the Chinese, such discretion remained largely unexercised for decades. Unencumbered by national borders, by World War I, two million Jews successfully fled Russia’s pogroms to freedom and safety in America.

However, by the 1920s, the dangers of discretionary power took hold, and the United States severely reduced legal immigration with its national origin quota systems. By World War II, the United States and the whole world had rejected immigrants.

The greatest victims of Freedom of Movement’s demise were the Jews that the world rejected at the Evian Conference and thereafter. Americans widely opposed Jewish refugees out of fear that some of them may secretly be communists or Nazis.

Unlike the millions saved by a courageous embrace of Freedom of Movement through World War I, fear undermined this principle and led to the death of millions during the Holocaust in World War II.

Refugees and Skittles

Without the courageous principle of Freedom of Movement, people’s fears determine and limit how many refugees can escape despotism and warfare. Just as fear trapped Jewish refugees during World War II, such fear traps Syrian refugees now.

Emphasizing the underlying fear, a thought experiment that opponents of Syrian refugees commonly ask goes something like: imagine you have a bowl of 1,000 skittles, only ten of which are poisonous. Would you eat the skittles? If not, then you understand why Syrian refugees must be so carefully restricted. Most alleged refugees might not be dangerous, but the government cannot know which ones are harmless and must prevent them all from entering to stop poison from seeping over our borders.

In reply to this thought experiment, most defenders of refugees argue over the numbers. Statistically, as mentioned above, refugees are vetted carefully and virtually all harmless, and almost none have been murderers or terrorists. Moreover, basically all studies on immigrants (legal, illegal, refugees, etc.) show that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than typical Americans. So, if you increase the bowl size to like 3,200,000 skittles with 20 poisonous, then yeah, the chance is justified.

In contrast to this response, I do not think the exact proportion matters much because of the agreement that almost all the refugees should ideally be allowed to enter. The skittles thought experiment is the coward’s game for people lacking the courage to accept Freedom of Movement as a principle.

Courageous principles sometimes allow bad outcomes. Freedom of speech allows for some noxious ideas to spread. Gun rights allow for some bad people to more easily engage in violence. Requirements for warrants allow for some criminals to hide their crimes. And freedom of movement allows for some bad people to travel where they can do harm.

Such courageous principles do not create perfect worlds. They create structures in which people have the freedom to shape the world, for better or worse – with better usually winning. Depriving the vast majority of people’s freedom to prevent a small minority from spreading evil impoverishes and threatens everybody.

Courageous Americans who embrace the existing dangers of speech, guns, and warrants should also similarly embrace the dangers of movement. Fear-induced discretionary restrictions on freedom of movement mean 99 ash-ridden Syrian children suffering from poverty, warfare, and death for the chance of maybe keeping out one bad person.

In sum, to paraphrase Shakespeare, cowards kill many times before their deaths; the valiant’s tastes let others live.

Thus, cowards ask how many poisonous skittles might sneak in with a broad rainbow and fear the tiny shadows that enter with the radiant light. In contrast, the valiant ask how many Anne Franks will die if we fear these tiny shadows and instead courageously opens the golden door for the rainbow, realizing today’s Anne Franks are in Syria.

Sean J. Rosenthal is attorney in New York.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

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Protectionism is All Around Us – Article by Daniel Gold

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The New Renaissance HatDaniel Gold
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In political speak, a protectionist is someone who is against free trade. They want to protect American businesses, and indirectly American workers, from cheap labor offered abroad.

The underlying argument is that American workers require protection from competition.The underlying argument is that American workers require, or benefit from, protection from competition.

This same argument is used to restrict many other liberties.

Crusaders against immigration lament that low wage earning immigrants steal jobs from, and drive down the wages of American born workers.

Opponents of Uber and AirBnB claim that hotel owners, and taxi drivers, need to be protected from cheap competition offered in the sharing economy.

Even advocates of the minimum wage are protectionists. They feel that workers need to be protected from other workers who would offer to sell their labor at a lower price. This was evident in the first debate over the minimum wage, when white workers felt they needed protection against cheaper, African-American labor.

The minimum wage was first implemented in the United States nationally in 1931 by the Davis-Bacon act. During the debate in the House of representatives, Rep. William Upshaw (D-Ga.) complained of the “superabundance or large aggregation of Negro labor.” Rep. Miles Allgood (D-Ala.) said, “That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.”

Opposition to immigration, trade, the sharing economy, and a wage set by the market is all the same tired argument, rebranded to hide its proven failure.

It’s Always Anti-Competitive

Protectionism fails because the harms of protectionist policies are guaranteed to exceed the benefits. Any benefits transferred to the producers are passed onto the consumer in the form of higher prices. However, because less exchange takes place at a higher price, there is a deadweight loss to the economy as a whole.

Protectionism is propped up by a political system of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs that make it difficult to defeat. Imagine you own a hotel, and a bill is sitting on your legislator’s desk to ban AirBnB.

You will make it known to your legislator, that your support for him, and the support of 100 other hotel owners like you, depends on him signing the bill. Meanwhile the hundreds of thousands of consumers who are hurt by this bill, care more about other things.

The Damage Adds Up

The individual consumer may not care much about the hurt she suffers from a more expensive hotel, but it adds up. Hundreds of thousands of goods are more expensive because of tariffs or quotas. Hundreds of services become more expensive for everyone because of occupational licensing laws.

Because of the incentives within the system, this will be one of the most difficult economic problems to fix. It requires vigilance, it requires us to call our representatives while they consider protectionist laws, it requires us to vote for non-protectionist candidates. If we do all this, we can rid ourselves of the largest drag on our economy.

danielgold
Daniel Gold

Daniel Gold is a student at Carleton College.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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“The Line” for Green Cards Is So Long, You Might Die of Old Age Waiting – Article by David Bier

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The New Renaissance Hat
David Bier
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Immigrants are often told to “get in line” if they want to stay in the United States. This demand is disingenuous for many reasons. Many immigrants have no line to get into. And even if they do, we are telling them to join these lines when no one even knows how long they are. In many cases, we could be asking immigrants to join a line that they will literally never live to see the end of.

Immigrants might face a line they will literally never live to see the end of. We don’t know much about who’s in these lines until they get to the front, but here’s what we do: Thousands of immigrants come to the United States each year on temporary work visas. While working in temporary status, some of their employers petition on their behalf to obtain green cards for them to stay permanently. If the employer has jumped through all the appropriate hoops, the worker can then apply for a visa, if — and this is a big if — the limit on visas that year has not been reached.

This is where the line — and the waiting — starts. For lawmakers trying to fix the immigration system, figuring out how many people are at this point in the process is critical. But even they don’t know.

5 million people are waiting abroad.We do have a good idea how many people are waiting overseas. The State Department keeps track of those numbers and publishes them annually, and we’re quickly approaching 5 million immigrants waiting abroad, which is an astounding number on its own.

But for temporary immigrants already in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t keep track — or doesn’t publish — the number of applicants who are prevented from receiving a green card due to the limits.

The State Department publishes a monthly visa bulletin that tells people in either line — here or abroad — whether they can apply for a green card. It lists a date, as seen below, next to a visa category. This date is the cutoff. If your employer’s petition was filed after the date listed, you cannot apply for a green card yet.

Figure 1: Visa Bulletin — Application Final Action Dates for Employment-Based PreferencesvisabulletinSource: State Department

These dates can sometimes create the misleading impression that immigrants from India, for example, will have “only” twelve years to wait for a green card. But that’s not right. That’s just how long immigrants who are currently receiving their green cards today have been waiting. We simply don’t know how many people applied since October 2004, so we don’t know how long someone applying today will have to wait.

Even the State Department doesn’t know who’s in line.Apparently, even the State Department doesn’t know who is in the line. When the department moves up the dates, it basically guesses how many people applied between the current date and the new date. When it moved the dates up for EB-2 and EB-3 categories from India (workers who have a Master’s or a Bachelor’s degree) to 2010 and 2007, the government was flooded with more applications than there were visas available, and so it moved the dates back again to 2004.

This mistake, however, gave us some small insight into who is waiting.

We cannot know for sure whether everyone who could apply submitted an application before the date moved back, but the Department of Homeland Security lists 46,098 Indians currently waiting at this stage. The State Department also lists almost 30,000 more waiting for employment-based green cards abroad, for a grand total of nearly 76,000 Indians. Because each country is limited to no more than 2,800 visas in each category, clearing just this backlog alone will take almost 10 years for EB-2 and more than 14 years for EB-3.

But that only gets us up to 2007 and 2010 for those categories. We simply have no idea how many people could be waiting beyond those dates. It would be nice to be able to estimate the number based on green card applications filed before those dates, but the list only gives us the number pending at any given time. It doesn’t show the total number submitted in a year. Some may have already been processed. Others may have been submitted later, after other older applications passed through.

A rough estimate shows 230,000 people in line, a fifty year wait.We know that in 2008, there were at least 19,512 green card applications under EB-2. For EB-3, the numbers haven’t gotten up to 2008 yet, but in 2006, there were at least 12,708 filed for that category. Simply carrying these numbers forward for each unknown year, there would be roughly 230,000 people in line, which would translate into an almost 50-year wait.

The situation is likely worse than that. We know that the number of Indian temporary workers has increased dramatically relative to the number of green cards issued to them in the past couple decades (Figure 2). We also know that roughly half of all employment-based labor certifications (the step employers complete prior to submitting most EB-2 and EB-3 green card petitions) are for Indian workers.

Figure 2: Total Cumulative Green Cards and L or H-1B Visas Issued to Indians Since 2007
h1bslsgreencardsSources: H-1B/Ls: USCIS/State Department; Green cards: DHS

Since 2002, 450,000 Indians received a green card, while roughly 2.4 million high-skilled immigrants from India and their families have entered under the H visa or L visa (for employees transferring to a U.S. branch of their company). Some portion of these workers could have been beneficiaries of an EB-3 green card petition after 2007, the last date on which we know anything about who is in line.

They’ll be waiting somewhere between 50 and 350 years. All we know is this: somewhere between 230,000 and 2 million Indian workers are in the backlog, so they’ll be waiting somewhere between half a century and three and a half centuries. It is entirely possible that many of these workers will be dead before they receive their green cards. And that’s just one country. The backlogs for Chinese immigrants and immigrants from the Philippines continue to grow as well.

America’s immigration system is broken worse than anyone can even know.

David_BierDavid Bier

David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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One Bad Reason to Hate Trump – Article by Sarah Skwire

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The New Renaissance HatSarah Skwire
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99 Reasons, But the Name Ain’t One

I have 99 (thousand) reasons to hate Donald Trump and to find his campaign stomach turning. I won’t list them here. The Google graph showing the rising use of the word “bloviate” in American political discourse should stand in place of any detailed accounting.

bloviategraph

But what’s grabbed most of the attention since John Oliver mentioned it recently on his show, Last Week Tonight, is Trump’s name. As Oliver notes, “Trump sounds like money.” But, he continues in tones of shock and dismay, “It turns out the name Trump was not always his family name.… An ancestor had changed it to Trump from Drumpf.”

My family name wasn’t originally Skwire. It was Skwirsky. My grandfather and his brothers changed it — right around when Trump’s ancestor changed the family name — because back in those days, it was hard to get jobs in the United States with an obviously foreign name. Trump’s ancestors, I’m sure, did the same thing.

There’s no shame in being from places that aren’t America. There’s no shame in having a last name that’s unusual. And I am bothered by the pleasure we are taking in mocking a name that sounds a little bit funny and a whole lot foreign. It sounds like the kind of rhetoric Trump uses. So I’m not going to indulge.

However.

(And this is a very big “however.”)

I do think there’s something to talk about here, and I don’t think it’s funny at all.

The focus on Trump’s original family name is not analogous to the focus on former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie’s ample girth. Governor Christie’s poundage was immaterial to his campaign. He has not publically bloviated about the need for the obese to stop being lazy, to start exercising, and to start eating right. He has not signed on to regulatory agendas like former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to control what and how much people eat and drink. He hasn’t, in other words, turned his weight into a centerpiece of his campaign.

Trump, however, has made immigration one of his central issues. Even those of us who have tried desperately to avoid the whole political season have heard that he wants a bigger wall along the border with Mexico, that he wants Mexico to pay for it, and that he would deport 11 million illegal immigrants in short order. A little research turns up Trump’s repeated references to immigrants as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists. Birthright citizenship is dumb, he opines. And the barriers to immigration should be towering, because, Trump says over and over, the people born here should be our first concern.

It’s not funny that Trump’s family name used to be Drumpf. That’s just a standard American story that most of us probably share. To be an American, for most of us, means we’re not really from around here.

But the idea that we might have an American president who thinks it’s fine for the Drumpf family to come to America and achieve unimagined success in a few generations, but who will do everything possible to keep the Rodriguez family or the Habib family from doing the same?

That’s a tragedy.

Sarah Skwire is the poetry editor of the Freeman and a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis. She is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Why Open Borders? – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

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The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
September 15, 2015
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Two dear friends of mine just experienced incredible struggles with immigration control in the United States, one from Australia and one from Canada. Both are enormously talented, in love with the freedom that America represents to the world — or once did anyway.

One barely got in after months of waiting, even though a willing, begging employer was waiting. The other was deported with a single day’s notice.

Each has been a captive of bureaucrats with awesome power. Their stories are tragic. Natives know nothing about this ghastly system and how it treats human beings. We never experience it.

The labyrinth of bureaucracy is jaw-dropping. The arbitrary power exercised by “our” bureaucrats is frightening. The loss to our nation’s productivity is mindboggling. Hearing these stories, you can’t help but apologize for the way our own government treats people who want to love this country and contribute to its greatness.

And to think that for the first 100 years of this country’s existence we had zero national immigration restrictions. The whole world was invited in — and this invitation led to the most prosperous society the world has ever known. In these times, there were no passports. For the most part, everyone was free to move around the earth — and this was thought to be the very essence of liberty.

Today, we have an effective ban on immigration. You can’t come to the U.S. to live and work legally unless you are family, highly educated, or get in as a refugee. Other than that, the barriers to legal immigration are impossibly high. The wait lines for employment visas are impossibly long, and people from the world’s largest population centers aren’t even eligible.

Meanwhile, the government spends $18 billion on stopping immigration — more than all other federal criminal enforcement agencies combined. This is money spent to stop people from freely exchanging labor for money. That the whole thing is a massive flop is revealed by the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country, and the half million apprehended crossing the border each year — surely only a fraction of those who were not.

But apparently, that’s not enough. Donald Trump is soaring in popularity by calling for mass deportations and building a wall around the country, in effort to double down on a failed government policy. Other candidates are alarmed at his rhetoric, but echo his core claim that there is some kind of crisis going on.

Meanwhile, this is a huge debate among people who otherwise swear fealty to “limited government.” Many people who claim to want freedom seem to have no problem with the implications of a closed-border policy: national IDs, national work permits, non-stop surveillance, harassment of all businesses, a “papers please” culture, mass deportation, tens of billions in waste, bureaucrats wrecking the American dream, broken families, the rights of Americans and foreigners transgressed at every turn.

In this environment of political hysteria, in which the rankest form of racial fear has reared its head, few dare to stand up and call for the only liberty-minded answer: open borders.

Just the phrase causes people to sputter in shock. The objections start flying: wages will fall, welfare will explode, people will vote for the wrong people, there will be cultural confusion, the national language will evaporate, crime will soar — on and on the parade of horribles marches.

The more you look into the research, the more these objections fall away. Immigrants cause less crime than natives. Immigration does not cause unemployment. Immigrants don’t consume more public benefits than natives; in fact, they use fewer. Indeed, they have kept Social Security afloat, even though they will never get a dime from the system. They don’t love liberty less: they poll in as more libertarian. Indeed, every one of these and other claims in Trump’s immigration policy paper are patently wrong.

Apparently, the facts don’t matter. And as for humane values and human rights, forget it. Immigration restriction is a fundamental attack the rights of at least two parties: the person who wants to employ someone currently outside the border and the person who wants to come work. It’s a thuggish interference with an economic exchange, like any other arbitrary restriction on trade.

So often, in many recent discussions I’ve had online, what’s going on here is just a shoot-from-hip bias. It’s exactly the same kind of fears that make people object to getting rid of the minimum wage, cutting taxes, eliminating tariffs, privatizing the TSA, eliminating zoning laws, cutting government spending, legalizing pot, and so on.

It’s freedom itself that people fear.

Once freedom goes away, it is difficult to imagine how things would work if it came back. The notion of freedom then scares people, and it becomes easy to think up a thousand different scenarios in which freedom can’t possibly work. Surely disaster will ensue!

This was a problem during alcohol Prohibition. The system wasn’t working, but the prospect of making its consumption and production legal again elicited a kind of panic. Would our streets be filled with staggering drunks? Would scarce income be squandered on liquor? Would families break apart?

The lack of imagination concerning how freedom can work is the single biggest barrier in the U.S. to ending the war on immigration.

Imagine if the U.S. had massive border controls between states, with checkpoints and passports and drug-sniffing dogs, and if you had to have permission to change from a job in Ohio to a job in Vegas, or if a Virginian could be deported from New Jersey for overstaying, or if you had to wait years to obtain the right documentation to move from one state to another, or if the labor market was so tightly regulated that an employer in another state could only hire you if they could prove they had no other options.

If all that were true, anyone who suggested open borders and a free labor market between states in the U.S. would be considered a dangerous loon.

But here is the clarifying fact: the conditions that allow free migration between states within the U.S. are identical with regard to free migration between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The only difference happens to be the government that issues citizenship documents.

I live in Georgia. What if I started a movement to prohibit immigrants from Chicago to Georgia? Why would I suggest such a crazy thing? Because I believe that crime is higher in Chicago, welfare is more widely used, their imported labor would drive down wages, they vote in ways that are regrettable, and people there just don’t get the ways of the American South.

Should we have immigration controls between states? It sounds preposterous (though Trump could probably sell the idea). But the claims that we can’t have free immigration into the U.S. follow the exact same logic.

Every argument for immigration restrictions into the United States as a whole applies with equal validity for immigration controls between states, counties, cities, and even towns. And yet we do not have such controls. Why does it work so well? Because freedom works.

How can we begin to imagine what open borders would be like? We need an experiment in that exact thing. It just so happens that we have just such an experiment. There are 28 countries that have historically been at war for thousands of years. They all have different languages, different religions, and different folkways. At various periods, people from these countries have hated each other to the point of causing genocide.

Then one day, starting with an agreement that began to be implemented twenty years ago (the Schengen Agreement), they opened all the borders. Anyone from these countries can live and work anywhere. They can travel freely, on the same passports. No bureaucracy stops their freedom of movement and their freedom to produce.

The results have been spectacular. It’s the greatest experiment in completely open borders the world has seen in more than a century. It’s called the European Union. And it works. It points toward the ideal: a world in which everyone is free to move about the earth without fear of gun, wall, or barbed wire.

Let’s not fear freedom and free trade (which means, free trade in capital and labor). In the end, Ludwig von Mises was right: “Without the reestablishment of freedom of migration throughout the world, there can be no lasting peace.”

Jeffrey Tucker is Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me (http://liberty.me/join), a subscription-based, action-focused social and publishing platform for the liberty-minded. He is also distinguished fellow of the Foundation for Economic Education (http://fee.org), executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, research fellow of the Acton Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, and author of six books. He is available for speaking and interviews via tucker@liberty.me.

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Immigration and Crime – What the Research Says – Article by Alex Nowrasteh

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Alex Nowrasteh
July 17, 2015
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The alleged murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez has reignited the debate over the link between immigration and crime. Such debates often call for change in policy regarding the deportation or apprehension of illegal immigrants. However, if policies should change, it should not be in reaction to a single tragic murder.  It should be in response to careful research on whether immigrants actually boost the U.S. crime rates.

With few exceptions, immigrants are less crime prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates.  As described below, the research is fairly one-sided.

There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality.  The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population.  It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.  However, there are some potential problems with Census-based studies that could lead to inaccurate results.  That’s where the second type of study comes in.  The second type is a macro level analysis to judge the impact of immigration on crime rates, generally finding that increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.

Type 1: Immigrant Crime – Censuses of the Institutionalized Population 

Butcher and Piehl examine the incarceration rates for men aged 18-40 in the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses.  In each year immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives with the gap widening each decade.  By 2000, immigrants have incarceration rates that are one-fifth those of the native-born.  Butcher and Piehl wrote another paper focusing on immigrant incarceration in California by looking at both property and violent crimes by city.  Between years 2000 and 2005, California cities with large inflows of recent immigrants tended have lower violent crimes rates and the findings are statistically significant.  During the same time period, there is no statistically significant relationship between immigration and property crime.

Ewing, Martinez, and Rumbaut summarize their findings on criminality and immigration thusly:

“[R]oughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born.  The disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial census.  In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.”

They continue by focusing on immigrant incarceration rates by country of origin in the 2010 Census.  Less educated young Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men (poorly educated young men are most likely to be incarcerated) make up the bulk of the unlawful immigrant population but have significantly lower incarceration rates than native-born men without a high-school diploma.  In 2010, 10.7 percent of native-born men aged 18-39 without a high school degree were incarcerated compared to 2.8 percent of Mexican immigrants and 1.7 percent of Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants.  These are similar to Rumbaut’s older research also based on Census data from 2000.  Controlling for relevant observable factors, young uneducated immigrant men from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala are less likely to be incarcerated than similarly situated native-born men.

However, studies of immigrant criminality based on Census data alone could fail to give the full picture.  First, many of the answers given to the Census may have been educated guesses from the Census workers and not the inmates.  Second, the government has done a very poor job of gathering data on the nationality and immigration status of prisoners – even when it has tried.  That biases me against the accuracy of prison surveys by the Census Bureau.  Third, incarceration rates may better reflect the priorities of law enforcement than the true rates of criminal activity among certain populations.

Type 2: Macro Level Analysis of Immigrant Criminality

To avoid the potential Census data problems, other researchers have looked at crime rates and immigration on a macro scale.  These investigations also capture other avenues through which immigration could cause crimes – for instance, by inducing an increase in native criminality or by being easy targets for native criminals.

The phased rollout of the Secure Communities (S-COMM) immigration enforcement program provided a natural experiment.  A recent paper by Thomas J. Miles and Adam B. Cox used the phased rollout to see how S-COMM affected crime rates per county.  If immigrants were disproportionately criminal, then S-COMM would decrease the crime rates.  They found that S-COMM “led to no meaningful reduction in the FBI index crime rate” including violent crimes.  Relying on similar data with different specifications, Treyger et al. found that S-COMM did not decrease crime rates nor did it lead to an increase in discriminatory policing that some critics were worried about.  According to both reports, the population of immigrants is either not correlated, or negatively correlated, with crime rates.

Ousey and Kubrin looked at 159 cities at three dates between 1980 and 2000 and found that crime rates and levels of immigration are not correlated.  They conclude that “[v]iolent crime is not a deleterious consequence of increased immigration.”  Martinez looked at 111 U.S. cities with at least 5,000 Hispanics and found no statistically significant findings.  Reid et al. looked at a sample of 150 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and found that levels of recent immigration had a statistically significant negative effect on homicide rates but no effect on property crime rates.  They wrote, “[i]t appears that anti-immigrant sentiments that view immigrants as crime prone are not only inaccurate at the micro-level, they are also inaccurate at the macro-level … increased immigration may actually be beneficial in terms of lessening some types of crimes.”  Wadsworth found that cities with greater growth in immigrant or new immigrant populations between 1990 and 2000 tended to have steeper decreases in homicide and robbery rates.

Using panel data on U.S. counties, Spenkuch finds that a 10 percent increase in the share of immigrants increases the property crime rate by 1.2 percent.  In other words, the average immigrant commits roughly 2.5 times as many property crimes as the average native but with no impact on violent crime rates.  He finds that this effect on property crime rates is caused entirely by Mexican immigrants.  Separating Mexicans from other immigrants, the former commit 3.5 to 5 times as many crimes as the average native.  However, all other immigrants commit less than half as many crimes as natives.  This is the most deleterious finding that I discovered.

Stowell et al. looks at 103 different MSAs from 1994-2004 and finds that violent crime rates tended to decrease as the concentration of immigrants increased.  An immigrant concentration two standard deviations above the mean translates into 40.5 fewer violent crimes per 100,000 compared to a decrease of 8.1 violent crimes in areas that experienced a change in immigration concentration two standard deviations below the mean.  It is easy to focus on the horrible tragedies when somebody is murdered by an immigrant but it’s very hard to imagine all of the people who weren’t murdered because of the lower crime rates created by increased immigration.  In their summary of the research on this topic, they write:

“[T]he weight of the evidence suggests that immigration is not associated with increased levels of crime.  To the extent that a relationship does exist, research often finds a negative effect of immigration on levels of crime, in general, and on homicide in particular.

Some immigrants from certain countries of origin may be more crime prone than others, as Spenkuch finds above.  To test this, Chalfin used rainfall patterns in Mexico to estimate inflows of Mexican immigrants.  The idea is that lower rainfall and a decrease in agricultural productivity in Mexico would push marginal Mexican immigrants out of Mexico and into the U.S. labor market.  Mexican rainfall patterns and the subsequent immigration had no effect on violent or property crime rates in major U.S. metropolitan areas.

These trends have also been found on the local level.  Davies and Fagan looked at crime and immigration patterns at the neighborhood level in New York City.  They find that crime rates are not higher in areas with more immigrants.  Sampson looked at Chicago and found that Hispanic immigrants were far less likely to commit a violent criminal act then either black or white native Chicagoans.  Lee et al. found that trends in recent immigration are either not correlated with homicides or are negatively correlated in Miami, San Diego, and El Paso.  The only exception is that there is a positive relationship between immigration and black homicide rates in San Diego.

Numerous studies also conclude that the high immigration rate of the 1990s significantly contributed to the precipitous crime decline of that decade.  According to this theory, immigrants are less crime prone and have positive spillover effects like aiding in community redevelopment, rebuilding of local civil society in formerly decaying urban cores, and contributing to greater economic prosperity through pushing natives up the skills spectrum through complementary task specialization.

Note on Illegal Immigration

The public focus is on the crime rates of unauthorized or illegal immigrants.  The research papers above mostly include all immigrants regardless of legal status.  However, every problem with gathering data on immigrant criminality is multiplied for unauthorized immigrants.  There is some work that can help shed light here.

With particular implications for the murder of Kate Steinle, Hickman et al. look at the recidivism rates of 517 deportable and 780 nondeportable aliens released from the Los Angeles County Jail over a 30-day period in 2002.  They found that there is no difference in the rearrest rate of deportable and nondeportable immigrants released from incarceration at the same place and time.  Their paper is not entirely convincing for several reasons, the most important being that their sample does not include the higher risk inmates who were transferred to state prison and were subsequently released from there.  There are also findings in their paper that seem to contradict their conclusion that aren’t adequately accounted for.  This is only one study of one sample in one city but the results should be incorporated into any argument over sanctuary cities.

Conclusion

Both the Census-data driven studies and macro-level studies find that immigrants are less crime-prone than natives with some small potential exceptions.  There are numerous reasons why immigrant criminality is lower than native criminality.  One explanation is that immigrants who commit crimes can be deported and thus are punished more for criminal behavior, making them less likely to break the law.

Another explanation is that immigrants self-select for those willing to work rather than those willing to commit crimes.  According to this “healthy immigrant thesis,” motivated and ambitious foreigners are more likely to immigrate and those folks are less likely to be criminals. This could explain why immigrants are less likely to engage in “anti-social” behaviors than natives despite having lower incomes.  It’s also possible that more effective interior immigration enforcement is catching and deporting unlawful immigrants who are more likely to be criminals before they have a chance to be incarcerated.

The above research is a vital and missing component in the debate over the supposed links between immigration and crime.

Alex Nowrasteh is the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. His popular publications have appeared in the Wall Street JournalUSA Today, the Washington PostHouston Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, and elsewhere. His academic publications have appeared in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Fletcher Security Review, and Public Choice. Alex has appeared on Fox News, Bloomberg, and numerous television and radio stations across the United States. He is the coauthor, with Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, of the booklet Open Immigration: Yea & Nay (Encounter Broadsides, 2014).

He is a native of Southern California and received his Bachelor of Arts in economics from George Mason University and Master of Science in economic history from the London School of Economics.

This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Immigration to the United States from 1870 to 1920 (2004) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Culture, History, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 21, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2004 and published in six parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay earned over 109,000 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  ***
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 21, 2014
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An Overview of Immigration to the United States from 1870 to 1920

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From 1870 to 1920, immigrants came to America from all over the world and made irreplaceable contributions. Though frequently discriminated against, most immigrants fought through the difficult times and moved forward to build a better life for themselves. It was not an easy task, but immigrants had a drive to start anew and were determined to live the American Dream and complete the work that dream required.
***

Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” describes with remarkable accuracy some of the actual motives that immigrants had during the time that this poem was written to inaugurate the Statue of Liberty. Such a diverse influx of people had never occurred in US history prior to this time period. Immigrants arrived not only from northern and western European nations, such as Germany, France, and Ireland, but also from Italy, Eastern Europe, Canada, and the Far East. Their motives for seeking a new home were as varied as the places from which they had come.

Numerous immigrants were indeed “struggling to breathe free” as they faced religious and political persecution in their homelands. Jews in Russia were, for example, met with severe government-sanctioned anti-Semitism. The czar’s henchmen would often stage pogroms which destroyed what little property and security Russian Jews were allowed to have. In addition, the draft in Russia was merciless and would often take 25 years of a man’s life away to fight in fruitless wars with outdated weapons and brutal discipline. To many Jews and people in similar situations, America symbolized a place where their freedom of religion and occupation could be exercised to a greater extent than anywhere else in the world.

A large portion of immigrants originated from the rural areas of their home countries, and were especially hard-hit by agricultural troubles. Events all over the world much like potato blight in Ireland that triggered an earlier Irish mass migration led people to move away from densely populated and famine-wrecked countries to a more spacious and plentiful America. Many small farmers and craftsmen were unable to find jobs in their homelands, since their original occupations had been rendered obsolete by large-scale mechanized production while the skilled labor market was already too full for them in Europe.

In general, either the difficulties at home or the prospects in the U.S. were so immense as to compel immigrants to leave many belongings behind and expose themselves to an entirely different language and culture in the U.S. A large number did not intend for the change to be permanent; about three-tenths merely came to earn a large enough amount of money to return home in greater financial security. Yet, whatever their intent, the immigrants profoundly shaped America’s history, economy, and culture.

The Journey to America and Immigrant Processing Upon Arrival

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Many immigrants experienced journeys to the United States that were similar in numerous aspects. Conditions during the voyage and upon arrival had improved from prior eras, but were still uncomfortable and lacking in many respects.

The development of passenger vessels made the journey easier, cheaper, and faster for many immigrants. By the 1870s, steam powered ships replaced sailing ships. They were bigger, faster and safer. Immigrants in the early 1800s had to endure voyages averaging 40 days, depending on weather; by the 1900’s, the average voyage was only one week long.

In order to account for and regulate immigration, the US government established immigrant processing centers on both the East and West Coasts. 70% of the European immigrants beginning in 1855 would be dropped off at Castle Garden on Manhattan Island and pass a series of examinations. In 1892, a new immigrant center at Ellis Island was built to replace Castle Garden. On the West Coast, immigrants, mostly Chinese or Japanese, arrived through Seattle or Angel Island in San Francisco.

The increased convenience of immigration did not, however, imply a level of comfort for the immigrants anywhere near modern standards. Poor sanitation and food, as well as diseases such as cholera and typhus, were still common on the trans-Atlantic liners.

Immigrants who could only afford the minimal third-class fees of about $30 were referred to as “steerage passengers.” The name came from the part of the ship, the steerage, where they were kept and which provided the cheapest possible accommodations. It was crowded below deck, and steerage passengers were seldom allowed to go up for fresh air. The trans-Atlantic shipping companies had not yet learned to provide efficient basic services, such as food, and often fed passengers nothing but soup or stew, and sometimes bread, biscuits, or potatoes.

Many immigrants had to wash themselves with salt water while drinking stagnant water that was stored in dirty casks. At the root of these problems was a mindset on the part of many of the companies that considered the immigrants “human cargo.” These same companies would often ship American-made goods to Europe on the return trip, and could not yet see the essential distinction between transporting products and people. They would learn with time.

Even after the tough voyage, immigrants were not guaranteed entry to America. About 250,000 people (2% of all immigrants) were sent back home. 1st and 2nd class passengers were inspected on the ship, but 3rd class passengers had to go to Ellis or Angel Island for screening, waiting about three to five hours in line and undergoing inspections of both a medical and legal nature.

Officials at Ellis Island also did something that is not commonly done today. When they could not pronounce an immigrant’s name, the immigration inspectors thought that this gave them the prerogative to change the name to something less difficult. Names like “Andrjuljawierjus” might be simplified to “Andrews” or something similar.

How Immigrants Lived Upon Arriving in the United States

***

From 1870 to 1920, most immigrants arriving in the United States found themselves facing current material poverty, but immense prospects for opportunity and enrichment. But how did they live in the meantime, as they endeavored to achieve the American Dream?

After arrival, immigrants spread themselves throughout the country. Most of them settled in cities, as it was easiest to find jobs there as well as locate persons of similar background or ideology to oneself and cooperate with them economically. Cities that served as the gateways to immigration also came to house many immigrants. In New York City in 1910, for example, three-fourths of the population consisted either of immigrants or children of immigrants.

For lack of abundant funds, many immigrants in large cities settled in mass tenement and apartment complexes that were affordable but often exhibited uncomfortable living conditions. Many rooms did not have windows, and were ten feet wide at most. Filth, dampness, and foul odors were common inconveniences. Yet for many immigrants, this was only a transitional stage in their lives, but still something unpleasant that left a mark on their experiences.

Many immigrants were able to persevere through initial hard times because of support and guidance from relatives. Immigrant families often served as the basic economic unit; they provided assistance to their members and pooled resources together.

The location of immigrants’ relatives would also often affect their destination. If an immigrant had an uncle or cousin in a particular neighborhood, he would be more likely to settle there himself and maintain close ties. Cooperative arrangements, such as boarding with relatives or native middle and working-class families were common transitional stages for many young immigrants.

But these useful ties did not in any way bog immigrants down in one place or one mode of life for a long time. Mobility was high: the families who inhabited a certain neighborhood were unlikely to still be there in 5 or 10 years. Though ethnic districts existed, most white immigrants lived in ethnically mixed neighborhoods, testifying to the fact that families served to spur on economic opportunity and change, rather than counteract it.

Due to productivity and prudence in saving a large portion of the money they earned, many of the new immigrants were able to quickly rise to middle-class status, and some even made vast fortunes during their lifetimes. While they endured initially unpleasant conditions, these immigrants ultimately saw such circumstances as stepping stones toward a better life than they could get anywhere else in the world.

Immigrant Contributions to American Life and Culture

***

Immigration from 1870 to 1920 brought to the United States a vast quantity of both ordinary and extraordinary people: individuals who, through their search for greater opportunity and prosperity, dramatically altered and improved American life and culture.

Samuel Gompers, an immigrant from England, was head of the American Federation of Labor beginning in 1886. He advocated moderate labor reforms but was a staunch opponent of socialism and coercive action on the part of unions. His memoirs give an account of his own life and experiences as an immigrant.

Ironically, however, Gompers himself came to oppose the mass wave of immigration, which he perceived to threaten the workers of his union. Many of the nativist arguments that advocated restricting foreign immigration had come from him and his associates, despite the obvious double standard that this implied.

On the opposite side of the immigration debate was an immigrant from Germany, political cartoonist Thomas Nast. His cartoons in the magazine Harper’s Weekly ridiculed nativist sentiments and advocated fair treatment and equal rights for new arrivals to the country.

Some of the most famous and lasting contributions to American culture have been made by brilliant immigrants like the composer Irving Berlin from Russia. Two of his most famous hits were “God Bless America” and “White Christmas.”

During the first decade of the twentieth century, Frank Capra came to America from Italy as a little boy. He would grow up to be a six-time Oscar-winning director who would produce some of the best-known films of the 1930s, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

It is important to keep in mind that, were it not for these individual immigrant innovators, American culture would not have attained some of its distinct elements. Rather than “invading” the American way of life, immigrants, in all spheres of activity, brought about great progress.

Though some immigrants were great creators and innovators, over half identified themselves as unskilled laborers or domestic workers upon arrival. They still had a role to play in the US economy.

Jobs were plentiful, and, especially in a society where living standards rose across the board, there were many jobs for which most natives were overqualified. Those jobs could be taken by immigrant workers, saving businesses money on wages while still giving those workers five or ten times what they would have received in their home countries.

Work in dry-cleaning stores, newsstands, grocery stores, and machine shops, attracted many new arrivals and served as a first step on their upward economic journey. So great was the need for people to operate these jobs, that many of the sparsely populated states actively worked to promote immigration by offering newcomers guaranteed jobs and land grants.

Immigrant Contributions to American Prosperity and Unjust Persecution of Immigrants by Nativists

***

Immigrants from 1870 to 1920 made possible America’s economic growth and rise to prominence as a global power. Yet these newcomers also faced unjust persecution from nativists who sought the aid of government to stifle further immigration.

During the past two centuries, small businesses comprised over three-fourths of America’s economy. Small businesses were a sector most crucial and unique to America, as, with scant initial capital, any intelligent man with a profitable idea could quickly rise to financial security.

The small-business field was, without exaggeration, dominated by immigrants. In every U.S. census from 1880 onward, immigrants accounted for a greater percentage of small business owners than natives. These businesses greatly expanded the country’s productivity and job openings, creating jobs for immigrants and natives alike.

Moreover, immigration fueled industrialization. In 1910, foreign-born persons comprised about 53% of the national industrial labor force. So not only did immigrants carry the small business field; they played an indispensable role in large industries as well. One can say with certainty that America would not have reached the status of a global economic power in those days were it not for the contributions of immigrants.

Despite these overt contributions to American prosperity, immigrants encountered a great deal of political regulation and outright opposition from nativist groups allied with the legislature.

Not all legislation discouraged immigration; earlier bills, such as the Homestead Act of 1862 helped attract newcomers by promising anyone who would develop a plot of land in the West for five years ownership of that land. Many Europeans took advantage of this opportunity.

But on the Pacific coast, Chinese immigrants did not fare so well. Bigoted sentiments and laws that began during the Gold Rush era culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, wherein Chinese immigration was forbidden for ten years. This law would be renewed and rendered permanent in the twentieth century and would last until 1943. In 1890, the Federal Government assumed control of immigration, implying that it would be easier to establish nationwide controls for immigration and enforce any initiative that would restrict the inward flow of people.

A slight gain for immigrants, especially those of Asian descent, was the Supreme Court decision of United States v. Wong Kim Ark, in 1898. The Supreme Court ruled that children born in America of Asian parents must be granted citizenship. Denying this citizenship would violate the 14th Amendment clause that classified all persons born on American soil as citizens and would jeopardize the rights of native-born whites with immigrant parents.

The court realized that discriminating against some immigrants could easily be extrapolated to discrimination against large portions of the American population, and that immigrants and America were inseparably linked.

Yet the nativists who controlled the other two branches of the US government continued to push their exclusionist schemes. The Literacy Act of 1917 required arrivals to be literate in some language, therefore cutting off the flow of many of the unskilled and uneducated workers that would have otherwise taken the jobs that no one else wanted.

The death blow to immigration came in 1924, when the National Origins Act set a quota of 150,000 total immigrants per year, disproportionately distributed to England and Northern Europe, with few slots allotted to southern and Eastern Europe and none for Asians. The act ended mass immigration into the U.S. until its repeal in 1965.

Nativist Xenophobia and Persecution of Immigrants

***

Immigrants to the United States from 1870 to 1920 were not always welcomed. Many faced unjust and even violent persecution from well-connected nativist groups, who often acted out of nothing more than ignorance and prejudice.

No one expressed and condemned the irrationality of the xenophobia exhibited by the nativist groups against immigrants more vividly than Thomas Nast. His cartoon, ironically titled, “Pacific Chivalry: Encouragement to Chinese Immigration,” portrays Nast’s response to some of the most extreme forms of racism and nativism in the country at the time.

Nast_Pacific_Chivalry

You see a California native whipping and pulling the hair of a defenseless Chinese immigrant. In the inscription in the background, you can barely see written some of the things that aid the abuser in his cruelty. The inscription reads: “Courts of justice closed to Chinese; extra taxes to Yellowjack.”

What does this cartoon suggest about the means that Chinese and many other immigrants had to resist invasions of their rights and dignity? They had just about no means whatsoever. Nast recognized that many of these productive and peace-loving individuals were barred from resisting their inferior condition by small, well-organized activist groups connected with the legislature and prepared to use all means necessary, from the law to vigilante violence, to damage the immigrants. The American people were not opposed to immigration, but many powerful and well-connected elites of the time were.

Indeed, the xenophobia against immigrants sometimes reached horrific extremes. There was substantial discrimination against the Chinese in terms of wages and employment conditions in the West, but this passage by historian John Higham refers to some of the more brutal attacks on their freedoms.

“No variety of anti-European sentiment has ever approached the violent extremes to which anti-Chinese agitation went in the 1870s and 1880s. Lynching, boycotts, and mass expulsions…harassed the Chinese.” (Higham 1963)

Of course, in order to make these actions seem more tolerable in their eyes, nativists tried to justify them by conceiving of Asian immigrants as inferior beings. They could back down somewhat and grant some degree of equality to foreign whites, but this would enable them to play a powerful race card which contained some vicious stereotypes. Anti-immigrant stereotypes were spread by many labor unionists, especially Samuel Gompers, who wrote that “both the intelligence and the prosperity of our working people are endangered by the present immigration. Cheap labor… ignorant labor…takes our jobs and cuts our wages.”

There are numerous fallacies in Gompers’s claims. Immigration creates jobs rather than destroying them. Immigrants did not steal jobs, but rather took work that few natives wanted. Half of immigrants were indeed unskilled, but the other half consisted of people just as, if not more than, educated and innovative than the native population. Indeed, without immigrants, American economic prosperity would have been cut by more than half.

It seems, however, that some debates in American history linger on for centuries. The immigration debate is one of them. Currently, as immigration restrictions in the past thirty years have been laxer than previously, we are experiencing a new massive influx of foreigners into this country. The benefits that these immigrants bring are even more obvious today than ever, but the nativists are still around to attempt to impose stricter quotas and border-control measures. They are often still guided by the same fallacious arguments about immigrants stealing jobs or polluting the country’s culture.

Novelist Stephen Vincent Benet offered a powerful response to nativism, relevant both during his time and today: “Remember that when you say, ‘I will have none of this exile and this stranger for his face is not like my face and his speech is strange,’ you have denied America with that word.”

Sources:

http://web.uccs.edu/~history/fall2000websites/hist153/immigrants.htm
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Illiberal Belief #25: Immigration Must Be Restricted – Article by Bradley Doucet

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The New Renaissance Hat
Bradley Doucet
September 15, 2013
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Those of us who believe in the rightness and the benefits of free markets spend a good deal of time defending free trade between countries. But aside from the free movement of goods and services across international borders, augmenting the free movement of people across those borders would, I believe, greatly increase the peace and prosperity of people the world over. Opening up our borders to increased immigration is in fact demanded both by considerations of economics and of justice.Unfortunately, immigration is not very popular. The Economist reported in 2008 on a November 2007 poll of Europeans showing that only 55% of Spaniards and 50% of Italians considered migrants a boon to their economies—and that’s the good news. The number for Brits and Germans was only 42%, and for the French it was a dismal 30%.

One reason we fail to appreciate the economic benefits of immigration is that we are predisposed to see the world in zero-sum terms. We assume, for instance, that there are a limited number of jobs available. Immigrants, we worry, will steal “our” jobs and depress the wages of those who manage to hang on to theirs. This worry is especially prevalent with regard to the poorest, least-skilled workers. In fact, there is little evidence to support this worry. Even the least-skilled migrants do not just suck up jobs; they also help create jobs, since as consumers they raise demand which itself gets translated into more jobs. They can also free up skilled workers to re-enter the workforce by providing childcare, for instance. According to The Economist, the numbers tell a similar story: “Studies comparing wages in American cities with and without lots of foreigners suggest that they make little difference to the income of the poorest.”

Fear of Foreigners

We humans also seem predisposed to fear those who are different from us, and events in recent years have not exactly been reassuring. From riots in France to devastating terrorist attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere causing massive damage and loss of life, we see people from different cultures causing various levels of mayhem, and our natural xenophobia is reinforced.

But the unrest in France is not so much evidence of a deep cultural divide between Western hosts and Eastern immigrants. There do exist important cultural differences, but it is also the case that France’s sclerotic employment regulations deserve much of the blame for recent unrest. By making it extremely difficult to fire employees, those regulations discourage the hiring of employees— especially the hiring of foreigners of whom one might already be suspicious. Sky-high rates of unemployment in an immigrant population, while not excusing violent demonstration, surely help to explain it.

As for terrorism, it is clearly just a fanatical fringe of Islamists who are so fervent in their beliefs that they would commit suicide and murder hundreds or thousands of innocents for their cause. There is no reason for a free society to fear the average Muslim immigrant. Nevertheless, the War on Terror will continue to be used to justify such projects as the building of fences along the Mexican border, despite the lack of Hispanic suicide bombers and fact that the September 11 terrorists did not sneak across the Rio Grande. And while fences will not keep many out, they might keep many in. As The Economist points out, “After all, the more costly and dangerous it is to cross, the less people will feel like leaving. Migrants quite often return home for a while—but only if they know it will be relatively easy to get back in. The tougher the border, the more incentive migrants have to stay and perhaps to get their families to join them instead.”

Be Our Guest

If there is little chance that developed countries will just throw their borders open anytime soon, guest-worker plans seem like a practical compromise. For one thing, our Ponzi-style welfare schemes, to which we are still very much attached, cannot support the whole world. Temporary migration, in which foreign workers come for a limited time just to work without drawing on government benefits, would still be appealing to those workers while alleviating concerns about breaking the welfare bank. So why are they not more popular?

Well, there is the concern that some guests might overstay their welcome. As The Economist Report reminds us, “The old joke that there is nothing so permanent as a temporary migrant has more than a grain of truth in it.” The historical record is mixed, with some countries running guest worker programs that function smoothly, and others failing to enforce the temporary nature of their arrangements.

The more serious problem is that even supporters of more open immigration, especially those to be found among well-intentioned elites, as often as not oppose guest worker programs. These critics lament the creation of a second-class of citizens. It is not right, they argue, to withhold welfare benefits from guest workers. They worry also about the possibility of those second-class citizens being taken advantage of and abused by unscrupulous employers. But is the answer to keep people out altogether, holding out for true open borders some day?

Harvard economist Lant Pritchett is the author of Let Their People Come. In an interview with Kerry Howley in the February 2008 issue of Reason magazine, he addresses concerns about second-class citizens: “The world now is divided into first-class citizens of the world and fifth-class citizens of the world.” He adds that, ironically, in places like the Middle East where people are not so concerned about denying migrant workers all the benefits of citizenship, immigration is high but far less controversial. “One of the awkward paradoxes of the world is that Bangladeshis and Pakistanis and Nepalis are enormously better off precisely because the Persian Gulf states don’t endow them with political rights.” [Emphasis in original.]

Internal Dissent

There are in fact some libertarians, most notably Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who argue against opening the borders to greater immigration. Hoppe has a case to make, but I don’t think it gets him nearly as far as he thinks it does. First, he points out that a truly free society would have no single, national immigration policy. Rather, the many private owners of land along the “border” would decide whom to allow onto their land, resulting in a patchwork system in which some areas would tend to restrict entry and others would throw their gates wide open. Under current conditions, though, Hoppe sees immigration as “forced integration” because, given existing anti-discrimination laws, people are forced to associate with others they might not wish to associate with. In a truly free society, people would be free to choose with whom they wanted to associate.

Until they are, however, governments should come up with second-best, least-bad national immigration policies. Hoppe argues that in order to minimize the harm to the rightful owners of the land in America (i.e., the current American population) the American government should follow a policy “of strict discrimination.” Immigrants should have “an existing employment contract with a resident citizen” and demonstrate “not only (English) language proficiency, but all-around superior (above-average) intellectual performance and character structure as well as a compatible system of values—with the predictable result of a systematic pro-European immigration bias.”

Of course, we all have an interest in keeping out hardened criminals and terrorists. The main problem I see with Hoppe’s logic, though, is that if America (or Canada) were a truly free society, many hard-working foreigners (and not necessarily Europeans or those of above-average intellect, either) would have bought into ownership of some of the land in North America. A system that tries to minimize harm to the rightful owners of the land should also minimize harm to these multitudes who would have been owners if the society were truly free. This suggests to me far more immigration than Hoppe envisions, and far more than is currently allowed into sparsely populated North America.

Slow But Sure

Lant Pritchett asserts that holding out for more sweeping change is the wrong way to go. “I think we’re going to move ahead on migration; people are going to become more and more exposed to the fact that people from other places in the world are, in very deep ways, human beings exactly like us; and eventually, in an unpredictable way, the attitude toward this will shift.” Small changes will beget more changes—with the added benefit of slower change being less disruptive for host countries.

Removing immigration restrictions, even if only a little at a time, is an excellent way to help the world’s poor. Immigrants themselves benefit, of course, but so do their families back home, through remittances. Says The Economist, “For most poor countries remittances are more valuable than aid. For many they provide more than aid and foreign direct investment combined.” And because money is remitted directly to families, it neatly sidesteps the problem of corrupt government officials siphoning off aid money to enrich themselves.

In the end, those who oppose more open borders must ask themselves by what right they would deny the freedom of movement of others? Put differently, by what right would they deny the freedom of association of those of us who want more open borders? Increased immigration would help the world’s hard-working poor, and without entailing the negative consequences we fear. But most of all, it’s just the right thing to do.

Bradley Doucet is Le Québécois Libre‘s English Editor. A writer living in Montreal, he has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also writes for The New Individualist, an Objectivist magazine published by The Atlas Society, and sings.

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Election Analysis: “Show Me Your Papers!” – Article by Charles N. Steele

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Charles N. Steele
November 11, 2012
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In my haste to let the religious right have it, I missed something important that suggests the GOP problem is deeper than just religious nuttery: the GOP has systematically refused to address immigration issues seriously.  Worse, they’ve adopted nativist hostility to immigrants and treat immigration as purely a law enforcement issue, one in which “suspicious-looking people” need to be ready to show their papers at any point.
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Hispanics voted almost 3 to 1 for Obama over Romney.  Anyone surprised by this wasn’t paying attention.  In a number of Republican forums this past year Hispanic politicians and party activists — all GOP members — voiced frustration that the primary campaigns were making it difficult for them to feel they had a place in the party.  Recall that the one and only intelligent thing Rick Perry said in his entire campaign was that children of illegal immigrants ought to be able to attend college at in-state tuition rates, since it was better that they be educated and productive rather than welfare cases.  It’s also the only thing for which conservatives raked him over the coals.
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Hispanics are about one sixth of the U.S. population and account for more than 50% of population growth.  Good luck selling them on the idea that Spanish accents and not-quite-white skin are cause for further police inquiries.

In fact, illegal immigration ought to be something conservatives support.  The primary reason people enter the country illegally is to work. Serious academic work dating at least to Julian Simon’s excellent book (available here for free!) have found that immigration, including illegal immigration, is on net beneficial for an economy.  Immigrants work harder and take less in government benefits.  Their work raises wages for non-immigrants.  They have higher rates of entrepreneurial activity.  In the recent financial crisis, illegal immigrants who were subprime borrowers had far lower rates of mortgage default than citizen subprime borrowers.  One would suppose that these would be the sort of people one would want to welcome, not drive away.  One would think these people would be prime constituents for a free-market message.

Certainly there are problems of crime, of crowding of public services, etc., associated with immigration, but many of these are at heart problems of the welfare state, rather than immigration.  Fixing these makes sense; fixating on immigration doesn’t.

If the nativists got everything they wanted on immigration — iron control over impervious borders, strict limits on who can enter, and deportation of 100% of all illegals — no important economic or social problem would be solved and the economic situation would be worse, not better.  But this wish list is impossible; economic forces cannot be legislated away, and neither can the human spirit.

The current Republican position on this issue is best described as stupidity, and one more reason they drove away potential voters.

Dr. Charles N. Steele is the Herman and Suzanne Dettwiler Chair in Economics and Associate Professor at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. His research interests include economics of transition and institutional change, economics of uncertainty, and health economics.  He received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1997, and has subsequently taught economics at the graduate and undergraduate levels in China, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the United States.  He has also worked as a private consultant in insurance design and review.

Dr. Steele also maintains a blog, Unforeseen Contingencies.

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