Thursday, April 20, 2006

Immigration

Inspecting my blog I noticed I haven't posted on the immigration issue yet. So, since it is such a controversial topic here are my thoughts on it.

Basically, I agree with philosopher Harry Binswanger's contention that America needs to have an open borders policy. Mr. Binswanger has an excellent article on the case for open immigration at the ILW.com website here. He is right when he points out that people have rights not because they are American citizens, but because they are human beings.

I also agree that the only screening of immigrants that needs to be done is for criminal records and contageous diseases. There is way too much red tape involved in coming to America legally. A friend of mine came here from Germany a long time ago. He told me that not only did he have to have his health papers, criminal records and other papers in order, he had to show that he had a sponsor and a job waiting in America.

I tried to explain that most of those requirements were in fact violations of his rights, that those laws were unjust and need to be repealed. But he didn't see it that way. He insisted that if he had to jump through hoops, so should everyone else.

Of course his position is rediculous. It's like saying since I had to obey unjust laws then, rather than repeal them, everyone else has to obey them too. Silly.

But it did get me thinking about the bigger picture. Will the immigration legislation now being debated in Washington do away with all or any of the red tape needed to come here legally? Will there be any provisions for screening out violent criminals and contageous diseases? I know a guest worker program is supposed to streamline border crossings but will it be added on to the red tape or replace it?

And I think there is an even bigger picture to consider. Should an ideal like open borders, exist in a vacuum? Or should it be integrated into a wider more rational foreign policy? What would such a policy look like? How would it be implemented?
While the answers to these questions are beyond the scope of this post, I think it is imperative that they be discussed soon.

I do think that such an integrated foreign policy would be one that provides incentives for Vicente Fox to create in Mexico the conditions that exist in America so that his people don't have to migrate here in the first place. Likewise it would also offer disincentives for the Mexican government to refuse to do so.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we need to fix all these other aspects of foreign policy before adopting an open borders policy. My point is we need to advocate more than just open borders. In my opinion, just advocating a rational ideal in an irrational context is going to have mixed results at best. In other words, a borders policy that recognizes rights existing within a foreign policy that does not, is a bad idea. Also, whatever policy comes out of the current discussions, it needs to be based on individual rights and not on any alleged altruistic duty America has to the needs of immigrants.
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