I have a lot of very sincere, very intelligent libertarian friends who happen to vehemently-but collegially-disagree with my stance on immigration and alien residency issues. Many of them agree with the late Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley’s belief that the U.S. Constitution should be altered to reflect the libertarian dogma of perpetually open borders. While I respect their right to express these beliefs, one of the problems I have with people who use an open-borders line of reasoning is that they often resort to spurious comparisons in order to buttress their opinion, which is that we, as a society, have no right to determine who enters our country under any circumstances whatsoever.
A perfect illustration of this occurred yesterday, during an exchange I had with some friends on Facebook. A mutual friend posted a link to a study conducted by the Heritage Foundation that demonstrated conclusively that amnesty would cost American taxpayers upwards of 2 trillion dollars. This study built on the intellectually devastating work conducted by Robert Rector, which did so much to derail the last attempt by Congress to figuratively shove this unpalatable “medicine” down the collective throat of the American public.
One of my libertarian acquaintances suggested sarcastically that we should begin to deport all of those nettlesome illegal aliens, but only once we’ve gotten rid of the American citizens who are a drain on available public services. Presumably, he was hinting at the greater availability of certain government programs to people who are in this country legally, especially fully vested American citizens. But I think his overall point is simply that as a nation we have no right to discriminate against someone because he or she came here illegally, even if that person committed several subsidiary crimes, e.g. identity fraud, driving without a license, etc., in order to remain here indefinitely.
Superficially, this would appear to be a very convincing argument. Why should we cavil over the paltry-although, as I’ll explain in future entries, the cost is rather dear-costs of providing for the needs of illegal aliens, when there are so many indolent, unproductive American citizens who are freeloading off the public dole? I think the problem we have here is that the philosophical belief in a laissez-faire economy expressed by some doesn’t take into account the practical consequences of millions of illegal aliens exploiting our generous social safety net.
For example, the children of illegal aliens-those who are able to take advantage of our nation’s unique legal process of birthright citizenship-that populate many school districts throughout the Southwest and other parts of the nation, increase the amount of property taxes paid by families who came to this country legally and who form the backbone of municipal and state tax bases.
Also, the many private hospitals that have been bankrupted-including the wonderful Manhattan hospital Saint Vincent’s, which was forced to shutter its doors recently-due in no small part to the uncompensated medical services they offered to illegal aliens. Isn’t it a bad thing that people have more taxes to pay simply because our federal government refuses to enforce longstanding immigration law? Or that private hospitals are forced to go out of business-and their workers forced to seek employment elsewhere-because they are forced to provide services to people who wouldn’t be a drain on resources, save our public officials’ unwillingness to enforce the law?
The truth is that there is no position more libertarian, in its essence, than insisting that people who arrive here should pay their own way, or if unable to because of age or infirmity, be vouched for by a close relative-a conditional acceptance that is still part of immigration law, but which is seldom enforced by the bureaucrats and politicians who administer our lax immigration system. Furthermore, it’s incumbent upon people who can’t or won’t support themselves-and who decide to abrogate the law in order to pursue their “American” dreams-not to come here in the first place. To say that we should embrace these people simply because there are American citizens who might be wastrels is akin to justifying home invasion-and the consumption of personal food items by the criminal in question-by pointing out that you also have a lazy brother-in-law who sleeps on your couch. Perhaps so, but the criminal is not there by invitation, is he?