2005 January 06 Thursday
Principles For Debating Immigration Policy

Tom Krannawitter has a Claremont Institute review of Otis L. Graham Jr's Unguarded Gates: A History of America's Immigration Crisis. In the review Krannawitter argues that Graham fails to lay down some basic principles about immigration that are needed for analyzing any arguments on the subject. Krannawitter offers a list of principles that serve as a necessary starting point in any debate on immigration.

  • First, the United States is a sovereign nation. American sovereignty derives from the social compact—the voluntary consent of the men and women who live under its laws, the only legitimate source of sovereignty. Our government rests on our social compact, and its only purpose is to protect the rights of those who have given their consent to the compact. As our Declaration of Independence states, "that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."
  • Second, intrinsic to the idea of sovereignty is the distinction between those who are and those who are not part of the social compact. We may invite others from around the world to join our compact, and in fact America has a long and noble tradition of welcoming millions from around the globe who have come in search of civil and religious liberty and economic prosperity. But whether we admit one person or one million persons is a question to be answered entirely at our discretion. We certainly wish the best for the people of the world—and we have left for them the premier example of what free government looks like, and the sacrifices required to found and sustain free government. As our Declaration says, any people finding themselves under tyrannical government possess the natural right "to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." But Americans are under no obligation to offer asylum or refuge to anyone from anywhere outside the United States, just as no nation had a responsibility to house oppressed Americans in 1776.
  • Third, the distinction between those we welcome and those we want to keep out—say, terrorists whose purpose is to kill Americans—requires first and foremost that the American government secure our borders. The border must be real, and it must be able to protect American citizens from immigrants who enter our country illegally, a growing number of whom come armed and with criminal records (in some cases violent crimes committed here in the U.S.). Without secured borders, the American people cannot decide who will partake in the social compact they formed among themselves for their mutual protection.

Obviously some people will reject these principles. But then some people reject national sovereignty. The virtue of listing these principles is that they provide a list of basics to debate before moving on to debates about particular proposed immigration policy changes.

Debates over American immigration will not be serious until these principles are understood and accepted by the American people and the policymakers they elect to office. When Restrictionists such as Graham cite the economic costs, cultural costs, and environmental costs of immigration, these may all be true—but they are not principles. They are only practical considerations Americans should take into account when formulating policy. Sound policy cannot be reached without starting from right principles.

I'm a nationalist. I favor national sovereignty and a well defined and protected group that possesses citizenship. So Krannawitter's list appeals to me. How about you? Do you want defended borders, a distinction between citizens and non-citizens, and limits and restrictions on who can come here and gain citizenship?

My guess is that the debate about national sovereignty and immigration is eventually going to be decided in favor of having well-controlled borders and stricter criteria for who is eligible for citizenship.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 January 06 03:55 AM  Immigration Policy


Comments
Leonidas said at January 6, 2005 11:23 AM:

Absolutely.

I live in one of the bluest of states (Mass.), and I can assure you that a vast majority of people (subtract the PC oligarchy and businessmen who rely on illegals) would heartily back any candidate, Democrat or Republican, who merely breathes the notion that something must be done to tighten up immigration (legal or illegal). It was a couple months ago that Hillary made a timid comment about the need to curb illegal immigration, and immediately there were various Republicans saying that they would consider supporting her even though they were certified Clinton-haters. I believe I read it on Newsmax.

Republicans should not get too cocky about the current political alignment, because if the Democrats gain some smarts (like ditching the America-haters), they'll clean the Republican Party's clock. Even a neo-con like Frum understands this (check out NRO today).

Yours is an excellent blog, by the way.

Invisible Scientist said at January 6, 2005 12:33 PM:

The concept of free trade seems to collide with national identity and sovereignty at some point.

If it is true that by the definition of capitalism, we must sell even the rope that will be used to hang us, then
outsourcing to foreign countries that will bury us, and the unrestrained foreign trade deficit which is going to
give to foreigners unlimited powers to buy all of the USA, will soon make the boundaries of the US somewhat irrelevant.

Gulliver said at January 6, 2005 1:05 PM:

I'm a "Statist" instead of a Nationalist.

I think that people should have to stay in the states in which they are born. Keep Massachussets people in Massachussets, Rhode Islanders in Rhode Island, and Montanans in Montana. Time to deport those Hollywood bastards from Jackson, Wyoming!

I think this same principal should apply to trade. Let the Mississippeans buy computers made in Missisippi, let the Mainers eat Oranges from Maine, and let the Arizonans drive cars built in the factories of Arizona.

John S Bolton said at January 6, 2005 5:05 PM:

A lilliputian argument, which dare not state its premisses. Anarcholibertarianism, offering false dilemmas, pretends that we can have borders undefended and not discover that there are 9/11 bearing hostiles ready and willing to cross them. As if there were no distinction between foreigner and citizen, and as if it were not treason for officials to divert the taxes of the citizen to the foreigner inside or outside the borders. This is a high principle of patriotism; the diversion of public funds to the foreigner, whether he is inside the country or not, fits the definition of treason. No libertarian dystopia of pacifism, nor any attempted idealization of the stateless person, can shyster away this irreducible distinction between foreigner and citizen.

John S Bolton said at January 6, 2005 5:18 PM:

The principle of anti aggression is even more fundamental than national sovereignty. If the sovereign power uses its authority to admit a foreigner who goes on net public subsidy, this is aggression on the net taxpayer. The laws are the sovereign principles of anti aggression; this is why the anarcholibertarian rejects sovereignty of any kind, because it is the anti aggressional feature which is an obstacle on the road to dystopia. Everyone else accepts some kind of sovereign state; therefore they cannot deny that we have sovereign power in collective defense, to place land mines or whatever would secure against invasion. If they say that an immigrant who wants a better paying job has the right to not be blown up if he steps on a mine crossing the border without authorization, they are being unprincipled. It is one or the other; either we have the right to collective defense, or the foreign criminal has every right to violate our security zones.

T. J. Madison said at January 6, 2005 5:58 PM:

>>If the sovereign power uses its authority to admit a foreigner who goes on net public subsidy, this is aggression on the net taxpayer.

Uhh, when the sovereign power uses its authority to extract wealth from anybody through taxation, this is aggression on the taxpayer. I never consented to being robbed by the government, nor did I consent to have the proceeds of such robbery parceled out to anybody, immigrants or not.

>>Anarcholibertarianism, offering false dilemmas, pretends that we can have borders undefended and not discover that there are 9/11 bearing hostiles ready and willing to cross them.

Uhh, the borders ARE undefended and the number of 9/11 bearing hostiles are very, very few -- 19 so far. These legions of Islamofascists which are supposedly out to get us could show up at any time and start shooting civilians and blowing things up. They could FedEx HiEx to anyone from outside the country with little difficulty or risk. But they don't.

What does that tell us?

John S Bolton said at January 6, 2005 7:45 PM:

If having one hundred storey building after another be destroyed by immigrants, with thousands of deaths concurrently, is a trifling matter which doesn't require us to enhance our border defense, what circumstances would allow for national defense? If none do, then the anarcholibertarian position is unmasked in its unprincipled lawlessness and gratuitous hatred against civilization, than which there is no more indefensible political position. In a sense, it does not even reach the level of politics. Politics is the ethics of counteraggression, and the laws are the sovereign principles of this ethics, but the anarchist doesn't even allow himself to reach the level of sovereign principles of any kind.

Steve Sailer said at January 7, 2005 3:26 AM:

How about calling it "citizenism" -- the idea that our first loyalty is to our fellow citizens?

John S Bolton said at January 7, 2005 3:59 PM:

There is a need for a term to replace isolationism, which carries nonessential and possibly negative connotations. If citizenism were defined as loyalty to fellow citizens and such that officials were always chargeable with treason for diverting our taxes to the foreigner, regardless of where those foreigners happen to be living or traveling, then that would be useful. It is the loyalty and conduct of officials in their expenditure of public funds which is determinative. Private citizens being given criticism for preferring some foreigners seems not to be especially important. Americanism was used formerly; and patriotism is current, but perhaps too general. Responding to TJM: That the government uses aggression to raise taxes is no excuse for increasing the aggression, by bringing in millions of foreigners, nearly all of whom would have to start out on net public subsidy. Apply it to murder, for example; since there are plenty of murders being committed, the same type of argument would say there is no problem in increasing the volume of it. Isolationism has some virtues as a term for the loyalty which is strict as to whether foreigners may receive public funds, without causing the officials responsible to be defined as traitors.

crush41 said at January 7, 2005 6:23 PM:

Uhh, the borders ARE undefended and the number of 9/11 bearing hostiles are very, very few -- 19 so far. These legions of Islamofascists which are supposedly out to get us could show up at any time and start shooting civilians and blowing things up. They could FedEx HiEx to anyone from outside the country with little difficulty or risk. But they don't.

What does that tell us?

---------------------------------

It tells me that you may not believe the threat Islamo-fascism poses to an increasingly quixotic western culture. But the argument that there is no palpable threat (or that we're being adequately protected because nothing has happened since 9/11) becomes a derision five years from now when a network of "sleepers" carry out a simultaneous attack on several U.S. cities.

To me, Randall's position is common sensical and right on in principal and pragmatically. An instructor I had last semester that I talked with frequently, however, believed that nationalism was close-minded, dogmatic, etc (of course) and that internationalism was the natural progression, just as nationalism had replaced divine emperorship (I forget the verbatim term) during the Renaissance. In each phase, the social construction is less rigid and restrictive until eventually all borders are broken down (typical nihilism). This school of thought opposes border control and so does big business, an unlikely but dangerous alliance. No serious immigration enforcement is likely to happen until an attack is traced back to illegals, and even then racemongering and demagoguery will impede change. Thankfully there are sites like this (and the internet in general) to show some sanity without political correctness, but in the same five years they'll be saying "I told you so".

John Bolton's posts evoke thoughts of the "Independence Day" movie where a bunch of -anarcholibertarians- go to greet the aliens on a skyscrapper roof and consequently get incinerated. Treat everyone as equal and without restriction and you get destroyed.

John S Bolton said at January 8, 2005 2:52 AM:

It is cavalier irresponsibilty, and in some cases, the product of a wish for gross evils to befall the rich. If some demented workers were to be found smoking in a facilty full of volatile materials, where it is forbidden for safety reasons, and they explain that they've been doing it for years and nothing happened, do we say maybe they are right? Nuclear weapons have not yet been used offensively except in Japan sixty years ago, how would one respond to someone who said that nonproliferation and security and safety procedures for such materials are a waste, since nothing has happened in sixty years? The immigrationists pretend that there are no hostiles out there, but that is no better than saying that there are no explosives. It is not innocent befuddlement either; these anarcholibertarians and leftists are fully aware of the damage that can be done. The anarcholibertarians admit as much, and say we should want to plunge the welfare state into crisis, because freedom comes from such a state of affairs. What they mean by freedom is freedom for aggression, not freedom from aggression, though.

John S Bolton said at January 8, 2005 3:14 AM:

On top of that, there is the disgrace of the businessmen who make common cause with anarchists and leftists who want there to be signs on the border, saying: Welcome criminals, come one, come all, the more fat, selfish, greedy capitalistic demons you kill, the better. The other priority of the leftists and anarcholibertarians is to empty the jails; they want to get their people out of prison. Look at their priorities; foreign criminals to be waved in, and convicted felons to be released en masse. What can be concluded but that the freedom they are talking about means freedom ~for~ aggression? All other political groupings accept the sovereignty of states which are plenipotentiary in defending their borders.

T. J. Madison said at January 8, 2005 4:48 PM:

No one has yet explained to me why the hordes of Islamofascists aren't setting off bombs all over the place in the US right now. If one (1) Islamofascist arrived in the US each week with enough money to acquire one (1) handgun and started shooting people at random, there wouldn't be anything else on the news but "the dreadful ongoing threat posed by Al-Qaeda." A handful of snipers would send all the sheeple in this country into a state of total panic, and they'd likely demand a bunch of ineffective centralized responses typical of sheeple.

But this doesn't happen. We know it would be dreadfully easy.

The number of dangerous and scary people who try to enter the US is very, very small. Everyone else is either here on vacation, wants to do business, or intends to leech off the welfare State like everyone else. I have no problems with the tourists and businessmen, and this includes the kind of businessmen who mow lawns. I dislike the leeches, but when the local leeches complain about the foreign competition, I am unsympathetic.

I'm unimpressed by the supposed threat the Arab and Mexican hordes pose to my way of life. I'm equally unimpressed by the means proposed to deal with whatever minor threat these groups do pose. The government does SUCH a great job solving other problems, I'm SURE it would be effective at blocking the inflow of "undesirables" into the US without crippling freedom of movement for everybody else. Look, when the USG can succeed in keeping drugs out of prison, give me a call and we'll talk.

I live in Texas. The Mexican Horde has definitely arrived. As a result, there's been a significant increase in the quality and quantity of Mexican food. Otherwise, life trundles on much as before.

Bob Badour said at January 8, 2005 8:02 PM:

TJM,

Your arguments would have had the same ring in August 2001. "No one has yet explained to me why the hordes of Islamofascists aren't setting off bombs all over the place in the US right now." Gee, they hadn't made an attempt on the WTC since what? 1993? What's that? Eight years?

Why are they not setting bombs off all over the place? Because they lack any tactical advantage from doing so at the moment. In the meantime, they are preserving force, concealing their movements and exploiting the laxity of border enforcement. It's not like that's never happened before--whether you want to look at the Tet offensive or even a bunch of greeks in a stupid wooden horse.

crush41 said at January 8, 2005 9:10 PM:

It tells me that you may not believe the threat Islamo-fascism poses to an increasingly quixotic western culture. But the argument that there is no palpable threat (or that we're being adequately protected because nothing has happened since 9/11) becomes a derision five years from now when a network of "sleepers" carry out a simultaneous attack on several U.S. cities.

---

Someone rephrase this for me in a more effective way and respond to TJM!

John S Bolton said at January 9, 2005 12:14 AM:

Tjm's comments imply that increasing the amount of aggression is not a problem, because it is already happening. That sounds like the false dilemma by which abject cynicism is promoted; either we do away with all aggression or tolerate an increase of it. Those are not our only alternatives, the conveniently ignored third alternative is to tolerate less aggression than what we already have. The cynic pretends that this is not an option. Regarding indifference to an increase in aggression by bringing in more foreigners on net public subsidy, the cynical reply that everybody does it, why cant we (or they), is dishonest. There are net taxpayers, not everyone can be on net public subsidy. Citizenship allows us to contain the increase in aggression in one society, by excluding foreigners. It is always worth doing, but foreign criminals and parasites' freedom of migration is not our duty to facilitate. It cannot be proven that it is.

John S Bolton said at January 9, 2005 1:59 AM:

Another factor distinguishing the foreigner living here, from the citizen, is that, if the foreigner goes on net public subsidy, he is accessory to treason. The citizen is not accessory to treason for taking net public subsidy. We are given the standard anarcholibertarian line that there is no moral difference between citizen and foreigner, but there is a huge difference. Another big distinction of this kind, is that the citizen might have inherited more from his family if the government had not been so openhanded with subsidies. The foreigner comes in with no such relation to our past policies. Our government is to protect the rights of the citizens, not commit treason by diverting the tax money of the citizenry, in order to protect the rights of foreigners, including even their freedom of migration and hostile migration.

John S Bolton said at January 9, 2005 2:01 AM:

In one sentence: there is no right to hostile migration.

seelow heights said at January 9, 2005 4:29 AM:

No one has yet explained to me why the hordes of Islamofascists aren't setting off bombs all over the place in the US right now. If one (1) Islamofascist arrived in the US each week with enough money to acquire one (1) handgun and started shooting people at random, there wouldn't be anything else on the news but "the dreadful ongoing threat posed by Al-Qaeda." A handful of snipers would send all the sheeple in this country into a state of total panic, and they'd likely demand a bunch of ineffective centralized responses typical of sheeple.
Remember that eight years passed between the first and second WTC attack. The Islamists have an affinity for the "big blow" and the WTC attacks and the Bali and Madrid bombings fit this pattern. The kind of attacks you describe would have them acting like ordinary US criminals and psychos. The Islamists would certainly disdain such commonplace behavior and no doubt such actions would soon be forgotten just like this event: http://www.wichita-massacre.com/

The number of dangerous and scary people who try to enter the US is very, very small
What is your source for this?The American Immigration Lawyers Association? Please provide a link.

seelow heights said at January 9, 2005 4:55 AM:

In one sentence: there is no right to hostile migration.
Posted by John S Bolton at January 9, 2005 02:01 AM

There are fantasists who try to wish the nation-state out of existence and there are the serious anti-nationalists of Davos and Geneva. Virtually everyone else recognizes the self-evident truth of that statement. Humankind has always had communities and those communities have always exercised the right of exclusion. I personally think the USA(with probably 300 million people including all the illegals) is way too big to be manageable or democratic and should be broken up into smaller sovereign states. But until that blessed day comes we cannot simply abandon the fate of what remains of the historic American nation to the leftist loonies and the pimps of unlimited cheap labor.

Randall Parker said at January 9, 2005 12:30 PM:

T.J.

What does Hispanic immigration do?

The Mexican horde, as you put it, has increased the size of the Welfare State. It has shifted California from "sometimes Republican" to "always Democrat". It will do so to many other states as it spreads out.

More people become voters who vote to take from the "haves" to give to the "have-nots".

More people become criminals and more prisons. courts, and jails must be funded. More people become victims of criminals.

BTW, the government does do a great job at solving some problems. Without the EPA the air and water would be far more polluted. Without the US military we'd be learning a version of history in which Hitler is a great hero. Without government-funded research the current level of science and technology would be much less.

Yes, the government could stop 99+% of the illegals from making it across the border. It is an easier thing to do than keeping drugs out of prisons. But drugs could be kept out of prisons too. In fact, that is going to become easier to do as cheaper instrumentation is developed for doing instantaneous blood drug testing.

John S Bolton said at January 10, 2005 1:37 AM:

Denial of sovereignty in general, is denial of law in general. Those who say that we dont have sovereign power to exclude noncitizens, deny sovereignty in general. They are outlaws, who place themselves on the side of aggression. The true laws are the sovereign principles of antiaggression, and these include the right of collective defense against foreigners. Those who deny collective defense are putting themselves literally outside the law in general.

John S Bolton said at January 10, 2005 11:26 PM:

Here is how such trends in ideas are generated and sustained, even though rationality is against them: government schools are founded on aggression, this turns them more and more into propaganda organs for the aggrandizement of official discretion. The laws, as such, are sovereign principles of antiaggression; thus the whole drift of ideas coming out of the government schooled population, is against the sovereignty which limits the power of officials. This drift is hard for people to stand athwart, if they go with the flow, the tendency is to see the sovereignty in its legality, as a frustration of what they've been told is good.

Proborders said at January 16, 2005 10:55 AM:

T.J. Madison, political changes aren't instantaneous. For example, Saigon fell to North Vietnam in 1975. Many Vietnamese subsequently migrated to the US. As of the year 2000 there were more than 1 million Vietnamese/Vietnamese Americans in the US. In 2004 the first Vietnamese American was elected to the California State Assembly.

It was nearly 30 years from the fall of Saigon to the election of Van Tran to the California State Assembly.

Castro has been in power in Cuba for more than 40 years. During this time the USA has accepted thousands of immigrants from Cuba. In 2004 the first Cuban American was elected to the US Senate.

It was more than 40 years from the beginning of Castro's rule in Cuba to the election of Mel Martinez to the US Senate.

From the 1880s to 1920s millions of immigrants arrived from Europe, as thousands of immigrants arrived from Japan. In 1974 the first Japanese American was elected to the US House of Representatives from the Continental US.

It was about 50 years from the implementation of the immigration time out to the first election of Norman Mineta to the US House of Representatives.

The political power of Mexican Americans (even if immigration were stopped for 20 years) is certain to increase.

Imagine California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas all with Mexican American governors (this may happen in the future).

Imagine a solidly Democrat Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas (and perhaps Nevada and Colorado as well). How can Republicans elect a President if these states go solidly for the Democrat candidate for President?

John S Bolton said at January 16, 2005 9:47 PM:

The Republican who votes for mass antimerit immigration doesn't get anything from his opponent but the vague possibility that someone to his left might not call him a racist. His potential opponent gains additional voters, but gives nothing. Onesided giveaways like this have to destroy those who hand them out, and they destroy the respect which an adversary might otherwise have had for them.

Proborders said at January 17, 2005 8:45 AM:

Clarification: demographic changes are not always accompanied by "instant" political change(s).

Even if immigration from Mexico were permanently banned, Mexican Americans will increase their share of political power in the USA.


Proborders said at January 17, 2005 8:46 AM:

Clarification: demographic changes are not always accompanied by "instant" political change(s).

Even if immigration from Mexico were permanently banned, Mexican Americans will increase their share of political power in the USA.


GUYK said at March 9, 2005 5:59 AM:

But will Mexican Americans alway vote for the democrats? The republicans used to count on the black vote but look at it now! I figure that the majority of people vote according to their economic interests. If the republicans offer as much as the democrats then the republicans will get the vote. The solid democratic black vote is starting to deteriate as more and more blacks join middle class America and realize that income redistribution affects them as the producer instead of the looter. It could well be that Mexican Americans will think the same way once they realize what the democratic party actually represents,ie socialism.

Randall Parker said at March 9, 2005 10:02 AM:

GUYK,

The Mexican immigrants do not rise up to white levels of education and income over 4 generations. We have enough data on Mexican immigrants from decades ago to establish this. So they are not going to develop the economic interests that characterise Republicans.

At the same time, if the Republicans offer the Hispanics as much as the Democrats do that will defeat the purpose of having a two party system.

The black vote is not starting to deteriorate for the Democrats. A disproportionate portion of blacks who have become middle class have done so in government civil service jobs. Their economic interests remain closely aligned with the Democrats.


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