more immigration rambling

I was making one last comment on a thread at NiT and it somehow got long (i hate it when that happens). I think we’re actually coming to some sort of agreement here, or something close to it. So, while Katherine and Sarcastro seem really keen on the whole Hayekian rule of law thing, we nonetheless seemed to be closing in on agreement that current law and many of the proposals are unenforceable – a conclusion that has a lot of important ramifications. So, to clarify, a roughly outline of where I stand, in which I assume I lose some of you along the way:

  • Current immigration law as it stands is unenforceable. (I think we’d agree on that, no? Well, except for Bill Hobbs. He wants to build a wall. Anyone got a trowel? I’ve got $20 for a greyhound ticket.)
  • Current immigration law leads to wage deflation.
  • Some employers can and do exploit the low-cost labor.
  • We can thus conclude that there is a vested interest on behalf of those doing the exploiting to maintain the status quo: stringent but ultimately unenforceable immigration laws which aim not to deport immigrants, but maintain the appropriate level of fear.
  • As such, amnesty and liberalized immigration laws that are practical and beneficial to both the economy and human rights are the most practical course of action.

Sarcastro kept quoting things that I, in fact, agree with, like this, from Griswold’s testimony (emphasis mine):

“Legalization does not mean amnesty. Newly legalized workers can be assessed a fine. They should be required to get in line with everybody else if they want to apply for permanent status. However we achieve legalization, it would be far preferable to the status quo of millions of people living in a legal and social twilight zone, outside the rule and protection of the law.

I mean honestly, folks. I have news for you. When the public discourse gets to immigration amnesty, sadly, we’re not debating over whether or not to charge a “fine”. We’re talking about people like Donna Locke, who blogged a lot at, who wants to position troops on the border and educate local police that they have the authority arrest illegal immigrants. This is the sort of lack of amnesty we’re fighting against – people that actually want to deport illegal immigrants. All of them. This is seriously their goal.

This is the sort of xenophobia – and the legislation it supports – that we’re up against. Do I resist this attitude because I actually think that Donna Locke and others like her stand a chance of getting what they want – the police arresting the 12 million immigrants and escorting them to a military-patrolled border? Of course not. It’s fucking insane. But their fear and fantasy makes good fodder for legislation that maintains the status quo: unenforceable laws that subjugate a second-tier class of labor that’s good for business.

So please, this isn’t about a “fine”. You wanna trade amnesty for the 12 million immigrants in this country in return for leveraging a fine to cover the paperwork? I had to think about this for 2 or 3 seconds, until I heard Homer Simpson in my head: “So let the baby have his bottle.” I am all about it. I’d be a lot happier arguing about the logistics of how to accomplish amnesty and immigration liberalization than arguing about the practicality of lining up “minutemen” troops on the border, or arguing against legislation that is going to do nothing but further entrench a sub-legal disenfranchised class of labor. Yes, by all means, let’s talk about fees. Let’s move on, please.