Saturday, February 02, 2013

Many Afghan Interpreters Denied U.S. Visas

This is terrible.

These are people who have put their lives on the line for us, and who might face death at the hands of the Taliban once we are gone.

My thoughts about immigration policy all take place in light of my concerns about our population woes. But I think that political refugees deserve to get priority--especially if they've helped us out.

I do realize that the kinds of economic hardships faced by, e.g., many Mexican citizens are terrible, but doubt they can compare to the hardship of life under the Taliban. Given my preferences, we'd be cracking down even harder on illegal immigrants and letting in more refugees from political oppression. I'd basically take in every woman from the Congo, for example, who wanted to come here.

But our policy does have to be consistent with lower the population. And that's particularly tricky given that immigrants tend to have higher birth rates--though that lasts for only a generation or two.

But...leaving our Afghan interpreters to the wolves...I just don't see how we can even consider that.


Anonymous mattc said...

You don't think that living in Northern Mexico in the past decade is as dangerous as life under the Taliban? As bad as the risk of Taliban violence (and U.S. bombing for that matter) are, you rarely come across giant piles of severed heads in Kabul parking lots.

The most effective way to reduce birth rates in poorer countries is to raise living standards. There needs to be a multi-pronged offensive against human deprivation, but allowing more of these people to move to Europe and the U.S. is part of the solution. You've already acknowledged that immigrant birth rates begin falling .

5:56 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


All that does is raise the birth rate in the U.S, while it stays the same in Mexico.

No net gain.

Furthermore, we have to take care of our own house first and foremost.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous mattc said...

The U.S. birthrate is pretty low by world standards. If we have to "take care of our own house first," how exactly are we supposed to tackle the population problem, which is happening in other, poorer countries, that you're so worried about?

11:29 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

This is not a difficult point.

As the population in country A gets too high, there is some pressure on it to decrease. Sadly, not enough, but some. If country A is far overpopulated and country B is only somewhat overpopulated, then moving population from A to B lowers pressure on the population of A to decrease. Thus, if you're making policy for B, but have no control over policy for A, you don't want to help shift more of the population to B, as that just decreases the downward pressure on the population in A.

You're right that raising living standards is key. The solution there is more international aid, not shifting population from poorer countries to here. Of course we'll always want to take in immigrants--but it is simply impossible and immoral to try to solve the problems in question by pumping up our already-too-high population.

The case of those fleeing political violence is a special one--a kind of emergency in which the goods achieved by the population cost is worth it on moral grounds.

It does, indeed, suck to live in N. Mexico. The solution to that problem is reform of U.S. drug laws, not making a terrible decision on the population front.

And of course: a low birthrate by world standards != a low birthrate.

6:54 AM  

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