Thursday, July 03, 2014

Changing My Mind On Illegal Immigration In Response To Changes In The Problem

So, until semi-recently, I've thought of myself as disagreeing with what I've thought of as the unofficial liberal orthodoxy--which I take to be something roughly like: Aw, be nice; just let everybody in...

Jim B showed that I was wrong bout it really being an open borders position...  But it's at least something like: hey, it's mean to be too diligent about kicking out illegals...

At any rate, my view is: there is nothing wrong with requiring that people go through the system. As Drum has put it (maybe in private correspondence?  I can't remember where...): there is no real alternative to the humane enforcement of just immigration laws.... (note: possibly not an exact quote).

My concerns are, largely:

* Overpopulation. Nobody is concerned about the most important environmental problem we face anymore. And liberals stopped being concerned about it precisely because of their over-permissive views about illegal immigration. Concern about overpopulation is inconsistent with an extremely permissive view about immigration of any kind...at least in the absence of any effort whatsoever to get those of us already here to have fewer children...

* Stress on the welfare state. It's a complicated question, but currently illegals apparently don't quite pay their fair share of taxes--though they apparently pay quite a bit. They also stress certain resources like emergency rooms.

* Fairness. People wait years to get into the U.S. legally. In fact, among my own friends, the people who are most disapproving of illegal immigration are the legal immigrants. (Warning: anecdotal evidence)

Furthermore, and very importantly: immigration across our southern border has mostly been for economic reasons.

My view has bee: if we're going to allow more immigration, we should up the number of legal immigrants, and give preference to those fleeing violence. Women from the Congo, for example, are more deserving of our concern than those driven by economic reasons--which is, of course, not to say that economic reasons aren't good reasons...

However, I've recently been thinking about the violence in Mexico...and now this, farther south:
Children are uniquely vulnerable to gang violence. The street gangs known as “maras” — target kids for forced recruitment, usually in their early teenage years, but sometimes as young as kindergarten. They also forcibly recruit girls as “girlfriends,” a euphemistic term for a non-consensual relationship that involves rape by one or more gang members.  
If children defy the gang’s authority by refusing its demands, the punishment is harsh: rape, kidnapping, and murder are common forms of retaliation.  Even attending school can be tremendously dangerous, because gangs often target schools as recruitment sites and children may have to pass through different gangs’ territories, or ride on gang-controlled buses, during their daily commutes.
I don't have much patience for a liberalism that simply refuses to make hard choices out of a desire to be nice.  And if we suddenly stopped fighting illegal immigration, it would be disaster. And it baffles me that so many liberals of my acquaintance refuse to acknowledge this...

...however...

This is a whole knew kettle of fish...

Simply letting in every young person from Central and South America who manages to get in illegally is not a long-term solution...  But refusing to deport them seems like the only humane short-term solution. Obviously we can't send kids back to that.

In general, I tend to advocate more foreign aid, in particular to try to combat such problems--partially for humanitarian reasons, but also partially to help solve our own immigration problems...

Anyway, though I still think the aw-just-be-nice approach is nutty, that's not what drives my own view that we can't send these kids back. And, in fact, I don't see how we can send adults back to that either...

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