On Illegal Immigrants

“But there has to be something they can do to stop illegal immigrants from coming in,” said Mrs. Bowman.

“I don’t think so,” Mr. Magundi replied. “Every revenue officer knows that you can’t stop smuggling if the profit on contraband is high enough. In the same way, if the benefits of illegal immigration are great enough, no one can stop it. Heaven knows we’ve made life unpleasant and uncertain enough for illegal immigrants—heaven knows, and the recording angel is taking notes. But life is so much more unpleasant and uncertain where they come from that they’ll take a real risk of death over staying where they are. We can never make life difficult enough to stop them without making life impossible for ourselves. And so the only thing left is to make a kind of Copernican shift in our point of view, and realize that, instead of making life less pleasant here, we’re going to have to find some way of making life more pleasant there.”


3 thoughts on “On Illegal Immigrants

  1. I’ve been saying much the same thing for years: As long as life is better here than there, they will keep coming, and we certainly don’t want to “solve” this “problem” by making life here worse than life there. No illegal immigrant sneaks across the Arizona Desert night, risking death from heat or cold or dehydration; or swims the Rio Grande; or goes tens of thousands of dollars into debt to Chinese Gangsters just to get smuggled here via three months packed into a dark, airless cargo container with 100 other immigrants and no toilet facilities; or skips out on a student visa at the risk of getting DHS coming down on them as a potential terrorist…just for the fun of it. They are coming here for a better life, and they are coming here illegally because doing so is easier, quicker, cheaper, and more certain than coming here legally. Some of them are stymied in attempts at legal immigration by their home governments, particularly in China, not wanting them to leave, but most of their governments, particularly in Mexico, positively encourage them to leave to ease overpopulation, poverty, unemployment, and trade deficits at home by emigrating overseas and then sending money back home to their relatives who haven’t left yet. So the only thing stopping most of them from coming here legally are the insanely complicated, expensive, and positively Byzantine nature of our own immigration bureaucracy. People seeking to come here to find a job so they can feed their children don’t have five or ten years to wait for their paperwork to be processed, or the money to pay lawyers to help them navigate a legal system they don’t understand in a language they don’t speak, so they risk death, kidnapping, imprisonment, robbery, rape, and ending up as slave labor in a sweatshop or brothel just to avoid the unbelievable amount of red tape we place in the way of legal migrants.

    We’ve already got enough border guards to do all that border guards can do without turning ourselves into East Germany and constructing our own Berlin Wall. What we need is not more border guards, but more bureaucrats to process the paperwork so these poor people don’t have to face the choice between waiting decades and spending enormous amounts of money to come here legally, or risking their lives and their freedom to be snuck across the border by people smugglers only to spend the rest of their lives here hiding from the cops and terrified that their neighbors will turn them in.

  2. “Bruce” is referring to the tag line that appears under the title of the site, which changes every day or so. As for the larger question of where one could put America, Europeans since the late fifteenth century have been complaining about its current position. Perhaps Columbus had the best solution, which was to close his eyes halfway and pretend that he was seeing Asia.

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