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The Solution to Illegal Immigration

The country is abuzz with debate over the issue of illegal immigration. And I agree that it's a serious problem in need of a serious solution. Here's my modest proposal:

  1. Think of "illegal immigration"
  2. Strike out one word, like this: "illegal immigration"
  3. Problem solved

I consider illegal immigration to present two basic problems. First, we can't check the backgrounds of illegal immigrants. It is proper to exclude, for example, violent criminals and people who are anti-American. Second, the good people who illegally immigrate are — to twist a phrase :) -- second-class citizens. No good person should live in constant fear of a government bent on making their lives more difficult.

If we take the "illegal" out of illegal immigration — that is, if we make legal immigration easy and streamlined — both of these problems subside. The first problem is eased because the number of people sneaking across the border would decline substantially, making apprehension and processing easier. The second problem is eased because immigrants will be operating fully within the law and therefore have nothing to fear.

Notice that I don't object to illegal immigration for economic reasons. I believe illegal immigration has hugely benefited the economy — they want to work here, we want to employ them, it's win-win and just another instance of the benefits of globalization. Restricted immigration is inherently protectionist and ipso facto harmful to the economy.

(Two warnings: I've mentioned the benefit to the economy; the effect on the government's finances is not obvious. Also, be careful to avoid Simpson's paradox when you look at economic statistics. We can all be better off even if the average wage falls&hellip)

When we change to an open borders policy, we should also offer amnesty to those already here — but out of fairness we should give priority to those still outside the country who have been following the previously more strict process. Amnesty is a practical reality in any case; it would be totally infeasible and an egregious economic harm and an outrageous squandering of money and resources to deport millions of people.

If people want to come to America to work, we should generally let them. (Especially if they're highly educated!) If they want to become citizens too, that's great. We should extend citizenship to people who believe in the principles underlying the Constitution.

Say "no" to violent criminals and the anti-American. To the rest, lift the lamp beside the golden door.

Tiny Island