Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Illegal Immigration Is Wrong Because It's Illegal

The WSJ says that since some economists claim immigration is a net economic gain to the US, illegal immigration is fine. That’s nonsense. Legalizing illegal acts undermines the bedrock of US prosperity – respect for the law.

WSJ ($):
Finally a consensus has been reached on immigration. No, not among politicians, who can't agree on a rational immigration reform. The agreement is among professional economists.

In an open letter sponsored by the Independent Institute to President Bush and Congress last week, more than 500 prominent economists, including five Nobel laureates, proclaim that "immigration has been a net gain for American citizens." The letter adds that "while a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to the economy, including lower consumer prices.

If only these economic facts could break through an immigration debate that is dominated by emotion and political fear.
Piffle – if the economists are right, they make a case for raising immigration quotas, not sanctioning mass lawbreaking. VHD notes that respect for the law goes back a long way:
After Socrates was convicted by a court of questionable charges, his friends planned to break him out of his jail in Athens. But the philosopher refused to flee. Instead, he insisted that a citizen who lived in a consensual society should not pick and choose which laws he finds convenient to obey.

Selective compliance, Socrates warned, would undermine the moral integrity of the entire legal system, ensuring anarchy. And so, as Plato tells us, the philosopher accepted the court's death sentence and drank the deadly hemlock.

...few have criticized illegal immigration solely because millions have, with impunity, flouted the law — aliens, their employers and the officials who look the other way.

But Socrates would do just that, and also point to our hypocrisy.

The alien from Mexico chooses which American laws he finds convenient. He wants our border police to leave him alone — until he becomes lost in the desert or is attacked by robbers.

The employer expects trespassing laws to be enforced to keep vagrants off his premises, but then assumes that the same vigilant police will ignore the illegal status of his cheap labor force.

And does the city council that orders its policemen not to turn over arrested illegal aliens to the border patrol similarly allow townspeople to ignore their municipal tax bills?

When thousands operate cars without state-mandated licenses and car insurance, why should other drivers bother to purchase them? If police pull over motorists and do not verify the legal status of aliens, why do they check for outstanding arrest warrants of citizens?
From the WSJ's economic persective, high trust nations of law-abiding citizens prosper, while low trust societies - for example Mexico - stay poor.