Monday, March 7, 2022

Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Immigration

Continuing my recent theme of stating positions that I know a heck of a lot of people aren't going to like, today I thought I'd alienate people by talking about immigration.

As with all of my viewpoints, I'm happy to entertain the possibility that I am wrong, and if presented with a cogent argument supported by the real world there's a good chance I will admit my mistakes and change my position (it's happened before, and I hope it will again because that would mean I'm still learning and growing).

With that said, here we go ...


Way back when, before any of us were alive (specifically before 1875) , the immigration policy of the US was pretty much, "Welcome to the United States."  There were some vague requirements about being "of good moral character," and non-whites only got the right to citizenship five years earlier, but that was pretty much it.  If they found their way to the US, they could become "one of us."

Of course we all know such a state couldn't last long, and a steady stream of restrictions were added to just who could and couldn't immigrate.  Some of these seem reasonable on the surface, such as the bans on criminals or people carrying contagious diseases, but others start to edge into the category of "keeping out undesirables".  Polygamists, anarchists, and beggars quickly made the list.

Then in the early 1920s, as the sources of immigration shifted from northern Europe to other regions, all sorts of caps and quotas were implemented.

From that point on it's pretty much all down hill.  Whether intended or not, US immigration policy was (and essentially still is) geared towards maintaining a degree of whiteness.

There have been attempts to reform the policies with the stated aim to "help reunite families" or improve "border control," but unsurprisingly they haven't been that successful.

My viewpoint is that the reason attempts at reforming the process have failed is that they're like trying to repair a broken clock by changing when you have lunch.

Yes, the current system is expensive, problematic, and somewhat ineffective.  It's also unnecessary.

If you do a web search on "economic impact of immigration" ... heck, I'll even make it easy on you, go ahead and click the link ... you get references to countless studies (well, I'm not going to count them) all saying the same thing: immigration is great for the economy.

Not to surprising really if you take a moment to think about it.  If you bring in more people then there are more people who need food, clothing, housing, etc.  With more consumers you get more business, and that means more employment, and more more more more more.  Life is good, right?

Whaddabout ... ?

What about crime?  Searching for "crime and immigration" (I'm so helpful!) returns heaps of studies showing no causal link between the two (thought I've seen some that show recent immigrants are more likely to be the victims of crime).

Ok, how about protecting our vaguely defined "Cultural Identity"?  Ugh!  Setting aside that this is usually used as a euphemism for "whiteness," just what kind of identity are we talking about here?  The US is a bunch of people from all over the world living on land taken by force from those who lived there before.  A lot of the people sent over from Europe were criminals, exiles, debtors, religious nutcases, and people who were just trying to get away from where they used to live.

The only real cultural identity we have as a nation is that of the scrappy, mixed breed dog that will continue to chase huge trucks because one day it's certain it will catch one and win.

Why isn't anyone concerned that
we're all being boiled alive?

Our national language?  No.  Just don't.  Remember that Benjamin Franklin wanted the national language to be German?  If we're going to pick one single language for everyone in the US, I would propose either a language that originated on the frickin' contenent, like maybe Zuni, or one that's completely made up and isn't anyone's native language.  But really, no.  Just no.  We don't need to declare an official language or keep people out who speak something else.

The "Solution"

When you find yourself doing something that is both counterproductive and incredibly stupid, most often the solution is to cut it out.  In this case that would probably work.

1.  No more quotas, limits, or restrictions.  The officer at the border looks at your papers, runs a quick check to make sure you're not on a terrorist or most-wanted criminal list or whatever, takes a photo, gives you a green-card number, and sends you on your way.

If you're not a terrorist or wanted criminal, why wouldn't we want you to come in and spend money? 

If you're going to be in the US, why wouldn't we want you to be allowed to work and pay taxes on your income?  (and no, they're not taking jobs away from hard-working real Americans.  It doesn't work that way.  Go back and read all the stuff at the economics link above)

2.  Um ... actually that's it.  There is no step 2.


The part that really gets me is what this saves us.  I mean, aside from all the good brought about by the economic boost immigrants bring, and ignoring the really cool cultural stuff like great restaurants that serve something other than cheeseburgers (which I love, by the way!  Cheeseburgers are awesome!  But have you ever had Thibetan food?  ZOMG that stuff is awesome!).

As a bonus our government doesn't have to spend money looking for "illegal immigrants" to deport.  We don't have to keep a small, permanent, specialized military force to have roam the country, busting down doors, breaking up families, and in general being horrible people.

We also don't have the absurd humanitarian crisis of people camped out on our boarders because they're fleeing war, crime, persecution or anything else, but we want to be sure they're really deserving of asylum and not really just trying to sneak into the country to build a better life.

It would even speed up things for citizens coming back from abroad.  Right now they look at everyone's documents to make sure you're really you and not someone trying to sneak into the country to build a better life.  Instead it would be "Yup, the picture looks like you, and you're not on the bad list. Reason for visit?  Who the heck cares!  Have a nice day.  Next!"

Do I really believe this is what should be done?  Pretty much, yes.

Do I think it has a snowball's chance in hell at actually happening?  Nope.  It would let too many brown people into the country.

1 comment:

  1. Just a pedantic comment - the exclusions and quotas actually started in 1875, with the Paige Act, which excluded Chinese women (on the theory that the Chinese men being brought over to work on the railroads would be more likely to go home than to try to stay if they couldn't find a Chinese wife), and really got going in 1882 with the Chinese Exclusion Act.

    That said, I agree completely with your premise.