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Feds Fighting War On Immigration Like War On Drugs



Brad Warbiany
The Liberty Papers
April 29, 2010

Idiocy. That’s all I can use to preface this:

The 26-page draft obtained by CNN attempts to woo GOP senators in part by calling for “concrete benchmarks” to secure the border before granting illegal immigrants the opportunity to gain legal status.

Those benchmarks include: increasing the number of border patrol officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, increasing the number of personnel available to inspect for drugs and contraband, and improving technology used to assist ICE agents.

At the same time, “high-tech ground sensors” would be installed across the Mexican border. Officers would be equipped with the “technological capability to respond to activation of the ground sensors in the area they are patrolling,” according to the draft.

Fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant biometric Social Security cards would be issued to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. Fines for knowingly hiring someone not eligible for employment would be increased by 300 percent. Repeat offenders would face time in prison.

So paragraph 2 above is a huge new federal jobs program, and paragraph 3 is a huge new federal spending/procurement program. I’m sure the public sector unions and military-industrial complex are cheering.

The final paragraph is an enhanced version of e-Verify, a colossal failure of a program on many levels. In addition, as Doug says, it’s a bit too much like a national ID card for his liking.

The economic reality in this country is that we need the immigrant workforce we have today. The government’s creation (by making this immigration illegal) of a black market brings with it a host of unintended and completely unnecessary consequences. But this “secure the border first” approach is fundamentally backwards. As it was so eloquently said by Daniel Griswold of Cato:

It’s like saying, in 1932, that we can’t repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we’ve drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could “get control” of its unintended consequences.

Much like the drug war, when you have demand, you will have supply, regardless of whether the product is legal or not. Much like the drug war, the Senate seems to think that if you merely step up enforcement, you can repeal the laws of supply and demand, instead of merely shifting the margins. Make no mistake — illegal immigration CAN be curtailed through enforcement, but it will require laws and penalties so draconian as to make what’s happening in Arizona look liberal. America will not (and should not have to) stomach it.

Liberal immigration policies and secure borders aren’t mutually exclusive. After all, the end of prohibition reduced all the associated unintended consequences of the moonshine & rum-running trade, and dramatically reduced the organized crime element to protect that trade. But notice that it was the end of prohibition, not the increase in enforcement actions, that solved the problem. Likewise, with immigration we need a way to get immigrants into this country legally in a way consistent with our economic needs, and then we can work on securing the borders from the trickle of attempted entries left over.

This immigration proposal shows Congress doing what they do best — spending lots and lots of money, growing the size and scope of government, and leaving the root causes of the problem pretty well untouched.

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