The four biggest arguments I hear regularly here from commenters opposed to the right of free association as it applies to immigration (always the same non-reading, unthinking zealots commenting I might add) are
- …but welfare!
- …but Muslims!
- …but assimilation!
- …but low wages!
1. The welfare argument is as quicky dismissed as it is raised, as it was yesterday: “Let’s fight to shrink the welfare state and to liberalise labor laws, not to prevent people from exercising a basic right.” Let’s recognise nonetheless that even in today’s context, the evidence shows that in New World countries like ours, immigrants of all persuasions don’t migrate for welfare and generally use less welfare than locals. And in the meantime, call for both the “Australia Solution” – i.e., restrict migrants’ eligibility for benefits, as Australia does with NZers – and the “Canada Solution” – i.e., allow folk to sponsor and take full responsibility for other folk coming as migrants and refugees.
2. The “Muslim argument” is hardly as complex as the zealots might think either. The right to free association is a right pertaining to peaceful people only – so we those meaning harm have no moral right of entry. But nor do they try: nearly without exception, those who carry out atrocities are young, deluded and homegrown (going against their own parents teachings, as Maajid Nawaz frequently points out, and making you wonder what is in the west’s water when the wish to destroy it is what they imbibe here.)
And as Steve Chapman points out, the overwhelming majority of immigrants who come to the west, by both legally and illegal means, are not criminals (they are even less likely than the native-born population to commit crimes) and nor are they terrorists (Muslim Americans for example are more likely to reject violence than many othergroups). They emigrate to create a better life for themselves and their families, not to make yours worse. Your enemies are also theirs: keep them onside and they will and do point out the bad bastards. ("American Muslims are responsible for identifying and turning in over 90% of the lone wolves who would have committed terrorist attacks on this beautiful land of ours over the course of the past 15 years,” points out American Muslim Oz Sultan. “We love this country and in order for us to show our love we need to start being looked at as the last line of defense and not the enemy.”)
In fact, as US attorney James Valliant argues, the only way to actually prevent terrorists from slipping in is to legalise as much "illegal immigration" as possible. “If one is looking for a needle in a haystack, as the saying goes, one has a hell of job. Finding that needle on a relatively clean floor, however, presents an achievable goal. If every person who wanted into America in order to find work was legally permitted into America, I'll bet they'd be happy to stop by the front gate, show some ID,get checked against a terrorist watch-list, etc. Only those with criminal records, or reasons to flee justice, those with contagious diseases, and, well... terrorists would have any reason to "jump the gate" at all.”
As he points, this would concentrate resources on those who actually do pose a threat to the country, while giving the residents of the country all the real benefits that immigration does bring.
“Sure, some might slip through,” recognises Benjamin Powell, “but right now terrorists could sneak into the country illegally while hiding among more than a million other illegal immigrants crossing the border in the desert. If a more open immigration policy were established, the legitimate workers could come through check points, freeing existing border-control enforcement to focus on finding the terrorists”—while keeping onside your genuine allies
3. And while there are many things to be said about assimilation, perhaps the simplest is to point out that all the demographic arguments raised by American anti-immigration zealots, to take just one example, are best represented by one single state of the US: their favourite: Texas! (The Alt-Right's "Demographic Nightmare" Is... Texas 2016).
4. So, what about the argument that too many arrivals from too many low-wage countries simply lowers our own wages? This can only be held or argued by someone who has never read the data, and never understood Say’s Law (i.e., that it is production that pays for demand.)
A survey of the economics literature on immigration concludes that “[d]espite the popular belief that immigrants have a large adverse impact on the wages and employment opportunities of the native-born population, the literature on this question does not provide much support for the conclusion.” This is the way academics tell you gently you’re talking out of your arse.
How is this possible when the laws of supply and demand seem to suggest the opposite? asks Benjamin Powell. Answer: because those laws operate within the context of Say’s Law and the expanded division of labour created by the new immigrants. You see, new immigrants are not just mouths to feed; they are productive. “Those immigrants who increase the supply of labor also demand goods and services, causing the demand for labour to increase.” That demand is bought of their own increased production, by virtue of which the whole scale of production increases, lowering marginal costs, and real wages are increased (i.e., there is more to buy with the same wage packet).
Second, immigrants don't simply shift the supply of labour. Labor is heterogeneous. When the immigrants have different skills than the native-born population, they complement the native-born labour rather than substitute for them. Many of the immigrants … are either extremely highly-skilled or very low-skilled. Yet most native-born labour falls somewhere in between… To the extent that immigrants are complementing native-born labour, they increase, rather than decrease, the wages of the native-born.
Third, even for the unskilled, there is the issue of price sensitivity. If demand for workers is perfectly elastic in the relevant range, then there also need not be any effect on wages.
Finally, as Adam Smith pointed out centuries ago, specialisation and the division of labour are “limited by the extent of the market.” Bringing more immigrants into [our given geographical area] expands our market and allows for greater specialisation. That makes each of us more productive and able to earn higher wages.
In short, then:
If you are looking for a threat to [the west]'s long-term prosperity and tranquillity, do not look toward immigrants. Look into the mirror instead.
I’ll add some further reading below. But I guarantee the zealots won’t read a word of of it, any more than they’ll read any more than two of the words above.
They remind me of Gary Larson’s famous dog:
[Cartoon by Gary Larson]
- Welfare hardening hearts, minds and borders
- Welfare's inhumanity to immigrants
- Man's inhumanity to man: Death by immigration
- Immigration Plus Welfare State Equal Police State – GEORGE REISMAN’S BLOG
- Governments Give Migrants a Disastrous Mix of Social Welfare and Bureaucracy
- Do Refugees Need Food Stamps or Freedom?
- The Great Immigration Assimilation Scare
- The Great Immigration Assimilation Scare (Take Two)
- Welfare Strikes Again
- And, into that vacuum stepped Islam …
- Muslim Americans Are More Likely to Reject Violence than Many Groups
- Why westerners are joining jihadis
- Home-grown horror
- An Economic Case for Immigration – Benjamin Powell
- The Alt-Right's "Demographic Nightmare" Is... Texas 2016 – Alex Nowsareth
- Fighting Terrorism Requires Legalising Immigration – James Valliant
- The Fall of Rome Began with the Abuse of Refugees