By Aakash Jain ’14
Whenever I weigh a political matter, I force myself to ask the same question: How can we eliminate governmental control and regulation in favor of the free market and individual liberty?
By these criteria, the current discussion of U.S. immigration policy among politicians is short-sighted. For example, the debate over SB 1070 fails to consider the broader implications of immigration policy and instead focuses far too much on short-term matters.
Earlier in the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court found three of four provisions of SB 1070 unconstitutional. The court upheld a portion of the bill that allows police to ask someone to verify their immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally.
Months after this decision, we have achieved little in solving the far-reaching, sometimes volatile, issue of immigration. Immigration is still at the forefront of the national political debate and very relevant to our daily lives.
Though many people are adversely affected by the bill and thus are justified in their concerns, a larger, more pressing matter looms over the U.S.
Should immigrants even be considered criminals in the first place? In reality, immigrants are not the problem but the system itself.
The legal structure as it exists today not only impedes liberties, but also potentially hurts the economy by mitigating immigration. In contrast to what many politicians may espouse, immigration is in fact one of the greatest boons an economy can receive.
Those who seek immigration do so to benefit themselves and their families and bring with them their own unique talents and abilities. In doing so, they raise the standard of living of the average citizen. It is simply irrefutable that free immigration creates wealth in a free society
Thus, we should seek free immigration as our ultimate objective, in which the movement of peoples is not hindered by any coercive action, except in the case of convicted criminals.
Instead of wasting resources on trying to control immigration as a whole, we should focus solely on preventing criminals from crossing our borders. Everyone else should be given the opportunity to start a new life in the U.S.
In order to achieve this goal, it is first necessary to slowly eliminate the current welfare state. Ideally, benefits would be phased out as gradually as possible, in order to minimize financial distress.
Immigration is only beneficial insofar as the immigrants are responsible for providing for themselves and their families. When welfare benefits and other “free” services are offered to them, immigration, instead of helping the economy, begins to drain resources.
This is not to say that all immigrants are dependent on welfare or other poverty relief programs, or even that a large percentage of immigrants are. Actually, no one really knows just how much immigration affects welfare spending, since estimates often conflict with one another.
Nonetheless, in order to achieve free immigration, we must first change our welfare policies, thus ensuring that immigration is an economically beneficial process.
Not only would this maximize economic productivity through immigration, but would also achieve an end in itself.
Ultimately, charity is the answer for those who cannot help themselves, not government programs.
Slowly eliminating welfare in the U.S. would benefit the economy and expand individuals’ economic freedom, and it would also allow immigration to once again be a productive and wealth-creating process. Though various changes in policy may be temporarily necessary, the dissolution of welfare and the liberalization of immigration is the only long-term answer to this difficult issue.
Unfortunately, SB 1070 fails to provide a sustainable solution by treating immigrants as criminals instead of potentially valuable members of society.