Satan is alive and well on Planet Earth, part 2

I wrote a post yesterday asking for non-racist reasons why people commonly oppose immigration.  DR's readers are the cream of the crop, so I should have known there would be a lot of responses that I would have to answer.

I wrote that there might be people who actually are opposed to illegal immigration simply because it's illegal and not because they motivated by anti-Hispanic racism, but that I doubt it.  The answers given by the commenters were generally good-faith reproductions of the arguments, but I think I didn't make it clear enough that I was interested in arguments used to cover anti-Hispanic racism.

Let me just take a couple of samples:

Open borders are incompatible with a welfare
state. If you pay people merely to be here, and give them no reason to
stay elsewhere, you'll select for the worst possible immigrants.

Fortunately, the US selects for better immigrants by offering lots of economic opportunities.

It's not a racist argument: one could easily make it about, say,
paying people to move from Wyoming to New York, and funding this
subsidy by taxing successful New Yorkers.

A note about the last line: one could make that argument, but nobody does.  Further, nobody complains about the poor Europeans that get fed up with excessive labor market regulation and move across the ocean.  Occasionally people gripe about poor blacks and poor whites who abuse the welfare system and perpetuate the cycle of poverty, but I find these voices unite into a very powerful chorus when "the immigrant invasion" is mentioned.

2. They will compete with poor Americans for low skill jobs, making poor Americans worse off.

That argument is nationalist, since it gives much higher weight to
the welfare of poor Americans than to that of the poorer immigrants,
but it isn't racist--the poor Americans imagined might easily be black.

I thought the majority of people agreed that "they" do the jobs "we" don't want to do.  At the lower margins there is some competition, but I don't know the last time somebody like Lou Dobbs cared about the bottom 10%.  Plus, as I said, I was specifically concerned with Hispanics.

3. They will change our culture in ways we don't like.

There are lots of countries in the world that are less pleasant
places to live than the U.S., some inhabited mostly by people of
European origin--Russia, for instance. It isn't absurd to argue that
what makes the U.S. special is a particular culture and we shouldn't
risk it.

I see people shudder to think of certain parts of L.A. that have high concentrations of Spanish-speaking immigrants, but I haven't seen anyone so much as bat an eyelash thinking about Brighton Beach.

There were plenty of others, many of which were theoretically possible for a tolerant person to use.  But I'm still not convinced that a meaningfully large number of people use them on their own merits.  Maybe I lived in Atlanta too long, an oasis in the middle of Bush country, and heard the self-righteous anger about all those people who would--gasp!--actually break the law to come here thinly veiling the speaker's obvious distaste for brown skin and Spanish.  Maybe I'm being too hard on my fellow man.  But, unfortunately, I don't think so.

Last note: HHH's argument is not in itself racist, and I'm hardly in the position to talk about his own personal preferences.  It just seems to me that here's another argument that would hit a home run with some crowds I can't abide.

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Revision

What I meant to say in the Wyoming/New York line is that one could be anti-immigration but not racist to say that taxing residents to subsidize immigrants is a bad idea. If we can induce people to come to the US by providing unparalleled opportunities (which we do), we'll get most of the valuable citizens in the world; if we induce people to come here with subsidies and public services (we do that, too), we'll get some of the least desirable immigrants.

It's almost a shell game. Nobody would run on a platform of "We must provide free healthcare to Peruvians and Senegalese!" but one can run on a "Free healthcare!" and an "Open borders!" platform and achieve the same effect. In a country with saner levels of economic redistribution, we wouldn't need an immigration policy at all. But as long as we can turn assets overseas into liabilities at home, we ought to recognize that in debates and fix it in laws.

The Virtuous Dead

Asking the person who worries about having unlimited numbers of strangers track unimpeded through his country to prove he is not a racist(or xenophobic) is like asking a man to prove he is a non-racist if he is distressed when a brown skinned man leers at his wife. Give me a break. You may find a receptive audience among those who think the word nation is a dirty word. Every country, except supposedly America, proudly and aggressively protects its borders. If Americans dare do so they must explain why they are not racist. What are you trying to do, give racism a good name?
One way open borders like many forms of “principled” unilateral virtue, is suicidal.

BUSH, WETBACKS HELP WATER SHORTAGE

(found the following web item)

There's a water shortage in the southwest, but Pres. Bush has been helping the situation with his surplus of wetbacks!

Blame Canada

Dave, if a man was more upset when a brown-skinned person leered at his wife than when a white-skinned person did, then yes: he would indeed seem to be racist.

On the Wyoming v NY question, there is a small real-world example. It involves Americans heading for Canada to avail of cheaper prescription drugs. This is a pure free-riding question since people simply avail of the services without contributing to the economy. It even became a US election issue in 2004.

I'd appreciated it if you'd stop referring to me as "Satan"

I'd appreciated it if you'd stop referring to me as "Satan"
Here's a non-racist argument, and its pretty much the structure of all the anti-immigration arguments. Just plug in a reasonable need for controlling immigration in step 5). Like one I didn't include, the need for the members of a society to know the language that is the basis for the law of a country.

Illegal Immigration Destroys a Living Wage

Rather than provide a living wage and benifits to Black-Americans in my area, contractors just go to 7-11 (or the hiring center nowadays) and hire illegals for less than a living wage and no benifits. This leads to the very very high levels of black male unemployment in my city of Baltimore.

Most contractors are white males in my area. Many will tell you that they purposefully avoid hiring blacks since blacks will always insist on their rights and will sue them for almost any slight. Illegals will take what they can get.

Contractors also point out that they can just flush an illegal that causes them problems, but just try and get away with dumping a legal minority employee.

Also many contractors use family SSNs for the illegals so that family members can receive SS credits. Can't do that with a legal minority.

Have you seen what our allowance of illegals entering our country has done to the cultures of Mexican and Central American towns and villages? They are, and in many many cases, are and have been destroyed. There is no labor base available for public works projects and the tax base is completely gone.

We are stealing the very human capital needed to make the countries below us more economically viable and politically free. And for what? So we can have cheaper goods and services? Talk about explotation!

More illegal immigration please!

Many will tell you that they purposefully avoid hiring blacks since
blacks will always insist on their rights and will sue them for almost
any slight. Illegals will take what they can get.

Race is irrelevant. What's relevant is whether employees will sue employers. If a legal employee is likely to insist on his "rights" and sue an employer for "almost any slight", then please, more illegals.

Contractors also point out that they can just flush an illegal that
causes them problems, but just try and get away with dumping a legal
minority employee.

If employers can't dump legal employees that are causing them problems, then please, more illegals.

Also many contractors use family SSNs for the illegals so that family
members can receive SS credits. Can't do that with a legal minority.

Screw SS.

This leads to the very very high levels of black male unemployment in my city of Baltimore.

Your own description of legal employees is unflattering in the extreme. They would insist on their "rights", sue for "almost any slight", and "cause problems". If this description that you, yourself, have given, is representative, then it is surely one of the immediate reasons for the "very very high levels" of unemployment in the group you describe.

 

Uh...didn't I write that the

Uh...didn't I write that the comments you attribute to me in your last paragraph are those of the contractors and not me?

And?

Okay then, the description you conveyed (without anywhere contradicting it), rather than the description you originated.

You are not an honest debater

At no time am I or you ever required to defend the words of another. Ever.

I put forth the attitudes and actions of the very people who are using illegals. Those people want to avoid blacks and are able to be discriminatory in their hiring practices because illegals are here.

Those very employers would have to change their ways and hire minority citizens if the illegals were not here.

You have a chip on your shoulder over something and you read any discription as a prescription. Grow up.

Nope

You have a chip on your shoulder

You seem to be the angry one here.

over something and you read any discription as a prescription.

Actually, what you objected to was my calling something your own description. Since my offense was to call it your description, I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that I read descriptions as prescriptions.

Your wording is far from

Your wording is far from being neutral and weither you want it or not, it strongly conveys a prescription on your side.

Stealing implies force or

Stealing implies force or fraud. The only theft is the theft of the freedom of an immigrant and a employer to freely contract.

What you are reffering to as "rights" are not rights at all, they are privileges backed by the work or actions of other people who have been deprived from their rights. The "right" not to be discriminated on color for example deprives an employer the right to hire the employee of his choosing. It is not a right, it is a privilege granted by the governement.

What constitutes a racist argument?

I'm just wondering. I worry that the mestizos coming into this country will lower the national IQ, given that 1) they do score about ten points lower on IQ tests than whites, 2) it is a real possibility that this IQ gap is genetic in origin, and 3) quality of life indicators have been shown to correlate with national IQ. #1 is pretty well established in the scientific literature, there is only the question as to whether the difference is environmental or genetic. Since we don't know at this point, it seems prudent to me to err on the side of caution.

So, is this a racist argument? I'm not being rhetorical or snide, I'm seriously asking you what you think. (I just found this blog and don't really have a feel for it.) If so, then it seems to me that you are going to have to argue that *any* belief in the possibility of broad ethnic or racial differences is inherently racist, which seems extreme (and unsupported by what evidence is out there).

Fundamental fairness

I can't figure out if you're asking about legal or illegal immigration. I'm in favor of greatly expanded legal immigration but am against illegal immigration because it's illegal, and they broke the rules. I spent many years in Hong Kong, and one of the great gifts that the British gave Hong Kong was the rule of law. Respect for the law is important, and for large numbers of people to come here and continue to live here illegally, with even larger numbers of citizens claiming that these people have a 'right' to continue to break our laws simply because it gets them an advantage, tends to breed contempt for law in general.

Besides, I can't forget those long lines of Filipinos outside the US Consultate every time I went there in Hong Kong (or the long lines outside the US Embassy in Manila) of people waiting and hoping to come here legally. Yes, it's very difficult to get here legally - if it was easy to come legally, more of the illegals would do it. Nevertheless, our country laid out procedures for how to come legally, and giving amnesty to illegals means favoring those who broke our law at the expense of those that tried to follow it. Why is someone who broke the law more deserving than those people patiently standing in line, filling out paperwork and waiting their turn? Seriously, wouldn't it be more fair to let in people who have been waiting to do it legally?

The usual argument against this is that "you don't really want to see legal immigration. You're just a racist liar that's trying to prevent all immigration, and concern about the law is a phony excuse." I would appreciate it if just once someone would take the argument seriously, rather than assume that I'm an anti-immigration racist. People from the Philippines aren't Hispanic, but does that mean that concern about them is racist? I want to let in plenty of immigrants, but I think it's only basically, fundamentally fair to take people from the list, not those that snuck in. What's wrong with that?

Realism

Respect for the law is important, and for large numbers of people to come here and continue to live here illegally, with even larger numbers of citizens claiming that these people have a 'right' to continue to break our laws simply because it gets them an advantage, tends to breed contempt for law in general.

But isn't the issue, what the law should be? If you argue on the basis of what the law is, you are not addressing that issue, unless you are trying to argue that the law should be whatever it happens to be right now.

Why is someone who broke the law more deserving than those people patiently standing in line, filling out paperwork and waiting their turn?

That is a separate issue. You are talking here about a specific policy proposal associated with Bush - amnesty for illegals combined with continued impediments to legal migration. I don't think that Bush's specific policy proposals are at issue here.

People from the Philippines aren't Hispanic

Actually, there's a strong Hispanic component in their culture, because of their history. The designation "Hispanic" is cultural and linguistic, not racial.

 

What the law should be...

"But isn't the issue, what the law should be? .........
That is a separate issue. You are talking here about a specific policy proposal"

Actually, I was trying to talk about what the law should be. I think that we should greatly expand legal immigration but should not have an amnesty that favors illegal immigrants at the expense of those waiting to come legally. I'm taking for granted that there is some overall limit on how many immigrants will end up here. Thus giving amnesty to those here illegally makes it much more difficult to bring in those waiting to come legally. If we have to chose (and it appears to me that we do), I think that we should chose those that took our laws seriously.

But, as a practical matter, I would accept a compromise that allows otherwise-law-abiding illegals to stay if it was really combined with greatly increased efforts to prevent future illegal immigration. That was the deal that Reagan supposedly offered us last time, and it didn't work. Instead we got massive amnesty combined with increased illegal immigration, so that people would be ready for the next amnesty.

In the end, the reason that the recent attempt at compromise didn't go through was that too many people didn't trust that both ends of the deal would actually be upheld this time, unlike last time. It's easy to write off all the opponents as racist, but a good way to 'call their bluff' is to show that there will really be increased enforcement this time, and then see who's willing to accept amnesty. Many of us would accept amnesty at that point but don't see a reason to simply encourage future illegal activity by rewarding past illegal activity without really changing anything else (again, like last time).

And I agree that Filipinos have a strong Hispanic culture. That's part of my frustration at being labelled racist, based merely on the fact that the majority of current illegal immigrants have somewhat dark skin. Many of the attempted legal immigrants being denied entry share similar characteristics. I'm differentiating based on their actions, not their culture or color.

There's absolutely nothing

There's absolutely nothing deserving in abiding to unjust law. Trying to respect an unjust law (for other reason than risk aversion of course) merely makes you a sucker.

However, the immigrants coming illegaly are less likely to commit crimes, less likely to receive welfare, won't wote, are less likely to support the state by paying taxes, less likely to believe government made laws are absolutes, will often work illegaly for cheaper wages... if anything they're much more deserving to me than legal immigrants.

Back to your point, whether the overall number of immigrants will be limited or not, deporting illegal immigrants, even at the benefit of legal immigrant is immoral, no matter how you spin it.

Enforcing a contract is immoral?

"There's absolutely nothing deserving in abiding to unjust law"

If it's unjust, we should change it.

"deporting illegal immigrants, even at the benefit of legal immigrant is immoral, no matter how you spin it."

No matter how you spin it? That's awfully broad. What about the idea that they took their chances, knowing that they didn't have a legal right to stay? I went to Hong Kong legally, but I still would have left if asked to, not assuming that I had a right to stay regardless of what the natives thought. They chose to put themselves in a position where they could be deported at any time, since they did not come legally.

The characteristics that you claim for illegals aren't necessarily due to some intrinsic features of theirs. They're responding to incentives (taking low wages because that's what they can get, not voting because they can't, etc.). The only real difference that you point out is the selection bias towards those more willing to ignore laws they don't like, rather than working to change them. You seem to view that as positive, while I see it as a negative. If they would stay home and work to improve the system, rather than simply ignore what they don't like, then the poor countries that they've come from might function better, which surely would be better for everyone.

You seem to be arguing in part out of concern for these illegals, but they're very vulnerable as long as they're working outside the law. They're more likely to be taken advantage of. How many women are able to get across the border without being raped on the way? In my opinion, being legal is better for everyone, including the immigrants themselves.

If it's unjust, we should

If it's unjust, we should change it.

If it's unjust it is just to ignore it. Changing it may be a good idea but it can be hard to impossible.

What about the idea that they took their chances, knowing that they didn't have a legal right to stay?

Soooo ?

I went to Hong Kong legally, but I still would have left if asked to

So would I, I'd hate to be in a Hong Kong jail.


not assuming that I had a right to stay regardless of what the natives
though

you did though

They chose to put themselves in a position where they could be deported at any time, since they did not come legally.

If I cross the Bronx I choose to put myselft in a position where I can be mugged, it doesn't make it ok to mug me.

The characteristics that you claim for illegals aren't necessarily due to some intrinsic features of theirs. The only real difference that you point out is the selection bias towards those more willing to ignore laws they don't like

True, you have a point :) But I could be determining merit on past actions regardless of the motive, it's very subjective.

to ignore laws they don't like, rather than working to change them. You
seem to view that as positive, while I see it as a negative.

Not law they merely "don't like", unjust law. It's safer to have the law changed but it's also very hard. Ignoring unjust laws is also a good way of making them change. No one has a "duty" to work to change laws by the way. I didn't pass the immigration laws in the US, they bother me, I don't see why I should be required to change them in order to live here.

I'm going to create law #384. According to law #384 you have to send me $100 each month. You can try and convince me otherwise but meanwhile please comply with the law and send the money. You are going to dismiss this as a joke but why shouldn't you dismiss government laws as a joke too? The guy who passed the law won a popularity contest, do you think that's reason enough?

then the poor countries that they've come from might function better, which surely would be better for everyone.

Ahah ! An example of the "their country need them" argument I mentionned in the previous blog post on Satan & immigration. Glad to have an illustration. The guys in a poor country are not slaves, they're not required to make the place where they were born "work".

You seem to be arguing in part out of concern for these illegals

You're wrong, it's mostly out of concern for Natural Right, and let's say it schadenfreude for law positivists.

but they're very vulnerable as long as they're working outside the law.
They're more likely to be taken advantage of. How many women are able
to get across the border without being raped on the way? In my opinion,
being legal is better for everyone, including the immigrants themselves

I completely agree but I'd rather let them decide between the risks of illegality and the impossibility of the red-tape... and if possible repeal unjust laws of course.

 

In your title you mention contract enforcement, what contract are you referring too?

Besides, I can't forget

Besides, I can't forget those long lines of Filipinos outside the US
Consultate every time I went there in Hong Kong (or the long lines
outside the US Embassy in Manila) of people waiting and hoping to come
here legally. Yes, it's very difficult to get here legally

You are perverting isonomy

If the law decided that wealthy people must surrender and be executed, would one be "unfair" by breaking the law to hide ?

If it's broke, fix it

"If the law decided that wealthy people must surrender and be executed, would one be "unfair" by breaking the law to hide?"

If such a law was proposed, would it be better to work against the passage of that law, or to prepare to transfer your wealth to someone else so that the other person would be executed instead of yourself?