The Anti-Nanny State

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute calculates that:

The US government spends more on its immigration enforcement agencies than on all of its principal criminal federal law enforcement agencies combined. In FY 2012, spending for CBP, ICE and US-Visit reached nearly $18 billion. This amount exceeds by nearly 24% total spending by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Secret Service, US Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) which stood at $14.4 billion in FY 2012.

In other words, the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft. I call it the anti-nanny state. It’s hard to believe that this truly reflects the American public’s priorities.

border fence1


Murder, rape and theft are generally handled at the state level.. There are few murders that fall under the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement.

What is amazing is that economist know that if there were few movement of people between the U.S. and Mexico that people would keep moving into the U.S. until the standard of living equals that of Mexico. Why do so many economist want to reduce the future standard of living of the U.S. to that of present day Mexico (or El Salvado, Honduras, etc). I have always suspect that such academics believe that they are clever enough to take advantage of cheap labor and open borders while avoiding the massive negative impact.

How does a crew of Mexicans putting a new roof on my neighbor's house in one day lower my standard of living? If all the Mexicans employed in US lawn care returned to Guadalajara would their positions be taken by the 16 year-olds that once performed this service? What's the optimum population of the US?

Think of the country having a total cost of ownership. Importing millions of poor third world immigrants drives down the wages in the many fields and thus, eliminates many potential customers for businesses that depended upon middle class and upper class incomes. (See the border towns in the U.S) Those roofers will pay little, if any, taxes but will consume a long list of government services. Thus, you taxes will go up (See California and Arizona). If you have to spend more money to avoid living near them, you have less money to spend on non-housing costs. (See California) Since they do not purchase insurance, you insurance costs will go up (See Texas, Arizona, and California)

You may want to ask all of the whites who have been moving out of California what happens when an area links its economy to cheap illegal immigrant labor. However, I suspect you think you are clever enough to avoid all of the downsides while taking advantage of the cheaper labor.

Stroll through the parking lot of the El Paso Home Depot and count the number of vehicles with Mexican license plates belonging to the shoppers there. The taxes that are paid by workers in the US, citizen or otherwise, are a separate issue, as are benefits received, determined by government policy and its effectiveness, which any thinking person knows to be a failure.

" Importing millions of poor third world immigrants drives down the wages in the many fields and thus, eliminates many potential customers for businesses that depended upon middle class and upper class incomes."

Reflect for a moment and consider the fact that you have entered a statement into a world-wide forum that's breathtaking in its inanity.

If El Paso is your vision of the future on the U.S. you are making a great argument for sealing the borders of the U.S. and deporting every illegal immigrant immediately. Do you really want to make the U.S. one massive version of El Paso with a small patron class and a massive peon class?

” Importing millions of poor third world immigrants drives down the wages in the many fields and thus, eliminates many potential customers for businesses that depended upon middle class and upper class incomes.”
If this statement has any validity, it would mean that the free on-line ad venue craigslist should be made illegal immediately since it has seriously damaged the classified advertising revenue of newspapers and led to cut backs in staffing, ink and newsprint purchases and so on.
The many happy residents of El Paso don't have quite the negative view you express of their city. If they did, they'd probably leave.

I was just looking up the correlation between crime rate and immigration for another comment and stumbled upon this:

So El Paso, with it's 80% hispanic population, is the safest city in America.

@chuck martel

In your example Craigslist has destroyed demand for classified ads leading to the loss of many jobs and has severely damaged an entire industry. It may be a net gain in efficiency but it is a net loss in employment and wages, which is the original comment and you have provided ample evidence for it being true. The real question is, what is the largest net gain for society? I don't think unlimited immigration is the answer to that, I don't think the current policy of extremely limited legal immigration and turning a blind eye to illegal immigration is the answer either. Like most things a moderate policy is benefit maximizing.


That is based upon the murder rate. If you look at property crimes, El Paso is above average for the state of Texas. Just look up the car theft rate for El Paso. That property crime rate means higher home owners and business insurance rates. When you compared El Paso to Allen Texas, it is much more dangerous. When people start comparing crime rates of large cities, what they are really doing is comparing black crime rates to Latinos crime rates. What is odd is that most people do not realize that they are doing that.

When people start comparing crime rates of large cities, what they are really doing is comparing black crime rates to Latinos crime rates. What is odd is that most people do not realize that they are doing that.

No, what I am doing is comparing crime rates as a means of deciding on where to live and as a means of settling on an optimal deployment of police manpower. I really do not care that the person who stole my car is chicano.

I think George Mason University should send a delegation from its Economics Department to the country that most needs its insights into how the Law of Suppoly and Demand doesn't, somehow, apply to immigration: Israel.

I think George Mason University should send a delegation from its Economics Department to the country that most needs its insights into how the Law of Suppoly and Demand doesn’t, somehow, apply to immigration: Israel.

The George Mason economics department is perfectly aware of what the effects of mass immigration are. They are just confident they will not be injured by them, or confident that others will shield them, or they are Chesterton's madmen: not illogical, but only logical. Recall that Bryan Caplan was a juvenile chess geek.

Here's a picture of Israel's brand new border fence just put up along the Egyptian border to keep black Africans out of Israel:

Notice the impressive firepower the Israeli border soldiers are carrying.


How would you measure the "net gain", or loss, for society of any technological improvement or change, society being an abstraction made up of individuals? The US doesn't turn a blind eye to illegal immigration but law enforcement agents follow their supervisors' instructions, which are formed by those further up the chain of command. For instance, there is this:

Because people take up space and generate waste. There is simply no need and, ultimately, no capacity for adding 1 million exogenous residents per year.

Roofing is brutal work which should frankly be engineered out of existence. Most of those men will be incapable of it by age 50 if not sooner. Unless they're smart enough to retool, they'll just collect disability or gin up a worker's comp claim.

I like to ask people whether they'd prefer to live in a place where, to dig a ditch, you hire 12 men with picks and shovels or 1 man with a backhoe. It's the difference between Germany and Bangladesh.

What's the difference between an exogenous resident and anybody else? Without numerous pieces of nation/state documentation would you be able to tell? The residents of Alaska were once subjects of the tsar but transfer of funds between two states made them into quasi-US citizens. How does that work? Could the federal government sell Alaska back to Russia? And, if not, why not? If there is no need for a million more, how about domestic reproduction? Shouldn't that of the lower classes be regulated as well, enforced sterilization of welfare recipients maybe? That's not a new idea, after all. Euthanasia of the elderly, non-productive makes perfect sense in that light, too. They take up space and generate waste. Suicide would show your commitment to the idea.

You ask that as if I have no limiting principle. The difference between exogenous residents and indigenous residents is the same as the distinction between people living in your house and people who don't. Or people living in your price-segregated neighborhood and people who don't. This requires a sense of distinction which you lack, because it leads very quickly to crimethink, even though privately, people discriminate heavily in mate selection and school districts.

What is your limiting principle for immigration? Should we import 1 million people per year? 5 million? How about if we airlift the entire population of Haiti to your metro area?

"What is your limiting principle for immigration?"

The limiting principle is that immigration should be determined by the marketplace, most particularly labor and housing markets, not by some arbitrary number chosen by government. What is your limiting principle on how many children government should allow Americans to have? Should we allow creation of 10 million new Americans per year? 100 million? How about we allow people to have so may children that the entire global GDP is still not enough to feed them all?

The limiting principle is that immigration should be determined by the marketplace, most particularly labor and housing markets, not by some arbitrary number chosen by government

If immigration were determined by the marketplace, employers would not be able to socialize the costs of their berry-pickers and their offspring via Title VII and welfare.

As I've said before, what immigration advocates want is "open borders," not "no borders."

Oh, you could add 1 million people per year for a while. The country is not that crowded. One problem is that you do not have congestion pricing and salutary land use regulations anywhere. If your road construction and maintenance were financed exclusively out of tolls, excises on motor fuel, and car registration fees and if your land-use regulations promoted pedestrian oriented commercial development with rear-parking (rather than green space), you would have more congenial city life. The problem is not that we cannot settle 1 million people per year, its that we cannot hoover that many foreigners without generating subcultural enclaves which are then subject to group mobilization. You can trace the evolution of political life in this country since 1965 and see the results. Bad business.

We actually had open immigration for most of the country's history. Immigration restrictions are the new part. The immigration-fueled "evolution of political life" has resulted in the emergence of the most powerful nation in the world, starting from nothing.

Restrictions on free immigration began in 1871. Restrictions on the importation of the indentured date to 1808.

Please recall context: prior to 1890, large swaths of the United States were unsettled or thinly populated with aboriginals. Also, households, businesses, and local communities had a broad franchise to discriminate against newcomers. Prior to 1840, there was not much in the way of state supported common provision in this country. You sank or swam in conditions unimaginably hard-scrabble today. After that date, you saw provision by public agency - schools, sanitoriums, orphanages, asylums, workhouses - which served a juvenile clientele, an incompetent clientele, or comprehended or subsisted within conditions which made them fates to avoid.

Well, you are paying to incarcerate 20% of black males who could do this kind of work.

The jail and prison census is about 2.3 million at any one time, of which about 45% are black males. There are north of 18 million black males in this country, so about 5.5% are incarcerated. When your guess is off by a factor of four, maybe you might re-examine your worldview a bit.

My world view? My world view is that during the Clinton administration when the economy was booming the unemployment rate among african americans dropped substantially, but since then and especially during times of economic downturn and stagnation it is very high.

Something like a third of african americans under 30 are in some kind of law enforcement situation; prison, parole, etc.

Why do you hate african american males so much that you want to drive them out of their jobs with cheap labor from immigrants?

1. I do not 'hate' blacks or anyone else (although palaeotrash press agents for Saddam Hussein and large blocs of the legal profession are pretty gorge rising). Of course, if you use the term like a 'tween girl (and the gay lobby does), I hate lots of people. I do not make a special exception for blacks, of course.

2. I'm not in favor of a lax immigration regime, nor can that be inferred from anything I've said.

3. That a quarter or a third of certain age cohorts within the population of black males are under penal supervision or in legal process has been true for at least a generation and was a subject of public discussion twenty years ago ('ere you'd seen any decline in crime rates). Social conditions and standards of conduct are what they are in the slums. Best you can do is contain the problems by vigorous law enforcement (which does involve punishing people).

Really? Only the melanin gifted can preform manual labor?

If open borders are so good, why doesn't Israel opens its borders and engage in "trade"? this is not left vs right, GOP vs Dems, Socialism vs liberty. This is war against White people.

Why do hostile elite defend Israel as a Jewish ethnostate with Jewish only immigration, but ravage White majority Europe/North America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with non-White colonization?

The world is 93% non-White, only 7% White. But 3rd world colonizers, Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics, are aggressively advancing their agenda to annihilate gullible Whites, just as China annihilates Tibet.

How long will gullible Whites cuckold for murderous anti-White elite, who suppress our fertility, confiscate our guns, infiltrate/subvert our banks/FBI/CIA, indoctrinate White kids in academia/mass media, plunder White jobs/wages, & butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars?

"Native" Americans invaded from East Asia. Yellow & Brown races committed 10-times more genocide, slavery, imperialism than Whites. Since Old-Testament, Whites have been victims of Jewish/Crypto-Jewish, Turkic, Muslim, N.African imperialism, slavery, genocide.

Gullible Whites should reject subversive ideologies- libertarianism, feminism, liberalism- & reject hostile slanders of racism. Peace to all humanity, but White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. Spread this message. Reading list: , , ,

I know "assholes agree with you" isn't the best argument, but does reading this kind of stuff worry any of you more moderate anti-immigrant folks out there?

We get it. You loathe Jews. Can you take it somewhere else?


"How does a crew of Mexicans putting a new roof on my neighbor’s house in one day lower my standard of living?"

1. Mass migration makes housing drastically less affordable - See California and elsewhere.
2. Mass low-skill immigration wreaks havoc on public education - What is private school tuition where you live?
3. Mass immigration brings gridlock - Is your time free?
4. Mass immigration pushes Americans onto welfare - Who do you think pays for them?
5. Low-skill immigrants are very heavy net tax consumers - Who do you think pays for them?
6. Someday your kids may need a low-skill jobs - Do you think an all-Spanish crew will hire them?
7. Low-skill immigrants need, demand, and get racial quotas - Where are your kids going to go?
8. Immigrant gangs (and general criminals) are proliferating and dangerous - Do you think crime is free?
9. Immigrants (almost) invariably support higher taxes, higher spending, etc. - Have you ever paid taxes?

As long as you don't think about it at all, that's true!

The issue is two-fold:
1) It's not like American workers aren't still competing with foreigners who don't immigrate to the US: We have reasonably low trade barriers everywhere these days, and especially low ones with Mexico. The main thing that changes when a Mexican worker comes to the US is that they get a raise, and are now using that money to buy goods and services in the United States rather than in Mexico. Recent studies ( suggest that this increase in demand more than outweighs any losses for workers caused by the increased labor supply.

2) Immigration from a less developed to a more developed economy grows both the total size of the economy and GDP per capita (in the two countries combined) as a whole, since the immigrants are more productive in their new home. So even if point 1 above wasn't the case, the fact that the pie grows means that there should be a Pareto improvement available in there somewhere, likely involving increased transfer payments to working class Americans, which is a badly needed policy in any case.

If this demand-obsessed formula worked, then subcontinental Asia and high-TFR Africa should be booming right now. Trillion dollar bills all over the sidewalks. Europeans crowding into boats to get in North Africa.


We need tens of millions of good paying, private sector jobs for the 315 million people we have today. We do not have them and I have not seen anybody say that these jobs coming.

When we have 400 million people in the US -- most of the extra people being immigrants and their citizen descendants -- around 2050, what will those 50+ million extra adults be doing to make a living? We know the citizen-descendants will not want the very low paying jobs that many of their parents and grandparents had. There will probably be lots of businesses demanding the government bring in immigrants then too, despite all the additional jobs that will be gone by then due to further technological advances.

When we focus on the immigrants of today in making decisions about future immigration, we are leaving out the most important part of the equation, which is that their citizen-descendants will be part of America forever.

what will those 50+ million extra adults be doing to make a living?

Approximately the same things they are doing now, but with a somewhat greater bias towards service production rather than goods production.

"We know the citizen-descendants will not want the very low paying jobs that many of their parents and grandparents had"

So I actually know citizen children of first-generation low-skill (and often non-English speaking) immigrants who were lucky to be nannies, maids, and restaurant workers. Their kids are working in offices, doing auto repair (not a low-paying job at all), being school aids, security guards, etc. They got a free K-12 education, and of course they all speak English. Some have had additional vocational training beyond that or community college. They are all hoping that the next generation goes to college.


You mean the same old story that's been going on here for the last 100+ years!!!!!!


"It’s not like American workers aren’t still competing with foreigners who don’t immigrate to the US"

Two obvious points. First, most immigrants work in non-tradable services, not goods production. Second, Mexicans living in Mexico can't burden the (vast) American welfare state.

Let's try some easy math. A low-skill immigrant family of 4 (two adults - two kids) might consume $70K a year in benefits (health care runs around $10K per year, ESL runs around $15K per year). The same family will probably earn less than $30K a year.

The welfare state in the U.S. is so expensive, that low-skill immigration can only be a net negative for natives.
On what planet can the taxes on $30K come close to $70K a year in costs.

Of course, not every immigrant family has two ESL kids. However, the averages are stunningly bad. Back in 2004, Heritage estimated that a low-skill immigrant family consumed around $30K in services and paid $10K in taxes.


"It’s not like American workers aren’t still competing with foreigners who don’t immigrate to the US"

Two obvious points. First, most immigrants work in non-tradable services, not goods production. Second, Mexicans living in Mexico can't burden the (vast) American welfare state.

Let's try some easy math. A low-skill immigrant family of 4 (two adults - two kids) might consume $70K a year in benefits (health care runs around $10K per year, ESL runs around $15K per year). The same family will probably earn less than $30K a year.

The welfare state in the U.S. is so expensive, that low-skill immigration can only be a net negative for natives.
On what planet can the taxes on $30K come close to $70K a year in costs?

Of course, not every immigrant family has two ESL kids. However, the averages are stunningly bad. Back in 2004, Heritage estimated that a low-skill immigrant family consumed around $30K in services and paid $10K in taxes.

These numbers are so high (and so real) that low-skill immigration can only hurt Americans by making them poorer.

Many of these economists mistakenly believe that cheap labor is the answer to almost every problem.

Warms the heart to see that I don't have to read all those 169 comments - the central fallacy got shot down by the first to post!

If you want to complain about a state thay spends a lot of its gdp on anti-immigrant fences and deportations, the world leader is undoubtedly Israel. Oddly, a lot of influential donors in America who favor amnesty and more open borders for this country, such as Sheldon Adelson, favor tougher borders in Israel.

Lets not be disingenuous about this, open borders for the US but not for Israel Jews want to preserve their racial and cultural identity but do not feel the same for the original mostly European one for the United States.Its racism against non Jewish European extracted people nothing more or less.

The open borders Libertarian types are basically just market and money oriented Leftists and as such they embrace chaos and change to a degree that is appalling to Conservative types, they literally cannot see the difference in social value to a say 80IQ Mestizo and a 140IQ Anglo Canadian, its all a teeming undifferentiated mass of "people"

This I think is some variation of R/K selection in action, my guess and its only a guess is that Libertarians are highly R selected the way Leftists are and it's why almost all of them are White Middle Class (or occasionally Upper) and American (mostly) Also the fact that few of them are culturally poor is telling, they mostly come from comfortable backgrounds as well. Essentially they are a mutant strain of Liberal with American cultural influences vis a vis money.

There are also technophile and technocratic types , wee see these here. From what I can tell the favored model for them is Singapore which is basically a police state/shopping mall, an R selected paradise. Of course Singapore even with massive immigration from highly natal cultures has extinction level birth rates . As (IIRC) Mark Steyn once said "What good is a utopia with nobody in it"

As for me I don't mind saying that the US ought to not only stop illegal immigration and reverse it but ought to be pushing for a more European United States, Such a state would be vastly richer,more functional and pleasant to live in even for non European folks.

Singapore's immigration strategy is to keep it 75% Han Chinese. Because Singapore is ruled by Chinese.

Europe/N. America are ruled by hostile Jewish invaders, who want mass non-white immigration to destroy white people. White extinction. its the Jewish end game. Jews call this "globalization".

Not sure what Adelson does and does not favor.

It would be a reasonable complaint addressed to certain publicists (Leon Wieseltier, Jonathan Tobin, and Jennifer Rubin, as well as John Podohoretz who publishes Tobin and Rubin) that their advocacy has a self-centered aspect to it.

Alex says:

"In other words, the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft"

Superdestroyer responds:

"Murder, rape and theft are generally handled at the state level."

Right, Alex is disingenuously obscuring the federal division of powers. It's like criticizing the city of Omaha for spending more to round up stray dogs than to fight pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Saying that immigration with reduce US living standards is equivalent to saying that immigration will reduce american's labor productivity. If this is your argument, what's the mechanism? If we hire more mexicans, Americans will forget how to use computers?

Is mean worker productivity enhanced or diminished by the addition of Mexicans from their informal economy or agrarian sector?

Mean worker productivity of the people *who were already here* is enhanced.

But there's a trick, which is that you're adding a new person who wasn't part of the mean before. So the effect on the mean *including the new person* could be positive or negative. Most likely it's negative, but that doesn't mean the country is worse off. It just means we're looking at the wrong statistics.

Similarly every time a new baby is born it lowers the average per-capita productivity if that baby is included in the new average, but that's not much of an argument that we should stop letting people have babies. :-)

Mean worker productivity of the people *who were already here* is enhanced.


If a Mexican immigrant is a nanny for a US citizen woman who can now work as a chemist and also have children, when the alternative would be for the woman to not be able to work and stay home with the kids, I'd say that mean worker productivity is enhanced.

Moreover, any Mexican immigrant working in the US is enhancing global mean worker productivity, because they are likely to be more productive in the US than in Mexico.

I think youre right. Most people wants a more effective border control and less immigration.

Oh, I almost forgot. If there were fewer immigrants and illegal immigrants, do you think USA would spend more or less on FBI, DEA........?
As an economist I believe your are supposed to understand the casual relationsship.
USA also spend a lot of money on the military, even in times when USA is not at war. Is it all wasted, or should we think about what would have happened if USA didnt spend money on the military.

What would happen if the US didn't spend so much on the military? Let's say we decided to only spend double what the next biggest military power (China) does, which would take us down from nearly $700 billion annually to less than $300 billion. What sort of terrifying consequences would there be?

Widespread unemployment, from one end of K Street to the other.

Probably, every ruling family on the Arabian peninsula would be hanging from utility poles.

The American garrison in Saudi Arabia present from 1991 to 2002 averaged about 6,200 in its dimensions (in a country with a seven-digit population of expats). Somehow, I do not think the legitimacy or security of those ruling families against their domestic publics is all that dependent on the American military (at least in an unmediated way). While we are at it, there was once a rebellion in the Dhofar province of Oman and there have been protest movements in Bahrain (where the populace is largely Shi'ite and the royal family Sunni). Otherwise, not a whole lot of unrest in the Arabian peninsula and only the Saudis are all that severe with their indigene population.

I think you are watching it on tv as we speak.

Except that what's happening on TV is happening even with the current military budget. Given that we're not intervening against ISIS, I don't see how the military is really helping right now.

Your original question was what would happen if we significantly cut the budget. If we had done so in the past, then we could have had a similar policy of non-intervention in post-war Germany, Japan, and South Korea. I don't think it's difficult to establish that the use of "residual forces" in these areas led to much better results than what we are witnessing in Iraq, where we decided not to leave residual forces. I suppose that one could argue that affecting the current state of Germany, Japan, and South Korea was not worth the cost and that American interests would be just as well served if these three countries were now like Iraq. I think that would be a tough argument to make but, in any event, is quite different from arguing that there has been no benefit at all from such military spending.

But I wasn't really suggesting that we retroactively cut military spending during WWII. Besides, we actually did hugely cut the military budget after WWII.

Besides, we actually did hugely cut the military budget after WWII.

Military spending accounted for about a third of gross domestic product during the years running from 1940 to 1946. It accounted for about 6.7% during the succeeding four years. I believe it's now around 4.5%.

You asked a question and I gave an answer. As I said to many during the debate about Obamacare, you really don't know how good you have it. In the short term there will be a re armed Japan, and in time a rearmed Western Europe, multiple civil and crossborder wars in Central and South America, probably China invading their neighbors with the normal counter reactions. A nuclear Middle East. The last two times the US decided it was going to isolate itself there were world wars.

It will probably happen anyways simple due to the lack of economic capacity of the US. The US will never recover from the stupid decisions made in 2008.

The US will never recover from the stupid decisions made in 2008 -

The rate at which goods and services were being produced in the economy declined by about 5% between the 2d quarter of 2008 and the 3d quarter of 2009. Somehow I think we'll recover from that.

"What sort of terrifying consequences would there be?"

Most likely, other nations would spend more since they would actually have a chance to dominate, especially regionally. The consequences would be more war and significantly increased likelihood of war. The most dangerous world is one where competing militaries are equal. The safest one is one where the US military dwarfs every other one, including cases where other nations concentrate their military resources in a narrow region.

Exactly. Because America spends so much we are able to influence other nations to specialize in particular combat roles. This makes it hard to fight with your neighbors because how do you calculate strength of force between two differently specialized armies. It's not like 1868 where France and Germany were sitting there multiplying population times number of artillery pieces to decided when the best time to strike would be.

The other First World countries would have to spend lots more of their money on their defense instead of us spending our money on them.

Between 70% and 87% of American military manpower has been stationed in the United States or on ships based here since the end of the Cold War. The largest foreign garrisons among the world's affluent countries would be in Germany and Japan. About 6% of American military manpower is stationed in one or the other locale,

President Obama has "reassured" dozens of First World countries in Asia and Europe that we remain committed to defending them. I would think that all told, we must be on the hook to defend at least a billion people around the globe. Who besides our own taxpayers are paying for this? If where people are stationed is more important than our commitments, I wish you would explain why.

For countries with active miitaries and independent foreign policies (e.g. France and Britain), the ratio of military expenditure to domestic product is about 70% that of the United States. For a generic foreign country, it is about a third that of the United States. It tends to be peculiarly depressed for Japan, Canada, and Latin America.

Kinda mixed about this. High tech, skilled migration can help our economy but droves of unskilled immigrants can be of less value. Limiting labor options in the name of nationalism makes American companies less competitive. On one hand, immigrants have a higher propensity to consume, they also consume public resources. Aaron Clarey of captain capitalism , who I imagine is a conservative, says that low tech immigrants perform jobs whites don;t want to do. The problem here is that record entitlement spending is creating incentives for people to not work; by eliminating a lot of the entitlement spending, we won't need immigrants to perform unskilled labor.

Eighteenth-century native Americans would agree that immigration can present problems for residents of the destination. They used a number of methods in hope of limiting or eliminating alien invasion and none of them, including defensive warfare, seemed to work.

Yes. Open borders always result in genocide or displacement.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles...

From the far-right, teahadist, Koch funded, Front National supporting SPLC:
"Latino Gang Members in Southern California are Terrorizing and Killing Blacks"

Meanwhile, if you look at the data rather than anecdotes, you find that on average immigrants actually commit significantly fewer crimes than native born Americans, and high immigrant populations are associated with low crime rates.

It should be noted that most murders in LA are due to another restriction in trade, the Drug War.

Since California basically legalizalized marijuana through its medical dispensary program, much of that trade (and coincident violence) has dried up. There are now more than 450 marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. Murders in LA dropped from 14.8/100,000 in 2000 to 7.8/100,000 today. Robberies, assaults, and burglaries are down over that time as well.

It should be noted that most murders in LA are due to another restriction in trade, the Drug War -

Sez who?

@ chuck martel - but Nineteenth-century Americans would agree immigration can result in huge growth rates. What a difference 100 years makes, depending on whether or not you are nimble enough to adapt. I myself am a citizen of the world. And in the 1%. There is a correlation. The nationalists like SS of this comment section and others tend to be found in every country I've lived in for more than a year (four of them) and their remedies are usually similar, something along the lines of 'kick out the foreigners and we'll return to a Golden Age'. In the case of the Greeks that sort of talk references Alexander the Great and/or the ancient Greeks; in the case of the Americans it's some sort of imaginary Golden Age of the 1950s, and Thailand and the Philippines have their own imaginary Golden Ages, sometimes fictional utopias. Now if you'll excuse me my 20 yo gf is calling...

Yes, good point about returning to a "golden age." That said, I think real-world questions remain unanswered here:

1. how exactly will additional funds be collected to pay for the additional demand placed upon government services?

2. how much (in terms of, for example, additional time spent on choked transportation systems, private schools, etc) will the increased utilization of public goods cost those who are already present in the economy?

3. how much (in terms of, for example, higher auto insurance rates to cover accidents with uninsured motorists) will the decrease in regulatory efficiency caused by unfamiliarity with regulations and/or unwillingness to comply cost those who are already present (and compliant) in the economy?

It's quite reasonable to advocate for more freedom of movement and more free trade and that's great and very high minded and all. But it's equally reasonable for other people to demand from those who advocate this additional freedom a corresponding reasonable position on questions of tax and regulatory regime.

We live in a society of regulation and tax obligations and mandatory government services and expenditures. Where will the money for these things come from? Local and state governments are not allowed to simply deny all services to a class of people. And given that people from foreign countries cannot, politically or practically speaking, be compelled to leave, each new person who enters is an additional claim on government services, public goods and the regulatory regime.

I would really like to see those advocating unrestricted immigration also advocate a specific, detailed plan to manage these other costs. They should put their money where their mouth is, or, if not their money, then _someone's_ money. If only they would concretely identify whose money, and how much of it, is going to pay for this additional freedom and free trade, it would be a truly meaningful discussion.

I mostly agree with you, but it's a bit more nuanced than that. Immigration is great for the immigrants themselves and for "the 1%". It's not nearly as bad for those in between as a lot of anti-immigration people suggest, but there are people out there, particularly low-skilled laborers in rich countries, who do get shafted. To make the system more just, and to ensure that it is sufficiently popular to continue, there needs to be a transfer of some of the gains the rich are getting from immigration to the people who are harmed by it.

Essentially the same story can be told about globalization and automation as well - they're great, but only if we make sure the benefits are distributed somewhat equitably.

distributed gains - You mean like lower costs products and services?

low-skilled laborer in rich countries - which is better for low skilled americans: mexicans manufacturing goods in mexico at lower wages or mexicans manufacturing goods in america at higher wages? There is an argument for non-exportable service jobs, but the low wages service jobs have always been dominated by recent immigrants. Why is now different?

@ chuck martel – but Nineteenth-century Americans would agree immigration can result in huge growth rates

Of population, perhaps. The economic benefit of immigration to extant populations is minimal.

@Al - short answer: cut government and the Invisible Hand will work out who owns what to whom. Trust me, living in the Philippines: you don't even need bus schedules here, as the market figures out, through trial and error, who needs to get where when and how. Invisible Hand (IH). Less government and more IH = solutions to all problems. Only when government gets involved, like they did this week by banning certain buses traveling to Manila, do you get (even worse) traffic jams. BTW roads here are not congestion priced by the free market so you get massive traffic jams, with two hours to travel 10 km being routine.

Limiting labor options in the name of nationalism makes American companies less competitive."

But what about American people?

Companies these days seem to be rootless and cosmopolitan. Big corps being harmed? Cry me a river. Like they give a damn about the American citizen.

Yes, and you could buy a trillion hamburgers for the price of the Iraq War. I like hamburgers much better than war, but this statistic gets us no closer to knowing what a good foreign policy looks like.

This site is usually better than this.

Yes, exactly. It seems like this is comparing two different things as if they were directly comparable.

You would think by now that even rabid libertarians would draw the line at human trafficking and slavery. Not only is Alex OK with these things, he's here promoting them. I like how he just considered slavery and human trafficking "trade" like selling humans is no different than selling pork bellies.

But, to the libertarian, humans are just economic units, no more or less important than fertilizer.

...what the fuck?

Well, one of the major focuses of ICE is stopping trafficking in humans.

One can argue about implementation and methods, but the goal of ensuring that no one is trafficked as a slave is certainly a valid governmental one, even in the eyes of most libertarians.

I'm sure ICE may sometimes pick up "trafficked" people, but the stories I hear are ICE picking up someone while walking their kids to school who has been in the country working for 10 or 20 years, holding them in a cell for a few days, and then dropping them off in Tijuana. And this has increased during the Obama administration.

If they have been here 10 or 20 years, and have kids in school, it strongly implies their children were born here and are legal citizens.

So, that parent is being lazy: go back home, and apply for a green card as the parent of a citizen it will be granted.

And while I feel sorry for their inconvenience, if you've ever tried to get a green card legally, its also inconvenient.

So, they can choose which kind they like: legal inconvenience, or illegal inconvenience.

Fear, fear that whites will one day be in the minority, black and brown in the majority. Why does America spend so much denying the right to vote as opposed to assuring the right to vote? I find it amusing that one of our major political parties is comprised primarily of those fearful whites but with an elite that appreciates the necessity of appealing to blacks and browns who eventually will be in the majority. How will they square that circle? Tabarrok says that he doesn't believe sealing the borders is a priority among Americans. Understandable that an economist would believe that since immigration is fuel for economic growth. But I say fear is by far the greatest motivation, greater than greed. And fear of being in the minority is motivation enough to support policies that are counter-productive.

"Fear, fear that whites will one day be in the minority"...

That sounds like classic projection.

To be clear, I'm not racist and I could care less about the "color" of the average American.

I do care about the standard of living of the average American, and there's never been a convincing argument that large numbers of low skilled, poor immigrants are going to produce more taxes than they consume public benefits. Ergo, the result will be higher taxes and worse services than otherwise.

What public benefits are you talking about? Are there too many used cars on the freeways? Are the public libraries overcrowded with people standing in line to read the latest issue of "Alarma"? You probably have in mind government transfer payments, which are not caused by Immigrants but by the US government itself, which is, in fact, the problem. Work that involves unpleasant conditions and tiring labor is invariably called "low-skilled" by people that don't have the skills to perform it themselves but are able to place themselves in a position to avoid hard work. Supposedly low-skilled people have similar goals as the rest of us, to make their own lives and those of their families better. Their children will acquire higher skills.

I think if you looked at the data you'd see Meso-American immigrants are incredibly stagnant through generations. They're only doing better than they were in Central America.

Did the posters to this thread all have psychedelic mushrooms in their omelets this morning? Data on Meso-American immigrant stagnation through generations? What the hell does that mean? You're simply making that up. Now that you're here, apparently in the US, you're the dog in the manger. You won't roof my house or mow my lawn and you won't let me get someone else to do it, either. The "Meso-Americans" aren't individuals, with a variation of characteristics that all humans share, but a stagnant class, a lower order of humanity, undesirables that shouldn't be allowed to share the holy ground you occupy in deference to your "standard of living", whatever that is.

"...are there too many used cars on the freeways?" Yes, in Los Angeles, there are too many cars on the freeways. And this has a real impact on the economy because of reduced worker mobility. A worker living in the San Fernando Valley who might have considered taking a job in, say, Santa Monica or Culver City in the 1980's or 90's, is less likely to take such a job today because the commute times and gas expenditures are higher. So, yes, it hurts to paralyze the transportation system by flooding it with too many cars.

Also, reasonable estimates are that 30% or more of the cars in Los Angeles county are uninsured. Law enforcement cannot keep up with that problem and does not uniformly enforce insurance requirements, which are a part of state law. So the regulatory environment is weakened, made less efficient. (What are the costs when some people adhere to regulations while others do not? )

Another public good consumed by people in general, whatever their immigration status, is public education. The California state budget allocates roughly eight to twelve thousand dollars per student per year to local school districts. Adding another low paid roofer and his child to California does not appear to generate enough tax revenue to pay for that child's education, year after year.

About 30% of California's population relies on Medicaid for health care.

The question that needs to be resolved is: how will the tax and regulatory regimes be adjusted to reliably pay for all of these services? What will the reaction of California's taxpayers be to changing the models of taxation to reliably draw in the necessary revenue?

Are the answers to all of this really so clear?

You are of course aware that Latin America is incredibly stratified, and has been for centuries.

White elite are trying to create the same patron-peon economy as in Latin America, with servile mestizo/indigenous coolies to roof their homes. After all, a black or white roofer can ask you in your own tongue if you saw the game last night. Like you're on speaking terms or something.

An under-remarked aspect of this is that Open Borders is actually the war of the white cognitive and financial elite against the white bourgeois and prole classes. The latter are too armed, too religious and too provincial, so they must be marginalized.

Say, Al, why should I care if somebody has to drive a long way to work or stew in traffic? Why should I be taxed to subsidize the travels of a total stranger on roads I'll never use? And pertaining to the issue, are the illegal immigrants, aliens, etc. the cause of the traffic problems? Driving their junk pick-ups back and forth to roofing jobs? What percentage of LA valley traffic is alien clunkers on their way to low-skilled jobs? Get rid of those guys and the commute is enjoyable for the real people.

An under-remarked aspect of this is that Open Borders is actually the war of the white cognitive and financial elite against the white bourgeois and prole classes. The latter are too armed, too religious and too provincial, so they must be marginalized.

Bingo. More precisely, it is the professional managerial types and the educational apparat against the common-and-garden bourgeois and the whole array of non-exotic wage-earners. The older generation of blacks (e.g. Thomas Sowell and Coretta King and Barbara Jordan) understood their (largely wage-earning and impecunious) clientele were getting fragged in the process; the younger generation have been suborned by the quid pro quo of identity politics.

I am not saying you should care. But I am saying these sorts of costs must be counted in a reasonable discussion of this issue.

I am also saying that other people out there do care. These people are impacted by these costs, and their voices are just as valid as the voices of those calling for unlimited and free immigration, which, I agree, in principle is a neato idea, but in practice, given our government and its limitations, given our resource base and its limitations, creates some real problems for real people who are already operating in this economy.

The cost to an individual of living 35 miles from his place of employment and having to spend two hours each day in his commute is one that others should not have to share. Perhaps you could say that a high-speed train from Victorville to LA would make for an easier commute for residents of that city but why stop there? Why not Barstow or even Las Vegas? Done by the private sector such projects might be acceptable but there's no role for government in catering to suburban land development with massive freeway and rail construction.

Yep. The same cult that gave us Marxism, Fascism and locally, the Ku Klux Klan, is always looking to shift the focus from their sorry history. I'd take every Mexican wishing to immigrate as long as we get to ship our moonbats to Mexico in return.

... what? Marxism, fascism and the Klan? What is the connection here?

Everyone of those black and brown people who will soon be in the majority is eligible for government set asides, affirmative action, race-based quotas, and other forms of separate and unequal treatment. Do you really think that they will give up all of the race/ethnicity based programs once they are in the majority. If you look at present day California, the browns in that state are pushing for greater levels of race/ethnicity based government programs now that they are in the majority.

Also, maybe you could link to all of the research done on the impact of being a white students in a black or Latino majority school or neighborhood to show that whites concerns of the future are irrational.

Why are "blacks and browns" perennially leaving countries where they are the ethnic majority in order to become an ethnic minority in the midst of these fearful, racist white societies? Because they know that their average existence will be safer and more prosperous living in a majority-white society. Key concept: "majority-white society."

Fear runs both ways on this issue. There is a very real fear that one day Evil Whitey will abandon this multi-cult delusion and rescind the purported right of people to live anywhere they want.

"majority white"

Actually most of the states that have direct borders with Mexico aren't "majority white."

They certainly were at one time. Some of us resent being colonized by a different culture.

A rather Ironic thing to say.

but so what? In the border regions people have found a way to live side by side for generations. Learn to adapt, or have lots and lots of babies and out-reproduce them if your that concerned about it.

I bet that New Mexico was not "majority white" before statehood....

Can you really not see that dividing factor between where immigrants come from and where they go is wealth and not race? Yes there is a correlation between these two factors, but the top two countries with the highest net migration indices (basically how many people want to move there compared to how many want to move away and overall population) are Singapore and Saudi Arabia, two of the relatively few rich non-white countries.

Here is what is known and clearly observable:

Societies run by people with "black and brown" phenotypes are, generally speaking, dysfunctional. Many are so bad that they should just be allowed to collapse, since nobody is willing to take them over. Of course we can find exceptions among Asian societies. By contrast, societies run by people with white phenotypes are, generally speaking, highly functional and prosperous and everybody is clamoring for a right to live in them. There are, again, exceptions: Slavic nations, some of which are every bit as bad as African societies, and a lot of countries run by the descendants of conquistadors.

Many are so bad that they should just be allowed to collapse, since nobody is willing to take them over.

Many? And what do you mean by 'collapse'? Everybody leaves? What you are describing might apply to a few countries in Equatorial Africa and on the Horn of Africa and perhaps Afghanistan.


I realize so and so many decades are a long time in the life of an individual person but not in the epic of a nation. China suffered several elongated bouts of intramural violence over the period running from 1951 to 1976, collectively unimaginably sanguinary. They were a dirt-poor low income country a generation ago. I doubt anyone predicted their current prosperity. Nothing's forever.

Correction: 1851 to 1976.

How about this alternative story: the scientific and industrial revolution began in Europe, for a whole variety of reasons that have been studied and debated for a long time. By starting on the path towards development earlier, European countries, and countries colonized by Europeans, have had a huge advantage. Given that up to that point Europe wasn't particularly more successful than a number of other existing societies, race is unlikely to have been a factor. As time has gone on other societies have started picking up on this model for success. Early adopters outside of Europe like Japan have already caught up, and the rest of the world will follow - proved by the consistently higher growth in the developing world, even Africa.

Tropical and Southern Africa improved in its relative position between 1960 and 1980 and regressed from 1980 to about 2005.

Generally, improvements in relative position have been slow during the postwar period. The notable exceptions were countries undergoing war reconstruction (1945-60), much of the Far East. a few Gulf Emirates which have made the transition to a service economy, Israel, and Chile.

Full disclosure: Slav here.

I was intrigued by your comparison of Slavic nations with Africa. I don't think you are right in this comparison.

Generally, the Slavic nations and ethnic groups can be divided into those who had prolonged contact with modern capitalist society (Czech, Poles, Slovaks, Slovenes and Croatians) and the ones which went directly or almost directly from backward feudalism (Turkish Ottoman or Russian style) to communism. The latter are much worse off, and the dividing line can be very clearly seen at some places in Europe. (Watch, for example, the quality of electric installations - at some places, neat wire systems change into crazy spider nests immediately at the border).

Interestingly enough, sometimes the underlying ethnicity is the same, e.g.: when you cross the Croat/Bosnian border near Split, the Bosnian population is actually Croat, but the change in the culture is shockingly visible (and no, that rural territory wasn't devastated by the war).

But I have never seen anything resembling Nigeria or Congo anywhere in Slavic Europe.

" I find it amusing that one of our major political parties is comprised primarily of those fearful whites but with an elite that appreciates the necessity of appealing to blacks and browns who eventually will be in the majority"

They both draw motivation from racial fear. Republicans obviously - but a lot of White Democrats like their minorities just fine, as long as they're relatively dependent and powerless. East Asians and Indians though, they scare the shit out of a lot of Democrats.

Thus Affirmative Action includes an unspoken Asian quota of some sort.

Many of the institutions and organizations taking heat for being "too White" are probably less White than the staff of the media, campaign, etc., doing the attacking, because "too White" is a sneaky way to say "too many Asians."

I think w/in a couple decades we'll end up with Asians/Indians considered different skin tones of White.

A white/Asian elite, unburdened by any sense of guilt over slavery and Jim Crow. When the Democrats don't have big, bad Y-T around, this all becomes a circular firing squad.

Except Asians voted 73% Democrat in the last election, compared to say, 71% Democrat among hispanics.


What fear are you talking about -- as if the idea that whites becoming a minority in the US is a ridulous paranoid fantasy nightmare that will never come about?

Whites will soon be less than 50% of the US population, there is no reasonble doubt about that at all.

'CBP, ICE and US-Visit'

One should realize that the 'C' in ICE stands for Customs. And that ICE is involved in such trivial things as preventing human trafficking (even with free borders, not all 'immigration' is voluntary), and various enforcement actions relating to smuggling weapons and technology.

And the 'C' in CBP also stands for Customs, being involved with the sort of standard customs work that is familiar in every nation.

That America's government structure is a mess is beyond question, but the function of customs is a traditional one, and its ending up in Homeland Security is just another one of those Bush era follies we all continue to enjoy.

Making this statement - 'In other words, the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft' - pretty bizarre, when one realizes that in Germany, 40,000 people are employed by the government for customs ('Zoll') work alone - Germany having roughly a quarter of the U.S.'s population, it must be noted. Not to mention being a nation that has a deep interest in international trade, being so successful at it. Interestingly, Germany has a somewhat similar federal structure to the U.S.'s, making it quite possible that the Zoll is the largest German federal criminal enforcement agency.

However, it isn't because of any lack on the part of German society in preventing trade, or any interest in German society in ignoring murder, rape, or theft. (And as a strange note - 14 of the 153 German athletes participating in the Sochi Winter Olypmpics worked for the German Zoll, including Maria Höfl-Riesch, German flag carrier - and the 14 members won 5 Olympic medals.)

Why should the American public's priorities drive policy? What if it was their priority?

What if what was their priority?

Where would we be without immigrants like Alex to tell us what to do? Without him there would be no one to fill such jobs.

Please, Prof. Tabarrok is a fellow American citizen, with, as the Germans would say, a Migrationshintergrund ('migration background'). Admittedly, the German concept also includes his two children (, which an American would be unlikely to agree with as being relevant. Well, except for the Steve Sailer types.

Being an immigrant American is a compliment. We all know that the longer you have been in the more evil you are unless you are black.

I certainly don't consider Alex Tabarrok an "American" in any meaningful way. An immigrant who publicly advocates for the destruction of the country that has offered him citizenship is simply beneath contempt.

Well personally I would never have been born, along with something like 85% of my fellow Americans (everyone whose ancestors weren't either conquered of brought here as slaves).

What do you mean you "would never have been born?"

I am descended from people who immigrated to the United States 100 - 150 years ago.

It's a good thing the US was here 100 - 150 years ago. Large swathes of the world would have never had children.

Those ancestors may have had descendants, but they were from a number of different countries, none of those descendants would have been me.

By your reasoning, it's a good thing WW2 and the Holocaust happened. The butterfly effect was huge, and pretty much no one in the world under 65 would be alive today. Even if the same couples had been breeding, the children would have been different.

Child sex trafficking of kids from poor countries into the United States is a big problem. And the immigration agencies you mention are on the front lines fighting that. I work at DHS, and while we can talk about shortcomings with our immigration policies (which certainly exist), to say that ICE and CBP are only about restricting trade is to say you do not understand these agencies.

Actually, I suspect we might see one of those wonderful unmentioned Marginal Revolution corrections, because the idea that the Migration Policy Institute or their quoted text 'The US government spends more on its immigration enforcement agencies than on all of its principal criminal federal law enforcement agencies combined.' has anything to do with trade per se seems to be the sort of misstatement which the Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center would prefer not to make in public.

Actually, it's all restriction of trade: the "other" money is spent on preventing drug-trafficking.

Turns out it's a lot easier to combat things like murder or petty theft, which everyone is against, as opposed to things like drug trafficking or illegal immigration, which can rally large organized groups to work against whatever the government is trying to do.

You may be surprised, it may very well be the priority of the American people.

Most of the folks on this website are probably savvy or wealthy enough to get their kids into good elementary/secondary schools, which makes the argument academic. Large swaths of Americans are not as lucky, making the issue of paramount importance.

'it may very well be the priority of the American people'

Or at least of Republican primary voters in Virginia's 7th Congressional District, and the Econ Dept. chair they selected as a candidate running on an apparent anti-immigration platform.

There's no obligation for the state to provide education. As in so many other areas, the state has failed in this as well. The collective experiment should end.

"I think if the poor were forced to pay more for basic social services our society would be better off" say affluent whites. More at 11.

I think what he said is that public agency fails as the optimal means of delivering primary and secondary schooling. He did not endorse a pure market system for schooling. An alternative would be voucher financed schooling or juxtaposed school systems, some schools financed by vouchers and some by cash tuition.

Quite an extrapolation, I was unable to infer any of those policy recommendations.

Do all public goods need to be replaced with market solutions? I suppose the only alternative is "socialism." How scary.

The proper term is 'command economy', and no it isn't optimal in aught but odd circumstances.

Educational services are not true 'public goods'. They are a fee-for-service enterprise which can and does thrive in markets. Given settlement patterns in 1840, it may have been utile to make use of tax funds to generate schools at that time, but that was then. The real problem addressed through various schemes is not the generation of services, but their widespread distribution. This problem can be addressed through voucher distribution. There really is not need to make use of state agency has a delivery conduit bar in remote areas or auxilliary to the penal system.

Can you think of any compelling reasons why some public goods should be operated without profit incentives? I think it's more than a bit strange to assume privatization is always optimal, unless you are an idealist who believes that concentrated corporate power is somehow less dangerous than power concentrated in the government.

If you could, please show the evidence that voucher systems provide better results nationally than countries who actually have made the effort of reforming and improving their national education systems. I'm actually interested, does that evidence exist? Looking through PISA scores and wiki, I don't really think so. Markets are wonderful at serving certain problems, but I'm not sure this is one. I understand if you don't feel like it, but I am having trouble finding (non-partisan) evidence for this argument.

Yeah, who even thought universal literacy was a good idea anyway?

Do you teach elementary school or high school? (Or are you one of the krill suspended in the foetid waters of the superintendent's office?)

Post is bullshit. Actually securing the border would be cheaper than doing a half-assed job of it. Hell, there are people in Texas who would do it for free if you let them.

The would stop all trade and travel in and out of the US?

Historically, what is called illegal immigration was all done perfectly legally, crossing into the US through border controls from Mexico and Canada with no papers at all. It was the Kennedy effort to reform the immigration law in 1964 that began creating the law that defines "illegal immigration".

Periodically Texas and other States would simply round of brown people and force them into Mexico if they were taking jobs white people wanted. Where they was born didn't matter. They were not white so they were forced into Mexico.

But given the trade between the US and Mexico, people still cross the border at border control, and if they stay longer than whatever visa they have, only then is it "illegal". One third of the "illegals" simply overstayed visas.

When the borders were open, people crossed back and forth all the time, and seldom stayed in numbers that had much impact on population - and people moved in both directions. The Mormons simply moved to Mexico when Congress redefined marriage in 1862 - Mitt Romney's father was born in Mexico and later just moved into the US without any papers.

It has been the effort to "close the border" while maintaining trade that has failed. If the border is to be closed, then the US needs to close the borders like North Korea has. Has tried to.

It has been the effort to “close the border” while maintaining trade that has failed.

No, it has failed because there has been no sustained institutional effort to ensure it succeeds. It's not that difficult if you're committed. Our elites are not. Immigration control is not in the interests of people like Chuck Schumer.

Don't most polls on the question show that americans generally favor even more immigration enforcement than exists at present? So the current relative soending levels don't reflect american priorities, but it is because they want an even larger disparity.

This post lead me to look up some public opinion polling on immigration. On legal immigration, there is a big chunk that wants it reduced, but most people are either in favor of maintaining current rates of immigration or increasing them. On illegal immigration, people are overwhelmingly in favor both of rules that make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to enter and survive in the US, but also of providing a pathway to citizenship for illegals who are already here. Really a hard position to argue with - let's keep letting immigrants in, but make sure that we have control over the process, and that there is a way for both immigrants who are already here and any future immigrants to become full citizens rather than a permanent underclass. Basically we now have both parties in favor of the enforce the border aspect, with Republicans focusing on the making life difficult for illegal immigrants aspect, while Democrats focus on finding a way to change the status of those immigrants.

An Epicurean would say, "Why do you care about this?" After all, in a relatively short period of time you will no longer exist and whatever happens will have no effect on you. You might be concerned about your descendents way of life but they'll take care of that as has always been the case. Although Americans give lip service to the ideas of the holy Founding Fathers they don't actually believe any of the wildly divergent views those people held and have certainly failed to follow their instructions. Immigration is a newer political football that's closely related to the never-ending phony racist debate.

Couldn't you say that about any issue? I suppose I could end all of my posts with "but really who cares, since after all we are on this world for but a brief time before returning to the darkness from whence we came" but I don't know how much that would add to the discussion.

Really a hard position to argue with

I find it remarkably easy to argue against selecting our immigrants based on their willingness to commit a variety of crimes.

Alex, straight up. Do immigrants from central America pay more in taxes than they take in benefits such as health, education etc?

What about the second-generation?

Yes or no.

Bonus question: do immigrants from central America - and their adult children - vote for more statist govt or less?

As a professed libertarian you should have the answer.


As occasionally happens in economics, it's necessary to think a tiny bit rather than jumping to the first conclusion that seems to support your argument.

Yes, immigrants are poorer on average than the rest of the population, and thus as a whole they do collect slightly more in government benefit than they pay in taxes. However, to stop the analysis there ignores the effect that immigration has on the larger economy. While the immigrants themselves don't pay enough in taxes to cover what the government spends on them, the improvement they cause in overall GDP gigantically outweighs that deficit. A 2006 study in North Carolina showed that immigrants imposed a net $61 million cost on the state budget, while increasing the overall size of the state's economy by $9 billion. So for every dollar spent on welfare programs for immigrants, we gain $147 in GDP. Not a bad deal as such things go.

So the argument is that poor people make the government grow, pay little in taxes, require others to pay more in taxes, and are a really good deal for those clever people in the private sector who beneift from cheaper labor while sticking the tax payer with the costs of all of those poor people. In addition, all of those poor immigrants will eventually be voters who will demand higher taxes (on whites), more government spending (on themselves), and more ethnicity-based government programs. Do you really think that middle class whites and Asians have really benefited from the situation in California or is it just the wealthy?

Thanks for the link. Now we're getting somewhere. Here's another quotation from that same article:

"A 2006 analysis by the Texas comptroller estimated that low-skilled unauthorized workers cost the state treasury $504 million more than they paid in taxes in 2005. Without them, however, the state’s economy would have shrunk by 2.1 percent, or $17.7 billion, as the competitive edge of Texas businesses diminished."

So, how can the state government of Texas reasonably and fairly collect its $504 million share of that additional $17.7 of GDP? A lot of the discussion of immigration comes down to who benefits from the additional GDP and who pays the state treasury the additional cash it needs to continue offering all of the services at consistent levels, uniformly across the economy and society.

It's not clear to me that just having a larger GDP is a sufficient justification for expanding immigration. What's needed is a fair and equitable way to tax that additional GDP to provide for additional services and infrastructure which guarantees that the existing population is _at least as well off as it was without the additional immigrant workforce_. A significant number of people are unconvinced that their quality of life is being maintained.

It just may be that the businesses which profit from the additional workforce are not sharing that profit with the government and the rest of society. Schools and freeways become more crowded. More air pollution accumulates. Recreational areas are more heavily used. More uninsured cars are on the roads. Water and food prices rise as demand grows, etc. And what are the other costs which economists may not even be able to measure (e.g. new language barriers which arise, different cultural norms which may give rise to conflicts between members of different cultural and linguistic subgroups, etc.)

What are the costs and what are the benefits? Do we even know how to measure them all? Who is paying and who is benefiting? A larger GDP by itself does not necessarily compensate every person equally. How do we set up a system where the benefits and costs are fairly distributed? How will these regulations be enforced?

The problem I think is that no one is actually approaching the immigration debate from an economic standpoint. Both sides view it as more of a moral, culture war type issue. People are anti-immigrant because they generally don't want immigrants around them. People are pro-immigrant because of a vague moral desire to help out the poor immigrants. The fine points of the economic arguments don't end up convincing many people. I personally think the evidence points very solidly to allowing immigration being good for the world and the country (meaning including the new immigrants) overall, which as a good liberal internationalist is what I mainly care about. It's less clear, but still seems more likely than not, that immigration also benefits the native inhabitants of the country receiving the immigrants. There are are certain groups who likely do lose out, but the solution to that is bound up with a number of ways we should be working to improve the lot of the American lower classes, not stopping immigration.

The problem I think is that no one is actually approaching the immigration debate from an economic standpoint. Both sides view it as more of a moral, culture war type issue.

No, your problem is you haven't been reading the people approaching it from an economic standpoint.

Don't you think there are some uncounted costs here too?

For example, "Without them, however, the state’s economy would have shrunk by 2.1 percent, or $17.7 billion, as the competitive edge of Texas businesses diminished."

This is a claim that it is better to make more money while breaking the law and using replacement workers instead of Texas workers. is this perspective one that will lead to a complete and thorough analysis of the situation? I think not. Plus I think there's a lot of stuff going on that is not captured through official statistics. For example, lots of statistics about "immigrants" are used to make arguments about legal or illegal immigrants, high or low wage immigrants. How accurate can they be?


The Texas comptroller 'study' was the typical, 'the sky will fall without illegals'. In other words, every business employing illegals will close up shop without illegals. A dubious premise at best. The reality that without illegals, poor natives would be hired, is simply ignored. Since illegals and unemployed natives costs taxpayers money, replacing illegals with natives is a win-win for Americans.

However, there is a deeper theoretical (and practical) point here. No labor / immigration economist would take the Texas comptroller 'study' seriously for even a minute. Why? Because it ignore the Econ 101 rule, that all (say 97-99%) of the gains from from immigration go to the immigrants. In other words, immigration makes the economy larger but the incremental GDP goes to the immigrants, not to natives.

This was a key conclusion of the 1997 NAS (National Academy of Sciences) and every study since. Note that even the full-on advocates of 'complementary' immigration come up with only slightly lower numbers. In other words, for all practical purposes, the incremental GDP from immigration goes to the immigrants.

Of course, they pay some taxes and consume vast amounts of public services (WIC, food stamps, section 8 housing, public education, ESL, emergency rooms, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, TANF, jails, prisons, police, etc.). The net is inevitably highly negative and would be much worse with Amnesty.

The idea that illegals / immigrants produce vast economic gains beyond the wages paid to them has no basis in theory or fact. Note that even economists on the Open Borders side don't believe it.

It doesn't seem legitimate to claim a $9 billion boost in NC's economy unless you can show that work would have gone undone without illegal immigration. The unemployment rate for young people is what? About 18%? Double that for young black men?


You don't get it. Immigrants are magical Unicorns who just magically create jobs for themselves and almost everyone else.

Unemployed Americans are toxic sludge who drag the economy down.

Get with the program.

You've completely ignored the point I was making. While economic outputs do increase, the costs associated with those outputs outweighs the inputs.

I would almost be fine with open borders if there was no entitlement state. The costs are reduced and he incentives to migrate are changed.

I say almost because migration doesn't just bring little units of labor. It brings culture and the culture of Latin American migrants so far is overwhelmingly in favor of statist govt.

Why do you think the Dems are so hot for open borders? If these migrants were voting for libertarians the border would be sealed up tight line yesterday.

"do immigrants from central America – and their adult children – vote for more statist govt or less? "

The funny thing is that all of the Central Americans I know who were legalized by the Reagan amnesty were GOP voters for many years, and some still area.

Exactly. Stall until VP Rubio can grant amnesty to that potential GOP voting block. Good strategy.

The Hispanic vote has been consistently 70 - 30 in favor of the Democrats forever. Some variation exists. After the Reagan Amnesty, Hispanics shifted to the Democrats. Bush's bubble economy brought some Hispanics to the Republicans for a while. A 10% shift in the Hispanic vote cost America and the world, the worst crash since 1929.

That an oversimplification of course. However, it is a sad fact that the policies Bush used to get Hispanic votes ended in catastrophe, here, abroad, and on the border.

I more or less agree with Professor Tabarrok that more migration is a good thing to be encouraged, but, wow, what a dishonest post. Immigration is necessarily the province of the feds. Murder, rape and theft generally aren't.

Immigration is necessarily the province of the feds.

Immigration is, always and everywhere, a local phenomenon, which argues for it being administered locally. Instead, it's administered nationally.

You're suggesting each county should have its own immigration controls?

Just to point out that a franchise to make uniform rules on immigration and naturalization is an expressly delegated power in the federal constitution as enacted in 1788.

You’re suggesting each county should have its own immigration controls?

I don't know the optimal political unit. Probably the States, as was the case prior to a SCOTUS ruling in the 1850's. The US Constitution text does not explicitly empower the national government to make uniform rules on immigration.

The precise provisions are as follows:

"To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization"

"To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations"


"The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person."

@Art Deco,

Quebec sets their own rules wrt Canda's skilled migration system. In Mexico local police conduct immigration raids, and turn illegals over to the Feds for deportation.

There are 8 million people living in Quebec and the place has an urban hierarchy characteristic of a small sovereign country. In New York, to take a case in point, the state government's contribution to law enforcement is manifest largely in the prison system and the superior and appellate courts. About 85% of the manpower devoted to investigation and patrol is to be found in county and municipal governments. The number of counties in this country with seven digit populations can be counted on your fingers.

Art Deco,

"Just to point out that a franchise to make uniform rules on immigration and naturalization is an expressly delegated power in the federal constitution as enacted in 1788"

Not quite true. The Constitution gave the states control over immigration until 1808.

Except that that is 100% impossible without reducing internal freedom of movement. How can New York have a separate immigration policy from New Jersey if anyone can just walk across the border?

To answer your question, it can't. All I'm saying is that it doesn't make sense for a local phenomenon to be administered nationally. Education is another such issue. The idea that the millions of children from wildly divergent backgrounds in the US are all equally educable is something national bureaucrats dream up to justify their existence.

In a lot of ways, the US is really too big to govern.

So... what do you mean by having immigration administered locally then, if not giving localities control of their own immigration policy?

Education on the other hand is something where setting up policy on the national level isn't a problem. Yes, obviously different children have wildly different needs, but these needs aren't really all that correlated with which state the students live in. There's generally more diversity within schools than there is between states. National education policy doesn't mean everyone is treated the same, it just means that we have a unified policy towards how best to deal with each variety of student in the system. The better arguments in favor of state or local control are more about the ability to use them as 'laboratories of education policy' as different states set up their own systems and do better or worse, not that students are too diverse to build a national policy for.

All I’m saying is that it doesn’t make sense for a local phenomenon to be administered nationally.

It does not make sense to have local sheriffs policing the international border (rather than co-operating with the federal police by doing such things as checking the immigration status of people detained). If you're concerned about 'local phenomena', address that with local ordinances, as in:

1. Land use regulations which presume that residential property and common spaces will be used in a manner to which the natives are accustomed.

2. School curricula which reflect local priorities and preferences.

3. A 'buy-in' requirement 'ere one is eligible for the fruits of common provision (e.g. public schools).

You certainly should not have officious nonsense from federal judges re these matters.

National education policy doesn’t mean everyone is treated the same, it just means that we have a unified policy towards how best to deal with each variety of student in the system.

You do not need a 'national' education policy, and the geographic variation in the sort of value judgments people make re school discipline and curricula suggest you should not. There is also the institutional problem you find. The more there is a national policy or nationally generated provider culture, the more effective control slips from local authorities to occupational guilds. The teacher training guild and the associated unions are not people you want to have any influence in society. They're bad.

"The teacher training guild and the associated unions are not people you want to have any influence in society. They’re bad."

Really? Obviously teacher's unions are going to have pro-teacher demands, but they're not any more corrupt than everyone else in the economy who's looking out for number one. At least the teachers are a diverse coalition of reasonably well educated middle class workers from across the country who have decided to devote themselves to public service rather than more lucrative careers. As special interests go, they're not one that I spend much time worrying about.

You do not spend much time worrying about them because you're on the payroll or you're snookered.

Schoolteachers are modally 'educated' in teacher-training programs, which act to screen out the academically competent, are suffused with humbug, and do not promote improved performance by teachers (see Sowell on this point). They do reduce the potential supply of teachers and make gatekeepers of cretinettes like Rachel Lotan.

As for the unions, public sector unions are predatory and have no legitimacy.

There's nothing special about 'public service' or about people who draw government salaries rather then starting businesses or working in them. If their compensation is inflated by subsidized pensions and if their job security is absurdly enhanced (it is, and it is), we are all getting a bad deal.

Art Deco, really? Teacher training programs screen out the academically competent? What exactly is the motivation you're ascribing here? I get that any powerful organization can get ossified and lock in some bad practices, or try to get some extra privileges for it's members, but are you really trying to say that the teacher's unions are deliberately trying to give their students a worse education?

Anyway, there isn't really a crisis in education in America, at least not in the sense of education being at the root of the problem. Rich areas in the US do as well as anywhere. There may be useful best practices to bring in, but the root of the problem is our economic system not our education system.

There is not a 'crisis' because it's an abiding sickness.

'Best practices' would mean shutting down extant teacher training programs, establishing alternate certification regimes, quality control through regents' examinations, abolition of the high school diploma in favor of age-graded subject certificates, and reconstitution of the ownership and financing regime to make use of public agency only to house incorrigibles.

Rachel Lotan would never countenance any of that, and neither would Randi Weingarten. Stomp 'em.

Generally speaking murder, rape and theft are state matters but the post compares federal spending on immigration control with federal spending on FBI, ATF, US Marshalls etc. which are federal programs.

ATF is a tax collection agency, the U.S. Marshalls enforce federal court orders, and the FBI is an omnibus agency that investigates all sorts of federal crimes not assigned to the military police corps, the investigative services auxilliary to the military, and specialty police forces like the DEA or the Coast Guard.

Hence people pointing out the dishonesty. Alex is trying to suggest that this says something about how we treat immigration compared with various serious crimes, despite the fact that he must know that the FBI is not responsible for 99% of those crimes.

He's full of shit here.

Well then Arizona should police the extrajudicial policing going on there if it is a matter of the feds not to be taken up by the states.

Anyways, the murder and rape bit may not be 100% academically sound, but he listed the precise agencies/entities whose budgets he was comparing, so it's really not dishonest, but perhaps a wee bit facetious.

he was comparing, so it’s really not dishonest, but perhaps a wee bit facetious.

It is dishonest. Federal agencies are not in the business of general order maintainance and are dwarfed in their dimensions by the sum of state and local agencies. The whole point is argument by rhetorical device, but the rhetoric is a lie.

Comparing the spending of one federal agency to the spending of other federal agencies is reasonable.

However, he did not select a comparison which undermines his argument. Instead, he refers to a comparison which bolsters it.

He did not say "The USA spends this much..." and make a stupid comparison. He compared the spending of one federal agency with other federal agencies.

Alternatively, he could have summed all spending at state levels, then added them to federal data, then made the comparison "the USA spends this much ..." , but data aggregation would be a nightmare and he would have been at it all year instead of taking five minutes or an hour to make a point.

Is it worth six figures to study every angle, or can we accept that the point has been made, although the case can be made that it overstates rather than understates the position being endorsed by the author.

He said what he said in cold print. No amount of misdirection from you will alter that.

When something doesn't work, invest more in it, particularly if the investment in more border patrol and infrastructure favors Red states.

How about something different: a national citizen ID card and citizen database. Easy way to make employers responsible. Easy way to address the phantom issue of voter fraud.

The US already has lots of ID cards, driver licenses, social security cards, passports and, best of all, car license plates, now tracked all over the country, detailing where the driver and ostensible owner has been. But dim bulbs like yourself want even more bureaucratic tyranny to solve a non-problem with totalitarianism. Sadly, there are many like you.


Cool it.

The military and other institutions have high security ID cards, and the technology is there to make it both secure, but also non-ciunterfeitable.

The purpose of a card is to link you to a database, which then verifies your status. If you don't link or you don't have a card, you have to present yourself to the police to get a job.

Think about how an employer or an illegal alien makes it work for them and report back....or Chuck, do you like spending $13 billion every year, or more, for your current solution.

"The purpose of a card is to link you to a database, which then verifies your status."
Personally, I don't wanna be linked to no database. My status is easily ascertained, human, with, supposedly, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no cards required.

Is everything about you, or is it about the illegal alien who gets a job. It's about you. You. You. You.

There's a perceived problem with non-US citizens running around the land of the free and the home of the brave, despite the fact that there's a poem attached to a statue on an island off New York that reads, in part:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Abolish welfare and Title VII, and the market administers migration instead of the government.

I'd rather not use a discussion of immigration policy as a Trojan horse to institute Ayn Rand's view of state functions.

Anti, They are coming here to get a job, not welfare.

Public education & medicaid expenses for a roofer immigrant family of 4 would dwarf whatever taxes (even wages) of whatever the parents would make.

We spend $12 per hour worked in the USA on medical expenses. Large swaths of the population are already liabilities, we don't need more.

So, support the national ID card.

Why, when everify is ready to go and manages the same thing?

e-Verify does not accomplish the same thing as a national identity card. The card, when very difficult to counterfeit, provides a reliable identification under those circumstances for which Americans typically offer a drivers license, if they have one. Today, though, the drivers license tells you nothing about a person's lawful presence. Scandinavians have a national identity card, in Sweden called a legitimation card. It would be sensible to move to the same system in the U.S., but will not happen because the dreaming-they're-off-the-grid right-wing and the sly-immigration left wing don't want one.

I find the various comments blithely championing the boosts to GDP a specious argument for immigration. What we should have as goals is at worst increasing GDP-per-capita, and at best improved quality of life for citizens and a manageable national fisc. Given the monstrous federal debt (still growing) and continuing deficits, we are effectively providing health and human services on the cuff. The insistence on keeping various debt issues separate from the question "what does a low-skilled illegal immigrant cost?" is silly. The costs they impose for at least a generation are also costs that are not being paid for on a current basis, including teacher and police pensions, medical care through medicaid, and so forth.

They come here because they've been told by their predecessors that their lifestyle will be better than in the old country. That lifestyle includes the assumption of numerous government-provided benefits, including free "daycare" (Head Start, public education), food stamps for their American-born children, and much else. Welfare use among immigrants - Latin American immigrants, especially - is much, much higher than among native-born Americans.

In other words, the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft. I call it the anti-nanny state. It’s hard to believe that this truly reflects the American public’s priorities

It is hard to believe an economics professor who elects to comment on such matters is ignorant of the fact that about 90% of all the manpower devoted to law enforcement in this country is employed by state and local agencies, that murder and rape are not federal crimes, and that thefts of interest to the federal police would be those wherein the pilferage was transported across state lines or arranged by organized crime.

Absolutely correct. Looking only at federal spending tells you little about "the American public's priorities." It's the same with education, local roads, parks and even trash collection.

It's amazing how economics oscillate between hyper-technical point-missing on macroeconomics and then adolescent moralizing when it comes to immigration and other political issues.

Computer programmers similarly wonder about technical things and also how they relate to the broader world, for example.

The theoretical roots of economics are in moral philosophy. This later grew into development of technical tools. But real social objectives require consideration of real people and the values they hold.

So we should encourage more economists to cross lines back and forth between technical and moral issues.

Economists should not accept the premise that their technical expertise implies that they should not express themselves on values issues to inform people of the ethical or moral relevance of their works. Otherwise, non-economists will appropriate and abuse their analysis. Better than the economist speak directly to the moral dimensions linked to their work.

I think the point I was trying to make was that the materialism at the basis of economics (everyone everywhere and always it out for themselves) is at odds with the moralistic moralizing of the economists (We should do this because it's for other people!!!!!! Waaaaah!)

It finds strong roots outside of economics.

For example, many people believe we are all equal before God (and the law).

And by the same logic, since most things are left to humans, we should ensure this by making sure everyone has an equal chance.

So when we see that one group is getting screwed and the one who thinks they are defending their self interest may be informed, an economist may say to himself "OMG, I have an ethical obligation to speak out, because the analytical tools afforded by my profession allow me to very easily see that there is injustice."

It is not fair that Americans have better opportunities than Mexicans, and then act further to exclude Mexicans from these opportunities. Probably doing so is also bad for the American economy (probably low wage workers do not benefit, especially in the short term).

However, having pinpointed the situation is not equivalent to a political solution.

Instead of moralizing, should economists be required to present "mere facts" and always pretend to take an unbiased position?

For the sake of clarity, I think it would be better to support the development of an environment where it is easier to say "a) this is my personal bias, b) this is the ethical dimension to the argument, and c) now I will strive to perform unbiased research, but now you know me so keep your eyes open".

It's not like he's one of those moralizers who wants the government to throw people in jail for smoking a plant which has never been demonstrated to be dangerous (although the trade of it is, mostly because of the government).

"I have an ethical obligation to speak out, because the analytical tools afforded by my profession allow me to very easily see that there is injustice.”

"It is not fair that Americans have better opportunities than Mexicans..."

Are you kidding. The technical tools, i.e. statistical methods, data, and economic nomenclature labelling the results, tell us nothing about 'injustice,' but only about distributions. As for the "it is not fair that Americans have better opportunities than Mexican.."...that's an absurd statement. Is it 'not fair' that Americans have better opportunities than Hungarians? Kenyans? Bizarre.

Whatever my personal views on immigration, the casting of this as "Trade" and the juxtaposition to crimes which are not generally in the federal purview is pretty weird. 2/10, and two only for the fact it made me verify that the feds don't actually deal much with that sort of crime, as opposed to immigration, which federal courts are trying to limit to the federal agencies exclusively and deny states the ability to enforce their international borders.

Did you expect intellectual consistency from this site?

What is interesting is how many areas of federal law enforcement relate to what I would call 'quasi-unenforceable': areas where no party in the transaction has an interest in reporting the crime. For most ordinary crime (e.g. robbery), one party has an interest in reporting it. However, for many areas under the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement (e.g. gun laws, enforced by the BATF, drug laws enforced by the DEA) no party has an incentive to report the crime. The only way that these laws can be enforced is through very intrusive and costly means, which undermine civil liberties and require considerable amounts of taxpayer dollars.

You do not have a 'civil liberty' to march across an international frontier, nor is it particularly costly or 'intrusive' to put guards on the border.

Is Europe safe from the evil Tsar? Can Israel defend itself? Are the houses of Saud and Thani in power? Are Libyans free to migrate to Syria and kill Alawites? That's all I care about.

Are anti-semites plentiful among the worlds soi-disant palaeoconservatives? Yep.

Reducing foreign entanglements and overseas US military commitments is anti-Semitic. And low taxes are racist.

No, pretending that William Kristol does not care about anything but the interests of 19th century Jews and the interests of Israel is anti-semitic. (The rest of his tripe is non-sequitur).

Yes, because obviously the civil liberties being referred to here were the right to march across international borders, rather than the measures the government takes to go after the drug trade or illegal immigrants who are already in the US.

The 'measures the government takes' re illegal immigrants is to arrest, detain, and deport them. The first two are similar to the measures it takes against anyone else on the wrong side of the law.

Remember this is about civil liberties, not about the immigrants. The only way to go after illegal immigrants is with a more intrusive police and regulatory state, the same with the drug war.

Mendacious assertions are not arguments.

Perhaps we should abolish all victimless crimes then.

The fact that this is not common sense makes me lose much faith ...

And if it takes 200 studies and generations of propaganda to say who the victims is, then the line of reasoning is not direct enough for my taste.

The post makes an absurdly stupid comparison. State and local spending on preventing rape, murder, etc dwarfs federal spending on those subjects -- and also dwarfs immigration enforcement spending. It's not silly for the federal law enforcement budget to reflect the fact that certain priorities are already addressed by other means.

The post compares Federal spending on immigration control with Federal spending on other crime control by FBI, DEA, ATF etc. Nothing absurd about that comparison.

It is absurd if you are attributing to those agencies functions which are actually performed by municipal police departments and state prison bureaux.

The federal government spends more on birdhouse subsidies than states do on manned spaceflight. Disgraceful!

The illegal immigrants are a burden on the US economy but they really do work the whites in general avoid. A solution: tell these guys they can work in the US but only in the border areas and only for one day at a time and they can take the dollars home . They can be issued a work permit which specifies the time of the day they are permitted to stay after which they have to return to Mexico. They make daily trips across the border, taking with them the dollars they earn. They don't pay taxes but this loss is far lower than the loss resulting from welfare benefits they would enjoy if they are allowed to stay. I am told Americans have some kind of tracking device to keep an eye on such people. There should be severe punishment for those who try to illegally stay back before packing them off with their permit cancelled. A private agency manned by guys who hate immigrants can be entrusted the job of coordinating all this. Lefties will cry " this is apartheid" but who takes them seriously in US anyways?

Bad idea. The ideal number of guest workers to import into this country = 0. You import settlers, which is to say people who have passed examination which indicate they are readily adaptable to life among extant population. When they settle, they have the same discretion in markets as the rest of us.

Agreed. There is really no such thing as a "guest worker." It's not just that they never leave in reality. It's that the economy becomes built around the assumption of their presence.

If you build a restaurant in some high cost-of-living area and use guest workers to staff it, at what point do you stop relying on guest workers? "Guest workers" add to the overall labor pool, and business investments are made assuming availability of labor. Whether that labor consists of "guest workers" or citizens is quite irrelevant.

Let businesses build their businesses around the American labor pool. If they can't find American workers to staff their business, then they don't need to be in business. It is not the job of government to validate one's business plan.

They are doing work which employers would otherwise have to find a way to automate or increase worker productivity.

I'll ask it again: would you rather live in a place where you hire 12 serfs to dig a ditch, or 1 vo-tech grad with a backhoe?

Well obviously I don't want to live somewhere with serfs, but if you take that word out and replace it with 'people' then I'm agnostic between the two worlds. I don't have strong feelings about the morality of capital intensive or labor intensive ways of digging ditches. If the most efficient thing to do is hire guys with shovels, do that. If the backhoe is more efficient, do that instead.

Really your argument implies that immigration won't have much of an impact on employment, since they would be replaced by increased capital investment rather than by American workers. And if that's the case, I actually prefer the shovel to the backhoe, since at least it's spreading the wages for the job around a bit more and is better for the planet. Remember, it's not that those immigrant workers wouldn't exist in the backhoe, scenario, it's just that they'd be back in Mexico being less productive and having a lower standard of living.

I'd rather live in a place where the labor market was well lubricated and every able-bodied working aged person was either working or looking after small children. What they are going to be working at is a function of their skill set in context. I'm agnostic on that.

And if employers can just lobby for cheaper workers and toss their costs on the taxpayers, then it's not really a free market in labor.

No, the decision makers are free enough and their labor costs are not truly 'socialized'. The presence of certain welfare programs does affect labor supply in ambivalent ways - means testing inducing people to circumscribe their on-the-books employment but also making particular wage-rates more acceptable - but it does not change the human capital adhering to the worker.

Whether your immigration inflow is high or low, you are going to have a stratified workforce with wildly varying skill sets. When you 'create a job', you match something that might be sought to something that can be supplied. What you want re your social policy is for those transactions to take place. Ideally, your production processes and your physical capital is well adapted to your workforce, whatever it may be like.

Well by that standard we don't have free markets in anything, which is a fair enough point to make, but I don't get the impression you're point is that we should abolish capitalism.

Well by that standard we don’t have free markets in anything, which is a fair enough point to make,

Ralph Nader tried that sort of gamesmanship forty years ago. The main lesson was that Mr. Nader was a lawyer who knew nothing and could imagine nothing of economics or business.

False premise: That illegal immigrants are a drain on the economy.

Since when does adding more hard working people to a country, ones who will work harder for less money, act as a burden on the economy?

So to be honest, I only read the first few words of what you said, because it started with a false premise. Then I took the time to write all of this.

I would refer you to George Borjas' work. Borjas estimate, ca. 1995, for the benefits of immigration to extant populations amounted to 0.1% of domestic product. That's going to be sensitive to public benefit levels. That aside, that neglects problems which are not readily ascertained through price systems.

You want to keep them out on the basis of ... one time, and using some particular set of data for particular areas and times, someone showed that the gains are not very large?

"The gains are not very large" is not a very strong supporting argument to "they are a drain on the economy".

Which "problems which are not readily ascertained through price systems" are you talking about? The fact that it your new neighbours might being yakking away in Spanish at their Sunday BBQ?

I get it. You have no particular affinity for your common-and-garden neighbors. Other people do. Since we're all interchangeable, why not emigrate?

The problems are as follows:

1. Public expenditure imposed on local communities (often by federal judges).

2. Complications in the design of school curricula and school disciplinary measures.

3. Friction in the labor market due to the addition of workers with a poor command of English (enhanced by the second-guessing incorporated into employment discrimination law).

4. Problems re eligibility standards for common provision (see Medicaid). You import a population with productivity deficits, they draw more on welfare.

5. Problems (enumerated and unenumerated) from street crime. Some countries of origin have similar levels of disorder to those in the U.S. (the Phillippines), some are more disorderly (Mexico), and some are off the charts (selected mesoamerican states).

6. General decay in trust and social capital (see Putnam on this point).

7. The mobilization of immigrants against extant subcultures by Chuck Schumer, &c.


Please note, Borjas' conclusion has been the benefits to the extant population are sensitive to how common provision is structured. He also has found in his research that liberal immigration regimes generate more severe skew in income distributions.

How about the impact on elections, which effects our rights, our pocketbooks?

The impact on our culture, which effects the news which gets reported and the movies and TV shows which are produced?

The impact on our environment, including strain on our water supplies and public lands?

Just a few. There are many, many more.

Because the effect of immigration is a one dimensional variable, trade! BTW, putting murderers (or anyone else for that matter) in prison also effects trade too. I guess throwing murderers in prison is just protectionism!

Gibberish. You can support legal immigration, but don't make me sick with daft arguments.

Border patrol and ICE agents DO stop crime especially illegal drug trafficking, weapons, human trafficking, etc.

Illegal aliens commit crimes at higher rates than our population, hence these functions stop crime from invading us. Somewhere around 30% of inmates in California prisons are illegal aliens.

Not So, et al, put it correctly.

I could stomach more legal immigration if it didnt involve burdens on and the swelling of our welfare state. These immigrants are statists, and they will vote to limit your rights.

Typical of extreme libertarians to espouse absolute beliefs in every dimension but ignore the interaction between each dimension.

We tried amnesty and things just got worse. It may already be too late.

You'd have a case if you weren't so completely wrong on the basic facts of the situation. The source of the "30% of California inmates are illegal immigrants" statistic is a chain email based on a misunderstanding of an uncited claim in a 2006 episode of "Lou Dobbs Tonight"

There isn't a lot of good data on how many prisoners really are in the US illegally since the Bureau of Prisons doesn't keep track, but a DoJ estimate in 2003 put it at 1.6% of the prison population, roughly half of whom's only crime was being an illegal immigrant. Given that nearly 4% of the people in the US are illegal immigrants - including an even higher portion of people at what might be termed 'peak criminal age' this is a pretty impressive number.


Lower crime rates have also been observed even more robustly (since there's better data) among legal immigrants as well.


If you feel that illegal aliens commit fewer crimes, please feel free to relocate to an illegal immigrant-heavy area. I know these locales in my own city, and I would not care to live in them for a moment. Illegal aliens COME from high crime regions of the world (one argument open borders folks make for giving them asylum) and MOVE to high crime regions of the US, yet somehow they are magically not to blame for the crime in either area.

I know about life in these areas, and I can guarantee you that crime is going heavily under-reported. Illegals strenuously avoid contact with law enforcement, and law enforcement strenuously discourages the reporting of crime.

"Typical of extreme libertarians to espouse absolute beliefs in every dimension but ignore the interaction between each dimension."

Interesting point.

Because state and local governments are compelled by the Constitution and federal law to offer certain services (e.g. think schools, hospital emergency rooms, the court/judicial system, etc) equally to all people who are physically present in their boundaries, and since these things cost money, it is at least _possible_ that, policies which increase the freedom of very poor, low-earning immigrants to enter the US, also increase the tax burden on -- and therefore take away freedom from -- some of the people who are already present and paying taxes. Is that truly consistent with libertarian ideals?

That is, it may be that, while one group (very poor, low-earning foreign nationals) is gaining freedom to move around and work wherever they choose, another group (existing domestic tax payers) is losing some freedom to spend their money as they want. And so, it seems reasonable to ask libertarians to advance a plan which:

1. Increases the freedom of the immigrants to come here


2. Simultaneously guarantees existing levels of freedom to those who are already here and paying taxes

Is it enough to say that GDP increases? I don't know. Maybe it is. Libertarians, please give us more to go on here. I wanna believe, but, wow, I see a lot of costs going up for some of the people without a corresponding increase in income and quality of life for those same people. How does this all balance out? Not quite seeing it....

You are working under the false assumption that immigration costs taxpayers money.

This has been debunked so many times over I can't believe someone hasn't already said this.

Wealthy business owners can get fantastically rich exploiting these workers. If the state doesn't tax back enough of those profits to meet the "basic needs" of the workers and/or even their families, then other taxpayers may be on the line. But the net contribution of the immigrant the the bottom line has been demonstrated to be positive so many times over that I think you need to rethink your entire premise.

Also, consider that many left during the economic downturn. Is that good for Americans?

What costs taxpayers money is trying to keep these hard working people out of the country.

Who says they're any more 'hard working' than anyone else?

The fact that they will work as hard for half the money. And that's why low income workers do not benefit in the short run.

Who has demonstrated that they 'work as hard'? Even if they did, how durable a phenomenon is that? You're biased against working class Americans. We get it.

Ok. Granting the assumption that GDP increases when immigration increases, my question remains:

How can those who experience the externalities of increased immigration of poor low skilled people from foreign countries (e.g. those who live in middle and lower middle class neighborhoods with crowded schools, those who sit in the waiting room at County General hospital, et al) be adequately compensated with an appropriate fraction of the GDP increase due to increased immigration?

Or, again, how should a fraction of this increase in GDP be fairly taken from those who profit and reallocated to cities like Maywood, California, so that clean water can be provided to city residents?

What are some policy proposals that would allow our government to extract a fraction of this increased GDP due specifically to increased immigration so that these needs can be financed? How do we separate that fraction of GDP from the overall GDP so that?

If two immigrants make $30,000 a year and their kids' public school education costs $40,000 a year for 12 years, how is the taxpayer ahead?

Why not legalize drugs and tax the benefits under a regulatory mechanism which actually reduces access to youth and helps get addiction support for those people who cannot apply the word "moderation" when it comes to this stuff.

Don't be naive. The guns are made in USA and exported to everywhere. No one actually brings guns INTO the USA. Please police your country and keep your guns at home.

Why not legalize drugs and tax the benefits under a regulatory mechanism

Because we're not adolescents and that sort of regime in vice traffick pre-supposes more control of families over their errant members than is ever the case as well as an absence or common provision or (alternatively) status-qualified indoor relief only.

Your argument makes about zero sense to me.

Please help me to understand your reasoning. It sounds to me like your moralizing views are so extreme that you think it gives you the right to ask government to put people in PRISON if they do things you don't like.

Better to let people be free, and put in place structures to help the people who can't handle the freedom.

You sir, however, cannot handle the truth that the war on drugs is costly and counterproductive, one of the stupidest things ever in history.

Your argument makes about zero sense to me.

I can explain this to you. I cannot comprehend it for you.

Libertarians always have to use alternate words to describe what they know is a generally undesirable thing that they support. What kind of person refers to the transaction between himself and his employer as "trade?" Does Tyler Cowen go to his university to "trade?" No, it's a JOB that pays a WAGE. And this is what it is about, protecting American jobs and American wages.

See more at the response to the same comment below.

Why is my comment awaiting moderation?

Apples to oranges, Alex. You know about the US federal system; you discredit yourself and your position with this poor argument. How do you grade your own students when they make arguments that are so heavily cherry-picked?

Libertarians always have to use alternate words to describe what they know is a generally undesirable thing that they support. What kind of person refers to the transaction between himself and his employer as “trade?” Does Tyler Cowen go to his university to “trade?” No, it’s a JOB that pays a WAGE. And this is what it is about, protecting American jobs and American wages.

See more at:

We trade production inputs and outputs.

I will trade my time and skills for your money, for example.

This is trade. The market is called the labour market. And payments, yes, are often referred to as wages.

But I imagine he's thinking more abstractly about international factors markets, their role in trade, and how this is not free trade to block a production input from situating itself on the side of the border where it can attract the highest ... (you win) wage.

This does not render it a "non-trade" thing. Also, it does not mean that one writer has to use the same words as another writer when they speak of the same thing.

Liberals and the people who uncritically cite them are not usually very honest people, note the language they use in order to paint a very dishonest picture:

The US government spends more on its immigration enforcement agencies than on all of its principal criminal federal law enforcement agencies combined. In FY 2012, spending for CBP, ICE and US-Visit reached nearly $18 billion. This amount exceeds by nearly 24% total spending by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Secret Service, US Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) which stood at $14.4 billion in FY 2012.

So we are supposed to think of the CBP as an "immigration enforcement agency" the kind that spends it's days preventing illegals from trying to swim across the river. But let's look at the description of the CBP on Wikipedia:

While its primary mission is preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, CBP is also responsible for apprehending individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally including those with a criminal record, stemming the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband, protecting United States agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases, and protecting American businesses from intellectual property theft.

And the CBP's own website:

With more than 60,000 employees, CBP is one of the world's largest law enforcement organizations and is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.

As the world's first full-service border entity, CBP takes a comprehensive approach to border management and control, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection into one coordinated and supportive activity.

The CBP accounts for 12.9 billion of that 18 billion cited.

While I'm sure Alex genuinely believes that borders should be more open, this post is trying to troll us. Don't take it seriously. I'm bet he doesn't.

Why spend so much money keeping out a key production input when we all know that free trade benefits everyone?

Because illegal aliens are not a 'key production input'. They affect labor costs in certain sectors and bring some other problems with them.

LOL, labour is not a key production input. And I'm racist.

fyi, that's what most people will hear.

Illegal aliens are a small minority of the labor force and not one with much human capital appended to them. They constitute a 'key production input' only in your addled head.

Maybe because the consume more of the taxpayer dollars than they contribute. Even Adam Smith recognized that when takers exceed producers, society collapses.

How does an illegal immigrant consume tax dollars in the USA?

If even the racists can't show that immigration (or "illegal" immigration) costs taxpayers more money than they contribute, then I am convinced that they contribute more.

How does someone who comes and works endless hours in substandard working conditions and sleeps in shared rooms have a net negative effect to the taxpayer?


This has been studied to death. From the 1997 NAS (National Academy of Sciences) study.

The most comprehensive research on this subject was done by the National Research Council (NRC), which is part of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, conducted in 1997, found that more-educated immigrants tend to have higher earnings, lower rates of public service use, and as a result pay more in taxes than they use in services. In contrast, the NRC found that because of their lower incomes and resulting lower tax payments coupled with their heavy use of public services, less-educated immigrants use significantly more in services than they pay in taxes. The NRC estimates indicated that the average immigrant without a high school education imposes a net fiscal burden on public coffers of $89,000 during the course of his or her lifetime. The average immigrant with only a high school education creates a lifetime fiscal burden of $31,000. In contrast, the average immigrant with more than a high school education was found to have a positive fiscal impact of $105,000 in his or her lifetime. The NAS further estimated that the total combined fiscal impact of the average immigrant (all educational categories included) was a negative $3,000. Thus, when all immigrants are examined they are found to have a modest negative impact on public coffers. These figures are only for the original immigrant, they do not include public services used or taxes paid by their U.S.-born descendants.


"How does someone who comes and works endless hours in substandard working conditions and sleeps in shared rooms have a net negative effect to the taxpayer?"

You are living in a dreamworld if you don't think illegals massively consume public services. The social services bureaucracy operates on a 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' basis. Even if it didn't, illegals and their anchor baby children are legally eligible for a long, long, list of very expensive government services.

See "6 + 4 = 1 Tenuous Existence - An illegal immigrant couple with six children were already living in poverty. Then the quadruplets arrived. They're still in a daze."

No borders, no country

By definition, this is a requirement of being a state.

It refers more to the ability to uphold the border in the face of an invading force, not workers seeking new opportunity.

A distinction without a difference.

So between people coming looking for work, and people coming to violently overthrow your government, you're pretty much indifferent?

In Israel, you admit masses of the former, you get some of the latter as well.

One time, this guy came to the country. He said he wanted work. But he was a bad man. And he did bad things.

So if anyone ever says they want work, just kill them. Maaaaaybe maybe, he is also a bad man. Because he said he wants to work.

Put down the bong and try to be coherent going forward.

I find the idea of them PEACEFULLY overthrowing the government no more desirable than them doing so violently. Consider that California, with its 55 electoral votes, has not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988, before the 1986 amnesty of ~3 million illegals had taken full effect.

We're constantly hearing about how immigration and the "growing Hispanic population" will have long-term consequences for our democracy - one state after another turning blue, falling like dominoes. Arguably, Barack Obama is only president because of our increasingly large minority electorate. Even George W. Bush's 2000 victory hinged on immigration - the vast number of Cubans in Florida who were angry at the repatriation of Elian Gonzalez.

Am I allowed to consider the electoral consequences of immigration, and its effect on my freedoms and my pocketbook?

You can pretend that "workers seeking new opportunity" are inconsequential and of no concern to me, but our current interpretation of the 14th Amendment - birthright citizenship, even for those whose parents are here only temporarily or illegally - begs to differ.

"the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft"

- touché

Immigration != trade
(Trade in people has been against the law, domestically and internationally for a good long while now)

Alex' posts are getting stupider.

I don know if I'd say there's a trend, but what a disaster he put up here.

If we held our daily media to half as rigorous critique as you hold him to, the world would be a significantly better place.

The war wounded and old people are the only ones who should get a pass to pay someone to do the ridiculously easy job of mowing a lawn.

I should have a permit from the municipal government 'ere I hire a local youth to cut my lawn?

20+ years ago everyone hired local youths to mow their lawns. The only people back then hiring full-grown adults to tend their lawns were corporations and the very rich.

The advantage of hiring teenagers to do your yardwork is the absence of negative externalities - the teenagers were already here, they had health insurance provided by their parents (which they seldom used), and they didn't have kids to provide with education, food stamps, etc.

Nowadays even the middle class hires illegal immigrants. For their customers their work may or may not be better or cheaper, but for the taxpayers as a whole it's a raw deal.

You can do as you will, I'll just snicker. I paid my way through undergrad with an ROTC scholarship and 4 years active duty. Grad school was paid by commercially fishing in Alaska. Roofing and mowing the lawn are relaxing.

Roofing and mowing the lawn are relaxing.

Most people do not need it pointed out to them that neither their tastes nor their priorities are universal.

Grad school was paid by commercially fishing in Alaska.

Well, bully for you.

Just making the point that it's usually the portly and flaccid that are concerned about who is going to cut the lawn.

My mother never cut the lawn. She wanted to save her energy for gardening (and had arthritis later in life). She was neither portly nor flaccid. What contempt do you have in store for those of us who do not have lawns?

Don't the DEA and ATF also exist to restrict trade? What exactly are you comparing here?

Meanwhile, I'm yet to see a post here arguing the US should end its ban on oil exports, which would seem apropos to MR.

Alex covered the basics

So let's say I'm a lower class american making 10 bux an hour in flyover country, a somewhat reasonable living wage for a single man. Not necessarily including medical expenses and other pleasantris of life. How do open borders help me out? Why would I want an influx of people willing to work longer harder and cheaper than I already am. I'd argue that maintaining my current status is hard enough. And no, I'm not particularly interested in lowering my standards of living to compete, y'know for the free market and all. Let's say I'm displaced by Jose. What do I do now? Retrain for the 21st century economy presumably. If I'm unable to do that, then an option like jumping on disability seems like a reasonable option. Seems like everyone is doing it these days. Ever been to small town Kansas? Didn't think so. So the gov bails me out. Who is paying for that. If I am able to retool my skills for the 21st century information economy what do I become? A nurse? A computer janitor? Even with gov assistance how much am I paying to retrain in one of our fine secondary educational facilities? So the tax payers may pay a bit and I am then indebted, perhaps a lot. Let's say I train to be an RN. Who's going to be paying much of my salary? The gov. Maybe If I'm really talented i can be a green tech engineer. Again the gov. Teacher? The gov. Etc etc. Realistically a man in that circumstance is basically going to be made worthless, a liability to society. Now I'd agree that this is inevitable to a degree with technology and all that, but should we be exacerbating the problem with immigration? If my country doesn't stanfbup for me, who the hell will?

You are pointing out lots of essential questions here.

I see an even bleaker picture than you do. There are a lot more people who are dangling out there with no job and no disability and no assistance beyond Food Stamps and maybe Medicaid since January 1. Even with Food Stamps, a lot of people only 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4 of the maximum benefit per person because they are supposedly earning enough to cover the gap with their own cash. But they don't have it. Therefore neverending decision: Pay bill, rent or enough to eat?

Also the $10 even for someone who is single isn't enough to pay event a rent with roommates or two plus keep a car running in most places. In places with decent public transportation, the rent will be lots, los higher so saying "no car" is no real solution.

The only new middle glass jobs I see are:

1. Supervising the people making $8 or $10 an hour;
2. Healthcare (largely government funded these days); and
3. Working for the government, which has to hire more teachers, police, etc, due to population increase -- which is mostly due to immigration.

That's the counterargument.

Theoretically, everyone gains from trade. But in reality there are distributional issues.

Theoretically we can pay off the losers (retraining, cash, early retirement...?) in the bargain. So everyone gains from trade. But in reality, the theoretical ability to ensure this does not equal the practical reality of ensuring that everyone gains from trade.

So what about the guy who makes $10 an hour? How does he gain?

Probably not from opening up the flood gates. But if competition is a universal stimulus for efficiency and innovation, then why should we fail to apply this logic to the guy making $10 an hour?

Changes should be marginal, and in the direction of greater openness. Open borders are a good ideal, and the inability of welfare states to capture gains of investment in their population is probably the second biggest reason why there is zero chance it will happen right now.

"But if competition is a universal stimulus for efficiency and innovation, then why should we fail to apply this logic to the guy making $10 an hour?"

I've observed that the guy making $10 an hour is rarely a part of the "we" making that decision.

I think there are trade offs to efficiency that are often ignored. The more efficient a system is, the less robust it tends to be (ie Taleb's Black Swan arguments.) A redistribution scheme sounds like a complicated task, naturally best handled by the efficient federal government. I'm confident they'll spread the rewards out evenly and fairly, especially when identity politics Democrats are in power.

In regards to innovation, I refer to The Anti-Gnostic's point, is hiring 12 immigrants to dig a ditch more innovative than hiring 1 guy with a backhoe? Cheap immigrant labor stifles technological innovation, through the competition of foreign labor, at the expense of the native and his standard of living.

Also I think its funny that the libertarian solution to native labor displacement is more government intervention through retraining and redistribution. Unless the solution is to just say "Welp, should have worked harder buddy, you're on your own." I don't find that a very convincing argument.

Look, this is all about propping up the value of native labor and native beings. There are no bones about it, this is what is important to a large portion of the country. The portion of the country that has seen wages stagnate for 30-40 years. I get wanting to improve efficiency and to export wealth around the world to make everyone better off. There's plenty of room for that. But the American worker and the value of his work has been under pressure for a long time. I want my government to protect my interests, not be an indifferent arbiter of economic efficiency. We live in an increasingly atomized and individualistic society. If my government doesn't have my back, who will? The last thing we want are groups forming up to protect interests the the government have been long ignoring.

" The last thing we want are groups forming up to protect interests the the government have been long ignoring."

I am not sure what you mean. If you mean viglilante groups taking direct action against the immigrants, I would agree.

Otherwise, I have to completely disagree. I think we desperately need people to form groups and make their voices heard. I'd be delighted to see a viable third party form here that focused on the issues that matter most to the 95% of us who are losing at the present game.

I am sick of the oligarchs and the special interests and yes, the unnecessary foreign workers and their supporters coming before me.

I think your mistake was taking a post that included "A redistribution scheme sounds like a complicated task, naturally best handled by the efficient federal government. I’m confident they’ll spread the rewards out evenly and fairly, especially when identity politics Democrats are in power. - "


Latin American countries are dumping their social problems on the United States. People like Senator Durbin and professional agitators are supporting these actions. Wake up America. Stop blaming the United States for all the problems in the world. These people are waging war on the US taxpayer.

"Latin American countries are dumping their social problems on the United States."

Apparently that means that Ecuador, Mexico, Salvador, etc. should, like the Soviet Union once did, erect fences and guard towers to keep their citizens penned up. Americans realize that the vestiges of a quasi-free market economy are very attractive to foreigners living in less congenial surroundings so one of the proposed remedies to the supposed problem is to restrict everyone's freedom to a similar extent as the places where these illegals originate. Seems like a good approach.

>preventing trade

This man is insane.

When I perform a service and the client is in a different country, my activity counts as "trade" in the national accounts.

That is my labour classified as trade.

Where's the controversy? Do we not trade things on markets, including our labour in exchange for money?

"When I perform a service and the client is in a different country, my activity counts as “trade” in the national accounts."

None of which has anything to do with illegal immigration.

"Where’s the controversy?"

That you don't know the meanings of words.

It is extremely disingenuous in the linked piece when the authors state "the US government spends more ..." without being clear that state expenditures (the vast majority for these expenditure categories) are excluded. They are not part of "US government". Readers are given no hint that this trick is being played upon them. Really sneaky and dishonest IMHO. I am pleased that at least here it was changed to "the federal government" but still that tends to give the wrong impression.

"In other words, the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft."

People illegally crossing the border is not "trade". For that matter people legally crossing the border is not "trade". You seem to have taken a leaf from the Supreme Courts playbook in which growing wheat for your own dinner is "interstate commerce" and not buying health insurance is also "interstate commerce".

".. the Federal government spends more on preventing trade than on preventing murder, rape and theft.”

Preventing murder, rape, and theft is not the responsibility of the federal government. These things are the duty of the state and local governments.

On the other hand, it IS the duty of the federal government to prevent people from illegally entering the country. And that duty is one the federal government is deliberately and consciously refusing to perform.

Don't evade. The federal government spends more on immigration control than on the FBI, ATF, DEA, US Marshalls, and Secret Service combined.

Maybe because its work is more resource intensive. It's a small fraction of what is spent on law enforcement and tax collection in this country.

Since when is the FBI's role "preventing murder, rape and theft"?

Silly me, I always thought the "I" stood for "investigation." I guess it really stands for "interdiction" or some such.

If crossing a border illegally is "trade" then so is burglary. Both laws - laws against illegal immigration, laws against burglary - are designed to protect private property - the property of an individual, or the collective property of American citizens.

If it cost $10,000 to deport the ca. 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country, the total cost to deport them all would be $120 billion. Since we are not deporting even a fraction of that (actual deportation mostly consist of turning back illegals caught near the border), there is no conceivable way that $18 billion is being spent on anything even remotely recognizable as border control.

How much of CBP is manning the customs booths at all the airports?

And checking bags for illicit products.

We also have a major seaport program to check for nukes, illegal imports, etc.

We probably need to dis-aggregate a bunch of expenses that would remain even if we had open borders.

I'll see your billions "wasted" on immigration enforcement and I'll raise you the trillions wasted trying to teach minority kids algebra.

Let's see your cards.

Ah, shove off. Those of us who favor border security who aren't racists spend a whole lot of time defending our reputations from charges of "racism" thanks to people like you.

Yeah we prefer to be called xenophobes, tyia

You misunderstand. I'm asking the host if the "waste" on immigration enforcement is anywhere near the waste of affirmative action.

The federal government spends more on the welfare state for immigrants and their children than it does for keeping them out in the first place.

As for the amount it spends keeping them out: The federal government sabotages its own policy enforcement. It lets people go who are illegals with court dates and 90% do not show up for their court dates. It could just deport them. Eisenhower handled the problem much more cheaply.

Alex, in the future Libertarianism is going to be DEAD DEAD DEAD along with the Republican Party. Open Borders is libertarian suicide.

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