June 22, 2004

Using Immigration as a Foreign Policy Tool

In a followup to my earlier piece I privately corresponded with Mark Krikorian over the need for immigration restrictionists to make their arguments from net costs, not gross ones.

Unfortunately Mr. Krikorian has yet to be convinced and gave an almost rote repetition of the great (but gross) costs of large scale immigration of poor people. He did give a good link on immigrant ingratitude but Steve Sailor isn't quite getting at the problem that I usually address, the problem of the core and the gap. My latest salvo is below:

You are pointing out real, true costs of immigration, some which could be ameliorated via changes in public policy. I find it very puzzling that you would not want to make those changes in the very real immigration overhaul that should happen in the nearest possible future.

Most of the costs, from a conservative perspective, are ones that ought to be reformed anyway. Welfare reform may have added urgency due to immigrant abuse of it but it needed reform irrespective of the level of immigration. Linkage provides leverage for faster reform.

Regarding the foreign policy benefit of letting people into this country, the effect is greatest among immigrants who come, work, go home, and build a business there, not here. A middle class business owner may not be an advocate for economic freedom and the rule of law but, really, do you want to propose that on net that group won't strongly trend in this direction?

You also mistake the character of the foreign policy benefit. The existential challenge of the US in this age is not to be liked. To be liked is the cherry on top of the whole enterprise. The real problem is that we have a huge portion of the world that is disconnected from the functioning core of civilization. In that gap, the group of countries that are non-integrating, the pathologies of the world concentrate and periodically erupt. Yet no matter how poor the gap is, there is money, there is ability. There will always be people able to pry into the chinks in our armor and create ever larger attacks, killing and terrorizing us more until we cut ourselves off at the knees and drop to their height.

With the growing ease of creating WMD of all types and the utter simplicity of creating mass carnage even without WMD (see the Padilla plot for mass death via gas explosion in apartment buildings for a practical example), the US must resolve this challenge or utterly abandon any hope of fulfilling the most basic function of government, protecting the lives of its citizens.

We must use every tool, even if it depresses wage growth, even if it threatens certain industries with powerful competition (for example our sugar industry quota system has got to go). The most basic function of government must come first. We are vulnerable, highly vulnerable, to the most simple attacks. That our enemies either do not know this or are too disordered by our offensive operations is great good fortune and hard work that is not something we can depend on in perpetuity.

Immigration, in this context, can be a powerful tool for connection, for shrinking the Gap. This may create legions of people who cordially hate the US as LA residents hate NYC but who do not bomb NYC. I used to live in NY. I can take it. I suspect you can too.

Posted by TMLutas at June 22, 2004 11:47 AM