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Thursday, May 12, 2005
Yet More on Immigration
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:43 am

The immigration exchange continues between myself and the denizens of Pros and Cons.

Scott Gosnell weighs in, and raises the issue of dealing the underlying incentives that draw immigrants to the US. As a generic point, I wholly concur that dealing with incentive structures is a key may to affect behavior. He further rightly notes that a more efficacious approach would be to punish those who hire illegals. As a side note: the incentives that need the most addressing are finding ways to spur economic grow in Mexico, so that leaving won’t be as attractive.

He also addresses the incentive issue as follows:

Also, illegals should be entitled to no benefits. If you’re injured, tough — no hospital care. No driver’s license. No education. No welfare. No nothing. No access to civil courts (note, I said civil courts). If you manage to sneak into the United States illegally, you do so at your own risk.

An analogy (imperfect, I grant you): a Wyoming corporation is required to register as a foreign corporation before it can do business in Alabama. If it fails to do so, it can still do business in Alabama, but if it get’s screwed on a contract or has some sort of civil complaint or cause of action, it has no access to Alabama courts — it is essentially an illegal alien.

Now, I understand the underlying logic, and it has a certain amount of appeal. However, let’s consider the hospital issue. For one thing, if a guy comes in on a stretcher after a traffic accident, how in Heaven’s name will the doctors know if the guy is an illegal alien, a legal one, a resident, or a citizen? Further, are we really going to advocate pushing the gurney in the corner and letting the guy die if we find out that he’s illegal? There are moral and basic human rights issues here. Further, I would think that such actions would violate the fundaments of the medical profession.

Certainly, I can see no justification for welfare payments or the issuing of drivers licenses to illegals. Of course, there is the sticky problem of the mother who is illegal, yet her child is an American citizen (that whole 14th Amendment thing). It is rather difficult not to give her assistance.

Indeed, all this gets to the real fundamental problem: we are dealing with human being here, and primarily decent human beings who are simply trying to better their own circumstances.

Along these lines a discussion ensues between Scott and fellow P&Cer Doug Flinn, who notes Jesus’ admonition to feed the poor and such. Scott responds with a discussion of personal responsibilities v. those of government. I take his point to a point, but given that government is nothing more that a reflection of collected individuals (certainly true in a democracy, at any rate), I am not sure that his logic holds—especially since what his policy prescriptions could boil down to is individual action, as per the hospital example above.

Really, what all of this points out is the deep complexity of this issue and further underscores my visceral reaction to the Minuteman Project—as it reduced the whole problem to one of bodies on the border and the idea of interdicting those who cross. The problem is far more multifaceted than that.

On a side note, this interchange has underscored one of the great advantages of blogging—it helps me has out ideas. In this particular case it helps tease out in my own mind what it was about the MM that really caused read flags to wave in my head—it was less the “vigilante�? aspect of the situation, but rather the feeding of a popular mis-perception (often fed by Bill O’Reilly, amongst others) that the problem really is simple to solve, and it is just the lack of will in Washington to solve it that is the real problem.

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