"Illegal" Immigration Is a Phantom Problem

"Illegal" Immigration Is a Phantom Problem

by Marcel VotluckaI

Exclusive to STR

Last year I attended a sociology lecture which began with the professor citing attacks upon minorities in the context of their struggle for equal dignity in our society. He cited Native Americans, Blacks, women, gays and lesbians, and Arabs and Muslims as examples. Seizing the moment, I raised my hand and suggested that immigrants would be the next group targeted.

Oh, how prophetic my statement was!

Not five minutes before I began writing this essay, I watched a news vignette about recently thwarted Congressional proposals to prosecute "illegal aliens" as felons, as well as the people who provide them with services. The vignette also looked at activists who aim to embarrass people who hire undocumented immigrants, going as far as to post their names and photos on their website.

Recent campaigns and vigilante movements against immigrants, such as the Minuteman Project, reveal much about Americans' attitudes toward the State and the theology behind it. Most people really do want to live in freedom, but at the same time many people also have a deep need to be taken care of, coupled with a fear of "outsiders," as it were. Human nature is a mix of these conflicting individualist and collectivist tendencies. The latter is where absurdities such as nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, socialism, and any number of "isms" emerge. Politicians, being the savvy bastards they are, don't hesitate to take advantage of this psychological quirk and turn it into yet another marketing strategy to sucker more people into statism.

Indeed, immigration is only a "problem" for politicians eager to win votes, not you and I. The miracle of America's success as a (relatively) free country is due to the contributions of immigrants who came here because they sought a better life through (gasp!) the free market.

I can think of no better example than New York City's Chinatown. Somehow I end up wandering there whenever I visit the city. I've often wondered why I am so drawn to that place. Could it be the food? The low prices? The exotic yet familiar urban atmosphere? No, it's the glory of the democratic market on display that draws me there. The hustle and bustle of shoppers looking for the best deal, the competing fruit stalls on Canal Street, the bargaining, the efficient, no-nonsense service in restaurants and stores, the availability of goods the likes of which you'll be hard-pressed to find in an insular suburban community...the list goes on and on. All I need to do is learn Mandarin and I'll be set for life! Never mind what you hear about "Red China"; these immigrants are hard-core entrepreneurial capitalists, and are willing to work from the bottom up to make a living and get ahead.

How many of them came to this country illegally? Plenty, I'm sure. That doesn't lessen their contributions one whit. We live in an ever-shrinking world thanks to technology; there's no logical reason why oceans and mountains or even different languages and cultures need to hinder trade and commerce. Likewise, there's no logical reason someone from another geographical region should be prevented from emigrating to another. What's the difference between a Chinese emigrating to New York and my moving to Brooklyn from Long Island? Essentially, there is no difference. And who the hell has the right to prevent me (or a Chinese or anyone else) from moving to where the grass is greener? What arrogance!

After all, borders are just lines on a piece of paper called a map, to be obsessed over by presidents, dictators, and military men eager to protect what they seem to think to be their own personal property. In order to maintain their power, they have to stoke the collectivist fires of racism and xenophobia:

They invent stories of "outsiders" and "aliens" coming in to steal our jobs (as if anybody has a natural right to a job).

They come up with tales of how they leech off our tax dollars (even as they shower corporate welfare queens with handouts, opportunities for war profiteering, and favorable legislation that acts much like Robin Hood in reverse).

They make stories comparing immigrants crossing the Mexican border to an invading army of potential terrorists and criminals (even though said job-seekers are generally not aiming to blow up buildings -- no, that's a sport for, uh, red-blooded Americans like Tim McVeigh).

They give shrill sermons condemning immigrants who do not give up their cultural identity, who do not assimilate or at least learn English (as if the immigrants' linguistic abilities had any bearing on their right to settle down where they please).

Worst of all, they tell you to "buy American" (lest you hurt the poor auto manufacturers who lack the cojones to adapt to the global economy and earn American business, not take it for granted).

Yet, if individual rights mean anything, they include your right to go wherever you want in order to seek better opportunities. They include your right to buy or sell stuff with whoever will trade with you. They include your right to seek and earn work. They include your right to make free choices in the market. Indeed, we all make such choices, big or small, significant or trivial, every day. The market is made up of the aggregate whole of all these choices, all this bargaining and trading and exchange of ideas, products, services, and information. This is not a magical process; it's simply how society operates.

This is in spite of efforts by economically ignorant politicians and interest groups to set up barriers to commerce and free immigration. This is in spite of their efforts to control the market so they can make it work for their own ends. This is in spite of their efforts to protecting and enriching themselves by robbing others of their freedom. This is in spite of their efforts to lock out foreigners out of paranoia that American culture will somehow disappear. That whole "borders, language, culture" nonsense, for instance.

Attacks on immigration, legal or otherwise, are attacks on individual rights, not to mention attacks on the market and a free society. The only "aliens" we should be concerned about are those unsavory, ignorant, and politically-connected folks to whom freedom is an alien concept.

In short, "illegal aliens" arouse their ire because they represent a force the politicos cannot control -- a force that undermines their own ill-gotten power and replaces it with the power of the truly democratic free market.

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 Marcel Votlucka writes from Brooklyn NY.  His work focuses on the connections between psychology, culture, and anti-politics.  Visit his new website at http://marcelvotlucka.wordpress.com/