Campus groups share thoughts on immigration reform
Daily Illini, November 20, 2009
Dear Daily Illini,
In her article, Lori Bell portrays the classic positions of the Right and the Left on immigration. The Right wants a slower influx of immigrants, and wants measures in place to ensure that they will not receive government aid. The Left wants more immigrants to come to America, and wants every single one of them to be offered a full slate of government aid. The two sides present their positions as if they were the only available options, with disregard to any other solution.
The Left’s position is clear: Americans—the haves—ought to sacrifice their own well being for the sake of foreigners seeking to immigrate—the have-nots of the moment. The Right’s position, however, is much more hypocritical. The Right alleges that it is concerned about the economic toll that increased immigration will place on Americans. But if this is really the concern, why not advocate for free immigration with no welfare for immigrants? Such a plan easily addresses the alleged problem—it requires no sacrifices from current American citizens, and allows immigrants to enter the country freely to produce and trade.
The United States is a free country built by the pioneering immigrant spirit that yearns for freedom. “Receive the fugitive,” Thomas Paine implored Americans in 1776, “and prepare an asylum for mankind”. Paine recognized that part of being a free country is the right to let people come and work as they wish, so long as they respect the law. How could one claim to stand for freedom, while denying others the right to be free?
Sorry to say for the Right, but to stand for freedom while opposing free immigration is a contradiction in terms. You can’t be an advocate of freedom while forbidding your own citizens from employing and trading with men cursed to be born in non-free countries. (And sorry to say for the Left, but freedom does not mean the right to take things from hard working Americans and give them to the “needy”–whether American or not.)
Many on the Right argue that immigration would cost Americans jobs, money, or their culture, but this is a smokescreen. No American has a right to a job, or to a wage, or to make his neighbor speak his language. He has a right only to his life and what he can produce, so an immigrant takes nothing from him. And by allowing more immigrants to enter the country, Americans invite more competition, more opportunity, and more people of ability into their borders. Furthermore, without welfare, immigrants would work to support all the institutions and businesses Americans already enjoy, thus strengthening the economy.
To oppose free immigration is to stand against the very idea of freedom. Freedom is not a nationalistic dogma, it is a philosophic principle that should know no borders, and it should certainly not be limited by an artificial cap. It is a right all men have, and Americans should be the first to offer it to them as the champion of personal liberty.
The Undercurrent, Guest Editor
Photo by Alex Jagendorf on Flickr.