If you want to convince us, therefore, that we should be restricting immigration, here is what you need to do, as well as what you want to avoid:
1. Specify how, when, where, and why.
It seems like every time we have such a discussion with statists, we point out the problems of stopping people from crossing borders. You keep saying that our objection is based on a strawman argument, that of course you don't want it that extreme, and you're for a more reasonable immigration policy, and somehow we're the ones who are irrational for just not seeing that.
The problem is, it's really hard to pin you people down on exactly what your policy would be. What do you consider "reasonable"? Why restrict some people and not others? Why impose some restrictions but not others? Which borders need to be secured, and how? And against whom?
If you're not going to say specifically what your policy should be, then we're going to interpret your objection and assertion of "reasonableness" as just an excuse, a way of handwaving away any problems we might point out with immigration restrictions. And how would ANY rational person be expected to be convinced by that?
And by the way, immigration is hardly the only policy that statists pull this stunt with. We point out a problem, and you say we're being unreasonable; you want to "reform" it so it'll be "reasonable," based on "common sense." But none of those words tell us specifically what your policy would or wouldn't do, or what would or would not be included in it. So stop pretending that it's our fault somehow.
2. Stop pretending that immigrants are criminals.
One claim we get quite often is that the more immigrants come here, the more crime there will be. Sorry, but, the statistics here just don't bear you out. When you control for things like socioeconomic status, immigrants are less likely to commit violent or property crimes than comparable Americans. For example, the October 2013 study: "A Game of Catch-Up? The Offending Experience of Second-Generation Immigrants," published in Crime & Delinquency, found no difference in crime rates between second-generation immigrants and native-borns, and that first-generation immigrants commit crime at a lower rate than both second-generation immigrants and native-born, non-Hispanic whites.
Also, a study published in the 6 April 2010 edition of Social Science Quarterly, "Is Immigration Responsible for the Crime Drop?" found:
[C]ities with the largest increases in immigration between 1990 and 2000 experienced the largest decreases in homicide and robbery during the same time period...growth in immigration may have been responsible for part of the precipitous crime drop of the 1990s.Mostly, we see this argument applied to illegal immigrants, the ones who decided it was easier to swim the Rio Grande than climb Mount Bureaucracy, terrain so impassable that a regular working stiff from Mexico has basically no chance of ever getting permission to come here legally. The reason why is that the number of unskilled immigrants that can come here legally is capped at 50,000 a year, but in 2014, 11 million applied. Very few of them will make it in their lifetime. According to Forbes Magazine, a computer programmer from India will have to wait 35 years, and an unskilled Mexican would have to wait 131 years! This gives lie to another worn-out claim of yours:
"Why don't they just get in line?"
Because going through the line for them takes 130 years. So they come here the only way they can: illegally.
You say this is breaking the law. You have to remember what that means to us, or indeed to any sensible person. A law is just words on paper. The fact that the law exists doesn't automatically grant it any moral legitimacy. It used to be that people who helped slaves escape to freedom were breaking the law. So, they were criminals, too.
Every time we bring up this objection to people like you treating the law like it was some kind of Holy Writ, you hit the ceiling. How dare we compare this to slavery! But if you agree that the laws against helping slaves escape were bad, and that the people who defied these laws weren't doing anything wrong—and were even being heroic, then you must realize that, as a general rule, you cannot use the mere existence of a law to demonize the people who break it. You have to justify the law itself, and this video is all about how you can do that properly in order to convince rational people. This argument is just Begging the Question.
So if you advocate putting restrictions on immigrants becoming legal, and then complain that immigrants aren't becoming legal like you want them to, don't expect a whole lot of sympathy from us.
At a last resort, you'll point to the drug trade, and how many "immigrants" are coming here to smuggle drugs and commit crimes.
The first thing you need to do is learn what the word "immigrant" means: it means someone coming here to live. These drug cartel members are not doing that. So using them as an excuse to restrict legitimate immigrants is another desperate tactic that will not convince us.
The second thing is, this is an argument against the War on Drugs. But I guess we'll have to do "How To Argue For Drug Prohibition" some other time.
3. Don't use another big-government policy to justify it.
Here's the perfect example of the kind of argument that just won't work on us:
"We have to restrict immigration because they'll come here and be a drain on our welfare programs."
For now, let's forgive the fact that immigrants are less likely to go on welfare than natural-born Americans. Let's forgive the fact that, compared to natural-born citizens, immigrants use less tax money in government services proportional to the taxes they pay. Let's forgive all of that for the moment.
The problem here is you're using one big government program to justify another big government program—and that just won't wash with us. From our point of view, this is a problem with the welfare state, not immigrants. As Harry Browne said, "A free country has no issue with people coming and going, but a welfare state is scared to death of every rich person who can get out and every poor person who can get in." Make no mistake: this is a problem caused by your government, and punishing immigrants who had nothing to do with it is illogical at best and outright tyrannical at worst.
But not only that, it just isn't true. A study published in the May 2013 issue of Health Affairs found that, between 2002 and 2009, immigrants contributed $115.2 billion more than they received, compared with US-borns who took $30.9 billion more than they contributed.
Besides, what's stopping you from limiting welfare benefits to citizens? Answer: nothing, and in fact, something close to it has already happened: welfare is limited to legal immigrants who have been living in the country for at least five years. Do you really not see why this kind of argument just comes across to us as yet another excuse?
You make a similar claim with Social Security: that illegal immigrants will get the benefits without having to pay into it. This ignores two things: they won't get the benefits, and they do pay for it.
They won't get the benefits because it would mean admitting to the Federal government who they are. Illegals have to remain undocumented so that they aren't at risk of deportation. Trying to get Social Security benefits would put them at risk.
But they do pay for it, because they give their employers bogus Social Security numbers and FICA is withheld from their paychecks. For that matter, the personal Income Tax is withheld as well, and since those who are here illegally don't file Income Tax returns, they don't get the refunds that most of them would have received had they filed. Yes, illegal aliens pay more in taxes than comparable citizens!
Now, there is a change in the law to go effect in 2017 that conspiracy-mongers claim will let illegals collect Social Security benefits, but that's not quite right. Illegal immigrants who become legal—which is what you people keep saying you want them to do—will get benefits, but only the benefits they paid into—just like the rest of us. And while it is true that this includes what they paid in while they were illegal, you can't use that as an argument against it. Your claim is that they'll get benefits without paying into it. Well, they did pay into it, so what basis is there for denying them the benefits? This smacks to us as yet another attempt for government to get money that it didn't earn to prop up a failing and unsustainable program.
There are only two possibilities here: that this Social Security argument is a disingenuous attempt at a justification, or it's an admission that Social Security doesn't work. Which, given the complete lack of response to the previous video, does seem quite likely.
A similar effect has been found in the UK. The study "The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK," published in The Economic Journal in 2014, found that immigrants contributed more in taxes than they took in government benefits.
Not only that, but we had immigrants coming to the US by the millions before there were any welfare programs! They came here for the opportunities that a free country promises, opportunities they were being denied in their home countries.
Sorry, but this whole idea of immigrants swarming here to freeload off our benefits programs is nothing more than a transparent lie.
Besides, if you're so worried about tax money being wasted, what about all the tax money spent deporting immigrants?
4. Don't play the terrorism card.
One very common claim is that we have to restrict immigration to stop terrorists from entering the country. The first problem is that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center released in March 2005. It has likely increased since then, and may be as high as 20 million. So if immigration restrictions won't stop an uneducated worker from Mexico who barely speaks any English from coming here, why do you think it will be any more difficult for a funded and organized terrorist organization?
The second problem is, the terrorists who have come to this country in the past—including the 9/11 hijackers—did so legally. They got immigrant or migrant work, study, or tourist visas. While some of them were technically illegal, this is simply because they stayed here after their visa expired, nothing else.
Not only that, but these terrorists didn't come to America via the Mexican border, so this smacks of more excuse-making.
Also understand that with all of those millions of illegals, finding the terrorists among them is WORSE than trying to find a needle in a haystack—because the haystack isn't the size of the contiguous US and the needle isn't actively trying to hide from you. A more open immigration system would make it EASIER to spot terrorists, criminals, and other troublemakers coming here.
Probably our biggest complaint is that you are using this as an excuse for general immigration restrictions, as if all immigrants were suspected terrorists. Guilty Until Proven Innocent is not a good policy, and will make us less likely to be on your side, not more.
So, what immigration laws could have stopped the 9/11 hijackers? None at all. And even if you did put down a blanket restriction on immigration, all it would mean is that the terrorists would start smuggling their people in just like the drug cartels do.
5. Again, learn some economics already!
Trust me on this: you're not going to get anywhere by giving us this long-debunked crap about how immigrants take our jobs and ruin our economy.
Economics is based on two principles: resources are limited, desires are unlimited. Therefore, any person entering the workforce has something to contribute: someone somewhere has an unmet desire that this person can fulfill as a labor resource in the economy. Historically, immigration has been shown to be nothing but good for the economy. The December 2014 paper "Does Immigration Increase Economic Growth?" from the Manhattan Institute answered that question with a resounding "Yes!":
A large body of economic literature and government data, of which this paper offers a snapshot, leaves little doubt that immigration is not the cause of the country’s current economic woes—but is rather part of the cure to the faster economic growth that the U.S. urgently needs.The causes of unemployment have nothing to do with who's entering the workforce, but other causes, primarily government intrusions into the economy.
For example, if Minimum Wage where you are is $8/hour, and you can't find a job, but someone's hired an illegal immigrant at $5/hour, that job was stolen from you not by the immigrant, but by the Minimum Wage. If illegal immigration hadn't given the employer an opportunity to create that job at its equilibrium wage, it wouldn't have existed at all. You would still be out of a job.
In fact, immigrants create more jobs than they take. A 2015 paper from the National Bureau for Economic Research titled, "Are Immigrants a Shot in the Arm for the Local Economy?" found:
Each immigrant creates 1.2 local jobs for local workers, most of them going to native workers, and 62% of these jobs are in non-traded services. Immigrants appear to raise local non-tradables sector wages and to attract native-born workers from elsewhere in the country. Overall, it appears that local workers benefit from the arrival of more immigrants.Government restrictions only hurt things. According to another paper from the NBER, "The Labor Market Effects of Reducing the Number of Illegal Immigrants":
As immigrants, especially illegal ones, have a worse outside option than natives their wages are lower. Hence their presence reduces the labor cost of employers who, as a consequence, create more jobs per unemployed...[O]ur model shows that increasing deportation rates and tightening border control weakens the low-skilled labor markets, increasing unemployment of native low skilled. Legalization, instead decreases the unemployment rate of low-skilled natives and it increases income per native.Another economic principle to keep in mind is Say's law. The immigrants represent a supply of new labor; they also represent demand for consumer items. They'll eat food, wear clothes, get their hair cut, and consume other goods and services in the economy commensurate with their pay, which in turn is commensurate with how much wealth they're able to create in the economy to begin with. This will improve the economy, not stifle it.
Moreover, immigrants tend to be very entrepreneurial, and create businesses at a much greater rate than native-borns. They create jobs, and just might be the reason you even have a job at the moment, if you do! And if you don't, that's all the more reason you should want more immigrants to come here and create even more jobs.
In fact, they even help native-borns attain educational achievement! A 2012 study from the NBER titled, "The Impact of Immigration on the Educational Attainment of Natives" found:
An increase of one percentage point in the share of immigrants in the population aged 11-64 increases the probability that natives aged 11-17 eventually complete 12 years of schooling by 0.3 percentage points, and increases the probability for native-born blacks by 0.4 percentage points.Likewise, the claim that immigration drives down wages the poor has also been debunked. Another NBER paper, "The Wage Effects of Immigration and Emigration," found:
[A]ll European countries experienced a decrease in their average wages and a worsening of their wage inequality because of emigration. Whereas, contrary to the popular belief, immigration had nearly equal but opposite effects: positive on average wages and reducing wage inequality of non-movers. These patterns hold true using a range of parameters for our simulations, accounting for the estimates of undocumented immigrants, and correcting for the quality of schooling and/or labor-market downgrading of skills. In terms of wage outcomes, it follows that prevalent public fears in European countries are misplaced; immigration has had a positive average wage effect on native workers. Some concerns should be focused on the wage effect of emigration, instead.In other words, people coming to your country to live and work benefits everybody, while people leaving to go elsewhere results in detrimental effects for those at home. So in addition, maybe this is another reason you shouldn't tell people you disagree with to go move to Somalia or somewhere, ya think?
All of this means that the economy as a whole will be better off as more immigrants come here to work, and that's a rising tide that will lift all boats. You as a natural-born citizen will be better off with immigration, as you'll be in a richer economy than you otherwise would have been.
6. Learn some history already.
After all, what is the history of the United States if not one huge argument against restricting immigration? This is a country that was built by immigrants, so that if others want to move to the US and enjoy the blessings of liberty, they can.
One huge set of immigrants we owe much of our wealth to is the Irish. These were mostly unskilled laborers building canals and railroads, and becoming textile workers and longshoremen. And yet, like the Mexicans and other immigrants today, they became a hated group used as a scapegoat for our problems. They were portrayed as dimwitted immoral drunkards. Many a Help Wanted sign included the disclaimer, "No Irish need apply," beginning in the 1840s and continuing into the 20th century.
The Nativist movement sprang up to oppose Irish and German immigration. These immigrants were said to be hostile to American values and puppets of the regime they came from, bent on replacing our wonderful American society with one governed by the principles of the horrendous governments they left. They make the same argument today about Mexicans and other Latinos. In fact, pretty much every argument against immigrants today was used against the Irish and the Germans, but they all turned out not to be true, and our country is all the better off for having them here.
One big jump happened after the end of the Mexican War, where 70,000 Mexicans living in California and New Mexico were given US citizenship. Afterwards, this part of the country experienced fantastic economic growth—despite many complaints that these new Americans were just here to wage war against us.
The US passed its first anti-immigration law in 1875 after being given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court. The Page Act outlawed the immigration of Asian laborers, which was followed in 1882 by the Chinese Exclusion Act. For the first time, there was a limit on the number of immigrants allowed in the US—but just from China.
It continued into the 20th century with the Italians, then later with Swedes, Norwegians, and Poles. Congress kept adding new constraints with the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924.
But as we've already seen, all Congress was doing was shooting the country in the foot. The country was built and made great by immigrants of all kinds, from all over the world. So if you use the same excuses to restrict immigration today as they did back then, don't be surprised if you don't win any converts.
7. Stop playing the "My grandad came here legally" card.
As we've already covered, things were very different back when he came to this country. Really, he would most likely have had to just fill out a few forms and maybe go through a medical exam. Nowadays, it's much tougher. With Congress severely limiting the number of available visas for the number of people who want to come here, you basically have to win a lottery to get in—which means you also can't use the "my friend came here legally" card. It's just like saying, "My friend won $10 million in the lottery so why aren't you rich?" Knock it off!
But there's another issue here: your grandad might not have come here legally, as we would think about it, but he may have come here before there was this division of class between legal and illegal immigrants. That's a modern phenomenon. An illegal immigrant in your grandad's time wouldn't have been arrested and imprisoned for months before INS finally got around to deporting him; they would have said, "Hey, you need to complete this paperwork here."
Also, many of them broke the law by lying on the forms, claiming they had relatives or other ties here, or a job lined up. Many of them lied about their criminal records and their religious and political affiliations. After all, one big reason for them to come to America was to escape tyrannical regimes where they would be convicted on trumped-up charges. And to this day, immigrants who come here legally must swear that they've never been a member of a communist or totalitarian party—even though many were forced to join those parties in their homelands.
Your grandad might not have been caught, but that doesn't mean he obeyed every dotted "i" and crossed "t" when he came here.
8. Remember that Prohibition doesn't work.
I'll say it again: Prohibition doesn't work. It has never worked, and can never work.
No one can deny the absolute failure of alcohol prohibition. Despite the best efforts of Federal, state, and local authorities, they just couldn't stop people from getting alcoholic drinks. Nowadays, it's only the irrational and the insensible who doubt the failure of the War on Drugs, as drugs get more plentiful and the police become more and more helpless to stop it, despite enormous new Constitution-violating authorities being given to them every year.
Here's the thing: drugs and alcoholic drinks are inanimate objects. They aren't actively trying to break the law. But when you're talking about people prohibition—which is fundamentally what immigration restrictions are—you're no longer restricting an inanimate object that will just sit there and wait for the police to find and confiscate it; we're talking about an intelligent and clever flesh-and-blood person, who has the incentive to come up with creative ways of evading the authorities.
So if the prohibition of inanimate objects does not and cannot work, how much greater is the problem of trying to restrict human beings?
9. Don't claim there are "too many."
I think we've already covered more than enough scientific and statistical information to show how ridiculous this claim is. By far the bulk of the scientific data show that we're better off with more immigrants, not less. But if you need one more statistic, okay, here you go:
13% of America's population today is foreign-born, compared to 15% in 1915, and compared to 27% in current-day Switzerland and Austria. And in case you think the problem is we're more crowded, in terms of area, we have just under 11 immigrants per square mile in the US, compared to 70 in Austria and 136 in Switzerland—and Switzerland is mostly mountains! No, there's not too many by any measure.
10. Don't be a racist.
There are all sorts of overtly racist reasons for wanting immigration restricted. Aside from the obvious, there are also arguments like these:
If current immigration levels and demographics continue, whites will become a minority by 2044, according to the US Census Bureau. The number of Mexicans in the US surpassed the number of blacks at the turn of the century.
Okay...So what??? Oh, I'm sorry there will be more people who don't superficially resemble you! Poor widdle baby!
This argument isn't new. 100 years ago in 1916, Madison Grant published his book, "The Passing of the Great Race." He was worried about his race becoming a minority as more of those inferior races came in. The interesting thing is, the "inferior races" he was talking about were primarily Italians and Poles! His "superior race" was Nordic whites. Nowadays, most of us consider all people of European descent to be the same race, with other races mostly being defined by skin color. But what will we call a race 100 years from now?
Another covertly racist argument against immigration deals with language. "If you're going to come here, learn English!" Yeah, because anything we do to increase the number of superior white English speakers is great, so let's make it more difficult for the Mexicans.
People complain that they're tired of seeing all these multilingual signs around. What, are you moaning that it's some real hardship to look up and see a sign that has words on it you don't understand? Hey, I've got a sign for you: "Vituperous, pusillanimous, inerudite coccydinia!" You probably don't know what that means, either, even though you are one!
One complaint is that immigrants just stay in their own area and speak their own language and don't have anything to do with anyone else. First of all, if this is true, so what? Let them live how they want, as long as they aren't harming anybody!
Second, it isn't true. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Transnational American Studies titled, "Linguistic Marginalities: Becoming American without Learning English," they found that Spanish-speaking immigrants are learning English at a faster rate than their German counterparts of the early 20th century. A 2012 study from Pew Research Center, "When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity," found that over 90% of second- and third-generation Latino adults both spoke and read English fluently.
The next argument is just the opposite: that immigrants are integrating with society and "watering down" the gene pool. This argument is just one step away from eugenics. Although they don't state it outright, this only makes sense if the white race has superior genes and these Mexicans or whoever are going to contaminate it with lesser genes.
But the fact of the matter is, Darwin showed us that a population is stronger when there's a greater amount of genetic diversity. The population will be better able to meet unexpected challenges to their survivability in the future. So what argument do you have for keeping our genes "pure," other than your own feeling of ickiness at brown people coming here to start families?
Would it really be so bad if we became a majority-minority country, with more and more people of mixed race? Isn't this diversity of appearance, opinion, and culture a good thing that will make us stronger?
These arguments repudiate the words on the Statue of Liberty, which echo everything that helped build this country into an economic superpower and make it great—a greatness that is slowly being eroded as time goes on. That plaque doesn't say "Give me your smart, your elite, your best." It's, "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-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Not the great, and the good, and the beautiful, but the tired, poor, wretched refuse, tempest-tossed. Because a free country will take these people and make them great.
Here's the bottom line: You can argue for immigration restrictions without being racist. But you cannot base your arguments on the nature of the immigrants themselves without being racist.
You know, you statists are going to have to start responding to these videos at some point. Otherwise, we just might get the idea that you have absolutely no way to defend your favorite political policies rationally.