The Chimera of Immigration Reform

A commentary in the New York Times today provides a perfect demonstration of the problem facing the American people regarding immigration. 

The title of the commentary is “Why Rural America Needs Immigrants” by Ruben Leonard and Matt Russell. Leonard is the author of a book entitled Deep Midwest: Midwestern Explorations. Russell is the owner of a place called Coyote Run Park.

Just below the title of the article are posted nine photographs of various “Help Wanted’ signs in diverse businesses in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The point of the article is to let people know that there is currently a tremendous demand for labor in rural America. Jobs are going unfulfilled, which is causing problems for businesses that are desperately in need of workers. As the authors put it, “Rural America has a growth problem. Business and industry desperately need workers, but the domestic labor pool is shallow, and the nation’s birthrate is slowing.

Their solution? Immigrants. The authors say that more immigrants will solve the problem. 

And then comes the kicker. The authors raise the same old tired solution that has been proposed by statists for decades: an immigration reform plan that will ostensibly finally bring an end to America’s decades-long, ongoing, never-ending immigration crisis. 

Leonard and Russell think they have come up with the immigration reform plan that will finally fix the problem. They say that the “Biden administration needs to make the immigration process easier and faster.” Their specific proposal is to make visa programs more “flexible.”

My gosh! Why didn’t someone think of this before now? How simple! Just make make the immigration process “easier and faster” and the visa program more “flexible.” Voila! Immigration crisis over! 

Unfortunately, Leonard and Russell, like so many other Americans, just don’t get it. There is no conceivable plan that will reform and fix America’s immigration-control system. Let me repeat that for emphasis: There is no conceivable plan that will reform and fix America’s immigration-control system. People who devote their minds, time, energy, and money trying to come up with such a plan are wasting their minds, time, energy, and money.

Even if the Biden administration were to make the immigrant process the “easiest and fastest” it has ever been and even if it were to come up with the most “flexible” visa program in history, the system still would not work. Why, even if you put Leonard and Russell in charge of the entire immigration-control system and vested them with the authority to do whatever they wanted, there would still be an ongoing, never-ending immigration crisis.

There is a simple reason for this phenomenon. America’s immigration-control system is based on the socialist principle of central planning. Government planners are expected to study the demand for labor in rural America (and everywhere else) and then determine how many immigrants are needed to match up with that demand. Additionally, the planners are expected to evaluate the educational background, the credentials and skills of each immigrant, and the ages of the immigrants to make certain that supply equals demand.

It simply cannot be done. There is no way for central planners, no matter how brilliant they might be, to perform such an impossible task, especially given ever-changing market conditions. As Friedrich Hayek pointed out, central planners are characterized by a “fatal conceit” — the mindset that they are able to plan an economic activity in a complex labor market involving millions of people and ever-changing market evaluations and market conditions. 

Ludwig von Moses had a term for what happens under central planning: “planned chaos.” I can’t think of a better term to describe America’s decades-old, ongoing, never-ending immigration crisis.

There is but one solution to this socialist mayhem — the free market, an economic system in which people are free to coordinate their activities rapidly and without any governmental interference. 

Central to a free-market system is the price system. As the price of labor begins going up in a certain area, workers are quick to respond. As wages begin to go down, workers look elsewhere. No government planning is needed to interfere with this process.

A free market in immigration necessarily means open borders — i.e., the free movements of goods, services, and people across borders. That means no immigration controls whatsoever. No more Border Patrol and no more ICE.

Think of the domestic United States. There are no controls on the movements of people, goods, and services across state borders. Notice something important: There is no immigration crisis between the states. There is also no obsessing over the trade deficit that exists between states. Every day, countless people, goods, and services cross state borders. No one even keeps track of it all. 

That’s the only system — let me repeat that for emphasis: That is the only system that will ever work. It’s also the only system that will finally bring an end to the death and suffering and the police state that are inherent to America’s socialist immigration system. 

All that Leonard and Russell and other Americans need to do is abandon their commitment to socialism and embrace America’s heritage of economic liberty and free markets. It’s as easy as that.

The post The Chimera of Immigration Reform appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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Author: Jacob G. Hornberger


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