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“It May Seem Ridiculous To Talk About Mexican Terrorists – But…”

Just when I think I’m out, ODE columnists keep pulling me back in. What subject is almost guaranteed to trigger an angry blog post from your humble correspondent? That’s right, immigrant-bashing. Kirsten Brock’s focus, as I’m sure she would point out, is illegal immigration, but count me as one non-citizen who isn’t terribly reassured by what she does here: take a crucial national security problem and treat it as if it applied only to one particularly vulnerable segment of the population.

And then there is this spectacular money quote:

While increasing security is a step, we must remove the incentives for crossing the border.

This is, to say the least, a novel approach to the issue: removing the incentives for crossing the border. Yes, if only the US economy (not to mention US salaries) were on a par with Mexico’s, if only people didn’t want to come to the US to build a better life for themselves and their families – in short, if only the United States could somehow be made to suck more, we wouldn’t be drowning in all these goddamned foreigners.

Brock deploys every related fallacy in the book – immigration as antisocial behavior, immigrants as drain on public resources rather than as the engine driving a substantial part of the economy, etc – with enough space left over to call ’em all terrorists. After all, she points out, they’ve already broken one law, simply by being here! Why, these fiends will stop at nothing! The moral distinction drawn here between good-guy legal immigrants and nefarious illegals is, to put it politely, nonsense: to pick one obvious example, Mohammed Atta actually received the student visa he’d applied for, six months after September 11. This points to a massive systemic problem, to be sure, but it’s one that can be conveniently disregarded the moment an easier populist target comes along, such as the work visa scheme Brock is busy decrying.

Bite me, Kirsten Brock. And when you’re done biting me, read this.

  1. ajb says:


    I understand the legal distinction, thanks so much.
    It’s the common sense of such a comparison, I question.

    If you don’t like the law, organize some people, get a bill written, and change the law.
    But in the meantime, don’t cry when you get a speeding ticket, and don’t expect me to have a lot of sympathy for some Canadian tree farmer that gets deported back to Winnipeg.


  2. Bret says:

    Not to get off topic: but I’d like to point out I was questioning Olly’s morals many years ago, and I won’t give up that role without protest.

    Also, after a good intellectual thrashing, cut some slack to the token conservative ODE columnist — the role has been filled by some unbelievably talented drinkers and thinkers, who will remain nameless.

  3. Danimal says:

    My modest proposal: to offset illegal immigration from Mexico, we disallow a certain number of vacationing Americans from re-entering the States from Mexico. I suspect this will improve the vitality of our workforce much as natural predation maintains the health of a herd of deer: the old, the weak, and the pensioned will be culled off to hustle chiclets and wash dishes in Mexico, and in return we get Mexico’s most determined, motivated, and resourceful human resources.

    Seriously, those of you who, with a straight face, believe that people sneak over the border for welfare: Have you ever met an illegal immigrant? Have you ever met a person living on welfare? I’ve met both, and I’ve found the former to be Mexican and highly motivated, and the latter to be American-born and highly (cough) lazy. The former didn’t have much, but was willing to do all he could to get more. The latter, too, didn’t have much, yet didn’t seem to care if he ever got more, unless it came without effort on his part.

    There are plenty of reasons to criticize welfare, and there are bona fide drains on society. But people who brave the U.S.-Mexico border time and time again are not the sort likely to become such drains. Plenty of people born here are.

  4. Danimal says:


    You’re comparing people who are commiting a federal misdemeanor(and if a repeat offender, a felony) with someone who jaywalks? Seriously?

    Sure, that can be serious. Both are malum prohibitum, i.e., bad because they are illegal. Whereas rape or murder are malum in se — bad in and of themselves. Certain things are illegal just because we say so. Others enjoy a near-universal agreement upon their inherent evilness.

    Like a cloud pattern, this distinction is easy enough to see once someone points it out, but it’s tripping you up. Who cares whether an offense is a municipal violation or a federal misdemeanor (oooh!) if it’s only bad ’cause somebody said so? I, being a bit of federalist, will respect the municipality ahead of Congress, if we’re going that way.

    Likewise, Kirsten got tripped up when she compared illegal immigration to murder. The fact that there is an ongoing debate on the propriety of illegal immigration should make clear that, unlike murder, we don’t have any kind of consensus on its inherent wrongness. It’s only bad because it’s illegal. Which is a stupid reason to frown on something.

    I broke the speed limit for 83 consecutive minutes on I-5 this evening, at times by more than 20 miles per hour. And here I sit, not murdering anyone. But OH GOD, I broke the law! Who’s to say I won’t sign up for welfare next???

  5. ajb says:

    “We don’t and will never enforce jay walking, so get rid of it”

    No, no, no!

    People who jaywalk should be made to stand on street corners with giant sandwich-boards that read “I’m an idiot who can’t push a walk button” on the front and “Cross on the green, Not in between” on the back.

    Alternately, we could just eliminate the hit and run laws for cars that strike pedestrians and let natural selection take over.


  6. ajb says:

    “Jaywalkers are also breaking the law.”

    You’re comparing people who are commiting a federal misdemeanor(and if a repeat offender, a felony) with someone who jaywalks? Seriously?

    “Big of you, ajb. Thanks.”
    Sure thing.

    All I ask is that you come legally.

    “This is not a trick question: what’s your opinion of the trade embargo against Cuba?”

    If it served any purpose at all, that purpose ended when the Soviet Union collapsed.
    I think it’s kept around through a sense of (for lack of a better word) vindictiveness, and for political reasons (lots of anti-castro voters in Florida).


  7. Andy D says:

    F- lars. That guy isn’t libertairian. And no, I don’t want to shoot people, but since were a nation of compromising/pissing on the constitution, I thought it would be a fair trade.
    If there were no entitlements, then who would care if illegal immigrants came in? Racists? The Lazy? We should care is bad people were comming in, but as long as they did find jobs, no one would care. What I do care about is the lack of assimillation and the overuse of entitlements.
    The government is in a completly rediculous position half-assly enforcing immigration laws. I am much more worried about my gun rights, and my property (tax) rights than this subject.

    But yet, my arguments prove true that illegal immigration in its current form is a massive detriment to our society.

  8. Anthony says:

    Tyler thanks for comparing me to Lou Dobbs, for future reference I’d prefer Partick J, why not just go the extra yard and really make it worth it.

  9. Timothy says:

    Gabrielle, I think, has a decent proposal. I guess the theory is that your tax ID will come back wrong if the guy/gal isn’t legal, but I think being able to just ask is fine.

    That said, I don’t think it’ll make much difference in most places. The guy who runs the yard business that my folks use doesn’t care if his employees are legal or not, and frankly neither does anyone else.

    And, yeah, ending entitlements wouldn’t likely reduce illegal immigration by that much, but hey, if you can sell ending entitlements as a solution to the hot-button xenophobia issue of the day, at least you’ve ended entitlements. Replace them with the EITC, that’d be fine.

    And, again, we’re back to the incentives issue: so long as the US has a much, much stronger economy than Mexico there will be a major incentive to border hop, even at the risk of getting caught. Measures sufficient to make that not the case, short of helping bring Mexico’s economy into at least the 20th century, will be both draconian and extremely costly.

    Where the cost of running for the border is P(Caught)*C(Punishment) where C is some monetarized cost (from lost wages, imprisonment, etc) folks will try it so long as that remains below the gains for being here in the first place. Raising either is costly to the US, likely more costly than the illegals on welfare.

    We know deportation doesn’t work, folks will just come back. Guy who worked at a construction company in Hood River with former OCer and new Ukiah Daily Journal employee Ben Brown was deported back to Mexico three times before coming to the states legally to stay. He walked. To Oregon. From Monterrey. Thrice. That’s how much better things are here.

  10. Gabrielle says:

    Oops, that was me I didn’t mean to be anonymous!

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Also, I’m willing to compromise. If there was reciprocity with concealed weapons lisences like there is with drivers lisences,and repealed the gun control acts of 1968 and 1986, I would offer no more contest to whatever immigration policies.”

    Andy: So, am I reading this right, you plan on going and shooting them yourself??

    And if you are talking minuteman, do you realize that as good a concept as minutemen may be, they are crossing private property lines with no respect to the owners rights?

  12. johnC says:

    Andy, say this to yourself 1000 times. People don’t cross the border for entitlements. Entitlements do not amout to much per person and illegals use them at a lower rate than the resident poor.

    As far as being a socialist, I don’t think of having an educated population as socialist. Read the republican platform if you don’t believe me.

    “Also, I’m willing to compromise. If there was reciprocity with concealed weapons lisences like there is with drivers lisences,and repealed the gun control acts of 1968 and 1986, I would offer no more contest to whatever immigration policies.”

    What the hell?!? Also, you forgot to throw in gay marriage, Lars Larson would be ashamed of you.

  13. Gabrielle says:

    One feasible aspect of a solution would be to allow employers to check the status of the people they hire. In Oregon, right now, it is illegal to check the legal status of any employee. You can ask if they are a felon but not if they are a citizen, or otherwise legal to work.

  14. Casey says:

    Ending entitlements wouldn’t work. It might slightly decrease the number of illegals, but it still wouldn’t stop people crossing the border to work. A job and no entitlements in the U.S. is still better than no job and no entitlements in Mexico. Besides, I know from personal experiance that most illegals, at least those living in Yamhill County, don’t ask for anything out of fear of being sent back to Mexico. They just want thier checks from the nursery cashed.

  15. Timbo says:

    “We don’t and will never enforce jay walking”

    Not true. We do enforce jaywalking if the officer is bored, below quota, and/or doesn’t like you. My roommate received a jaywalking ticket just last month for crossing against the walk signal.

  16. Andy D says:

    First of all, I’m not calling into question Dr. Ruff’s mental capacities at all.

    Yes, math at 830 is hard. But the point being that they are somehow really important to our economy is null.

    John, you can believe whatever you want about socialism, but that doesn’t change the fact that illegal immigrants are actually a drain on our economy. Plus, illegal immigrants children that are born within the borders of the United States are American citizens – and therefore that $400m tab doesn’t imclude them.

    You know what a great solution to illegal immigration is without your straw man argument is John?
    End entitlements. Then many would probably go back themselves.

    Tim, if there were no entitlement programs, the only reason there would be too many illegal aliens is if they were terrorists or people were racist.

    Also, I’m willing to compromise. If there was reciprocity with concealed weapons lisences like there is with drivers lisences,and repealed the gun control acts of 1968 and 1986, I would offer no more contest to whatever immigration policies.

  17. But think of the money we could get by harvesting their organs for profit!

  18. Timothy says:

    Yes, hey, nothing like machine gun nests 400 yards from the border, then, hey we can just shoot those lazy wetbacks and/or chanucks as they run across! [/scarcasm]

  19. johnC says:

    “I’d love to get rid of welfare, or at least make it harder to draw benefits.”

    “We should, on the other hand, actually punish people who come here illegaly.”

    We could use the savings in welfare to pay for the punishment. The cost of deporting these people might be more than you think. Look at

    Unless by punish you meant kill them or fine them, that would be cheaper.

  20. Kirsten says:

    I’d love to get rid of welfare, or at least make it harder to draw benefits.

    I don’t like the idea of a national ID card since Congress would inevitably find a way to screw the concept up. It’s a great idea in theory though.

    And yes, I would like to enforce the laws on the books OR repeal them. We don’t and will never enforce jay walking, so get rid of it. We should, on the other hand, actually punish people who come here illegaly.

  21. johnC says:

    “The median wage for the American worker is $43318, and Harvard economists George Borjas and Lawrence Katz, and they estimated the average illegal immigrant wage to be 41% less than for Americans.”

    Thats right Andy they’re generally poor.

    “That is appx $17760. If anyone knows tax laws, please tell me if any of that is even TAXABLE.”

    No Andy its 25557 (41% less) and yes they are taxed on that. Also dosen’t your argument apply to all poor people? After all they tend to make less than the average american.

    “Oregon is paying $400 million just in education for illegals.”

    Money well spent. We can’t punish the children for what their parents do. We can either educate them or live with them uneducated, I prefer the latter.

    Olly, send me your phone number.

  22. Andy D says:

    My argument is not against immigration, but illegal immigration, entitlement programs, national security, assimiliation policies, and tresspass.

    What is a border? It is first a political boundry defining the bredth the laws will extend over a geographic area. Second, it is a military position claiming the sovergnty of a government. To the citizens, some times it is a social boundry.

    All of you are denying the border as relevant.
    Tim: A large sect of the Austrian school, I believe accuratly points out that in a free market, the type of immigration from mexico we have now would be tresspass.
    Hermann-Hoppe on Immigration

    Like Tim also pointed out, 2/3 of federal spending is wealth transfer ponzi schemes, and eliminating these programs – especially for illegals – would DECREASE INCENTIVES for illegal aliens.
    Think about this everyone –
    The median wage for the American worker is $43318, and Harvard economists George Borjas and Lawrence Katz, and they estimated the average illegal immigrant wage to be 41% less than for Americans. Link
    That is appx $17760. If anyone knows tax laws, please tell me if any of that is even TAXABLE. Now, I don’t have figures yet, but a garuntee the states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas pay a shit-ton more TO illegal aliens than they receive. Even in Kirstens article she states Oregon is paying $400 million just in education for illegals. If that scares you don’t try and find out what the Oregon Health Plan is paying for them. Illegals over use our entitlement programs and provide VERY little economic help – “gardener, bus boy, or dishwasher.” Right, the US economy is built on those people. What a joke!

    More to come later..

  23. Casey says:

    Did I just read that someone wants all the laws that are on the books enforced? Well then, long live the OLCC, death to jay-walkers, more MIP’s, and never drive over 55! Law and Order, Law and Order!

  24. Timothy says:

    And if the market were the only thing determining how many illegal aliens we need, why are they on welfare?

    And, again, one then needs to look at welfare as the problem, not immigrants. 2/3 of federal spending is entitlement programs, you want illegals to stop getting welfare? Get rid of welfare and replace the whole thing with an extension of the EITC.

    I can’t blame folks for wanting a better life for themselves, if you hadn’t noticed Mexico is basically a thrid-world country, with massive corruption and little opportuinty. So long as this is the case there will be incentives to get into America, legally or otherwise. With the difficulties we’ve put on legal immigration since 9/11 (just ask the good Dr. Ruff about student visas sometime, make sure you’ve a few hours), that only increases the incentive to border jump. Welfare is the same sort of thing, eliminate that and you reduce the incentive to cross the border without decreasing freedom.

    Suppose we do that, and there are still “too many” illegals by some ever-shifting aesthetic requirement, what then? Well, we’d be down to two options: a draconian police state on the borders, or making Mexico better. And, again, using trade in goods, services, and yes labor, while working to undo much of the corruption in Mexico could work wonders without putting any M1-A1s in Laredo.

    The Canadian border is a different issue, I think the solution for that is simply annexing Canada. All of them live within 100 miles of the US anyway, and there are only 36 million. They’d be the largest state!

  25. Olly says:

    ajb: “They _are_ breaking the law. Full stop.”

    Full stop! Yes, they certainly are breaking the law. You quoted me making this exact point, I think. Jaywalkers are also breaking the law. So are file-sharers. There are various other examples I could bring up involving sodomy laws. You know, at the risk of introducing too much nuance: there are lawbreakers, and then there are lawbreakers.

    “You want to come to the U.S. and work for $6.00 in the fields? Be my guest, and welcome.”

    Big of you, ajb. Thanks.

    “I don’t know what the real solution would be to the problem, but I know that rewarding people who have managed to evade the law is _not_ the answer.”

    This is not a trick question: what’s your opinion of the trade embargo against Cuba?

  26. Ian says:

    As far as removing incentives, I favor fines large enough to get business owner’s attention, not the slaps on the wrist they get now.
    While we obviously disagree on amnesty, this is a very good point. Businesses should be heavily fined for violating these sorts of employment laws, if only to help begin account for the true costs of illegal immigration.

  27. Ian says:

    While illegal immigrants are obviously breaking the law, crossing the border is not an irrational or violent act. If I were a Mexican citizen with little education, employment opportunities, or wealth and I heard that there were actually opportunities across the border I’d try my hardest to get across. As would most of you. That doesn’t make it legal or proper, but it’s silly to say that people deserve to be shot for such an act. Considering how many people have crossed, will continue to cross even with heightened security, and contribute positively to the U.S. economy it’s a bit unrealistic to not have some sort of amnesty program.

    That’s not to completely excuse people who break the law to enter the country, but this is a problem where a purely ideological solution (“cradle-to-grave welfare for all illegals!” / “deport ’em all and mine every inch of the border!” / “make ’em watch the Saints play every week!”*) is unlikely to have any chance of being effective.

    And a National ID card would be a great idea if it were implemented correctly (see: multilayered public key encryption.) It’s virtually guaranteed that any system devised by the U.S. Congress will offer little privacy, negligible security, and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

    * My ideological solution. Agricultural production in California would come to a complete halt within two years.

  28. Kirsten says:

    *sigh* I’m almost done with this – we’re going in circles. Yes, sometimes it’s self defense. I just meant that I COULD kill someone for good reasons and it’d still be murder. Fine, you could speed for a good reason, but you’d still get a ticket (I’m too tired to come up with a good example).

    Again, illegal immigration won’t ever totally disappear. I’d like to initiate a guest worker program to replace migrant workers, however (like Bush’s) – but I don’t know how it’d work out because I don’t make policy, nor do I have any real knowledge of the issue. Perhaps it wouldn’t be feasible in all cases – ok. But I would like to see an improvement in the way things are being done now. Nowhere in my column did I call completely ending illegal immigration – I admitted that we would always have to live with some.

    Like I said before, I couldn’t have really discussed all of this in great detail in 800 words. I’d like to increase funding for the INS and make a workable terrorist watch list too, but I couldn’t have given either of those points much space.

  29. Olly says:

    Actually, Kirsten, if you kill someone for a perfectly good reason such as self-defense, it isn’t murder at all.

    In this example, though, there isn’t a corpse to be seen. As Tyler said, I think there are two separate issues here: the underground economy, and national security. You can’t prop up the latter by attacking the former, because the people illegally immigrating to the US to work and the hypothetical terrorists are different groups of people. What’s more, even if you could get rid of illegal farm workers, it would fuck up the economy and have no effect on national security whatsoever. Measures like the work visa program are pragmatic attempts to work around this, but they’ve been in the pipeline since before 9/11 – amnesty for immigrants in the SW was a Bush campaign platform way back in 2000.

    On the other hand, terrorists could just enter the country legally. You know, the way the 9/11 attackers did.

  30. Kirsten says:

    Tyler – I just spent more time on the Mexican side because there are more illegal aliens slipping through it than the Canadian border, the Canadians don’t have the equivalent of the matricula consular and Bush’s proposal focused more on the south than the north.

  31. Kirsten says:

    Well, but they ARE criminals. I could kill someone for perfectly good reason, but it’d still be murder.

    And if the market were the only thing determining how many illegal aliens we need, why are they on welfare? And I never said they steal jobs – there are jobs that Americans aren’t doing. But I just don’t like illegal aliens receiving entitlements without paying taxes or registering with the gov’t – I’d like to know who’s here. And I’m not saying the incentives should disappear. As I stated in the column, I just don’t want people who aren’t paying into the system and who are breaking the laws receiving benefits.

    I know for a fact that we’ve caught people on the terrorist watch list coming through the Mexican border – how many haven’t we caught?

  32. Tyler says:

    A bureaucratic agency, whose basis for funding is predicated on rounding up border crossers, is telling us that the number of illegal immigrants is much higher than 11-13 million. Perhaps that is true, but I scoff nonetheless.

    “How can we have a safe country with a porous border?” That’s a good question. And it’s refreshing that you recognize that we have two borders — one much larger than the other. But I still think your “security” argument falls flat because you don’t allot both borders equal time. Your argument focuses entirely on the Mexican border. Your primary argument is that too many illegal immigrants are coming into our country, while your secondary security argument seems completely ancillary, thrown in to add some element of immediate danger. You might not think you’re scaremongering, but that’s certainly what it seems like. But, hey, that’s simply my point of view.

    As for Anthony, I have this response to your assimilation comment: Assimilation does not happen immediately. Yes, many immigrants enter our country and take up residence in ethnic enclaves where their language is spoken and their cultures thrive. But if you had read the article Olly posted, you would see that this does not continue forever.

    My grandmother, for example, immigrated to this country from Finland. She and her family started their life in the U.S. in a predominantly Finnish community in Astoria. My Great-Grandmother never learned to speak English — despite, for some inexplicable reason, her favorite program being The Beverly Hillbillies — but her offspring, my grandmother, assimilated quite well and ended up attending this very university. You could argue that my Great-Grandmother never “assimilated”, but I don’t see how this was anti-social.

  33. Instead of taking the incentives away, why not we just shoot everyone that illegally jumps the border from Mexico.

    Saves us time, money, and saves Legal immigrants from any of the stigma.

    Besides, we can then get into Organ Harvesting and other profit-driven works. I mean, I see a cash boom coming. 🙂

  34. Olly says:

    OK, now I feel bad about telling Kirsten to “bite me”. I blame society. (I’m not going to apologize, though, because I rather like having Andy question my morals.)

    I think what we’re dancing around here is the problematic designation of illegal immigrants as criminals (a category that can then readily be conflated with “terrorists”). In a sense, well, yes, illegal immigrants are breaking the law. On the other hand, they’re usually doing so for perfectly good reasons and it’s hard for anyone involved, including the border patrol, to condemn them for it. (There’s a very good chapter in PJ O’Rourke’s Holidays in Hell on this.) Economically speaking (again, see link at end of original post) they’re not “stealing” jobs, they’re not damaging the nation – if anything, it’s quite the reverse. Why is the idea of “rewarding” people who’ve already crossed the border such an anathema? (And, btw, who’s to say how much cheap labor the country needs? Isn’t that the kind of thing that we usually look to, um, the market for?)

    The “incentives for crossing the border” are good things: work and opportunity in America, a better life. This is what I was making mean-spirited fun of in my original post: we don’t want to get rid of these incentives.

  35. Kirsten says:

    First off, Tyler, I can at least recognize that their blogs are a lost cause.

    Second, I’m not saying that illegal immigration will ever disappear, and I know we need some to keep the economy running. But the INS estimates that there are 11-13 million illegals in the country right now, but concedes that the number is probably much higher. California alone estimates that there are 14 million illegals in its borders and Texas guesses around 10.4. Yes, we need some cheap labor, but not NEARLY that much.

    And I’m not being paranoid. How can we have a safe country with a porous border? While I don’t like border guards (I’ve been detained for hours myself by a guard on the Canadian border that thought my license was fake), I recognize that to have a safe country, we need to actually police the border. That doesn’t mean I’m for a national ID card, but I think we should have tighter security.

    I think rather than paranoid, I’m just being idealistic. I’d like the US to enforce the laws on the books, and go after illegal aliens. And I’m not against Bush’s guest worker program – it’s a great solution to using illegals. But I don’t think we should grant it to people already in the country on principle. If we’re going to guard the borders, we shouldn’t reward the people who already came through. Perhaps we could expedite the process to get a guest worker visa and lower the costs involved.

    Finally, you have to cut me some slack – I can’t respond to every argument in an 800 word column. I just picked a couple issues that really irritate me, such as using the matricula consular as a valid form of ID. You can’t tell me that I could go in to the economic repercussions of mass deportations or replacing illegals with guest workers in a half page.

    Oh, and Ian…I hope I don’t get fired. No one said anything about public debate. Actually, all I was told was that I had a column due on Wednesday. Hm…

  36. Michael G. says:

    I just can’t let this go:

    “It seems you have a fairly non-educated opinion or belief about immigration in the United States.”

    Andy: Of all the people posting on this blog, Dr. Olly Ruff is one of the most educated, and knows plenty about immigration and the United States, having been an international student and all.

  37. Tyler says:

    Okay, I apologize for the sewer comment.

  38. Tyler says:

    Anthony: You are articulate as well. “Come here legally or get the hell out.” Okay, Lou Dobbs. Who, exactly, drives the economy if not workers, by which I mean people who work for a damn living? This is hardly a Marxian view of economics, unless you equate “workers” with the “proletariat”, which Olly isn’t.

    Andy: Asking Olly to apologize makes me question your understanding of the blog. And, for God’s sake, if you’re going to argue with a man with a PhD, use a damn spell checker.

    Kirsten: Shouldn’t you be helping your own publication’s blog rise from the sewer?

  39. Timothy says:

    Unfortunately, I’m not a libertarian, just a Reagan conservative.

    That is unfortunate. You should come over to the dark side, we’ve got nachos.

    Let me chime in as somebody who’s gained knowledge of border-state politics since living here.

    1) The entire economy of the southwest would suffer a major shock were immigration shut down. Illegal immigrants mostly do a lot of honest work here, and send a lot of remittances. I doubt there’s a single gardener, bus boy, or dishwasher here legally in San Antonio. And yet, the Texas economy is booming, my employer is having a record year (stock at ~$55, Q3 earnings of $.80 per share, trading at a P/E of about 18 which is a bit high for a bank, but still).

    2) Border-state governors will say anything to get more federal money. It is in their best interest to pull stunts like declaring states of emergency, saying immigrants are a drain, etc. Richardson & Perry have a good reason to cause a stink, and xenophobia plays well with the electorate.

    3) If you want to work in this country, you can work. I don’t buy that perfectly eager to work folks will be driven out by folks willing to work. The problem is with entitlement spending, not with immigrants.

    4) The only way to close the border is so draconian that no American in a border town would tolerate it. My dad got stopped for being four guys in a van in Macallen. That’s bullshit.

    5) The only way to eliminate the incentives to come here are to make the US economy tank or make the Mexican economy better. The latter is the best option, and is possible, with extension of free-trade, free flow of labor and remittances, and corruption-fighting measures.

    6) Olly is right about the lack of a bright line between illegal and legal immigrants. Government is so incompetent that I’d rather let all of South America live here than live in a country where people get asked for papers.

    Even post 9/11 the risk of being killed in terrorist attack is minimal. Diligence is one thing, complete paraniod insanity is quite another. The right strategy is taking the war to the middle east, the wrong strategy is enacting freedom-killing measures at home.

    I’m sort of surprised by your stance on this Andy, given all the Mises stuff you’ve tried to get me to read.

  40. Michael G. says:


    The link that you provided to the article you quoted is itself an argument *against* increasing security at the US-Mexico border.

    The article points out that the vast majority of non-Mexican illegal immigrants come from non-Muslim countries. The important part from the article is: “The figures confirm that large numbers of non-Mexicans are caught coming across the Mexican border illegally each year, and a tiny fraction of them are from the seven nations mentioned in the ad.” (Emphasis mine.)

    Of the seven muslim countries that were mentioned, the part of the article you quoted which says “the Border Patrol reported capturing a total of 946 persons from the seven nations attempting to enter illegally. However, only 320 of those were caught at the Mexican border” is pointing out that over two-thirds of those people were NOT entering at the Mexican border!

    In fact, you left out the rest of the story: “Nearly twice as many were caught coming in from Canada and other points. In all, 472 were apprehended at the Canadian border, and 154 were apprehended in the Miami, New Orleans and Puerto Rico regions of the Border Patrol.”

    Somehow I doubt you would advocate turning the Canadian border and the mentioned U.S. locales into minefields, even though the Canadian border is the logical starting place, once you have all of the facts.

    I’m sorry, Andy, but your post reeks of selective quoting and completely mischaracterizes the intent original article. It’s dishonest.

    Finally, unless you also believe that the Canadian border is “a security threat” and think that we should “close it down, send the military in, make a minefeild [sic]”, then you are only making room for people like me to believe this: The reason that some people want to do that to the Mexican border has nothing to do with Islamic terrorists, it’s all about Mexicans.

  41. Ian says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Kirsten. It’s nice to have an Emerald opinion writer actually come off of the high horse for a moment and defend their column. If you get fired from the ODE for responding to criticism online then be sure to drop off an application with us. We’re hip to the whole debate thing.

  42. Kirsten says:

    Olly, I LOVE the Commentator – I visit the blog daily. Unfortunately, I’m not a libertarian, just a Reagan conservative.

    I agree, we need low paying jobs to keep the economy running to some degree and we won’t ever get rid of illegal immigration. But at the same time, we can’t be letting 500,000 people cross the border every year. We need increased security, as Bush is planning, and we need to reduce the incentive to come here ILLEGALLY. Where there’s a will, there’s a way as the cliche goes. Like Anthony said, just because they live in horrible conditions doesn’t mean they can cross the border in droves and get free everything once they arrive here. And, I don’t think I’m scaremongering – we’ve had terrorists cross the border illegally or overstay their visas, and they DID attack us. Unless of course relating the facts is scaremongering.

    Oh, and I’d take you up on your biting offer, but I don’t think my fiancee would appreciate it.

  43. Olly says:

    Andy: “It seems you have a fairly non-educated opinion or belief about immigration in the United States.”

    Andy: “[The border is] a security threat, close it down, send the military in, make a minefeild [sic].”

    Somehow, the second comment makes the first one sting a little less, you know? Read the link, dude.

  44. Olly says:

    Hello Kirsten: thanks for chiming in. I think this is the first time we’ve had a columnist stop by in response to our kvetching, so kudos to you for that.

    I don’t think I’m missing the point of your column. What I’m taking issue with is the breadth of your distinction between (ahem) LEGAL immigrants and illegal immigrants. Firstly, I think you’re scaremongering, and secondly, I think the argument that illegal immigrants need to be deported because they necessarily pose a greater threat to national security is bogus. Also, labor markets being what they are, it is completely, utterly impossible to eliminate illegal immigration or legislate it out of existence. What the work-visa scheme represents is a pragmatic attempt to deal with it – motivated by exactly the national-security concerns you profess. If we’re actually concerned with identifying security threats to the US, we should be applauding the work-visa scheme – yes, “entitlements to illegals” and all – but I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen (as to why this might be, I’m not going to speculate.)

    As for the quote… well, we’ve all been screwed by copy editors before, God knows. If it ends up in Spew, I presume that can be noted.

  45. Andy D says:

    LoL! Thanks Anthony…

  46. Anthony says:

    Olly although you articulate yourself well, I think you missed the point of the column. Obviously illegal immigration was the topic and obviously it is a major security threat and concern in the US. Come here legally or get the hell out. Why does it people feel they dont have to respect our laws just because they want a better way of life. Boohoo if they have a hard life, life isnt fair come here legally like others do.

  47. Andy D says:

    “During the three years immediately following the attacks of September 2001 the years covered by the figures Tancredo has released so far the Border Patrol reported capturing a total of 946 persons from the seven nations attempting to enter illegally. However, only 320 of those were caught at the Mexican border.”

    The “seven Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria.”

    How many committed the acts on 9/11? 20.

    It’s a security threat, close it down, send the military in, make a minefeild. It’s time to stop playing games with the border.

  48. Andy D says:

    Olly, you are the one that is mistaken on this issue.
    Immigration isn’t anti-social per se, but if immigrants aren’t assimilating it is.
    The current mass of illegal immigration is heavily draining on social resources due to the current laws. In fact, “On Friday, August 12, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency in four counties. The following Monday, Arizona governor Janet Napolitano did the same.”
    “The federal government has failed to secure our border, and the health and safety of all Arizonans is threatened daily by violent gangs, coyotes and other dangerous criminals, said Governor Napolitano. These funds provide our law enforcement community with another valuable tool to fight crime related to illegal immigration. The state of emergency covers Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties.

    You have committed the Marxian theory of history fallacy too – that poor workers somehow drive the economy. Do you know what determines wages? Value of services. Did you know that illegal aliens typically make very low wages? The true fallacy is that “they are doing jobs Americans don’t want.” The case is that they are breaking our labor laws because it would be ILLEGAL for an American citizen to do the job that an illegal does with the low pay.

    Creating disincentives for illegal aliens doesn’t mean the US will suck more, it means illegal aliens will have a harder time coming here ILLEGALLY.

    DHS Testimony
    From the director of homeland security testimoy:
    “In FY 2005 alone, the Border Patrol apprehended over 160,000 non-Mexican nationals. Only 30,000 of these illegal entrants were removed from the United States. The rest will be released, either under bond conditions or on their own recognizance

    Let me reiterate this point. When a non-Mexican is caught trying to enter the U.S. across the southwest border today, he has an 80% chance of being released immediately because we have nowhere to hold him. Of course, he will be charged as an immigration law violator, but he will likely fail to appear at his immigration hearings.”

    This was the point I believe she was trying to make. The United States cannot protect its people with the back door wide open, Olly. These are a few of the real issues about illegal immigration, none of which provide a positive benefit for the American taxpayer. It seems you have a fairly non-educated opinion or belief about immigration in the United States.

    Whether or not you choose to apologize to Kirsten for asking her to bite you will speak of your morals.

  49. Kirsten says:

    Congrats on missing my point entirely. I don’t mind LEGAL immigration, and I never said that the US needs to suck just as much as Mexico. I just think that in addition to increased security, we need to stop giving entitlements to illegals (NOT people here legally) and try to actually identify people working in this country. Oh, and I didn’t say they’re all terrorists – just that the use of insecure ID cards leaves a huge gap in our security.

    Oh, and that stellar quote? They reworked it in copy editing, and I apologize for it =D (It may seem reactionary to talk about terrorists coming from Mexico…). By the way, I LOVE the cover from the newest issue – great picture of Dave.

  50. Ian says:

    She must be the conservative Ailee Slater, because that quote is simply fantastic.

    For more comedy from the ODE today, read Steve Neuman’s blog post about today’s issue:
    A few choice clich? come to mind when describing tomorrow’s paper. The first: When it rains, it pours meaning that we have an incredible bounty of news stories today, so many that we had the editor in chief reporting and photographing a story while later we sent a photographer to report on an event. The second: if it bleeds, unfortunately, it leads meaning that while we prefer to fill our paper with good news, we cannot underestimate the intrinsic news value of sometimes tragic events.
    Also, we finally learn why Paben was chosen as news editor…
    Although we typically like to run at least four stories on the front to fill out the design of the page, News Editor Jared Paben noted that playing some art bigger rather than more stories smaller wasn’t always appropriate.

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