Illegal Immigration and Unintended Consequences



Jesse Walker has an intriguing blog post about data concerning illegal immigration. The most fascinating part to me discusses an analysis concluding that illegal alien crackdowns and border fencing has actually increased the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. By making it more risky for undocumented migrants to come in, the border walls have discouraged the back-and-forth movement that used to prevail across the Rio Grande. So more illegal aliens come and don’t go back than before.

Overall, net illegal immigration has decreased, and the deportation rate has nearly doubled since Obama took office. The decline seems mostly to do with the economy, however, and this along with the unintended incentive created by border security for illegal immigrants to remain in the United States confirms any suspicions we might have that immigration controls, like practically all other government controls, do not work as advertised. Indeed, the degree of federal power needed to expel most illegals and keep them out would be unimaginable. Nothing short of totalitarian controls could achieve it, if even that would work.

To the extent there are true problems associated with illegal immigration, we should consider the ultimate source—typically, socialism and state intervention in the economy. Socialization of land and resources prevents people from living in the types of communities they want, with the cultural cohesion some might crave. Government schooling and meddling in health care forces people to pay for others, illegal immigrants and citizens alike, against their will, driving up prices and causing resentment. The drug war is responsible for most of the border violence, and now we see even immigration barriers can divert migration patterns in ways invasive to some communities, as in Arizona. Walls, guns, border guards, drone surveillance, crack downs on employers, intervention into the labor market, jails and deportations will cause vast human misery, significant property destruction, and devastation to priceless liberties. But only by turning away from statism, instead of adopting more of it, can we have both the security and freedom that so many natives and immigrants value.

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