Immigration Only Works in a Free Economy

Here’s the thing about immigration: It only works well in a free country. And in a free economy.

A free country is one without a welfare state. This means that all charity is voluntary. It also means that immigrants cannot live off productive citizens from the moment they arrive, as many currently do.

Donald Trump’s proposed immigration bill hopes to do away with some of that. That’s a good thing. Many will scream that it’s “racist”. But racism refers to singling out a group of people for the color of their skin. Reducing the ability of immigrants to live off productive citizens is the true injustice — not racism. In the long run, it’s not even fair to immigrants. The people who come to the United States wanting to make their own way are given welfare and other freebies, kind of like a heroin or cocaine dealer hooks his future customers on drugs. It’s worse for the drug addict than anyone else.

President Trump said today that existing immigration policy “has placed substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers and community resources, and among those hit the hardest … are minority workers competing for jobs against brand new arrivals. It has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers … [this RAISE act] will give Americans a pay raise by reducing immigration… [and] it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens.”

I understand what he’s saying, but be careful here. What really hurts American workers is not the influx of immigrants. What hurts workers is the combination of immigration and government intervention in the economy. If we got rid of government intervention in the economy, immigration would not be a threat. In fact, the economy would scream out for new workers. Our 2 percent annual growth would be more like 8 percent, and not only the stock market would benefit. And in a totally free country, you can be sure that the immigrants who enter plan to work and not live off the state. Because the state, as we know it, would not exist, other than as a court system, police force and military.

So long as we have a lavish welfare state and a private economy hampered by regulation and the accompanying cronyism, we’re going to have major problems. Those problems are not caused by immigration. They’re caused by government involvement where it does not belong.

Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Freidman said it best: “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.”

The Trump presidency arose not as a call for racism, but as a reaction to the symptoms of the welfare state, which has grown way beyond the boundaries that even its original architects probably ever intended. Welfare and regulation in the United States have gone the way of the Roman Empire and other once prosperous societies that ultimately failed. Welfare and political regulation/cronyism have become big business. Sooner or later, either welfare or business will have to go. We can’t have both. It’s not sustainable.

That’s the real challenge that Trump’s RAISE act, while laudable in some respects, cannot completely solve.

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