David R. Henderson  

Henderson vs. Woodruff on Immigration

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In response to my Freeman article, "Tear Down These Walls," Henry Woodruff wrote [permission granted from The Freeman to reprint his letter and my response]:

I very much enjoyed reading David Henderson's article, "Tear Down These Walls," in the June 2012 issue of The Freeman. However, I think he misses the point. It is not that borders separate individuals, but that they separate systems. When you have borders between North and South Korea, East and West Germany, or Mexico and the United States, there are stark differences on one side or the other. The border between the United States and Canada has lesser differences. Rather than have everyone come to our system that we have fought for and developed, I think it would make more sense to have others improve their systems. Just about everyone in the world would like to come to America; however, we must have some systematic way of allowing immigration or we will face consequences we can't even begin to imagine. Those countries that have been adjacent to countries with famine or civil war can attest to that. I do believe we need a well-thought-out plan for immigration, or a way to change the systems in other countries.

I had very limited space to reply and so within that limit, here's what I wrote:
I'm glad you enjoyed my article. Borders separate individuals and economic systems. Like you, I would like governments in various countries to improve their systems. But unlike you, I'm not at ease with the idea of making hundreds of millions of people wait until their governments do improve. They may well wait forever. Your two examples of North and South Korea and East and West Germany are telling. If I were in South Korea today, I would welcome those who escape from that North Korean hellhole. If I had been in West Germany before 1989, I would have welcomed East Germans who escaped from their totalitarian masters. But it appears that you would have had them arrested and sent back. Or are you saying that you would welcome them too? If so, what are we disagreeing about? Or look back at an earlier time in history. Most American readers of this publication probably descend from people who came to the United States in the nineteenth century or later. Many of them immigrated to escape bad governments elsewhere. I would have welcomed them. What would you have done?

Mr. Woodruff replied by e-mail. Although I was disappointed that he did not answer the questions I asked of him, he seems to have moved him a little in my direction. He wrote [and generously gave me permission to quote him]:
In your response to my letter to the editor on your article in the June 2012 Freeman, I think we are basically on the same page; however I think we may differ on the execution of the concept. I'm not sure how we would absorb hundreds of millions of people. We already have procedures to allow people who are persecuted by their governments to immigrate, Cuba being one example. We allow reasonable quotas to immigrate from all around the world every year and I would be in favor of increasing the numbers if we could absorb them without doing damage to our own country. Because of the changes we are experiencing here in America, many people may be leaving this country to live elsewhere. I would like to see the whole world more free.

Mr. Woodruff and I disagree about whether the existing quota is reasonable. Also, I think he is unaware of the growing literature on the huge net benefits to the United States from substantial increases in immigration.


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COMMENTS (36 to date)
Andrew writes:

I remember not to long ago that I too believed that borders were indeed beneficial at keeping out the "riff-raff". I blame both Dr Henderson and Dr Caplan for removing my blinders. If "our" "system" is so grand, why should we keep it from those innocents seeking escape from oppression?

Ted Levy writes:

If Mr. Woodruff is concerned massive immigration might lead to a dilution of American freedoms, he can rest easy this is becoming less of a problem...

http://www.economicfreedom.org/2012/09/18/economic-freedom-of-the-world-2012-annual-report/

Thucydides writes:

Free immigration enthusiasts need to consider the importance of culture and its fragility. The book to read is Samuel P. Huntington's "Who Are We? The Challenges to America's Identity." Here is a good review by James Ceaser:http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/007xfizv.asp

Thucydides writes:

The full link above didn't come through, but the Ceaser piece can be found by googling O, My America Ceaser

[The full link came through just fine, near as I can tell. Please email me at webmaster@econlib.org if you think the link to the Weekly Standard Ceaser piece didn't come through. The url at http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/007xfizv.asp seems to have been published just fine in your first, original comment. If you wanted to make a url into a clickable link, you can do that in many ways on EconLog. See, for instructions and examples, http://www.econlib.org/library/faqEconLog.html#commentlinkhtml --Econlib Ed.]

MikeP writes:

Restricted immigration enthusiasts need to consider why they find American culture worth preserving if they think it so bloody fragile that people seeking its freedoms will destroy it.

I frankly think that freedom and western culture are ascendent, and anything we can do to open our societies to them will spread them broader and make them stronger.

Fear of outsiders is hardly unique to Americans, and sometimes is justified. Some 17th century indigenous peoples here must have come to regret 'open borders'.

Nor would it be wise to shrug our shoulders if ten million Mexicans, all wearing the same clothing and carrying AK-47s suddenly made a rush for the USA.

MikeP writes:

Nor would it be wise to shrug our shoulders if ten million Mexicans, all wearing the same clothing and carrying AK-47s suddenly made a rush for the USA.

Migration is neither invasion nor conspiracy -- both of which the government may legitimately confront.

Mark Crankshaw writes:

@David Henderson

If I had been in West Germany before 1989, I would have welcomed East Germans who escaped from their totalitarian masters

Here's a hypothetical: what if, prior to 1989, there was a substantially supported political party in West Germany that favored the establishment of a Communist dictatorship and German re-unification under East German rule? And further that this party received about 45% of the vote (needing only 5% for a majority) and that this party was actively encouraging militant East German citizens and all others sympathetic to communism to immigrate to West Germany to tip the electoral balance in their favor? If you were a West German, would you welcome such immigration?

In my view, this is similar to the conditions in the US today. Admittedly, the Democratic Party may not wish to install a Communist dictatorship at present. However, I do believe that Democrat party policies are sufficiently noxious enough and that these policies will cause me substantial long-term economic and political injury if not sufficiently opposed. This substantially supported party has also proven very adept at building permanent racial-ethnic voting blocks based on a "share-the-wealth" platform.

I agree that immigrants are no threat to "impose" their political will against that of the indigenous population. However, what if the indigenous population is evenly divided ideologically and immigrants could permanently tip the balance in one direction? Wouldn't immigrants from left-of-center countries side with our indigenous leftists and be quite vulnerable to "share-the-wealth" leftist populism? As one who favors limited government, I certainly see immigration as tilting the ideological balance to my ideological opponents--perhaps permanently. The re-election of Hugo Chavez this past week amply demonstrates that democracy offers no protection from leftist populism and the establishment of semi-permanent leftist rule. If it can happen in Venezuela, why not here?

Bostonian writes:

In "Bankrupt California" at National Review Online, California resident Victor Davis Hanson explains how Mexican immigration victimizes him:

"The same day last week that I emptied my wallet for gas, my 15-hp ag irrigation pump simply quit during the night. Nocturnal copper-wire thieves had come into the vineyard and yanked out the electrical conduit. That’s the third theft of pump wire I’ve had this year — and it costs $1,500 each time to repair the damage. I’m told that Mexican national gangs go down to Los Angeles with their stolen copper to sell it to mobile recyclers. No one calls the sheriff any more. Instead, we swap stories about protective wire cages, spikes, cameras, lights, and booby traps."

Shouldn't libertarians oppose policies such as open borders that weaken property rights in the United States?

MikeP writes:

Which weakens property rights more:

1. Copper thieves who may or may not be illegal aliens. (Certainly copper theft is a problem nationwide that is unrelated to legal residency.)

2. The government telling Americans that they cannot use their property to transport, house, or employ people solely because those people don't have a piece of paper from the government that allows them to.

RobP writes:

What is the appropriate number of Americans that should be allowed to vote in the next Mexican presidential election?

Would it be appropriate and just to have 20 million Americans vote in the next Mexican election?

I believe that would go a long way in reducing the corruption in government, the regressive tax system, the regressive education system, etc.

In theory, open boarders will benefit everyone.

In practice, I worry that racial animosity will undermine rule of law, property rights, and checks and balances on corruption. The demographics of Las Vegas have drastically changed in the last 10 years. From what I understand, Countrywide and Ameriquest prayed on these new migrants to profit from fraudulent loans. Las Vegas felt some of the worst boom and bust of the housing crisis. Middle class Americans would were saving for their retirement have had to pay for most of the losses through the reverberating effects of the fall out. All the while, politicians are still pushing the us against them meme, which seems to be working based on the percentage of party support by the different ethnic groups instead of trying to solve the core issues for the entire country.

My concern would be the assumption that the people who migrate would think like PH D in economics, which is unlikely, evidenced by how Miss America was treated in Mexico and how the U.S. soccer team was treated in Los Angeles.
After living in Miami, I feel that people will integrate. After living in New York, I can see every ethnic group fighting against each other for their share with disastrous results for the middle class, which I think is one of the reasons that wealthy New Yorkers want to import more people.

Oh, one other question, do any of the analysis of the growing inequality factor in the import of millions of lower income people?

In theory, in theory and in practice are the same. In practice, they are different.

heiner writes:

@Mark

As someone being born in socialist east Germany, I can tell you that your analogy is a bit off: typically, refugees from east Germany were more anti-socialist than the average person in west Germany. (With exceptions for eastern-paid spies etc.) This has something to do with the fact that these people risked their lives escaping socialism.

However, you may very well still be right. The standard follow up question for your position is: do you support deporting American-born supporters of the democratic party?

Mark Crankshaw writes:

@heiner

typically, refugees from east Germany were more anti-socialist than the average person in west Germany

Agreed. What I stated was stated as a hypothetical for that reason, I'm well aware that the hypothetical posed isn't historically accurate.

However, that said, is it likely that the average, say Mexican or El Salvadoran, is more anti-socialist than the average person in the US? I think perhaps not...

The standard follow up question for your position is: do you support deporting American-born supporters of the democratic party?

Absolutely not. Deportation would be a heavy handed government-directed activity. I oppose American liberals precisely because they have a penchant for supporting heavy handed government-directed activity. That said, the entrance into the country of people who may be sympathetic towards liberals, or apathetic enough and economically vulnerable enough that their support for liberals can be "bought" rather cheaply does give me sufficient pause for concern.

Carl writes:

We are currently building very little new infrastructure. Many cities cannot handle the number of people they already have. To bring more people into the country when we know that we are not going to build enough new infrastructure to handle them is a bad idea. Also, we have already destroyed half of the forested land in the country, and almost all of the Great Plains, which are now used to grow mostly corn. We don't need more people. Americans reproduce at the rate required to keep population levels steady. That's what we should shoot for.

guthrie writes:

My sentiments echo Andrew’s almost precisely.

@ RobP, no one is assuming that immigrants think like econ PH D's. The assumption is that they think like humans, i.e. in their own best interests. IOW, they would by-in-large benefit themselves by benefiting others... just like most of the rest of us. In theory a 'flood of immigrants' would disrupt social services, dilute American 'culture', and behave criminally. In practice, people are people, no matter where they're from.

Hooliganism can be found in native born people as much as in those born elsewhere, so mistreatment of people or sports teams can’t be honestly used as a reason to maintain or increase immigration restrictions.

As for New York, I would ask why different people are fighting for 'their share' and how much of the 'share' is taken by the State before the fighting begins...

Mark Crankshaw writes:

@MikeP

I frankly think that freedom and western culture are ascendent, and anything we can do to open our societies to them will spread them broader and make them stronger.

But wasn't that equally true in 1912 as it is in 2012? The period preceeding the First World War was relatively peaceful and relatively "free". Free trade, rising numbers of democracies throughout the Western world. Who in 1912 would have imagined that the 20th century would witness the rise of Communism and Fascism (direct offsprings of 'western culture'), World Wars waged on an industrial scale with hundreds of millions of casualties, a near half century long ideological Cold War? The rise of the absolute totalitarian police state? Death camps slaughtering millions?

I'm afraid I see the ascendancy of freedom and "western culture" as more precariously balanced than do you. Has humanity finally turned its back on oppression, violence, domination, tyranny and exploitation? Or are we witnessing a mere dormant phase of our former violent, anti-freedom predilictions? I hope that you are right. But I fear that you may be wrong.

Mark Crankshaw writes:

@guthrie

"IOW, they would by-in-large benefit themselves by benefiting others... just like most of the rest of us."

No doubt. But couldn't "benefit themselves by benefitting others" consist in trading votes for benefits.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has perfected this technique as witnessed in his recent re-election. The Chavistas nakedly provide political patronage (aid, jobs) in exchange for votes from a segment of the population. Couldn't this political model be exported?

Is there a political mechanism in the US (or any other democracy) that would make this prevent this kind of trade from occurring as it did in Venezuela? I see none. On the contrary, politicians legally trading goodies for some subset of the population in exchange for their votes (while placing the liability on others) seems endemic, the very stock-and-trade of politicians of all parties, in the US and every other democracy.

MikeP writes:

But wasn't that equally true in 1912 as it is in 2012?

Actually, no.

In 1912 the Progressive movement, where freedom was being replaced by statist tendencies, was at its peak in the US. And fascism was on the move in Europe long before the Depression made the notion popular.

And, in particular, the tensions that finally exploded into World War I were very much due to the closing of borders and societies -- exactly the opposite of what I advocate. Developing empires formed trade and currency blocks that their parochial ambitions and mercantilist beliefs led them to think would empower their position over others'. Then as the war opened up, even the US took the opportunity to start closing its borders to free migration. Freedom of migration would never again be as great as it was before the war.

Standing in 1912, believing what I do today, would I still say that freedom was ascendent? Yes. Would I say that the US should close its borders if rough patches hit in the near or far future? No. That only empowers the statists and reduces the real freedoms that people should come to expect.

I think that the 20th century was a hiccup. Freedom is simply a better notion both personally and economically and will win if it doesn't destroy itself to save itself.

Mark Crankshaw writes:

MikeP

Would I say that the US should close its borders if rough patches hit in the near or far future? No. That only empowers the statists and reduces the real freedoms that people should come to expect

Agreed. I would never advocate allowing the government to close the borders. You are correct that this would empower the State and would reduce freedom.

However, my argument is that steady immigration from left-of-center countries substantially increases the risk that there will be a permanent transformation of the US political system in the leftward, statist, anti-freedom direction. I worry about substantial risks.

Consider this hypothesis: what if the US, Venezuela and Mexico politically merged tomorrow. Could this instantly tilt our political spectrum significantly to the Left? Would this intensify racial/ethnic animosity and increase the calls for re-distribution along racial-ethnic lines particularly by the far Left? Wouldn't this merger move the resultant polity towards statism and less economic freedom?

I'm not for empowering the State and closing the borders. However I do fear that current immigration/voting trends will also empower the State.

Migration is neither invasion nor conspiracy

It's only a matter of the details.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Indeed, European Americans can also be copper thieves, for example in Dayton, Ohio.

Copper thievery is also up in Europe, recently I saw signs all over Amsterdam mentioning that the tram wires had embedded DNA markers in them. Here is the system being used in Sweden where they don't have many Mexican gangs.

Regarding Salvadorans and socialism, you may remember a civil war between the right-wing government and a USSR-funded communist rebel group. Many Salvadorans gave their life in the fight against communism.

A Salvadoran family I know where held for ransom by the FMLN guerrillas, but later we wouldn't let their kid into the US to study to be a teacher in the US due to post-9/11 foreign student paranoia. So now she is contributing to the GDP of Panama instead of the US.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Carl is completely wrong.

The US now has 18.5 MILLION vacant homes. There is plenty of space.

When my immigrant ancestors came, people were sleeping 4 to a bedroom. Even the poorest immigrants rarely have such arrangements today.

US forest hectares have not changed much since 1900 (about 300 million hectares). This is only about 25% less than 1630 when there were 430 million hectares.

Expansions of urban and suburban housing areas have been matched by improvements in farming efficiency to lead to overall enhanced agricultural production in the US.

Even our cities are relatively unpopulated. London has a population density of 5,100 per square km. The most densely populated city in the US is Los Angeles, at 2,750 per square km. If we doubled the population density of just LA and NYC we could accomodate 30 million more people. Do that to Miami, SF, and Denver you get another 10 million people.

Henry Woodruff writes:

Suppose we did have open borders, would the government (local, state and federal) take my property to redistribute to the new immigrants as they do now? Would the new immigrants be allowed to vote? Americans can travel just about anywhere in the world, however they (in most cases) are not allowed to own property, work at a job or start a business. This is not true of those who come to the US, legally or illegally.

guthrie writes:

@Mark Crankshaw,

While it's certainly possible for Venezuela’s model to be exported, it's far more likely for the people who favor that model (or other undesirable gov't systems) to stay put with their system of choice. The few who come here to 'change the system' will be outweighed by those who come here to benefit from the system already in place.

Plus I believe that there are rules in place here that *ostensibly* punish such 'payola'-type behavior. Yes, it happens, but my assertion is that it's a lot harder to do that kind of thing here than in Venezuela.

The ‘risk’ of ‘left-leaning, statist government’ is always present with our without increased immigration. The solution then, IMHO, is to focus our energy at curbing the State, not immigration.

@ Patrick R Sullivan… on the one hand an AK-toting Mexican revolutionary out to kill you. On the other hand, an immigrant of unknown origin looking for a better life for himself and his family, serving you food you like at a lower cost… that’s some detail!

jure writes:

OK, but i have a question or doubt would be a betterr word for prof. Henderson and commenters are welcome either to write something smart. First on the emotional level i am very much in favor of free borders and totally voluntary agreements. But, isn't it so that economists always forget to check all repercusions and costs involved in transactions among humans. We only look here for the immediate effects on economic growth but we dont take into account political and cultural costs, specially on the long run. Richard Florida said that USA is becoming more and more latinized. If we look only immediate effects- than everyone involved is better of . But is it in the long run? How do latino people vote, what kind of tensions among the americans will their growing presence bring, how the values and philosophical outlook of future americans will look like if every poor person is allowed to come. This are all costs, and some of them too complicated for any economic analysis or too speculative. Although as i said i emotionally lean toward strict libertarianism, i have some dillemas. Thomas Sowell , for whom i think is the most articulated free market economist, has some pretty good arguments about restriction(well he is not so libertarian about that). For example; people are not goods, they bring their culture and values with them. Now it is extremely sad that we westerners(i am from slovenia)- dont allow very poor people to come and save their lives and our recession, but those are the people that come to the west precisely because the culture and sistems where they've lived failed. USA is different precisely because spaniards never won the race over the british. And USA would be venezuela if the british would have lost. So culture matters , but i dont see that those repercussions are calculated in the analyses. Are't such basic economics arguments a platitude? So far the melting pot worked quite well, but this is not an argument for the future- specially if certain parts in the world will stay that bad, and differences among countries will increase even more what will provide even higher incentive for immigration. And my second doubt is about environment. I recently read a book by Jared Diamond, Collapse of civilizations. I dont like environmentalism but he has some pretty articulated arguments. And at the end he criticizes Julian Simon heavily(and i think wrongly) and praises ehrlich. i would like to see a response specially from simon fan prof. caplan, cause i think Diamond is one of the best articulated among the greens. Here it also occured to me that environmentalists have the same outlook on the environment like economists have on economy. For every regulation we can find 1000 reasons what all will be changed, and how different incentives will be. Environmentalists are the same, they are mainly biologists so they can find millions of harmful effects from technology and man on nature. And basic economic responses like substitution effect, private property( diamond recognize beneficial effects of property, he is not typical greeny), tragedy of the commons(that even diamond mentions)are insufficient. And a claim that green care more for trees than human is a platitude. I think they are wrong, but they tend to favorize environmental issues because of human survival.Diamond also describes all the time horrible effects of man on nature and consequently on himself. How can economist argue against them if we dont have the biological knowledge, and without it we cannot estimate the true costs of industry and human acion! I would be glad for answers or maybe more posts arguing against greens with more subtle rebuttals. They really hate Simon i guess.

p.s. I read yours and caplans blog every day- its great, and i think you prof. henderson should be more on tv and tape some new versions of free to choose or maybe basic economics in a friendly but powerful way. You know i deal with even more hardcore socialists every day than you have in usa ( krugman would be acused of being a rightist neoliberal in my country!!) and i know that we must break the impression of them about us- that only nasty, serious, antigay, antiwomen white males can be free market proponents. You are very charming debater who knows how to impress the other side+ walter williams or tom sowell cause they are articulate and black- this will be the winnig combination for educational program

Mark Crankshaw writes:

@guthrie

The few who come here to 'change the system' will be outweighed by those who come here to benefit from the system already in place.

I don't contend there are immigrants who are coming here solely to 'change the system'. I believe that most immigrants, even from left-of-center countries, aren't all that politically active. They are, however, persuadable to become active. It does appear that the Democratic Party is energetically targeting hispanic immigrants and seeking to convert hispanic voters (immigrants and non-immigrants alike) into as reliable of Democrat voters as African Americans. If they can do this, then the Democratic party will want to expedite immigrants into citizen voters ASAP. Further, polling data indicates that the Democratic Party is increasingly successful in doing just that--Hispanics favor Democrats to Republicans by a 2 to 1 margin and are increasing their allegiance to the Democratic Party every year. If the Democrats are able to attain a permanent majority by creating a minority (African American and Hispanic)-rich white liberal coaltition, then I fear the "system already in place" could be swept away and replaced with a more leftwing, statist system. I would say, further, that this coalition formation may actually be well underway...

The solution then, IMHO, is to focus our energy at curbing the State, not immigration.

I couldn't agree more. I am not in favor of curbing immigration. I want all energy devoted to curbing the State--the real source of the problem, in my opinion. However, I still fear that the effect of current immigration/voting trends bodes very badly for our ability to "curb the State" in the long run. The Democrats are quite adept at playing the race/ethnic card and can easily besmirch libertarianism in the eyes of those who are not at all familiar with the concept.

As libertarians, in order to stave off the Left coopting Latin American immigrants, we would have to explain the benefits and intellectual underpinnings of a political philosophy for which Latin American immigrants are totally unfamiliar (libertarianism as a political force doesn't even exist in Latin America). Given that libertarianism is not even popular with US indigenous racial/ethnic minority groups, and is under constant assualt from the liberal Left, that may well be a hard sell.

In contrast, the Left will attempt to dismissively brush aside libertarianism as mere "gringo racism", play up latent racial/ethnic tensions, and then offer up some old-fashioned political patronage and leftwing populism (with which the immigrants from Latin America are all too famaliar). I fear they might succeed. If they are successful, is it then likely that this would lead to a curbing of the State?

Ken B writes:
If so, what are we disagreeing about?
You are disagreeing about the intentions, motives, character, and numbers of the immigrants.

I can make this point vivid by pushing your arguments, which ignore what I have italicized as well as liberty costs in general, to the extreme. I reach the following reductio. If Stalin had 'encouraged' 15 million armed immigrants to move to West Germany in 1949 there would have been no grounds to oppose this.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Ken B,
It is true that I'm assuming that we can distinguish between an invading army and a large number of individuals trying to make a better life for themselves. Do you think we can't?

David R. Henderson writes:

@Ken B,
Also, note that Henry Woodruff, even though he replied in the comments above, still has not answered the questions I asked him.

Ken B writes:

@David:"Do you think we can't?"
I think the position unrestricted immigration cannot. That's what unrestricted means.

My point is mostly about the framing of the debate. Open immigration advocates -- Bryan Caplan certainly -- always want to argue from a supposed principled moral high ground. The argument always comes across as we have no right to say no. (I sense that attitude underlying your questions to Woodruff here.) I think you have agreed my reductio shows there has to be some circumstance where we are entitled to say no. Hence that imagined principle, the imagined right to immigrate here regardless of our wishes, does not exist.

Now as a practical matter I am pro-immigration. But I do think we can and should pay attention to "intentions, motives, character, and numbers" of the immigrants. And I think immigration advocates must answer those concerns.

I can perfectly consistently say I want to accept any refugee fleeing from theocracy or communism without saying I want to accept unlimited numbers from every communist or theocratic country. Which seems an answer to your Woodruff questions.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Ken B,
All good points. I wonder if Woodruff would accept them. I saw him saying that even if we could be sure that people fleeing North Korea are not soldiers in disguise, he would still refuse to let them in. But because he hasn't answered, all we can do is speculate about his meaning.
Re the unrestricted immigration, you have put your finger on what I find so frustrating about many of Bryan Caplan's posts on this issue.

Henry Woodruff writes:

David, I don't know how you arrived at the conclusion that I would not allow people fleeing oppression in when I stated just the opposite. From my e-mail response "We already have procedures to allow people who are persecuted by their governments to immigrate, Cuba being one example". I though that would answer your questions, however, if you need a more direct answer, it is "of course I would (allow them in)". In regard to questions, no one has responded to the questions I poised.

Devil's Advocate writes:

Dr. H.,

Basically, I think you two gentlemen agree on policy. But the difference between your approaches has to do with rate. Think of the on-ramps to highways that have traffic lights...they regulate the flow of traffic joining the highway crowds. Nobody is turned away, just regulated on the rate of joining.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Henry Woodruff,
Here are the two questions you asked:
Suppose we did have open borders, would the government (local, state and federal) take my property to redistribute to the new immigrants as they do now? Would the new immigrants be allowed to vote?
I would bet, unfortunately, that the answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is no. You have to be a citizen first. And my own tweak on the system, which I have advocated a number of times, is to have a 20-year residency requirement for voting.
As to whether you answered my question about what you favored, you did say, "We already have procedures to allow people who are persecuted by their governments to immigrate, Cuba being one example". Then you said, "of course I would (allow them in)." But the procedures with Cuba don't allow them in. The policy, unless it has changed, is "wet foot out, dry foot in." Thus my confusion. If you advocate that policy, you're saying there's no "of course" to it at all. Unfortunately, therefore, I think you have answered my question in a way that you didn't mean to: namely, no, you would not let them in if they were found at sea.

Ken B writes:
And my own tweak on the system, which I have advocated a number of times, is to have a 20-year residency requirement for voting.
What's your under/over on this rule lasting 21 years, in a regime of open immigration?
Henry Woodruff writes:

@David Henderson
As to the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, it was arrived at in 1995 to promote a more orderly immigration from Cuba to the US. Under the agreement 20,000 visas are issued each year by the US. If an immigrant is found at sea they may or may not be returned to Cuba depending on their status. If they are coming for economic reasons they will be returned, if they are coming for political reasons (persecution)they will not be returned. As a libertarian I support open borders, however as a realist I realize there are many other factors to consider. I would also support contractual government over political government, but I realize this this is not about to happen either. My biggest concern is the growing power of the state and I believe our efforts would be better directed toward thwarting that.

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