Stuart K. Hayashi
I keep hearing this collectivist argument. I heard Rush Limbaugh express it, and, to my consternation, the humorous advice columnist Amy Alkon, who has often sided with laissez faire, has spouted it as well. It is quite ubiquitous. It is largely to this effect:
We’re told to accept undocumented Mexican immigrants into the USA. But Mexico doesn’t accept undocumented immigrants from South America; Mexico denies them freedom of speech and frequently deports them. If that policy is good enough for Mexico, why is it not good enough for the USA? And since Mexicans want us to accept them, when they deport illegal immigrants, Mexicans who come to the USA illegally are hypocrites.
You have to be a social collectivist — not an individualist — to find that argument convincing.
You do know that a country isn’t a single person with a single personality, right? You know that people are individuals, right? -_-
Yes, the situation in several South American countries is so severe that Mexico can sometimes seem freer by comparison. Therefore, many South Americans illegally flee to Mexico. And, as Rush Limbaugh said, the Mexican government restricts many freedom and opportunities that even undocumented immigrants from Mexico can enjoy in the United States.
And it is plain that the Mexican government officials who deport South Americans are not the same individuals as the Mexicans who illegally cross the border into the United States. If you settled in the United States for the long term, you wouldn’t be able to eject people bodily from Mexico, now could you? No, citing the policy of the Mexican government is not evidence of hypocrisy on the part of Mexicans who come to the USA absent of any visa.
Secondly, whether or not the Mexican government treats South American immigrants harshly has no bearing on whether that should be the policy of the U.S. federal government. The U.S. federal government has no obligation to mirror the policies of other countries. Rather, I ask that the U.S. federal government act in accordance with the Enlightenment-era classical liberal standards upon which the U.S. republic was founded. The Declaration of Independence says that all men have the same equal rights — that all peaceful people have a right not to be physically molested by the State. It says “all men” have these rights; not “these rights are non-applicable to those born outside of our borders.”
As for those who keep yelling that “illegals” still “broke the law” — specifically, federal immigration restrictions — it should be noted that Thomas Jefferson pointed out that the rights described in the Declaration are of higher priority than any statute.
When I implore that the United States practice open immigration for all peaceful people, that is not expecting the USA to live up to the Mexican government’s standards but to the standards set by such U.S. Founding Fathers as James Madison and George Washington.
I do not mean we need our present governmental system to emulate every U.S. Founding Father directly — no staunchly laissez-fairest Constitutional scholar would find that plausible. Not all U.S. Founding Fathers agreed on everything, and, more importantly, even the U.S. Founding Fathers lived with and practiced some illiberal customs from their own times, such as slaveholding. But none of that diminishes the legitimacy of the Enlightenment-era classical-liberal political philosophy they studied and expressed, and which remains applicable to our own era.
Some “immigration-skeptic” right-wingers try to quote the U.S. Founding Fathers about how they wanted immigrants to be “assimilated” into the preexisting white American culture, and then these right-wingers declare that because right-wingers do not consider undocumented Hispanic immigrants to be “assimilated,” the Founding Fathers probably would have wanted the Hispanic immigrants deported. Instead of falling prey to such right-wingers’ pedantry, I beseech you to focus on the philosophic essence of what the U.S. Founding Fathers said and then apply it peaceably to the modern context.
Congressional documents record James Madison acknowledging, “America was indebted to emigration [immigration] for her settlement and prosperity. The part of America which had encouraged them most, had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture, and the arts.” (I learned of this from an excellent video on immigration by “Maus Merryjest”). Note how immigrants continue to play an important role in agriculture at the present moment.
Likewise, George Washington held no qualms about immigrants supposedly having an adverse effect on the employment of native-born Americans. He wanted work done on his house, and wanted to hire immigrants to perform such labor. As archives betoken, Washington inquired to a friend,
I am informed that a Ship with Palatines [Germans] is gone up to Baltimore, among whom are a number of Tradesmen. I am a good deal in want of a House Joiner and Bricklayer, (who really understand their profession) and you would do me a favor by purchasing one of each, for me.
I would not confine you to Palatines. If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa, or Europe. They may be Mahometans [Muslims], Jews or Christian of any Sect, or they may be Atheists.
The father of this country was inclusive to all peaceful individuals, not holding their race or national origin against them. If only people living today could be so bold…