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In Defense of Immigration from “Shi*thole Countries”

The Stature of Liberty. Photo from MaxPixel's free collection.

“Why are we having all these people from shi*hole countries come here?” US president Donald Trump allegedly asked during an Oval Office meeting, further musing that the US should try to strike a new balance with fewer immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean and more from, say, Norway.

Well, of course, he shouldn’t have put it THAT way, if he did (he denies it). Between the language and the demographics in his supposed example, he’s handed his opponents the opportunity for a doubly delicious round of public moral preening — look how vulgar, and how racist, Donald Trump is!

Maybe they’re right. But they’re missing much bigger points. Whatever his phraseology, and regardless of any racial differences between the populations of the countries he chooses as examples, he got the whole matter backward in two important ways.

First and foremost, neither Donald Trump nor Congress should be choosing who comes to America. That’s the market’s job, not the government’s job, and certainly not the federal government’s job. Prospective employers and prospective employees don’t need politicians to tell them whether or not they can get together. They can figure that out for themselves. If it’s government largess that’s the problem, well, end the welfare state already instead of complaining endlessly about who uses it (besides which, immigrants pay more per capita in taxes and consume less per capita in welfare benefits than native-born Americans ).

Secondly, as sociologist and essayist Jacques Delacroix points out,  the incentives for immigration run in the opposite direction from that Trump’s comment assumes:

Immigrants from wealthy states like Norway (which has a higher per capita GDP and a more robust welfare state than the US) are more likely to be from the bottom of the barrel — the people who can’t or won’t  make out well for themselves in an economy even better than ours, but have enough money to get on a plane and take their laziness and complaining elsewhere.

Immigrants from poor states like Haiti, Somalia, and — Delacroix’s example — India are more likely to be the cream of the crop, those ambitious enough to leave everything they know behind and start over in search of success, in some cases, even risking starvation in the desert or shark-infested waters on inner tubes for a minimum wage opportunity.

Again: The market’s got this, if the politicians will just  butt out and knock off their disgusting, anti-American, authoritarian control freakery.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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What Difference at This Point Does the Trump Dossier Make? None.

Trump Dossier from RGBStock

‘Twixt and ‘tween daily news on Russiagate (the investigation into alleged “Russian meddling” in the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump) and Uraniumgate (the investigation into Russian bribes paid to a number of people, quite likely including Hillary Clinton, to smooth US government approvals for buying a good deal of, you guessed it, uranium) comes new information on Dossiergate (the question of who paid a British inteligence operative a trove of dirt on then presidential candidate Donald Trump).

Dossiergate first reared its ugly head during the general election campaign in 2016, then more or less disappeared for more than a year until late October. Now we’ve learned that several organizations paid Christopher Steele to get the goods on Trump. Of the three we know of, one was a Republican newspaper (the Washington Free Beacon, during the GOP primaries) and two were Democratic Party organizations (the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign).

Breathless updates notwithstanding, Dossiergate is what Democrat politico Van Jones got caught calling the Russiagate investigation: “A big nothing burger.”

All political campaigns — or at least all political campaigns worth their salt — do what’s called “opposition research.” They dig as deeply as possible (or as they can afford to) into their opponents’ political, business, and personal lives looking for dirt that can be used to win elections. The better campaigns do opposition research on their own candidates as well, because nobody likes surprises and because politicians lie, even to their friends and supporters.

If this sounds like a bad thing to you, think again. The more you know about the candidates asking for your vote, the better equipped you are to make decisions about how to cast that vote. Does it get ugly? Yes, it does. The truth isn’t always pretty, but it’s the truth and more truth is always better than less truth.

Naturally, you don’t want to just take one candidate’s word that another candidate did something bad. In addition to finding the dirt, the opposition researcher’s job is to substantiate that dirt, giving you real evidence to chew on so that you can be confident in your own conclusions.

I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton, or for that matter of Donald Trump. But she and her campaign staff would have been doing a disservice to the public as well as to themselves if they hadn’t looked for the dirt on Donald Trump, and then aired any dirt they could authenticate. To the extent that democracy works, its fuel is information. And information is opposition research’s finished product.

Dossiergate is not and never has been a scandal per se. However titillating the details, it’s merely been the story of presidential campaigns and candidates doing their jobs.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Sanctuary Cities and DoJ Funding: The Hypocrisy of Jeff Sessions

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a surprise White House appearance on March 27, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intent to make America’s cities less safe and more vulnerable to crime unless he gets his way.

He didn’t say it quite like that, of course. In fact, he asserted the opposite, accusing so-called “sanctuary cities” of “mak[ing] our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets” and conditioning future grants from the US Department of Justice’s Office of Justice on certification by the recipient state and local governments that they are not “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the federal government should be handing out money and equipment (especially military equipment) to state and local police departments and court systems in the first place. Such gifts always come with strings attached, as Sessions is demonstrating with this stand. Better to keep local law enforcement locally funded and locally controlled.

That said, Sessions and his department presumably believe that the money in question (recent examples include grants for “Smart Policing,” police body cameras, and sexual assault kits) makes communities safer. That’s why the money gets handed out, at least in theory.

If Sessions does believe that his grants help keep us safe, then he’s essentially threatening to increase the likelihood that you or I will be assaulted, raped, mugged or murdered unless our local, county and state governments bend to his will.

That’s not very nice, Jeff. In fact, it’s the opposite of your job as Attorney General. As is supporting the very idea of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement “detainers.”

I happen to live in a “sanctuary county.” In 2015, Alachua County, Florida Sheriff Sadie Darnell set forth her department’s policy, which seems eminently reasonable: The department will not honor ICE “detainers” unless they’re accompanied by judicial orders or warrants.

Frankly, that should be the bottom line for every law enforcement agency in the country. When it comes to keeping someone in a cage who would otherwise be free to go, “because ICE wants him” isn’t good enough. The US Constitution is clear: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

If federal law enforcement officers can’t even be bothered to see a judge and get an arrest warrant, they shouldn’t be asking local law enforcement to hold someone for them, nor should Jeff Sessions be threatening the rest of us over it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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