Tag Archives: immigration

“Secure the Border”: Politician-Speak for “I’m a Tyrant Who Thinks You’re an Idiot”

East German construction workers building the ...
East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 30 years ago, in southern California, US Border Patrol officers pulled over the vehicle I was riding in to search for “illegal immigrants.” They carefully checked the ID of each occupant in the vehicle. Yes, all 30 or so of us. The vehicle was a bus marked “US Marine Corps” on the side. All its occupants were Marines in uniform.

That was during Ronald Reagan’s first term; in the Republican primary debates in 1980, Reagan and his eventual vice-president, George HW Bush, had worked diligently to outdo each other in their support for open borders. My, how times have changed.

Given the widespread moral panic and bedwetting security theatrics over “illegal immigration” that characterize the last two decades,  I shudder to think how much worse life must have become on the southern US border since then, especially for Americans and immigrants of Hispanic descent.

When I hear a candidate for office quack about “securing the border,” I dismiss that candidate as unworthy of my vote or support. So should you.  At best, that candidate is an idiot; more likely he or she is a demagogue who assumes YOU are an idiot.

The United States has more than 100,000 miles of border and coastline, across which more than 500 million people (350 million of them non-citizens), 118 million vehicles and 22.5 million cargo containers travel each year. No, I didn’t make those numbers up — I got them from the people in charge of “securing America’s borders,” US Customs and Border Protection.

It’s true that the US border with Mexico is “only” about 1,950 miles long, but it’s also irrelevant. Even if that border could be sealed — and it can’t be — unauthorized traffic across it would just take to the seas. If you don’t believe me, go ask a Cuban or Chinese “illegal immigrant.”

Attempts to “secure the border” can only have two consequences:

First, they can increase the likelihood of terror attacks and so forth by creating a sea of “illegal aliens” and a lucrative industry based on getting them into the US. Actual terrorists and other evildoers become invisible in that sea and have at their disposal an illicit travel industry that would not exist absent the large demand created by “border security” nonsense.

Second, they can turn the US into a police state like East Germany. In fact, they have arguably already done exactly that to the southern border zones. It’s worth remembering that the East Germans were never really able to “secure their border” either, thank God.

And yet candidates of both major parties for all elective offices continue to publicly pay obeisance to the dumb and evil notion of “securing the borders.” Why? Because they think you want them to.

Prove them wrong. Vote Libertarian.

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.


Birthright Citizenship: No Having It Both Ways

RGBStock.com Passports

I wonder if Donald Trump’s family has a coat of arms. If not, I suggest that the most fitting heraldic symbol for the Republican presidential front-runner is an open can, labeled “worms.” The Donald has certainly demonstrated a flair for bringing controversial issues to the table. Following several amuse bouches and appetizers, it looks like the soup course is “birthright citizenship.”

The conventional understanding of American citizenship by birth is simple: If you’re born here under most circumstances, there’s no need to pass Go, collect $200, take a test on the Constitution, swear an oath, whatever. If you’re born here, you’re a citizen, the single exception occurring if you are not “subject to the jurisdiction of” the United States. That exception was thrown in to cover children born to representatives of other countries, who are also covered by things like “diplomatic immunity,”  placing them outside US jurisdiction in most respects.

Simple enough, right? But Trump (and some other Republican politicians) would like to “reinterpret” the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause to exclude children of undocumented immigrants.

Aside from the obvious contradiction involved — “conservatives” usually howl when it’s suggested that the Constitution just be “reinterpreted” to get a desired result — there’s also a built-in trap that they don’t seem to be taking much notice of.

The only way to remove birthright citizenship from the Constitution through “reinterpretation” is to assert that the children of undocumented immigrants are not within the jurisdiction of the United States. And that’s very close to an all-or-nothing thing.

For example,  US courts can’t try or punish those accused of committing crimes while under the protection of diplomatic immunity. Why? Because the function of that immunity is to place them outside the jurisdiction of the United States.  All the US can do is declare such accused criminals persona non grata and tell them to leave.

Millions of undocumented immigrants and their children live in the United States. The project of deporting them all has failed time and time again. Is it really wise to double down on deportation efforts while simultaneously telling all these people “oh, by the way, do anything you want while we keep trying — rape, murder, anything goes — after all, you’re not within our jurisdiction, so there’s not a thing we can do about it?” That’s the unavoidable logic of denying birthright citizenship absent a constitutional amendment.

The absolute best solution to this made-up “problem,” of course, would be a return to the American way: Open the borders and quit creating “problems” that do not exist and have never existed in reality. Unfortunately, politics is the art of creating such imaginary problems and then spectacularly, expensively, disastrously failing to solve them.

Thomas L. Knapp 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.


In Praise of Sanctuary Cities

English: A sign at the international boundary ...
A sign at the international boundary between Canada and the United States in Point Roberts, Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Politicians can’t resist the opportunity to pile on to a juicy news story for a quick bit of campaign face time.  The bloodier the better, so in the wake of Kate Steinle’s murder in San Francisco, allegedly at the hands of an “illegal immigrant,” it’s no surprise to see the usual suspects getting their knickers in a public twist over “sanctuary cities.”

A prominent anti-immigration propaganda mill, the Center for Immigration Studies, classifies more than 200  US cities, counties and states as “sanctuary cities.” These political subdivisions, as a matter of public policy, ignore and/or decline to cooperate with the federal government’s immigration regulation schemes.

Those of us who are more concerned with the truth than with exploiting a woman’s death for cheap political gain should support sanctuary cities as an unmitigated good.

Even setting aside several inconvenient facts — the fact that “the borders of the United States” command no more moral significance than the turf lines of any other street gang; the fact that the US Constitution forbids the federal government to regulate immigration; the fact that “illegal immigration” statistically reduces rather than increases violent crime; and the fact that “illegal immigration” keeps the US economy afloat by holding down labor costs and therefore the price of everything from produce to poultry to home construction — sanctuary cities are, quite simply, a bulwark against federal law enforcement overreach which represents a danger to all our freedoms.

FBI agents don’t go around handing out speeding tickets on the streets of Peoria. Policing local traffic isn’t the federal government’s job.

Florida and California don’t have their own navies or customs inspectors. Conducting foreign wars and policing international commerce aren’t duties of the state governments.

Nor is it the duty of any city, county or state government to enforce US immigration law. Each level of government has its own duties and functions. Sanctuary cities are federalism in action.

Every dollar or minute that a police officer in Boston or Boise spends doing Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s job is a dollar or minute that police officer can’t spend doing his or her own job.

To put it a different way, local resources spent enforcing federal immigration law are local resources no longer available to spend on investigating rapes, robberies, murders and thefts. Sanctuary cities have their priorities straight. Opponents of sanctuary cities don’t.

In truth, nothing less than a police state along the lines of the former East Germany could even make a dent in “illegal immigration.” Every dollar spent on that evil and impossible task at ANY level of government is a waste at best and a threat to the public’s freedom and safety at worst. Sanctuary cities guard everyone’s liberty.

Thomas L. Knapp 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.