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Interventionism and the Arizona Immigration Crisis


Amidst all the furor over the Arizona immigration crisis, let’s not forget the cause of it: interventionism.

Do you recall that big fence they built in California several years ago? It was part of what the feds called “Operation Gatekeeper.” It was designed to solve the immigration crisis in Southern California. The interventionists said that the fence would prevent illegal aliens from entering California.

Was that the end of the problem? Of course not. As Ludwig von Mises pointed out, one intervention inevitably creates a new crisis, which then produces new interventions, which produce new crises, and so forth. The end of the road is total government control over people’s lives, or omnipotent government.

What did the illegal aliens do after that California fence was built? They moved east. Duh! And guess where east was? You got it! Arizona! Illegal aliens seeking to better their lives through labor began risking their lives crossing the lonely and dangerous Arizona deserts, many of them dying in the process. They also began trespassing on privately owned ranches and farms. They began flooding into Arizona towns and cities.

In other words, a new immigration crisis. Everybody moving into emotional hyperdrive once again. Yawn. I’ve seen this phenomenon so many times ever since I was a kid growing up on my farm on the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas. Every few years, the interventionists would begin screaming about the illegal-alien crisis and propose some new intervention. The intervention would be enacted, which would then produce a new crisis. A few years down the line, the interventionists would be back, once again in emotional hyperdrive about how the illegal aliens were invading America, and calling for new interventions.

By the way, wasn’t that big Berlin Fence along the border supposed to solve all the problems? Then why are the interventionists back so soon, once again in emotional hyperdrive?

The interventionists say that the problem is that the feds really haven’t enforced the immigration laws. (They say the same thing about the drug war, something that the Mexican people might disagree with, given the 23,000 deaths arising from the Mexican military’s waging the war on drugs.)

But it’s obvious that the interventionists have never been to the border. A visit to Laredo, for example, would quickly dispel any notion that immigration laws are not being enforced.

There are immigration checkpoints at the international bridges, where immigration officials are authorized to stop and search every single vehicle and pedestrian and demand to see people’s papers. Not only that, but there are also checkpoints north — yes, north — of Laredo and at the airport. In other words, Americans who travel to Laredo and never enter Mexico are nonetheless subject to the same search and seizure rules as people crossing at the international bridge. There are also roving Border Patrol stops and searches that take place on the highways.

Everywhere you go in Laredo, especially McDonald’s, you’ll see Border Patrol agents. You’ll also find them indiscriminately entering onto farms and ranches along the border and miles away from the border in their perpetual quest to find and arrest illegal aliens — without a search warrant.

According to the Washington Post, the number of border agents will soon top 18,000. That’s nine per mile. They’re spending $10 billion just on the Border Patrol. That’s billion, with a “b.”

Walk into federal court in Laredo. I’ll guarantee you that the docket is absolutely filled with cases involving illegal entry or transportation of illegal aliens. It’s been like that for decades.

So, if they’re enforcing the immigration laws, what’s the problem? The problem is that statists believe that the federal government is sufficiently powerful to repeal the law of supply and demand. It won’t happen, ever, just like they’ll never repeal the law of gravity. The law of supply and demand, like the law of gravity, is natural law and, therefore, not subject to being repealed by man.

As long as there is a demand for labor by which American employers are offering to pay relatively high wages, there will be a number of foreigners willing to take the chance to secure the job. The more they enforce the laws, the higher the wage will go in order to attract the worker. The higher the wage, the bigger the incentive to try. That’s why illegal aliens are dying of thirst on the desert.

There is only one solution to this deadly and inane interventionism: freedom and the free market. Leave foreigners free to cross borders like normal human beings, taking the bus or driving their car northward to accept jobs that American employers are offering. No more deaths on the deserts. No more illegal transporters. No more trespassing. No more violence. Just peaceful and harmonious economic interactions among people.

Freedom and free markets are the only things that work. Interventionism will just produce more crises, and more interventions, and more crises, and more interventions.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.