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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Show Me Your Immigration Plan

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COME TO CHARLESTON! The Ron Paul Institute and The Future of Freedom Foundation are co-hosting a conference on U.S. foreign policy in Charleston, SC, on Sunday, April 29, from 1-5 pm. Speakers: Ron Paul, Dan McAdams, Richard Ebeling, and Jacob Hornberger, with special guest Congressman Mark Sanford. Details here.

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Whenever liberals or conservatives tell you that they favor immigration controls, one way to stop them dead in their tracks is to say to them: Show me your plan.

They will stare at you blankly. They will be dumbfounded. They won’t know what to say. It is likely that they will simply respond with something like, “A nation has the right to control its borders.”

Okay, but what is your plan for making your system of immigration controls work? What is your plan for finally bringing an end to the ongoing, never-ending “immigration crisis” that has lasted for at least 70 years?

They will be stymied, frustrated, and confounded. They won’t know what to say.

There are two reasons for this.

First, the proponents of immigration controls do not realize that the decades-long immigration crisis that they wail and rail about is caused by their system of immigration controls. They think that the immigration crisis is independent of their immigration controls and that the immigration controls are the key to resolving the immigration crisis, if someone will just come up with the right plan.

Second, the proponents of immigration controls are convinced that there is some immigration plan out there somewhere that will finally, once and for all, bring an end to the decades-long, ongoing, never-ending immigration crisis that they spend so much of their lives wailing and railing about.

Assume you put the top 10 anti-immigration experts in the country into a room and furnish them with the 10 fastest computers in the world and the top 10 computer experts in the world. They remain in the room for one month to come up with a plan to make immigration controls work.

Here is the basic problem: No matter what plan they come up with, it won’t work. After the plan is implemented, the immigration crisis will continue and so will the wailing and railing about the ongoing, never-ending immigration crisis.

That’s because immigration controls are nothing more than socialist central planning, the same type of socialist central planning that characterized the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was bedeviled by economic crises. That because socialism produces crises and chaos. Ludwig von Mises called it “planned chaos” because the chaos is produced by central planning.

That’s also why there are constant, never-ending economic crises in countries like North Korea, Egypt, Venezuela, and Cuba. That’s what socialism does. It generates economic crises. It is an inherently defective paradigm. That’s why no one has ever come up with a plan that will make socialism work and why no one ever will.

A system of immigration controls is classic socialist central planning. A government board plans, in a top-down, command-and-control manner, the complex movements of millions of people. It allots quotas of immigrants to each country and it’s all done arbitrarily and in accordance with the whims and wishes of the planners. The planners also decide the qualifications for immigrants and the criteria for applying for entry.

The problem is the natural law of supply and demand, which the immigration central planners are trying to nullify with their bureaucratic dictates.

For example, suppose there is an enormous economic demand by American farmers for cheap labor from Mexico. The price of cheap labor rises dramatically, which sends a signal to poor Mexican laborers to come to the United States and find lucrative employment. Let’s say that 10,000 workers are needed immediately to pick crops and that the dramatically rising price of labor reflects that demand.

The immigration planner, however, has dictated that Mexico is to be allotted, say, only 5,000 immigration slots. Those slots are to filled by people with qualifications set forth by the immigration central planners. There is also an application process, which can take months or even years.

See the problem? The workers are needed now. If they don’t come now, those crops will rot in the fields. But under the immigration quotas and qualification process, they can’t come now because many of them don’t meet the criteria of the plan. Moreover, by the time they get through the application process, the crops will have rotted in the fields.

Hoping to make good money, Mexican workers figure out a way to circumvent the controls and illegally enter the United States. The money matters more to them than compliance with a law that is attempting to nullify the natural law of supply and demand. The same goes for American farmers. They hire the illegals because saving their crops is more important to them than complying with a bureaucratic immigration plan.

The process gets liberals and conservatives all worked up, causing them to pace the floors in deep anxiety and depression. They get furious and despondent that their immigration-control system isn’t working and that people aren’t complying with it. They wail and rail about the “immigration crisis.”

That’s where the ever-increasing enforcement measures come into play, measures that move America ever-closer to a complete police state. Highway checkpoints. Airport checkpoints. Warrantless stops and searches of vehicles and occupants. Warrantless raids on private businesses. Warrantless trespasses and searches on private farms and ranches. Border fences and walls that resemble the Berlin Wall.

None of it works, which only causes the immigration controllers more anger, more anxiety, and higher blood pressure. If only they could finally come to the realization that it is their system of immigration controls itself that is the cause of the immigration crisis that they wail and rail about. If only they could finally realize that there is no conceivable plan that will ever make their socialist system work, at least not without turning America into a North Korean type of total police state.

Thus, there is but one way to end America’s ongoing, never-ending immigration crisis: dismantle the cause of the crisis, which is the system of immigration controls itself.

There is one and only one thing that works: Freedom and free markets, i.e., the free movements of people, goods, and services back and forth across borders. Freedom and free markets harmonize people’s interests. They enable people to maximize their economic conditions through trade. They are a key to restoring liberty, peace, prosperity, harmony, and morality to our land.

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.