Saturday, 23 March 2013


Borders are open, but not to the people they should

Tony Hilton sent me an inter­est­ing arti­cle yesterday, taken from the last issue of The Econ­o­mist. Enti­tled “Own goal,” this piece is about America’s immi­gra­tion rules, which are “the oppo­site of what it needs,” accord­ing to the London-based weekly.
I was expect­ing a long com­plaint about the plight of poor free-market-asserting, family-values-defending Mex­i­can Ran­dian entre­pre­neurs, in the same man­ner as Robert Heineman’s appalling speech dur­ing the last H.L. Mencken Club Con­fer­ence. The pic­ture illus­trat­ing the arti­cle shows a His­panic woman hold­ing a baby who wears a “Born in the USA” t-shirt and waves a stars-and-stripes flag. Under the pic­ture, the cap­tion reads: “Get­ting ready to pay for Medicare, Med­ic­aid and the rest,” which is as coun­ter­fac­tual as you can get. I had thus good rea­sons to be wary of this article.
But instead of that, what I read was a very com­plete piece on the real­ity of immi­gra­tion in today’s Amer­ica. Far from the “open-border” sit­u­a­tion that some Amer­i­can cit­i­zens might imag­ine, Amer­ica is actu­ally very closed when it comes to legal, work­ing immi­gra­tion. Again, that may be sur­pris­ing to Amer­i­can peo­ple who lost their jobs because of the low-wage com­pe­ti­tion of Mex­i­can or Chi­nese immi­grants, but how many of these immi­grants came to Amer­ica with the nor­mal pro­ce­dure, i.e. first get­ting a job and then apply­ing for a work­ing visa? Very few, given that only 6% of green cards are given to work­ing immi­grants. The remain­ing 94% are handed out to refugees or rel­a­tives of U.S. cit­i­zens or per­ma­nent residents.

An uncom­mon kind of His­panic immigrant 

The Econ­o­mist brings the case of a Venezue­lan PhD can­di­date, Andrea Sanchez, who will likely go back to the Boli­var­ian Repub­lic once her doc­toral defense at Uni­ver­sity of South Florida is over. Sanchez being a very com­mon name among Spanish-speaking peo­ple, I couldn’t check what she looks like, but I bet that it’s closer to her neigh­bor country’s for­mer pres­i­dent, Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe, than to her late pres­i­dente, Hugo Chávez. But I digress.

As most for­eign stu­dents, Andrea works out­side the cam­pus. But she’s not the typ­i­cal stu­dent serv­ing melted asphalt sand­wiches at Sub­way between her Post-Structuralist Stud­ies course and her Mul­ti­ple Iden­ti­ties Sem­i­nar. She’s actu­ally study­ing civil engi­neer­ing, and “is work­ing on a project funded by FDOT to model the lifes­pan of rein­forced con­crete in bridges exposed to sea air.” Still, every poten­tial employer she met in Miami was deterred from hir­ing her by the harsh reg­u­la­tions that apply when a com­pany wants to hire a for­eign worker. The Econ­o­mist explains that “to employ a for­eigner, even on a tem­po­rary basis, a firm must file paper­work with the Depart­ment of Labour cer­ti­fy­ing that no Amer­i­can work­ers are being dis­placed and that a mar­ket wage will be paid (to avoid depress­ing Amer­i­cans’ earn­ings). Once that is approved, the prospec­tive employer must sub­mit evi­dence of the applicant’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions to the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity, along with $1,575–5,550 in fees, depend­ing on the size of the com­pany and the urgency of the appli­ca­tion. Every­thing is then passed on to the State Depart­ment, which inter­views the appli­cant and checks the other bureau­crats’ handiwork.
Even for com­pa­nies will­ing to jump through all these hoops, visas may not be avail­able, as Con­gress has put a limit on the num­ber that can be issued each year. All 85,000 short-term visas for skilled for­eign work­ers (H-1Bs, in bureau­cratese) on offer this year were snapped up within ten weeks. That was a lot bet­ter than in April 2007, when the limit was reached in less than a day. Even in the depths of the down­turn the quota was always fully used. Indeed, demand has exceeded sup­ply every year since 2003, when Con­gress slashed the num­ber of visas on offer by two-thirds.
At this point, I want to make myself clear: I’m by no means say­ing that this girl has a “right” to immi­grate to Amer­ica just because of her skills. The Amer­i­can peo­ple should be able to deter­mine if, and, if yes, how many immi­grants their coun­try should wel­come. The prob­lem is that Amer­i­cans have been denied this right for about half a cen­tury, since the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­ity Act of 1965. Today, with around one mil­lion immi­grants set­tling in the coun­try every year, it seems odd that peo­ple who come to work are treated in such a tough way, while future wel­fare recip­i­ents are given a pref­er­en­tial treat­ment over native Amer­i­cans. Either bor­ders are open (totally or par­tially), or they are closed. But they can’t be open only to those who won’t enrich their new country.
The way immi­gra­tion and bor­der con­trol are man­aged in West­ern post-democracies is illus­tra­tive of what Sam Fran­cis called “anarcho-tyranny.” (1) West­ern gov­ern­ments let mil­lions of peo­ple in who are, at best, indif­fer­ent to the indige­nous cul­ture, while peo­ple who could con­tribute to the national life are deemed unde­sir­able. Today, it goes as far as cus­tom agents sus­pect­ing every tem­po­rary vis­i­tor to try to immi­grate on a week-end trip from Canada. (I know, because it hap­pened to me.)

It is not “inconsistent”

This sit­u­a­tion is not “incon­sis­tent” at all: it is, on the con­trary, per­fectly con­sis­tent with the will of our rulers to import welfare-dependent pop­ula­tions who will be sub­servient to the power, even if they seem­ingly dis­rupt the society’s order. As a mat­ter of fact, even this dis­rup­tion ben­e­fits the polit­i­cal class, which can rein­force their power by promis­ing to bring back “law and order.” There’s no con­tra­dic­tion in the fact that more and more money is invested in secu­rity while urban cen­ters and sub­urbs are less and less secure: the more crime, the more pop­u­lar demand for secu­rity. Why would politi­cians and bureau­crats solve a prob­lem that legit­imizes them?
The only “incon­sis­tent” ones are maybe immi­gra­tion restric­tion­ists them­selves, who give politi­cians the oppor­tu­nity of strength­en­ing con­trols at bor­ders and air­ports, not to men­tion pre­vent­ing com­pe­tent for­eign­ers from set­tling in the coun­try. Would peo­ple have accepted those degrad­ing TSA scan­nings after 9/11 if they had not also accepted the neces­sity of “fight­ing ter­ror”? Was Mus­lim immi­gra­tion in Europe and North Amer­ica reduced after that? No, it has actu­ally increased ever since. West­ern pop­u­la­tions are now pre­sented with a false choice, that between liv­ing in a police state or suf­fer­ing civil war. As peo­ple have fam­i­lies to feed and pro­tect, they nat­u­rally chose the for­mer, as if it were an actual anti­dote to the latter.
The con­se­quence is that, much like in a lunatic asy­lum, it is now easy to come to the West, but for the peo­ple who’re already in, it is becom­ing increas­ingly dif­fi­cult to move inside it. Every peo­ple is being locked in its own padded cell that is called “Nation-State.”
Immi­gra­tion restric­tion­ists would be bet­ter advised to stop giv­ing our gov­ern­ments jus­ti­fi­ca­tions to restrict our move­ments even more, and start think­ing of another future for their chil­dren and those who look like theirs. It would mean let­ting their bank­rupt nation-states go over the cliff as they should, and instead lay­ing the intel­lec­tual ground for the Ethno-State to come. It is a mat­ter of time before they under­stand that, or, rather, a mat­ter of gen­er­a­tion.

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