Tonight on the Factor, O’Reilly wants to talk about what libertarians say about illegal immigration.
I plan to tell him: libertarians believe that trade is good. Trade in goods, ideas… and labor, too. In other words, open the borders, let people in.
Oops. Today this is a tricky issue. America is a welfare state. You cannot have open borders and a welfare state. People would come here to freeload. Also, we cannot have open borders when some people want to murder us.
So we should secure the border. But recent efforts to do that – like building a wall – have been costly boondoggles. When I visited the $2 billion wall last year – it cost you abeout $1,700 per yard – there were patched-up holes every 20 to 30 feet. Immigrants had just cut through the fence. The border patrol repairs it. There were also makeshift ladders everywhere. And when immigrants don’t cut through the wall, or climb over it, they go around it. The Washington Post quotes one border police chief:
"When you plug a hole in the wall, the water looks for another spot to flow through. Arizona is that spot," said Nogales police chief Jeff Kirkham, who reported that immigrants are "going over the wall, going through the wall or through tunnels."
Maybe technology provides a better answer? I thought that President Bush’s new “high-tech, virtual” wall would make the border more secure, but the virtual wall has been even more a mess. President Obama stopped funding it. The GAO had a new report this month that says the virtual fence’s technical standards have been watered down “to the point that … system performance will be deemed acceptable if it identifies less than 50 percent of items of interest that cross the border.”
So what should we do? I say, let more people in. Right now, it's hard to pick out terrorists and criminals from the flood of people who just want to work. Let workers in legally – through, say, a guest worker program – and we will have an easier time keeping out the bad guys.
The debate over the Mexican border misses a big part of the immigration story: every year, we turn away millions of smart, hard-working foreigners for no good reason.
Forbes Magazine put together a chart on how long it takes immigrants to get in. Based on State Department waiting lists, they calculate that it would take an Indian computer programmer 35 years to get a Green Card. A 30-year-old Mexican with just a high school degree would be so far down on the list, he wouldn’t get in for 131 years. If he wants to work in America, why would he even bother to get on the legal list?
Many people think immigrants steal jobs. They don't. In Forbes, Philippe Legrain points out:
Just as working women haven't deprived men of jobs, immigrants create jobs as well as filling them.
Immigrants are good for the country. They create jobs. Nearly half of Silicon Valley’s venture capital-funded start-ups were co-founded by immigrants. No one could have guessed when he arrived at age 6 as a refugee from the Soviet Union that Sergey Brin would go on to co-found Google. How many potential Brins does America turn away–and at what cost?
Bill Gates seconds that. He says Microsoft has been “forced to locate staff in countries that welcome skilled foreign workers… [who] could otherwise have been in the United States, if it were not for our counterproductive immigration policies."
LET MORE PEOPLE IN!