If Liberals Cared About Immigrants, They Would Not Support Open Borders

A few days ago, migrants tried to storm the U.S. border in Tijuana, throwing rocks and trying to break through the fence.  Many in this same group have also applied for asylum, overwhelming officials at the border, who now have to process them.

Not surprisingly, members of the liberal media have little care for people who have to cope with these migrants or the border patrols who have to keep the peace while being pelted with rocks.  All their sympathy is extended to the migrants themselves, who are simply "looking for a better life." Skyler Turden (Steven Crowder's liberal alter-ego) captures this sentiment well in the last episode of "Devil's Advocate" where he argues about immigration with Stefan Molyneux.

Many people on the left tend to blame immigration laws and borders for illegal immigration rather than the lawbreakers themselves.  They rail against ICE and the border wall and seem to believe that the most compassionate thing to do for people crossing the border is to let them.  Denying them entry and deporting them is needlessly cruel.

This argument works on the assumption that illegal aliens will find a better life once they come here. They will find a good job, own a house, pay taxes, and start a family, and their kids will grow up learning the virtues of hard work and go even further than their parents. Put simply, ignoring immigration laws results in more people living out the American dream.

For those even slightly acquainted with the reality – as one can imagine, the less experience people have with the issue, the more they believe in this fantasy – life for the illegal alien is quite challenging.  Most are abused and exploited by the people who smuggle them into the country.  If they are lucky, they can work for a callous factory owner or farmer who will exploit them further.  If not, they will sponge off family members and loiter at gas stations, looking for work.  If these options don't pan out, they will make their money through illegal means and join a gang.  Their kids, though legal citizens (thanks to birthright citizenship), will often inherit these same struggles.

This doesn't include the costs of illegal immigration to society, which provides health care, housing, education, child care, and legal services to illegal aliens.  Even though immigration advocates claim that illegal aliens do indeed pay taxes, the dollar amount pales in comparison to the cost of the many services they receive.

In light of this, liberals have moved even farther leftward, objecting to the idea of borders altogether.  They don't aim to reform immigration laws; they hope to eliminate them and allow any person to come into the country – again, for the sake of "finding a better life."

This is ridiculous.  If borders were erased, the effects would be disastrous, making the effects of current illegal immigration seem negligible by comparison.  First, the massive influx of new citizens would strain government resources, leading to more crime and less support for the poor.  Second, it would flood the market with cheap labor, leading to depressed wages and increased unemployment.  Third, it would result in a multitude of poor unassimilated immigrant communities (AKA ghettos).  Together, this would lead to a highly unequal, crime-ridden society, where the rich would live in gated communities with their own private security and a large mass of poor people would live in run-down cities, desperate for intervention – all of which is a recipe for autocracies and socialist uprisings.

Those who are skeptical of this scenario need only to look at nations south of the border, the very places from which the current immigrants are seeking asylum.  Corrupt governments and drug cartels relentlessly prey on the masses while the rich elite either live outside the country or build bigger walls for their fortresses.

If these countries seem too distant from the American experience, one can see this transformation in progress in Europe.  Because of the arrival of migrants from Asia and Africa, the ghettos are multiplying, governments are strained, and crime has risen.  The compassion Europeans had for immigrants is quickly evaporating as many vote for stronger borders and mandatory assimilation.

Despite all this, one might still claim that the alien is better off – at least in the short term, before the developed world crashes into penury and dysfunction, which may be a few decades away.  But, judging from the resentment and restlessness of aliens, even they aren't happy.  And why should they be?  True, they may have a higher quality of life, but they and their children live as second-class citizens with little economic and social mobility.  Every new blessing they enjoy in their new country is a reminder of their dependency and inadequacy.  Instead of adopting an attitude of gratitude and responsibility, many will double down on the helplessness and look for an easy solution (e.g., an autocrat, a gang, Marxist ideology).

If people truly cared about "immigrants," they would stop protesting immigration law enforcement and stop funding caravans.  Rather, they would seek to reform current immigration laws, which are cumbersome and counterproductive.  Their goal should be to encourage the influx of people who can contribute to society (high-skilled and willing to assimilate) and discourage those who cannot (low-skilled and unwilling to assimilate).  With better laws, there would be less excuse for those who choose to break them as they do now.

Furthermore, people who care about immigrants should support secure borders and law enforcement.  Allowing so many people to cross the border illegally and showing them amnesty through so many executive orders creates an irresistible temptation for other foreigners to do the same.  It's also a slap in the face to people who go through the laborious process of becoming citizens.  Therefore, the best course of action would be to eliminate this temptation and act justly toward those who come here legally versus those who don't.

If this seems to do too little for the poor immigrant who now has no hope of entering the country, then those concerned can seek to help the poor in their own countries.  They can donate to charities; they can do mission work; they can speak out against corrupt dictators and socialist regimes.  Or, even better, they can invest in these places and alleviate their condition through free-market capitalism, a system that has lifted billions out of poverty already.

This is actually a lesson of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Few people seem to observe that the Good Samaritan takes the beaten man to an inn and pays for his stay; he does not take him home and make him a lifelong member of the family.  He trusts that the man will recover, feel grateful, and go on about his life.  Instead of well meaning people trying to bring people in, they should find ways to help them where they are so that they have no need to come to America for a better life.

Reforming immigration law, securing the border, and providing aid and investment to neighboring countries will also have the benefit of forcing their governments to reform.  They will realize that they can't deal with their poor by sending them north, but by taking serious measures to root out internal corruption, secure property rights, and provide basic services that empower citizens.

Such a world enriched by borders may seem like a hopeless dream, but it is far more realistic than a global utopia without borders.  Feelings have dominated immigration for too long, and all of it has only led to violence, exploitation, and confusion.  It's time to approach immigration rationally and take a clear view of those affected by it.  If this is done, Americans can finally practice real charity to outsiders while taking care of their own as well.

Auguste Meyrat is an English teacher in the Dallas area.  He has written essays for The Federalist and The American Conservative.  Follow him on Twitter.

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