What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: ajagendorf25
At today’s Utah County Republican Convention, a resolution was presented for consideration. This resolution stated an objection to HB116, a law that recently passed in Utah to create a guest worker program for “illegal immigrants,” and called for its repeal. Individuals from both sides of the issue were given ten minutes to present their case. Arguing in support of the resolution was Representative Chris Herrod, one of the state’s foremost advocates of enforcing current federal immigration laws.
I’ve written previously about one of Rep. Herrod’s arguments. I’ve read his book. I’ve seen his video. And while I don’t mean to pick on him, his decision to be a spokesman for this issue opens him to the criticism I continue to have against those who agree with and use his arguments.
The central argument Rep. Herrod uses to oppose HB116, “amnesty,” or the toleration or acceptance in any way of those here “illegally,” is that it is not “fair.” It’s not “fair” to people around the world, he argues, that those who live next to our country have easy access. Today’s presentation was supported with an accompanying slideshow presentation with graphs and statistics helping him make the case that we cannot be a true “melting pot” if we don’t have a “fair” distribution of immigrants’ countries of origin.
America, however, is not the melting pot Rep. Herrod thinks it is, or even should be. There is no master chef. Nobody has the authority to dictate what ingredients are allowed into the pot. We are not following a recipe. To envision otherwise is to embrace a centrally planned society wherein quotas are set, bureaucrats are arbitrarily empowered, and one individual can permissibly compel another not to use his property however he sees fit.
The immigration process “simply needs to be fair to everyone around the world,” Rep. Herrod argues. Is it fair to have to pay thousands of dollars and wait for years before possibly (but likely not) receiving permission to enter this country? Is it fair to have to prove to some government official that you love and are committed to your American spouse, and are not just married to get a green card? Is it fair to deny Americans their individual rights, preventing them from exchanging property or associating with whomever they please? Is it fair to justify a system of compulsion and regulation that tells peaceful, productive individuals where they can or cannot live, and with whom they may or may not engage in commerce?
Those who support enforcing federal immigration laws—and strictly—almost always will introduce the qualifier that they support making legal immigration easier and more simple. Yet they still support empowering the government to manage the immigration of individuals. How is this fair? At its simplest, this is one individual telling his neighbor that if he tries to rent out his basement to Juan from Honduras without permission, he will use aggression against the neighbor in response to that harmless act.
But Rep. Herrod’s consistent call for fairness in the immigration process begs the question: who gets to decide what is “fair”? What may be decided as fair, whether democratically voted upon or bureaucratically imposed, likely will not be seen as fair to those who still don’t like the outcome. Where does government derive its authority to set a “fair” standard of immigration at all? Why does it supposedly get to make the decisions as to which people can enter its boundaries, and which must remain in their country of origin?
Like the "fair trade" issue, this one smells of central planning and protectionism. Free trade, not “fair” trade, respects individual liberty. Free migration, not “fair” migration, also respects individual liberty.
No one person has the authority to determine a “fair” process for who can and cannot engage in business with another person, or rent his basement, or attend his school. It follows that the government cannot morally be delegated that power, as the individuals which comprise that government lack it themselves.
The “fair” ruse should be exposed for the statist fraud that it is. It is based not on the sound principle of individual liberty, but on the unstable and rotten soil of interventionism.