Opening the Doors of Reason
Speaking of reason, Riley took his stance to ReasonTV. (Nice transition!) He says that a general increase in population has no real tie to a nation's prosperity: He cites the rich though densely populated Hong Kong and the sparsely populated but desperately poor region of sub-Saharan Africa. Riley says that because there is no fixed number of jobs in this country immigrants aren't stealing jobs from other Americans.
As for homeland security issues, he argues that if we were to let economic migrants in legally, they would cease to function as potential shields for people entering the country who might actually threaten us.
He agrees that there are of course costs in health care and education associate with illegal immigration -- though they're generally overstated. But he thinks the benefits outweigh those costs. The problem, he says, is that the costs of immigration happen on a local level but many of the benefits go to the Federal government -- payroll and other Federal taxes paid by undocumented immigrants who will never collect those benefits and a majority of whom, according to Riley, work on the books. In my mind, this explains much of the reason why so many localities have attempted to pass their own immigration laws. They see the costs only and not the benefits. This is compounded by the propagandizing by those using the issues for their own political gain, as Riley says. Generally, as we know, those are conservatives.
But, in this talk that he gave at the "market-liberal" CATO Institute, Riley says this:
"No self-respecting free-markets advocate would ever dream of supporting laws that interrupt the free movement of goods and services across international borders. But when it comes to laws that hamper the free movement of workers who produce those goods and services, too many conservatives today abandon their free-market principles.... Ronald Reagan gives way to Pat Buchanan." (I agree with Reaganites? More evidence that political parties and ideologies are generally counterproductive to reason. How much better if we could all operate only on the level of issues.)
In his talk at CATO, Riley makes arguments that debunk the reactionary hysteria created by Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly and their ilk that we're suffering some massive, illegal-immigrant crime wave:
"Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years have repeatedly found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native born."
He mentions that welfare case loads have fallen during the years of the current illegal-immigrant boom and that "it's clear that immigrants have benefited the U.S."
I won't go through all of his talk. It's short. Watch it. But I leave you with his closing, after he explains that the immigration wave of the early-20th century was much more massive in relation to the U.S. population than what we have now and didn't destroy the country: "Today's immigrants aren't different. They're just newer."
Technorati tags: Immigration, Politics, Dobbs, undocumented, alien,O'Reilly, Illegal, Riley.