RadGeek, do you think that the government should relinquish all control and supervision over the flow of people across our borders?
Yes. I think that both the Border Patrol and the ICE internal security forces should be completely abolished, as should the entire visa / resident alien documentation system, with complete amnesty for all currently undocumented immigrants. In terms of traveling freely, establishing a temporary or a permanent residence, getting a job, etc., moving from Ottawa to Michigan should be no different, and involve no more scrutiny or documentation, than moving from Michigan to Ohio.
Any legitimate functions that the Border Patrol and ICE serve (say quarantining people with dangerous communicable diseases or apprehending known criminals) can and should be served by ordinary police forces, without regard to immigrant status.
For example, do we have a right to deny entry to war criminals?
I don’t have a firm opinion on whether or not governments would have the right to deny entry to known war criminals. But if they do have such a right, the problem is how to identify war criminals from among the general pool of immigrants, and I don’t think there’s any way of creating an ex ante system for identifying and screening out war criminals that won’t violate the rights of millions of non-war criminals by subjecting them to heightened government scrutiny without probable cause. There’s no reason to think that the average Mexican worker is secretly a war criminal, and no non-xenophobic reason for treating prospective immigrants with a greater presumption of their criminality than U.S. citizens would be.
But anyway, why deny war criminals entry, even if it is within one’s rights to do so? If you’ve identified a war criminal trying to get into the U.S., why not let them in, and then arrest them within the country and pack them off to the appropriate tribunal?
For example, I supported Spitzer’s plan to issue driver’s licenses substantiated by ID other than immigration documents. If people are going to come here, they’ve got to be subject to the same level of monitoring as everyone else. I’m glad that we have means to track citizens.
I also support plans to extend driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, although perhaps for different reasons. But I don’t see how this cuts against the open borders proposal that I advocate. If driver’s licenses or government identification documents are a desirable thing to have for long-term residents, then all my proposal would require is precisely what you advocate — that these licenses or documents be available to all long-term residents, without requiring them to produce documentation of immigration status (since that sort of documentation would no longer exist).
Ex hypothesi, there’s no process, so there’s no path to citizenship for these folks, even if they spend years contributing to our society. Citizens have rights and privileges, but these people are just hanging out in indefinite legal limbo. Is that fair?
I don’t understand the inference here. It seems to me that you’re conflating immigration restrictions with a naturalization process. All I’ve proposed is that the immigration restrictions be done away with. As far as my argument goes, you can implement whatever kind of process you like for naturalizing immigrants once they are here; my only claim is that the government shouldn’t be making any efforts to stop them from getting here, or to control how they can make a living once here, or to throw them out over arbitrarily imposed time limits or restrictions on their peaceful activities.
Similarly, when I moved from Michigan to Nevada, I didn’t have to send any prior notice to the government and I didn’t have to undergo any kind of pre-screening or submit to any government restrictions on how long I could stay or what kind of work I could take. I just moved into a new house and started working. There are defined processes that I have to go through in order to do things like establishing official residency, getting a local driver’s license, registering to vote, etc. These processes just aren’t linked to any kind of ex ante screening at the border.
We’re still going to need checkpoints to inspect goods and make sure all the applicable duties and tariffs get paid.
Well, I don’t think that the government should be collecting duties and tariffs on imported goods, or limiting entry chokepoints for inspection. Those who do think that duties and tariffs are important don’t need government-controlled chokepoints to do that, either; the U.S. government’s physical control over the land borders and the sea coasts used to be far, far looser than it is today, but nevertheless they got by just fine, even when import duties were almost the only source of federal revenue.
But. If this sort of thing is both justified and desirable, then channeling cross-border traffic through government chokepoints isn’t necessarily inconsistent with what people call
open borders immigration policy, which refers to the right of people to travel freely across the border without government restrictions, not necessarily the presence or absence of inspection stations. (Does California have an open border with Nevada? I’d say so, in spite of the agricultural inspection stations. Although personally I think that the inspection stations are foolish.)
So, if you please, I support what you call “physically open borders.” If what I can get is checkpointed borders with non-discriminatory inspections, but free and open crossing without any kind of government visa system, then that would be less than what I advocate, but it would also be big step forward over the system we have now, which serves to criminalize, forcibly pauperize, jail, and/or kill millions of immigrants every year.
Just letting people circulate freely without actively inducting them into our system is ghettoizing.
Not as ghettoizing as constantly forcing them to live with the threat of imprisonment and forced separation from their friends, family, livelihoods, and homes.
I haven’t said anything against having naturalization procedures. I just denied that those procedures should be tied to restrictions on crossing borders or living and working within the country.