L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 225, May 25, 2003

The Prime Directive

The True Victims of Immigration Laws
by Todd Andrew Barnett
libertarianman@comcast.net

Special to TLE

The recent morbid deaths of the 18 illegal Latin American immigrants in South Texas epitomize the perversity and the moral degeneracy of the United States' immigration controls (in the form of immigration laws) which are enforced by the U.S. Border Patrol, in an attempt to arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate illegal immigrants who step foot on American soil. Given the harsh and rigid conditions produced by the controls, illegal foreigners who flee from the patrol forces often find themselves becoming entangled with immigration transporters, who employ unsavory, ruthless methods, no matter the cost done to the illegal aliens and their wretched families.

According to various press reports, including Yahoo! News, Tyrone Williams, the driver of the tractor-trailer, initially told the local authorities that he was unaware of the illegals in the back of the trailer, thinking that his vehicle "was empty." Undoubtedly he finally confessed that he was remunerated $2,500 "by two men to take 16 immigrants from the Mexican border into South Texas." He alleged that he didn't observe the foreigners being loaded into his vehicle on the night of May 13th, the fact that he felt the truck "rocking back and forth as he sat in the cab" notwithstanding.

It turned out that nearly 120 people were found in the vehicle, most of whom were men, women, and children from Mexico and Central America. Many of them were crossing the border, just to reunite with their families, to find jobs, and to seek a better life for them and their families whom they brought.

It should disturb anyone when the reports reveal that Williams had admitted to opening the doors of his vehicle after noticing the dead and dying, suffocating people in the back, and then abandoned them minutes later. Many of the people, who were packed in the truck like sardines, were starving and dehydrated due to the heat exhaustion and lack of ventilation in the rear of the trailer. It has already become public knowledge that the truck was outfitted with a refrigeration unit, but it was neither used nor activated at the time of the deaths.

Moreover, a more equally disturbing revelation is the government's cavalier rejoinder to the incident, which smacks of a typical collectivist mindset saying, "If they had abided by our immigration laws, none of this would have happened."

It is not surprising that the government routinely engages in its War on Immigration by lambasting, condemning, and prosecuting either the foreigner for stepping into the country illegally or the transporter of the illegals. Historically speaking, it goes without saying that the federal attempt to constrict immigration by tightening immigration controls on our southern border has produced a gamut of problems, ranging from the starvation and dehydration of immigrants to the dead and wounded. This is not shocking, considering that they are found in areas like hot, arid deserts, the trunks of cars, the rear of tractor-trailers, and locked railroad cars, and that they have been fleeing bigoted vigilantes, and armed federal agents.

Immigration laws are no different from any other statist intervention in free markets—particularly gun and drug laws. They produce an underground market of immigrants who migrate to the country for a multitude of reasons: to provide a better way of life for themselves and their families, to immerse themselves into our society and our culture, to purchase homes and raise their families here, and to get a job. The most wonderful aspect about immigration is that immigrants, who are in search of a better standard of living and a stronger, more productive work environment, are individuals who possess and share the tenets of strong, moral principles, religion, work ethics, and family values—virtues often espoused by conservative collectivists.

So, what happens in an underground "black" market? The consequences are similar to the ones evidenced by the paradigm of gun and drug controls. When said interference is levied upon the population, it, in return, forces human beings to alter their conduct, even to the point of setting up a black market. The market may be illegal, but it doesn't prevent them from attempting to attain their initial goal.

We know that drug prohibition, for example, occurs because drug laws are passed, with the purported intent to avert individuals from ingesting substances. The laws, notwithstanding their good intentions, fail to stop many drug addicts from engaging in such self-destructive conduct. However, it certainly induces them to alter their conduct by stealing cash from other individuals and purchasing the drugs from an unsavory underground crime lord. Crime lords will flout the law anyway, anytime they see fit. If the drugs were legal, they would be allowed to buy them from their local pharmacy. Plus the impurities often found in the drugs after the purchase from a black market dealer could be eliminated if the substances were legalized.

Thus the government would say, "If they had abided by our drug laws, none of this would have happened."

We also know that gun prohibition produces the same effects. When gun laws are levied upon the people, an underground gun dealer, often a shady character, sells a gun to a criminal, who will most likely use it to either commit a robbery at a retail establishment such as a convenience store or to break and enter a home, robbing an unarmed family—or worse, by killing them. The gun lord who, like the drug lord, sold the piece to the perpetrator is likely to flout the law at any time.

Again the federal mindset would say, "If they had abided by our gun laws, none of this would have happened."

The reasoning holds true for immigration controls. Transporters like Tyrone Williams are shady characters who have no respect for the law and will mistreat and abuse the immigrant in any way, no matter the cost. It also means that the increasing patrol along the border has not altered the behavioral patterns of illegals, but encouraged them to continue crossing our borders and moving into our territories, in a tireless effort to attain their goal.

The point is that, regardless of how many controls you levy on our borders, no one—not one single individual or even the power of the government—can ever repeal the natural laws of supply and demand. The attempt to do so would set off a chain reaction of unintended consequences, creating a level of perversity, of which no one ever dared to dream.

Daniel T. Griswold, in a CATO Institute study released in October 2002, pointed out that an approximate eight million or more immigrants reside in the U.S. "without legal documents." According to his research, the number increases annually "by an estimated 250,000," even though more foreigners come into our country illegally or allow their visas to expire. It has been determined that over half of the illegal immigrant populace who have arrived here and already live here hail from Mexico.

Of course, the most common complaint issued by conservatives and taxpayers is that immigrants who have migrated to here illegally want to be on the welfare rolls. A recent study done by Stephen A. Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies stated that welfare programs serviced more than 3 million immigrant families living in the country. It was also found that legal immigrants made up 2.4 million, along with 663,000 illegal families who are receiving some sort of federal and state aid. But the report is biased, considering the fact that 15.3 percent of "natives" are on the dole and that both legal and illegal aliens, considering the hindrance to receiving employment, will most likely receive welfare.

The only way to end the use of welfare services by immigrants and to end the underground market is to abolish the welfare state and to repeal all immigration controls. The sooner it is done, the better off hard-working immigrants and American citizens will be in the long run.

The true victims of immigration controls are both American taxpayers and immigrants who want to better their own lives and improve their own fortunes. By preserving the collectivist state and the perverse, immoral immigration policies, we create a system in which both immigrants and native taxpayers are forced to finance an aberrant, twisted, morally-decadent form of government which has no place in a free society.


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