illegal immigration would be a non-issue if we didn’t live in a welfare state in which millions of illegal aliens drain expensive benefits that they didn’t contribute to. Want to make the American Dream a possibility for desperate Mexicans and other foreigners looking to come to the United States? End all federal welfare programs: then America can afford to open its borders to just about anyone looking for a brighter future.
What? Just let anyone come to America just because they want to? Well, why not? Without welfare, what imperative does the government have to meticulously control every person who crosses the border? Consider that, until 1914, prior to the welfare state, the United States had completely open borders. That so many Europeans could simply get on a boat heading to America and, upon landing at Ellis Island, become an immigrant in the early twentieth century is universally recognized as a good thing. Does that change now simply because most of our immigrants are from South America instead of Europe?
Free immigration today, however, is a bad thing because, while free immigration to jobs is good, free immigration to welfare is bad. One of the monumental costs of the welfare state is the immigration conundrum: If we simply allow all impoverished foreigners who want to come to America looking for a better life to freely immigrate to the United States then either our welfare state would be overburdened far beyond capacity so that the entire system would collapse or taxes and inflation would have to skyrocket to such heights that the quality of life of everyone would plummet. Or, we could close our borders, protect our welfare programs, and damn millions of would-be immigrants to their current, impoverished lifestyles. Either way, one of the inherent costs of the welfare state is to give benefits to some at the expense of everyone else – including those would-be immigrants who are so much worse off than America’s own poor.
Ultimately, one of the best ways to help the world’s impoverished and simultaneously strengthen our economy is to end the welfare state and open our borders.
Milton Friedman on illegal immigration, part 1:
Milton Friedman on illegal immigration, part 2: