Saturday, June 11, 2005

All Along the Watchtower

"The purpose of securing the borders isn't to 'dry up' the alien smuggling industry," says McQ at Questions and Observations. "It's to keep people who are trying to enter illegally out of the US." This, in response to two Libertarian Party speakers who point out that "opening the borders" would pretty much instantly eliminate the business of "coyotes" -- people who make their livings escorting people across the US border from Mexico.

McQ continues: "Now we all know that most likely the majority of those trying to enter the country are simply looking for work. But it cannot be denied that there is going to be a certain element entering for less benign reasons. These include criminal gangs of various types. It should be noted that the two LP candidates completely ignore that aspect of the problem."

Well, no, they don't -- or at least their analysis covers it whether they intended it to or not.

Millions of people try to get across the border each year to seek work and make an honest living. The fact that they are turned away at legal points of entry is what creates and sustains the "coyote industry." And that industry, in turn, is almost certainly where the bad guys -- the criminal gangs, Islamist terrorists, etc. -- turn for help in infiltrating the US.

With respect to national security and defense issues, "opening the borders" -- at least to the extent of allowing innocent work-seekers to cross them at legal points of entry without a hassle -- is the means of reducing the ability of the bad guys to get in. Really.

Without their millions of basically harmless clients, the "coyote industry" wouldn't be there for the bad guys, either. The coyotes make their money by dealing in bulk. Take away the vast majority of their customers, and one of two things happens: Either they find something else to do for a living, or their prices skyrocket for helping the few who can't afford scrutiny at a legal border crossing to get in.

And, without the millions of work-seekers to track and apprehend, the Border Patrol or whatever other force is used to monitor the borders would be able to focus its resources on a much smaller problem. We are told -- and I have no reason not to believe -- that the waves of illegal immigration act as a vector to carry al Qaeda operatives into the US. They lose themselves in a herd so large that they're unlikely to be discerned from the others. So many people are coming across the border that it's impossible to stop them all and sort them out. But get rid of the 99.99% of immigrants who aren't terrorists, and the terrorists have no place to hide.

Bottom line: Economic protectionists, whose primary objection to Mexican workers entering the US is that they lower wages by increasing the labor supply, are part of the problem, not part of the solution. The policies they advocate make it cheaper and easier for criminals and terrorists to get into the United States.

I think that George W. Bush probably realizes this, although he's never come right out and said it, primarily because he and his party are on Double Secret Probation with those protectionists anyway. Last year, only one presidential candidate had the guts to tell it like it was (and is).

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