The argument I want to raise today is that even if you're among the net losers, you have a moral imperative to favor permitting lots of new immigrants to enter America legally, because at some point in the past, your ancestors arrived here from somewhere, and on doing so they imposed costs on the people already here. It is hardly fair, now that you've reaped the benefits of past immigration, to restrict others from doing the same.
This argument is particularly compelling because odds are when your ancestors came to this country, the burdens their arrival imposed on the folks already here was many times greater than anything you'll face today. The Europeans who initially came to this continent spread diseases that wiped out Native American populations -- and the ones who survived disease were often kicked off their land or even brutally killed. Folks of Irish ancestry who complain that their cities are overcrowded today should read about New York City tenements during the biggest wave of immigration from Ireland. Are you worried about immigrant gangs like MS13? So am I, but it's doubtful that any imported criminal organization will prove more burdensome than the Italian mafia or the organized crime families that exist in many other ethnic groups that immigrated to the United States.
Name any problem associated with immigration today, and odds are it was much worse at some point in the American past -- and our ancestors grappled with those problems despite living in a country many times poorer than the America of today. Unless you're a Native American, fairness would seem to demand that you don't favor restrictionist immigration policies that, were they in place when your ancestors came, would've prevented their arrival and your status as an American today.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Moral Reasons for Immigration
I recently a list of legitimate concerns about increasing immigration into the United States. Here's where those same reasons are used to convince America to bear those costs: