That Spot Of Bother On The Border

Ilana Mercer, May 4, 2007

In 2004, Time magazine described in detail how illegal aliens rushing the southern border commit property crimes and despoil the environment:

When the crowds cross the ranches along and near the border, they discard backpacks, empty Gatorade and water bottles and soiled clothes. They turn the land into a vast latrine, leaving behind revolting mounds of personal refuse and enough discarded plastic bags to stock a Wal-Mart. Night after night, they cut fences intended to hold in cattle and horses. Cows that eat the bags must often be killed because the plastic becomes lodged between the first and second stomachs. The immigrants steal vehicles and saddles. They poison dogs to quiet them. The illegal traffic is so heavy that some ranchers, because of the disruptions and noise, get very little sleep at night.

As most American yokels see it, the perpetrators are responsible for these willful, unprovoked acts of aggression. As most libertarian sophisticates see things, our restrictionist immigration policies caused the “culprits” to vandalize—and sometimes kill—en route. This is how the devotional libertarian claptrap goes: If the border were opened, and these people were permitted to enter unfettered so as to work for Americans seeking to employ them, they’d opt to buy a bus ticket rather than defecate and despoil their way to their destinations.

Here’s the inside dope: borders are de facto open. There might not be a bus service transporting illegals to “designated pickup points,” where “they will ride in thousands of stolen vehicles … on the next leg of their journey to big cities and small towns from California to North Carolina,” as the typical odyssey has been described by Time. (Buses, it appears, are not the preferred ride.) But neither is anyone stopping Mexico’s flotsam from flooding US border cities, and beyond. Under George W. Bush, there has been no enforcement of immigration laws to speak of. During his years in office, over 4 million aliens (and counting) have entered the country unhindered.

By Time’s telling, for every person the border patrol apprehends, at least three make it into the country safely. In State of Emergency, Pat Buchanan reports that “work-site arrests fell to 159 in 2004,” compared to “between 10,000 and 18,000 in the Clinton years 1995, 1996, 1997.” Sporadic raids carried out recently are symbolic spasms that have, if anything, bolstered the open-border crowd’s argumentum ad misericordiam (appeals to pity). In the absence of any deterrent, apprehension achieves no more than to signal to the illegal to try again.

Now, about that Magical Mystery bus tour the open-border libertarian brought up: There are no legal impediments to a Mexican acquiring a visa and a bus ticket, and entering the US legally as a visitor or tourist, without traversing treacherous terrain. Once in the US, such a visitor could blend into the “madding crowds.” There are no impediments to so doing other than the cost of a visa: $100. Neither is a bus ticket free, although it is probably as cheap.

Why, then, don’t illegals embark on this easier route? My guess is that in addition to being unable to afford a bus ticket and visa fee, this cohort is so poor and uneducated that it has probably never acquired the necessary Mexican papers to apply for a visitor’s visa to the US. The “matricula consular” is likely the first ever Mexican document possessed by the illegal alien—a pedestrian possibility preachers of laissez faire immigration have never contemplated.

When you and I turned a certain age, we acquired identity and travel documents as well as a driver’s license. We may not like the procedure, or even agree with it, but it’s what we do as responsible adults. That the “immigrants” crossing the border on foot don’t possess Mexican documents is not because they are the edgy, anti-authoritarian, entrepreneurial risk-takers of tomorrow, as some libertarians (and Geraldo Rivera) patronizingly depict them. Rather, it is because they live in the shadows in their land, and are only transporting chaotic lives to this land. I suspect that the illegals entering this country are, for the most, incapable of carrying out such simple tasks

Why else would American politicians be sponsoring—and taxpayers shouldering—bureaucracies aimed at assisting these illiterates… in filling out forms? The Michigan Immigration Clerical Assistant Act, for example, aims to “protect” “immigrants” from “notarios”: scam artists who pretend to help, but prey on the illegal’s illiteracy. Like gangs, and counterfeiters of Social Security and driver’s licenses, “notarios” are yet another spin-off criminal enterprise arising from the influx into this country of millions of welfare-dependent illiterates.

Back to that spot of bother on the border—you know, the land that is being turned into “a vast latrine”; that environmental blight Gore and his gang of greens never mention. This is to be expected when government restricts naturally licit behavior, our la-di-dah libertarian repeats robotically. Here, invariably, a comparison is drawn to the Drug War. Accordingly, the drug consumer, whom the state has criminalized by legal fiat, is compared to the illegal immigrant, whose naturally licit actions the state has also outlawed.

And, in error, vice is conflated with crime.

“Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property,” explained Lysander Spooner, the great 19th-century natural rights theorist. “Crimes are those acts by which a man harms the person or property of another.” True enough, in natural law, a drug consumer is not a criminal. He, however, becomes one when he harms another’s person or property.

Ditto the illegal alien. Whatever open-border libertarians think about immigration law, once the immigration scofflaw steals, trespasses, or vandalizes private property, said alien is guilty of crimes. To say, moreover, that the state’s laws made masses of men and women commit such crimes is to voice the philosophy of social determinism, not individualism. A philosophy also known in simpler parlance as the dog-ate-my-homework school of thought.

©2007 By Ilana Mercer

    May 4

CATEGORIES: Animals, Argument, Immigration, Law, Libertarianism