Monday, October 8, 2007

Immigration

I attended a forum discussion at a university this afternoon about immigration. Some of the panelists were interesting. One was basically a fear monger. But strikingly, none of them addressed the "elephant in the room". They were interested in discussing border security, Visa reform, and what to do about the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here, but they gave no thought to WHY people are so desperate to enter our country. One Senator from Florida even suggested that additional "free trade" agreements would make economic conditions better for countries of the south. This is exactly the opposite of the truth.

The truth is, NAFTA allowed cheap U.S. corn into the Mexican market, putting millions of Mexican corn farmers out of business. These farmers, desperate for work, are streaming across the border. Well why don't they come legally? Why don't they wait in line like they are supposed to? Immigration law in the U.S. is a complicated thing. The fact is, we just don't issue Visas to Mexican corm farmers with a 5th grade education. Now, if the Visa applicant is a doctor, or a scientist, we usually will work something out.

The ugly truth is that "free trade" is good for U.S. farmers and bad for farmers elsewhere. We even offer huge subsidies to our farmers, making it impossible for foreign farmers to compete. Those subsidies actually fly in the face of the very idea of "free trade".

How does immigration affect your local public library? More on that interesting topic in a future post.

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