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Why do we have illegal immigration?

My second open letter to Mr. Mitt Romney on immigration

Dear Mr. Romney,

Being so vocal against illegal immigration, did you do your homework to find out how we ended up having this mess to begin with? Can you disclose your reasoning process?

Before the Immigration Act of 1924, legal immigration was allowed for Europeans; Asians had some restrictions. Since then, legal immigration is practically banned, except for some plucked out of the air immigration quotas. As this is obviously ridiculous, we have a sophisticated bureaucratic system which ensures that some people obtain an exemption and immigrate legally; about one million foreigners do it every year. Before 1924, foreigners came to America for work. When landing on Ellis Island, they knew that they can go back and forth as many times as they wanted; and many did. Not all found jobs, not all liked it here; some returned after saving some money. Those who liked it here, and prospered, stayed. About one third returned home permanently. In plain terms, foreigners worked their way into becoming Americans.

Thanks to this unlimited access to affordable labor, at the beginning of the 20th century the U.S. emerged as a world superpower. Then, politicians decided to fix what was not broken by putting their two cents; and, in 1924 practically banned immigration entirely. Gradually, the absurdity of this approach became obvious, and politicians did what they usually do. Instead of acknowledging their mistake and revoking the 1924 law, they created more bureaucracy to handle exceptions to the nonsense of banning immigration; they voted in the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965. This Act introduced workers visas and the family reunion concept. Before 1924, becoming an American meant, at least, a few years of toil and self-sacrifice. After 1965, immigration to America became a gift provided to some by the U.S. government.

Before 1924, immigration was regulated by the free market. After 1965, it is a government-run, socialist-style planned economy. So far, socialism has not worked anywhere in the world and – as in our immigration policy – it does not work here either. Everywhere it ever existed, a planned economy has always resulted in a black market. It is not different in the U.S.: we have illegal immigration.

When Ronald Reagan faced the issue, he understood that the problem is not with foreigners coming here illegally, but with the government having too much of a hand in the immigration process. After all, the famous saying, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” applies to our immigration policy as well. Realizing that illegal immigration resulted from previous errors in immigration policy, Reagan gave amnesty to most illegal immigrants. As this created uproar among fanatic opponents of immigration, Reagan promised to penalize American employers hiring undocumented immigrants. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 left many loopholes in the prosecution of American employers caught hiring undocumented foreigners. Some claim that Reagan was unwise in overlooking this shortcoming. I suspect that he was so smart that he gave amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants by fooling anti-immigration zealots with toothless promises of penalizing illegal immigration in the future.
It would be interesting to know your take on this issue, Mr. Romney.

Legal does not mean good

Before 1924, the influx of immigrants was market regulated. If too many arrived, more would return home soon. After that the government bureaucrats decide how many immigrants America will need in the years to come. Mr. Romney, in the businesses you were involved with, did you ever knew how many employees you might need next year? Would you ever self-impose a decision of hiring or not hiring some people just to stick to the previous year’s predictions, and not to today’s business needs? This is what we have in our immigration policy. It is a Soviet-style planned economy painstakingly implemented and maintained by the U.S government.

Mr. Romney, in your hiring decisions and in establishing hiring policies at the businesses in which you had an interest, did you seek the best people for the job, or did you hire the family members of your current employees, regardless of their suitability? I guess your answer is obvious, but it is not for the U.S. government. The family reunion concept gives the right to immigrate to foreigners who have family members in the U.S. About 66% of our present legal immigrants come this way. About one fourth of them are people 45 years old or older. Do they come here to work their way into being Americans, or do they come to cash in on the generous American welfare system?

Our immigration system allows to immigrate legally only for very few foreigners, fortunate enough to find a work visa sponsor or have family already here. Washington bureaucrats noticed this shortcoming as well. In order to overcome this inequality, they invented a visa lottery. Beginning in 1995, almost anyone can send in an application to have an immigration visa drawn in a lottery run by the U.S. government. Had Bain Capital hired people by lottery, money-wise, where would you be now, Mr. Romney?

Please look straight into my eyes and the eyes of millions of other Americans and tell us that you intend to spend our tax dollars to continue with this implementation of legal immigration.

A version of this text was published by Huffington Post

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