An Analysis of Victor Davis Hanson's Views on Illegal Immigration
G. Stolyarov II
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2006 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007. Since this time, I have become even more opposed to the position taken by Victor Davis Hanson and others who seek to crack down on "illegal immigration". Rather, I favor open borders and the right of people of any national origin to freely purchase property in the United States, or to live on property owned by others with the permission of the owners. However, to preserve a record of my writings following the shutdown of Yahoo! Voices in 2014, I have given this article a permanent presence on this page.
Victor Davis Hanson's September 5, 2006, Hillsdale College speech on and the state of the debate on this issue interested me and gave me valuable additional information on the subject. Dr. Hanson pointed out some legitimate cultural and economic problems with illegal immigration - including the ironic behavior of some Mexican illegal immigrants, who proudly wave the flag of the country they escaped while burning the flag of the country they came to. Dr. Hanson used fascinating statistics to illustrate this double standard: 57% of all Mexican citizens want to emigrate to the United States, but 52% of them also say that the American Southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico-the very country many of them want to leave!
I find many illegal immigrants' desire to turn parts of the United States into microcosms of Mexico problematic; after all, a microcosm of Mexico would suffer the same cultural and economic problems that impelled the immigrants to come to the United States in the first place! If, for example, efforts to turn California into "Mexifornia" succeed, this will only diminish the quality of life for immigrants there, giving them an incentive to move to other parts of the United States and similarly transform them. I admire those who seek to move to the United States to improve their standards of living and find productive work, but such individuals should not be allowed to tamper with institutions that made their liberty and living standards possible in the first place. I fully agree with Dr. Hanson that it is time to do away with forced bilingualism in the governments and education systems of many border states - thereby giving immigrants a greater incentive to learn English and integrate themselves into American society.
Dr. Hanson also noted that the Mexican government uses illegal immigration as both a safety valve and a major revenue source. Because those who face social and economic problems in Mexico can easily leave, they are less likely to try to reform their own government and pressure it to liberalize its still quasi-socialist economic policies. At the same time, illegal immigrants send forty to sixty percent of their income back to Mexico - funding in part the very government whose inefficient policies they escaped. To further exacerbate the problem, the average illegal immigrant takes in $50,000 more in government services than he pays in taxes - thus draining an already greatly over-extended government budget.
While I see illegal immigration in its present form as a problem, I am not satisfied with the resolutions that either Dr. Hanson or most contemporary opponents of this phenomenon propose. Dr. Hanson mentioned a growing consensus regarding the need to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants. I find this profoundly opposed to free markets and individual liberty of association. If one party wishes to employ another party who wishes to work, neither party has violated the other's rights, both are participating in mutually beneficial exchange, and overall wealth is thereby increased. Sanctions against employers will only punish and deter the best among illegal immigrants - who actually desire to work, who pay taxes, and who possess the industrious character lacking in many native-born Americans.
During the question-and-answer period, I offered the following remedy for the harmful effects of illegal immigration: the denial of all non-essential government services to those without legal proof of residency. Many of the social problems arising from illegal immigration come from those immigrants who enter the United States in order to exploit the welfare system, the public education system, and the semi-public health care system. If all three were denied to illegal immigrants, then such motivations for coming to the U. S. would also be extinguished. Only the immigrants who could sustain themselves without draining taxpayer resources would have an incentive to stay.
I found Dr. Hanson's response to my suggestion insufficiently persuasive. Dr. Hanson pointed out that Americans have a traditionally "generous spirit," and many would find it hard to, for instance, reject admission to an emergency clinic to a severely wounded illegal immigrant or to refuse to educate children who appear on the doorsteps of a public school. While it may be true that some Americans might be overcome by pity in this manner, I strongly doubt that all or even most of them would be.
Furthermore, not all government services currently used by illegal immigrants have such a strong emotional pull on the American taxpayers. I am certain that if the government stopped sending welfare payments to unemployed illegal immigrants - which amount to the bulk of taxpayer expenditure on them - few people would mind. Punishing only the unproductive and exploitative illegal immigrants seems to me a far more refined and effective solution than punishing all of them - including highly industrious and indispensable ones.
Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II) is an actuary, science-fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress.
In December 2013, Mr. Stolyarov published Death is Wrong, an ambitious children’s book on life extension illustrated by his wife Wendy. Death is Wrong can be found on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
Mr. Stolyarov has contributed articles to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), The Wave Chronicle, Le Quebecois Libre, Brighter Brains Institute, Immortal Life, Enter Stage Right, Rebirth of Reason, The Liberal Institute, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
In an effort to assist the spread of rational ideas,
Mr. Stolyarov published his articles on Associated Content (subsequently
the Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Voices) from 2007 until
Yahoo! closed this venue in 2014. Mr. Stolyarov held the highest Clout
Level (10) possible on the Yahoo! Contributor Network and was one of its
Page View Millionaires, with over 3,175,000 views. Mr. Stolyarov’s
selected writings from that era have been preserved on this page.
Mr. Stolyarov holds the professional insurance designations of Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (ACAS), Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA), Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Associate in Reinsurance (ARe), Associate in Regulation and Compliance (ARC), Associate in Personal Insurance (API), Associate in Insurance Services (AIS), Accredited Insurance Examiner (AIE), and Associate in Insurance Accounting and Finance (AIAF).
Mr. Stolyarov has written a science fiction novel, Eden against the Colossus, a philosophical treatise, A Rational Cosmology, a play, Implied Consent, and a free self-help treatise, The Best Self-Help is Free. You can watch his YouTube Videos.Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.Statement of Policy.
Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.