Bumbling through immigration

Assembly Bill 322 would extend the driver authorization card (DAC) validity from one year to match the normal DMV licensing time period, four or eight years. Since I believe that driving should be considered a right rather than a privilege, and I believe people should exercise that right without fear of a referral to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a traffic violation, I support AB322.

My strict immigration restrictionist friends oppose this bill. Because a consular identification card from the Mexican consulate qualifies for the DAC, AB322 is seen as an obvious end run around the immigration laws.

The left is accused of wanting to make Nevada a “sanctuary state.” The right believes in law and order. Immigration laws have to be enforced because, well, they are the law. My ears ache from conservatives screaming at me “because it’s the law!” Law and order types believe in following all laws, except for gun control laws, often drug and prostitution laws and tax laws, if possible. Those laws are just dumb.

I believe in the great economic laws that govern all transactions. Attempts by the state to legislate them away result in unintended consequences that usually cause the opposite of what was intended to occur, hurting the very people the law is supposed to help. Since politicians and the media value good intentions over actual good results, there is usually no penalty imposed on them for harms caused by bad laws.

“The law,” said Mr. Bumble, “is an ass.”

The demand for foreign labor—always referred to as “cheap labor”—is a natural result of the international division of labor and the comparative advantage of nations that left alone does the best job of matching supply of labor to demand for labor.

I discount most of the economic arguments against immigrants stealing American jobs. American workers without even a high school diploma are most hurt by unskilled immigrant competition and should be helped, but not at the expense of immigration as a whole.

The North American Free Trade Agreement caused massive Mexican immigration initially because it subsidized American corn exports, driving many Mexican farmers off the land. Mexican immigration has slowed to a trickle since 2009 because free trade has helped industrial development in Mexico, creating good jobs there. Free markets work better than laws and certainly better than walls.

The main problem with immigration is not the economic so much as the social fears. People have a fear of the other having dominion over them. They will become so numerous they will take over, maybe take back the Southwest and rejoin Mexico, or make Spanish the official language. They will impose sharia law and throw gays off of roofs (an idea many of the restrictionists may themselves have entertained only a decade ago).

Liberals and conservatives have failed to produce a workable national immigration policy, despite decades of attempts. I think that speaks to the problem of federal controls more than the specific policies of Team Red or Team Blue. Central planning filtered through a partisan lens is not likely to produce good results. Congress can overrule the Supreme Court by allowing states to assert themselves. Market based solutions should be implemented. Conservatives believe federalism works for health care, entitlements and other contentious issues. Why not immigration as well?

The national government should stop subsidizing or prohibiting immigration while respecting individual property and human rights. Economic life is complicated, but the best approach is to let it be as free and unregulated as possible.

Deport violent immigrants, but don’t break up families. And fix the stupid laws!