Illegal Immigration and Private Security

The Los Angeles Times reported on August 1, 2014 that members of “militias” are patrolling the U.S. Mexico border on private lands at the request of the landowners. See “Militias patrolling Texas border draw scrutiny, concern,” by Molly Hennesy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2014. 1

The Times article names the following organizations as militias that are involved or planning to become involved in border patrols: Oathkeepers, Three Percenter’s Club, Patriots and Minutemen.

The Times reports that “Militia members started arriving on the Texas border in recent weeks to assist as part of a deployment they called Operation Secure Our Border: Laredo Sector. The effort entails creating a training command near San Antonio and rotating groups south to patrol private ranch land on the border with the permission of ranch owners. . .

“Mike Morris, who works with the Three Percenter’s, told the Los Angeles Times that several militia groups were invited to South Texas by ranchers who face regular break-ins and ‘incursions’ by migrant groups. ‘It is a dangerous situation,’ he said. . .

“Morris said there were numerous militias operating without a central command, some armed. While some groups ‘observe and report,’ he said, others saw the need to be armed in remote areas because if a threat arises ‘the [U.S.] Border Patrol are stretched so thin—they may not respond. Some parts of the border these days, Border Patrol has pulled back and it’s not safe,’ Morris said.”

A wise man once said that security is the lowest form of happiness. That man was Andrew Galambos, whose work inspired the book and website of which this blog is a part. The author of this Post was a student of Galambos. From decades of pondering the thought and ideas of Andrew Galambos this author has come to the realization that politics is the cause of everything bizarre, seemingly inexplicable, pathological or cruel in human societies.  Politics in this sense of the word includes religion in that religious organizations become political in nature over time.

Security is the goal of many if not most of the people who are trying to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. Such people seek security of two kinds: safety from the murderous drug wars which have killed over 100,000 people in Mexico alone in the early part of the 21st century; and the opportunity to provide economic security for themselves in the form of gainful employment.

American property owners on the U.S. side of the border also seek security—in the form of protection from damage done to their property and possible criminal attacks by some border crossers. This is a case of private individuals seeking protection of their persons and property by other private individuals because the U.S. and the state of Texas have failed to protect them from a virtual invasion of immigrants.

Americans are also worried about members of criminal gangs crossing the border into the U.S. and committing violent crime here. That worry is justified. However, the predominant cause of criminals entering the U.S. from Mexico is the War on Drugs. Drug gangs are international operations carrying on a large and profitable enterprise founded mainly on the opportunity to earn enormous sums in U.S. dollars in the huge American market. That opportunity would not exist but for U.S. criminalization of drug use, the same problem the U.S. had with prohibition of alcohol. The Mexican and other Latin American drug gangs would go out of business very rapidly if the U.S. ended the criminalization of drug use.

Decriminalizing drug use would have enormous benefits to American taxpayers. It would eliminate the billions of dollars spent each year on enforcement of the War on Drugs as well as imprisonment of nearly 500,000 drug offenders at a cost of around $50,000 per year per prisoner, or about $25 billion for prison costs.

The critical situation on the U.S.—Mexico border is caused by laws of the United States of America, including prominently but not limited to

  1. U.S. law that makes narcotic drugs illegal to sell or own without a physician’s prescription.
  2. U.S. law that has created taxpayer-paid benefits, especially free public education and health care, that are an attraction to poor and ambitious people from foreign countries, even though by far the greatest attraction of America is that it remains the land of opportunity for immigrants willing to work hard.

According to one expert, Professor Jeffrey A. Miron of Harvard University, the “War on Drugs” claims thousands of lives every year in the U.S. in addition to the tens of thousands more each year in Mexico and points south. 2 The War on Drugs is a crusade against private vice that is highly similar to the U.S. experience during the years of prohibition of sale of alcoholic beverages (1920-1933).

U.S. prohibition of alcohol created a highly profitable alcohol trade for criminal organizations such as the Mafia. According to Wikipedia, “Organized crime received a major boost from Prohibition. Mafia groups 3 limited their activities to prostitution, gambling, and theft until 1920, when organized bootlegging emerged in response to Prohibition. A profitable, often violent, black market for alcohol flourished. Powerful criminal organizations corrupted some law enforcement agencies, leading to racketeering. Prohibition provided a financial basis for organized crime to flourish. Rather than reducing crime, Prohibition transformed some cities into battlegrounds between opposing bootlegging gangs.” 4

Note that the term “racketeering” in the foregoing quotation refers to the crime of threatening business owners with violence unless they pay criminals for “protection.” We observe sadly that political states are in the protection business in much the same way as criminal gangs. That is one of the messages of CTLR, a message implicitly stated in the CTLR book chapter entitled “Kleptocracy.”

Lysander Spooner (1808-1887), a great American philosopher of liberty, wrote an essay entitled “Vices Are Not Crimes.” 5 Spooner begins his essay on Vices are Not Crimes as follows:

“Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search for happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property. In vices, the very essence of crime—that is the design to injure the person or property of another—is wanting.

“It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practices a vice with any such criminal intent. He practices his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

“Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such thing as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

“For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth falsehood, or falsehood truth.” 6

To similar effect see “An Economic and Moral Case for Legalizing Cocaine and Heroin,” by Jeffrey Miron, Time.com July 28, 2014 http://time.com/author/jeffrey-miron/

Returning to the illegal immigration problem of the U.S., it is remarkable how easy it is to disregard the fact that America is a nation of immigrants, including even the peoples now called Native Americans who immigrated some 15,000 or so years ago from northeast Asia to North America. They immigrated by walking over the Bering Land Bridge between Siberia and Alaska at a point now covered by the North Pacific Ocean to a depth of 200 feet. 7

European immigration to America dates back only four centuries. The United States welcomed millions of immigrants from the inception of the republic in 1781 until World War I.

The great prosperity of America is based in large part on the influx of people who were dissatisfied with their country of origin and were seeking freedom and opportunity in America. These immigrants included not only those who pursued employment in agriculture and industry, but also scientists, engineers, and people with great talent in the arts. Notable examples of immigrants celebrated for their achievements in science and the arts include Nikola Tesla, Andrew Grove, Albert Einstein, George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky. 8

One of the things that worries many Americans about illegal immigration is the high cost of providing education and health care for illegal immigrants. We think that concern is entirely misplaced. The problem is not the immigrants but the American political system itself. Public education and health care are very costly in parts of the U.S. where there are relatively few illegal immigrants.

It is true that new immigrants generally earn low incomes and pay taxes at a lower rate than the average American. In this sense they are a burden on other American taxpayers. However, the cause of the burden is the U.S. system of taxing and spending, not immigrants. Even if there had been absolutely no illegal immigration to the U.S. since the 1960s the U.S. system of taxing and spending still would be producing a financial calamity for Americans, especially for future generations. In two chapters of our book 9 we explain how the entitlement benefits known as Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are already bankrupt and unless modified will by themselves cause the U.S. to experience the greatest sovereign default and bankruptcy in world history.

Furthermore, states and municipalities have been experiencing severe financial stress from the cost of financing public education and Medicaid. In the case of public education, the culprit is teachers’ retirement income and post-retirement health care, which are threatening to bankrupt state and local political entities. In California, for example, as of the year 2014 the state Teachers Retirement System had unfunded future liabilities of $71 billion, liabilities that are growing each year. Medicaid, a program of medical care for extremely low-income people, is funded jointly by the states and the U.S. The states are finding that their portion of Medicaid costs is among the most intractable problems of budgetary deficits. 10

 

 

Notes:

  1. See http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-texas-border-militias-20140731-story.html
  2. Miron, Jeffrey A., The War On Drugs (2004). Professor Miron’s views have not changed since the publication of this book. He has in preparation a new report on the subject to be entitled “Drugs and Violence.”
  3. The term Mafia refers to an Italian-American secret criminal society
  4. Quoted from Wikipedia, Prohibition in the United States, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_United_States#Organized_crime
  5. Published in The Lysander Spooner Reader (1992), pages 25-52.
  6. The Lysander Spooner Reader, page 25
  7. The Bering Land Bridge was caused when due to extreme cold an enormous amount of sea water was drawn up into the north polar ice cap. Consequently, the sea level at the most shallow part of the Bering Strait fell about 120 meters (400 feet) during a glaciation period in the last ice age, the time of human immigration to North America from Asia.
  8. Nikola Tesla created the system of transmission of electricity in use globally by his discovery and innovation of alternating current electrical transmission; Andrew Grove was prominent in the computer industry in his position as an engineer and business executive at Intel Corp.; Albert Einstein was the world’s most famous scientist; George Balanchine was a great choreographer of ballet and co-founder of the New York City Ballet; and Igor Stravinsky was one of the most prominent composers of classical music in the first half of the 20th century.
  9. Political Democracy in America, http://www.capitalismtheliberalrevolution.com/chapter/political-democracy-in-america/ and Kleptocracy, http://www.capitalismtheliberalrevolution.com/chapter/kleptocracy/
  10. We provide no sources for the statements in the foregoing paragraph as they are virtually common knowledge, and easily checked via an internet search engine.
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