Immigration has been a hot button issue since the inception of the United States, but it seems to have hit a particularly partisan critical mass since President Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy has been implemented. Suddenly, the mainstream media has picked up on the illegal immigrant detention centers and, most notably, the separation of immigrant children from their parents once apprehended.
Never mind the fact that this has been going on at the border for decades under several presidents, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)-celebrant Barack Obama. And never mind that the outrage ignores (perhaps intentionally) the legality of the immigrants in question. Whether or not you think it should be illegal to cross a national border, it is in fact illegal and people who do illegal things typically have their children “taken away”, yet there’s no uproar about those anti-family policies.
The Trumpeters seem to be content with imprisoning hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to protect our economy, even if it means breaking up families while the offenders are in detention. After all, illegal immigration weighs us down and makes us poorer, they argue. If we had no social welfare programs that immigrants could take advantage of, open immigration could be an option, but until then, open borders means economic suicide.
On the other side, the left is outraged by the feds’ treatment of people who aren’t harming anyone. They demand that we loosen our immigration policy and at the very least figure out a way to keep families together. Migrants are a boon to our economy and even if they aren’t, we are wealthy enough to support their quest for a better life, they argue.
All of this partisan uproar has missed the point. Both sides are focusing on the symptom of illegal immigration and ignore the disease of horrifying economic conditions in the source of emigration.
Opening borders and bringing countless immigrants into the United States would wreck our economy and not do anything to fix the problem. Of course this is akin to the ‘eating the rich mentality’ that pervades socialists. It’s a self-destructive policy at best.
Similarly, building the biggest, most “hugely” wall on the planet and perpetuating the deportation cycle will put us further in debt and still not solve the problem.
The solution isn’t to keep them out of our economic promised land or to let them in; the solution is to give them their own economic promised land.
Special Economic Zones (SEZ) are areas in which business and trade laws are different from the rest of the country for the express purpose of improving the economy. Hong Kong is the quintessential example. The minimally-regulated British outpost off the coast of mainland China turned a resource-poor rock with a few thousand people to one of the world’s largest economies within a couple generations. It was so successful that China imitated the model several times throughout their country to varying degrees of success.
Several other jurisdictions have tried the idea, most notably Ireland, several African countries, and pertinent to the topic of American immigration: Honduras.
Some obstacles to these SEZs include initial capital and the willingness of the presiding jurisdiction to relinquish some authority. The idea to turn a relatively inhospitable part of a woefully impoverished country into a leading economic superpower within 50 years has to hold sway with even the most despotic government administrators. Of course, the problem is that once bureaucrats have power, it’s nearly impossible to get them to relinquish it.
The US could offer both seed money and political pressure to encourage the development of these zones. With the illegal immigration fight costing over $100 billion in the United States, it would behoove us to invest some of that in a real solution. President Trump, who recently tossed up the idea of a space military force, could take the lead in the only win-win policy. Instead of launching storm troopers, Trump should be launching economic missionaries.
America isn’t some magical place where money grows on trees. True, the country is resource-rich, but so is Venezuela and it’s rapidly becoming the financial toilet of the hemisphere due to its socialist economic policies. The United States is a destination for economic refugees mainly because of its free market system. We need to stop being reactive regarding immigration, and instead start promoting the system which is bringing people here, elsewhere.
It’s heartbreaking to see families broken up over a particularly arbitrary ruling. The children, especially, are victims of circumstance, not hardened criminals. Separating them from their families and putting them in cages is not going to fix the problem. But neither is opening our borders. Only when we improve the economic situation of the source countries can we hope to stem the flow of economic refugees and illegal immigrants into the United States. When that happens, perhaps we can have the conversation about turning one of our cities — say Detroit? — into a Special Economic Zone of our own.
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