Borders are open, but not to the people they should

Tony Hilton sent me an interesting article yesterday, taken from the last issue of The Economist. Entitled “Own goal,” this piece is about America’s immigration rules, which are “the opposite of what it needs,” according to the London-based weekly.

I was expecting a long complaint about the plight of poor free-market-asserting, family-values-defending Mexican Randian entrepreneurs, in the same manner as Robert Heineman’s appalling speech during the 2013 H.L. Mencken Club Conference. The picture illustrating the article shows a Hispanic woman holding a baby who wears a “Born in the USA” t-shirt and waves a stars-and-stripes flag. Under the picture, the caption reads: “Getting ready to pay for Medicare, Medicaid and the rest,” which is as counterfactual as you can get. I had thus good reasons to be wary of this article.

But instead of that, what I read was a very complete piece on the reality of immigration in today’s America. Far from the “open-border” situation that some American citizens might imagine, America is actually very closed when it comes to legal, working immigration. Again, that may be surprising to American people who lost their jobs because of the low-wage competition of Mexican or Chinese immigrants, but how many of these immigrants came to America with the normal procedure, i.e. first getting a job and then applying for a working visa? Very few, given that only 6 percent of green cards are given to working immigrants. The remaining 94 percent are handed out to refugees or relatives of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

An uncommon kind of Hispanic immigrant**

The Economist brings the case of a Venezuelan PhD candidate, Andrea Sanchez, who will likely go back to the Bolivarian Republic once her doctoral defense at University of South Florida is over. Sanchez being a very common name among Spanish-speaking people, I couldn’t check what she looks like, but I bet that it’s closer to her neighbor country’s former president, Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe, than to her late presidenteHugo Chávez. But I digress.

As most foreign students, Andrea works outside the campus. But she’s not the typical student serving melted asphalt sandwiches at Subway between her Post-Structuralist Studies course and her Multiple Identities Seminar. She’s actually studying civil engineering and “is working on a project funded by FDOT to model the lifespan of reinforced concrete in bridges exposed to sea air.” Still, every potential employer she met in Miami was deterred from hiring her by the harsh regulations that apply when a company wants to hire a foreign worker. The Economist explains that “to employ a foreigner, even on a temporary basis,

a firm must file paperwork with the Department of Labour certifying that no American workers are being displaced and that a market wage will be paid (to avoid depressing Americans’ earnings). Once that is approved, the prospective employer must submit evidence of the applicant’s qualifications to the Department of Homeland Security, along with $1,575–5,550 in fees, depending on the size of the company and the urgency of the application. Everything is then passed on to the State Department, which interviews the applicant and checks the other bureaucrats’ handiwork.

Even for companies willing to jump through all these hoops, visas may not be available, as Congress has put a limit on the number that can be issued each year. All 85,000 short-term visas for skilled foreign workers (H-1Bs, in bureaucratese) on offer this year were snapped up within ten weeks. That was a lot better than in April 2007, when the limit was reached in less than a day. Even in the depths of the downturn the quota was always fully used. Indeed, demand has exceeded supply every year since 2003, when Congress slashed the number of visas on offer by two-thirds.

At this point, I want to make myself clear: I’m by no means saying that this girl has a “right” to immigrate to America just because of her skills. The American people should be able to determine whether they welcome immigrants to their country—and if yes, how many. The problem is that Americans have been denied this right for about half a century, since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Today, with around one million immigrants settling in the country every year, it seems odd that people who come to work are treated in such a tough way, while future welfare recipients are given a preferential treatment over native Americans. Either borders are open (totally or partially) or they are closed. But they can’t be open only to those who won’t enrich their new country.

The way immigration and border control are managed in Western post-democracies is illustrative of what Sam Francis called “anarcho-tyranny.” Western governments let millions of people in who are, at best, indifferent to the indigenous culture, while people who could contribute to the national life are deemed undesirable. Today, it goes as far as custom agents suspecting every temporary visitor to try to immigrate on a week-end trip from Canada. (I know, because it happened to me.)

It is not “inconsistent”

This situation is not “inconsistent” at all: it is, on the contrary, perfectly consistent with the will of our rulers to import welfare-depending populations who will be subservient to the power, even if they seemingly disrupt the society’s order. As a matter of fact, even this disruption benefits the political class, which can reinforce their power by promising to bring back “law and order.” There’s no contradiction in the fact that more and more money is invested in security while urban centers and suburbs are less and less secure: the more crime, the more popular demand for security. Why would politicians and bureaucrats solve a problem that legitimizes them?

The only “inconsistent” ones are maybe immigration restrictionists themselves, who give politicians the opportunity of strengthening controls at borders and airports, not to mention preventing competent foreigners from settling in the country. Would people have accepted those degrading TSA scannings after 9/11 if they had not also accepted the necessity of “fighting terror”? Was Muslim immigration in Europe and North America reduced after that? No, it has actually increased ever since. Western populations are now presented with a false choice, that between living in a police state or suffering civil war. As people have families to feed and protect, they naturally chose the former, as if it were an actual antidote to the latter.

The consequence is that, much like in a lunatic asylum, it is now easy to come to the West, but for the people who’re already in, it is becoming increasingly difficult to move inside it. Every people is being locked in its own padded cell, which is called a “nation-state.”

Immigration restrictionists would be better advised to stop giving our governments justifications to restrict our movements even more, and start thinking of another future for their children and those who look like theirs. It would mean letting their bankrupt nation-states go over the cliff, as they should, and instead laying the intellectual ground for the Ethno-State to come. It is a matter of time before they understand that, or, rather, a matter of a generation.

This blog was originally published at in April 2013.