Blogs > Liberty and Power > Ron Paul and Immigration

Dec 29, 2007 8:28 pm

Ron Paul and Immigration

I still think there is value in Ron Paul's campaign, but this commercial sure doesn't make it easy. Note that he takes the Tancredo position that earlier immigrants"followed the rules" and came here legally. But back then you had to have an infectious disease to be denied entry. Virtually everyone else could come in. Illegal immigration was unnecessary since there were essentially open borders. I continue to be appalled that Ron Paul is parroting the line of the worst opponents of immigration.

By the way, where does the U.S. Constitution give Congress the power to control immigration? Or is that an implied power?

Cross-posted at Free Association.

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Sheldon Richman - 1/1/2008

Ron Paul, of all people, should be emphasizing that bad law breeds disrespect for the rule of law.

Less Antman - 12/31/2007

I despise the Paul handling of immigration and oppose any government involvement in the issue, nor do I really care if a dreadful concept is Constitutional or not.

Nonetheless, the issue was whether the Constitution gives Congress the authority to restrict immigration, not whether it used it before the sickening Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 nor the reason it was originally given that power. Indeed, the fact that it refers to "migration or importation" suggests it was intended to cover both voluntary and involuntary entry of persons.

So I don't think it is as ridiculous an assertion as you do to say that this section of the Constitution authorizes Congress to control the migration of any person. We both think it is ridiculous to give Congress such power.

I'm not averse to using Constitutional arguments to defend liberty: anything that works. But I do think that, in this case, someone determined to defend the power will think the section sufficient. And I don't think I can bring myself to think such an interpretation is totally absurd. Needless to say, that is just my opinion.

Craig J Bolton - 12/31/2007

Why, pray tell, should libertarians ever been concerned about the health of a welfare state. If the system can't stand the strain and collapses, all the better.

Craig J Bolton - 12/31/2007

That is a ridiculous interpretation. That was a clause having to do with importation of slaves. In fact, there was no hint of Congress regulating or prohibiting immigration until the 1880.

Bill Woolsey - 12/31/2007

Rather than thinking about economic geography and interests, I would suggest checking with polling. Not only does immigration get a high rating as an issue of concern among likely Republican voters, majorities opposed the Bush bill. Tancredo perhaps overdid it, but as he noted, all of the leading Republican candidates moved in his direction.

So, here is an issue where Paul's proposed policies are popular with a majority of likely Republican voters, and many of the other candidates are vulnerable. Not in the positions they take now, but in their positions from the past. Notice how they snipe at each other on this issue. Guiliani made New York into a santuary city. Ah, but Romney had a santuary mansion. Huckabee provided scholarships to illegal aliens. McCain cosponsored the Kennedy Illegal Alien amnesty bill.

Also, note that on Meet the Press, Russert took aim at Paul on this issue as well. Apparently, Paul supported open borders in 1988. So he has also changed his position. I do think the timing of his change can be credibly tied to the increase in the number of immigrants and growing burdens on school systems and hospitals. And greater fear of infiltration of terrorists among the throngs of people sneaking across the border seeking work. The other candidates, on the other hand, "saw the light" at about the time they needed to get the votes of Republican primary voters.

Now, I don't know exactly why so many Republican voters are worried about illegal immigration. I certainly hear the argument that it is illegal. I think there is some truth to the notion that many Republican voters strongly support "law and order" and this widespread flouting of the law troubles them. This is not much of a concern with most libertarians and it has only the loosest relationship with rule of law.

Anyway, a libertarian economists heard an anti-immigration radio ad here in SC. He wrote me saying that because of that ad, and a NAFTA ad that sounded as if Ross Perot wrote it, he couldn't support Ron Paul.

I have received multiple mailings from the Paul campaign. Two of them were on immigration.

Kevin B. O'Reilly - 12/30/2007

Bill Woolsey wrote:

I don't think worrying about increasing the number of poor people in a welfare state is innappropriate. (No Sheldon, it isn't that the poor immigrants are worse that poor Americans.)

I don't even think that worrying about increasing the number of poor voters in an unlimited democracy is innappropriate. (Ditto.)

Kevin B. O'Reilly: OK, then, why not propose expanding green cards to meet the actual labor demand (that would be about 300,000 to 500,000 per year) but make them contingent on ineligiblity for welfare benefits and citizenship for the first generation -- hell, the first three generations?

David T. Beito - 12/30/2007

I am still a big Ron Paul booster and have two articles in the pipeline supporting him.

That being said, this is not pretty to watch. I wrote in urging them to cancel it. In fairness, we've always known that Ron Paul is pretty bad on this and still probably no worse than the other candidates. I am willing to live with it but not happily.

If, at the very least, he could drop the section on student visas, it wouldn't be quite so terrible. They should be running ads on Pakistan right now.

Sheldon Richman - 12/30/2007

Jule, all good questions. He was much better in the Stossel interview. It was the best spin on a bad position, essentially blaming the welfare state for the "problem." But he is hung up on amnesty. Why? Since when is blind obedience to the state a virtue in his book? Should Miep Gies have turned in Anne Franke and her family?

Jule R. Herbert - 12/30/2007

I am curious if the campaign is actually playing this radio spot anywhere and, if so, why. I have heard a number of Paul's radio spots on XM radio, and they are all very good spots, mostly focused on Paul being a "true conservative" in the Robt Taft/Old Right mode, non-interventionism, sound money. Fair enough, as that is pretty much what Paul is about. I hear them on XM's simulcast of CNBC, and I assume they are targeted to that audience, although I do not know if spot-buying on XM's commercial channels has that flexibility.

I would not think the anti-alien ad would play well in either Iowa or New Hampshire. In Iowa I would think a large portion of the farm labor is "undocumented," and I doubt many farmers wish Washington interference with this arrangement. In small town New Hampshire, is immigration by "illegals" an issue? Pushy New Yorkers and strange libertarians, yes. But Paul isn't suggesting doing anything about that.

Paul is a border-state congressman, and perhaps immigration is a big issue to his local constituents. But in non-border states, it seems to be a big distraction from the more important issues of the day.

That said, I note that when Paul is quizzed on the subject, he at least trys to couch his position in a libertarian flavor. The ad does not do this and does not seem to capture his articulated position very well.

(Maybe they are playing in South Carolina, trying to appeal to the poor white and black vote.)

Sheldon Richman - 12/30/2007

Bill, you misread me, or perhaps I could have been clearer. My penultimate sentence was not meant to say who among the anti-immigrationists are worst. I simply meant as a general statements that Ron Paul is taking the odious Tancredo line.

Having said that, I have doubts about your claims anyway. Most people who complain about the line-jumpers clearly have more in mind than the law. Otherwise, they would also be calling for open borders or at least much higher levels of legal immigration. So maybe the legalists ARE the worst kind because they hide their true position behind the facade of the rule of law.

Less Antman - 12/30/2007

But the issue isn't just "worrying about" things: it is about engaging in coercion.

T me, the most indefensible part of this ad is that it proposes denying visas to people who are following all the rules, but who have the misfortune of living within an area that contains government officials who have done bad things (is there any other kind?). Designating "terrorist nations" and punishing every individual inside the territory being terrorized by that government (are the derivations of territory and terrorism the same?) is pure collectivism and really has nothing to do with one's policy toward people who have violated immigration laws.

(Naturally, I oppose immigration restrictions of any kind, but at least find the "enforce the existing law while agitating to change it" argument to be comprehensible. What I don't understand is punishing people who are playing by the rules based on a doctrine of collective guilt that would only appeal to those who wanted to carpet-bomb the entire country of Afghanistan as punishment for 9/11.)

Bill Woolsey - 12/29/2007

Wrong, Sheldon.

The worst opponents of immigration worry that immigration from Mexico will turn the white majority into a minority.

The next worst opponents of immigration worry that the hispanic culture of the immigrants will somehow corrupt the existing American culture.

At least in my opinion, the next worst opponents are those that argue that some existing American workers will have lower incomes and that the higher incomes of other existing Americans and the immigrants is less important (in practice, completely ignored.)

Those that find the illegal nature of the situation distasteful (or horrifying) are well down the list. It isnt' something I worry about too much, but while I don't like having unjust laws enforced, I much prefer repealing unjust laws to leaving them unenforced. So I have a little sympathy for this position.

I don't think worrying about increasing the number of poor people in a welfare state is innappropriate. (No Sheldon, it isn't that the poor immigrants are worse that poor Americans.)

I don't even think that worrying about increasing the number of poor voters in an unlimited democracy is innappropriate. (Ditto.)

Less Antman - 12/29/2007

Heaven help us, but Article I, Section 9 (obviously directed toward slavery) gives Congress the power to restrict immigration after the year 1808:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight.

h/t Joe Abbate (who did not indicate he agreed with this interpretation, but answered my query as to how any person could find immigration restrictions to be constitutional).

Throughout the Paul campaign, immigration has continued to be an embarrassment for those of us who want to support him. Were it not for his courage on peace, non-intervention, habeas corpus, torture, wiretapping, national ID, drug use, central banking, the IRS ... okay, listing all that made me feel better.

But the pandering on immigration is just dreadful.