Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Functions of Immigration (legal or not)

I think we all know that immigration serves siome useful social functions. But I bet there are functions you never thought of. This post is going to be about legal immigration, illegal immigration, migrant workers, immigration reform debates, guest workers, and the seedy side of immigration.

First, consider the social benefits and costs of illegal immigration:

1. New women for sex traffickers are available
2. Drugs are a little easier to smuggle across a porous border, like the US-Mexico border
3. It supports human traffickers who smuggle illegals across the border
4. Low cost labor is available
5. A porous border and liberal policies provide a safety valve for governments of poor nations - people can be allowed to head across the border instead of causing trouble at home
6. Jobs are created, mainly in the (U.S.) Border Patrol but also in nonprofits that deal with immigrants or immigration issues
7. Nonprofits are organized to advocate for illegals or to try and get them deported in larger numbers

And what are the personal costs and benefits:

1. Sex slavery and prostitution
2. Marginal businesses stay afloat using dirt cheap immigrant labor
3. Improved material quality of life - income, diet, health care, housing
4. Satisfaction derived from working for or against immigration or specific immigration laws - this involves both having a sense of purpose and establishing close relations with others
5. Victimization by illegal immigrants or those who smuggle them into the country

Now I hope you realize that the preceding lists are justs lists of observations. I don't endorse human trafficking, prostitution, or the use of the USA as a dumping ground for undesirables and malcontents from repressive developing nations. I'm just presenting some of the functions that immigration can serve, as well as some of the dysfunctions. I'll also point out that maybe there is a way to get some of the benefits (see items 3 and 4 in the second list,; 4,6, and7 in the first) with fewer of the costs. Hmmm...not sure what sorts of policies could make that possible.


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