Gary Johnson: The Wealth of Nations Flows From Free Markets and Immigration

Let’s assume for a moment that “illegal” immigration is as much a crisis as President Trump wants us to believe.

And let’s consider the reality that the majority of all those undocumented immigrants who are such a problem didn’t sneak across the border. They came here legally, found jobs, joined family members or otherwise found it worth the risk to overstay their visas or work permits.

So what does our president propose?

He says: Let’s cut legal immigration in half. And let’s do it by making it more difficult for aspiring immigrants to join family members in the United States and ratcheting down the arbitrary and unworkable caps on employment-based visas.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Let’s take the major reasons undocumented immigrants are undocumented – and make them worse.

What are they thinking?

The wealth of nations comes from labor and trade

I built a successful business in a border state. I served two terms as governor of a border state. I have watched virtually every day of my adult life as the flow of labor and commerce between two nations creates jobs, builds wealth and enriches lives.

I’ve also witnessed first-hand the failure of government’s attempts to put bureaucratic quotas in the way of immigration driven by the marketplace and family relationships. Even if we wanted them to, those attempts have never worked, and they won’t work now.

In a nutshell, President Trump is embracing a legislative proposal that would significantly reduce the number of family members who can come to the U.S. to join citizens and legal immigrants, and use a points system to choose which 140,000 people will be granted employment visas.

No one disagrees that it’s desirable to attract skilled, English-speaking workers. We need to do that, obviously. But having Congress or Washington bureaucrats pick a number — in this case, an absurdly inadequate 140,000 – of how many immigrant workers U.S. employers can hire, and try to dictate what kind of workers those employers really need, is foolish.

Trump says it will “protect” American jobs. It won’t. It will ultimately cost American jobs, and American consumers will pay the price.

Let the marketplace determine workers needed

How about the novel idea of letting the marketplace decide how many immigrant workers we need, rather than politicians and bureaucrats.  Employers know who they need, what skills they need, and how many workers they need. We have temporary work visa programs for agriculture and other seasonal businesses — like the program Donald Trump uses to hire workers for his golf courses. Why not simply expand those programs, remove the artificial caps and make it simple? Willing employers and willing workers who come here legally, do their jobs, and go back home when they want.

Quotas and the free market simply cannot coexist. And claiming to curb “illegal” immigration by putting artificial caps in the way of families and the market is idiocy.

If immigrants can’t come here to fill jobs, the jobs will go to find them. If families want to be united, they will be united – here or elsewhere. In either case, ultimately, the U.S. loses.

We’ve seen this movie before, by the way. Prior to the early 1900’s, most immigrants to the U.S. were Northern Europeans. However, that pattern shifted when immigrants began to arrive from Italy and other parts of Southern and Eastern Europe. Preferring Northern Europeans, Congress passed laws in the 1920’s to set quotas on the number of total immigrants, the number of immigrants from each European country, and granted preferences for certain types of family members and skills.

That began a cycle of tinkering with quotas and political “management” of how many and who should be allowed to immigrate – a cycle that continues today.

The phrase “open borders” is thrown around a lot – and has been thrown at me. Let there be no mistake: We must have control of our borders. But true security means knowing who is coming in and why.

Laws and policies that create arbitrary, bureaucratic obstacles to those seeking to reunify families and work for willing employers simply encourage otherwise well-meaning immigrants to find “illegal” ways to be here and live in the shadows.

The market will regulate immigration for the right reasons, if we would just allow it to do so. Forget the caps. Give up the failed quotas. Get the politicians out of the business of picking and choosing, and institute a straightforward work visa program, a simple background check and an immigration system that can coexist with the realities of the marketplace and our communities.

The market will regulate immigration for the right reasons, if we would just allow it to do so. Forget the caps. Give up the failed quotas. Get the politicians out of the business of picking and choosing, and institute a straightforward work visa program, a simple background check and an immigration system that can coexist with the realities of the marketplace and our communities.

It’s not as complicated as some would have us believe.

(Photo from Ellis Island by Ludovic Bertron used with permission.)

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Gary Johnson is an entrepreneur, served two terms as Governor of New Mexico, and in 2016, as the Libertarian nominee for President of the United States, garnered more votes than any third party or independent candidate in twenty years.In addition to his success in business and public policy, Governor Johnson has reached the summit of the highest peak on each of the seven continents, including Mt. Everest, competed in numerous Iron Man Triathlons, and tackled some of the most grueling cycling challenges in the world.Governor Johnson currently serves as the Honorary Chair of the Our America Initiative, out of a deep desire to insure that future generations of Americans have the same opportunities for personal and financial freedom that he has enjoyed.

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