Toward a more rational, Constitutional immigration policy…
February 1, 2018 | View PDF
The immigration debate is heated up once again. In true “reality showmanship” Pres. Trump has made for some great sound bites and TV coverage but little of substance. When asked as a candidate how he would accomplish his ends of securing the border and getting Mexico to pay for it Mr. Trump simply asserted “MANAGEMENT.” Well management is NOT an answer, but nonetheless revealing. One who uses eminent domain takings, federal bankruptcy laws, etc. to redistribute wealth in their favor certainly must possess some effective management skills in responding to and using a corrupt system to amass such wealth. Hard not to recognize Mr. Trump’s acumen as one of our most accomplished modern corporate welfare queens in the elite establishment who knows how to be well rewarded for being a loser instead of having to compete where market forces may discipline or fire him. This modern ‘reality TV’ era of our sham (ballot access restricted, hyper-gerrymandered, etc.) duopoly elections plays well in the polls, but doesn’t seem to add much substance to the debate.
If extremists’ posturing fades perhaps civil discussion may emerge to jettison the growing policies our nation ratcheted-up to even bigger, more intrusive government these past several score ‘progressing’ US into the broken system we observe today. Many say it is impossible for DC to come to something workable before the next ‘shutdown showdown’ between the two parties. I propose we move forward toward the rational, common sense vision put forth in our Constitution. Immigration and naturalization are included as one of the few things the federal government is authorized to address. Many would be amazed at how much the ‘GENERAL welfare’ would improve if the federal government only did those few things (the seventeen Judge Napolitano so often stresses) enumerated really well. Instead, the federal government is being strangled by all the unauthorized programs and
policies we now observe, designed to benefit the SPECIFIC welfare of special interests.
From what I’ve witnessed of most currently elected to Congress, they seem to know very little of the letter much less the Spirit of the logic offered in the Constitution they’ve taken an oath to uphold. If they do know, it matters little since they do not act upon the knowledge and wisdom contained in the document, nor do I observe much courage to shepherd legislation toward such an end when it is so much easier to join the DC extremists. If we didn’t have federal minimum wage laws, social security, mandated insurances, OSHA regulations, non-uniform tariffs, income taxes, etc. the inducement and incentive for illegal immigration would decrease. Many angered by illegal immigration refuse to admit they’re vexed by a symptom because they do not have the courage to stand up to these extremist policies exacerbating the problem. In the DC duopoly culture it is ‘in vogue’ among Republocrats and easier to simply cry, “The Party made me do it!” but this may not be met with much favour by the Power who is in control in the end…
My definition of an extremist politician remains clear and simple. Either bureaucrats, executives, judges, lawmakers, et al adhere to what they’re authorized to address and hold to their oath, OR they exceed their authority and are extremists. To understand the more generic concern/complaint about immigration, one must make the connection to the labour issue… distortions of competitive forces in labour markets are nothing new. Some engaged in the task of writing and adopting the Constitution wanted to immediately abolish the importation of slave labour - but it was clear northern shipping interests would not secede from the Articles of Confederation to join ‘the more perfect union’ with a provision of this sort.
After some debate, 1808 was the agreed upon date (Art. 1, Sect. 9) where such abolition of imported labour could be permitted - i.e., giving shipping interests a couple decades to adjust and respond. For those who may not know, 1808 was in fact the year importation of slaves into the US was abolished… why that bicentennial was NOT celebrated a decade ago speaks for itself to those cognizant of the efforts to advance ignorance of our economic history. The framers understood competition would further address this labour issue - e.g., individuals emancipating themselves, State emancipation laws, individuals emancipating their slaves, etc. would be more effective than force. In Maryland 49% of blacks were free in the 1860 census, even though they’d not yet abolished slavery like Pennsylvania just north of the Mason-Dixon line.
If we DID have/elect Congresspeople wanting to move forward toward a more Constitutional immigration policy; where’s a sound starting point? Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 states, “all imposts, duties and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States,” and it is universally accepted that “imposts, duties and excises” are antiquated words for what are more commonly called tariffs today - i.e., taxes on imports. If you’re as ignorant to this economic history as our current executive has shown himself to be, feel free to use ‘border tax’ nomenclature. Remember, before the Republican Party gave us the first federal income tax to finance a war for centralized, hegemonic government and corporate welfare there were enough members of Congress who held to their oath of office impeding such a deleterious tax upon their nation. Not only do higher income taxes increase incentives for
illegal immigration and ‘underground’ labour markets - the income tax gets imbedded in prices of our exports to other nations. Furthermore, with so many items coming in ‘tariff free’ (remember all imports which come into the nation ABOVE and BELOW the average tariff rate are unconstitutional) the cost of trade is not incorporated into the price of imports, further distorting the balance of trade and labour markets.
This design leads to understanding why there was NOT a two year appropriations limit put on the Navy, as is placed upon the Army - also not followed today. Those who wrote and ratified the Constitution wisely feared long standing federal armies, but understood a Navy would be an integral part of defining, defending and enforcing property rights on the high seas to facilitate regular commerce. That’s why so much ink is spilled on maritime issues, piracy, etc. in the enumerated powers. Navy and Marines would operate under the same administration (reduce duplication and yes that means abolishing the FBI to increase the investigatory division of the US Marshals, shutting down the CIA, NSA, et al agencies for ONI to again be effective) for immediate deployment requirements and Congress could decide to decrease or increase arsenals, bases, dock yards, forts, equipment, magazines, soldiers, sailors and ships when forecasting how great a defense force would be required to address those few issues the people of the States ceded to federal authority.
With this logical and reasonable system of uniform tariffs put in place - those who benefit from the exchange are the ones who pay the tax - i.e., those purchasing and selling imports. Most positive economists champion the merit and efficiency of ‘user fees’ collected via voluntary exchange, a.k.a. ‘indirect taxes’ by some nomenclators. Tariff revenue was to be used to finance the Navy (to impede piracy) customs officials/forts, construct and maintaining ports, canals, COIN money to have stable currency for international exchange, etc… So the cost of facilitating regular trade is incorporated in import prices to reduce distortions which arise if the costs of making this trade available to buyers and sellers are not included. I’m one of those annoying economists who often remind folks, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, nor a Free Market.” There are many costs associated with making
markets work - i.e., keeping commerce/markets regular.
How does this translate into a more Constitutional immigration policy? Let’s use 10% as the uniform tariff rate regardless of what is being imported - i.e., the tax code will not be used to pick winners and losers with various rates. For a numerical illustration, consider an individual wanting to enter the US on a one year work visa, where US individual median income is $25,000/year. The tariff would be $2,500 paid to Customs, subject to a rudimentary physical exam and international criminal check - no INS bureaucrats and immigration attorneys. Of course, this $2,500 could be paid by sponsors, employers, charitable organizations, etc… furthermore, when job markets are tight, fewer immigrants will want to take on the expense of
paying the tariff with a decreased likelihood of actually working.
Using the simple immigration policy above, the next step is to address a uniform naturalization policy to define the path to citizenship, given the design and Spirit of our Constitution. It is tied to one of those few (and more thought provoking in my opinion) powers enumerated to Congress in determining the limited time which authors, inventors, etc. have exclusive rights (monopoly power) to their writings and discoveries/inventions to promote the useful arts and sciences. The obvious dilemma: without property rights of this sort - incentives to create, improve and innovate are decreased; make the duration this monopoly power is conferred too long - the transfer to specific individuals/groups (usu. corporate interests) will be deleterious to the general welfare of the economy.
So let’s work through another numerical illustration, this time for an immigrant (again regardless of gender, origin, race, etc.) seeking citizenship. I’ll pick 17 years as the limited time established by Congress for exclusivity. To give domestic labour some semblance of uniformity, the immigrant seeking citizenship would pay a $42,500 (i.e., 17 times $2,500) tariff to customs (which may be paid by anyone - private charitable groups, donors, employers, sponsors) and must pass a rudimentary exam on the US Constitution in a uniform language… how about English for kicks? Of course, the physical exam and criminal check would still apply and any prior year(s) paid in tariffs for work visas could be subtracted from $42,500 total tariff - an amount which would be subject to revision at uniform intervals tied to median income. Anyone who paid 17 years of work visas - regardless of dollar changes over the years -- would be eligible to take the citizenship exam if they so desire.
To those wanting to dismiss this simple proposal over what the Schumer, Trump, et al extremists now have in place - please offer another which is more consistent with the design of the Constitution. Sorry “Dreamers,” or “MANAGEMENT,” A Wall, etc. isn’t an answer -- specifics to address the problem within the constraints of the Constitution our DC oligarchs took an oath to uphold is what many non-reality show voters are looking for. More Reagan type amnesties are not the answer. I expect there will be no shortage of complaints on how high these tariffs would be for immigrants yet great silence on how much domestic labour currently pays in direct (payroll) taxes and all the indirect taxes associated with domestic employment. Just because an increasing number of US citizens do not see nor understand how crushing this burden is in fact on our productive workers, doesn’t mean the burden is NOT there and greatly distorts outcomes in our labour markets. If you look at the cost associated with shuttling illegal immigrants back and forth, unpaid medical bills, so-called ‘anchor babies,’ dumping children, etc. an amount determined in this manner starts to quickly add up.
I find those who complain the loudest about immigration are those most quiet to offer alternatives. Sound proposals must have some understanding of how our federal government was designed to operate (not shown by the Bush, Clinton, Trump, Sanders, et al typical bloviators) and be advanced by those who have the courage to put forth simple,rational, constitutionally correct policy instead of more politically correct, command and control redistributive outcomes designed to further empower the federal government. I’m sure some will be aghast at the notion of letting anyone, from any country of origin be eligible for a work visa and/or citizenship. It is time for biases and discrimination of this sort to end, allowing those with the drive, merit, work ethic and who are truly willing to put their effort toward making a place in the world secure for the blessings of liberty possible for themselves and their posterity. Some champion bringing in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. I have no problem with any private individual or group who wants to pay to have them (and their ‘chain’) come for a year or more and see if they may become a productive member our nation of States; it is not something for the federal government to subsidize and indulge their preferences under our currently unrepresentative political result.
In closing, the most rational compromise (which will still not address the problem) thus far was proffered by Sen. Rand Paul who wants DACA amnesty numbers included in the current million allowed each year. I will not respond to any nastygrams from so-called ‘Contards’ and ‘Libtards’ or worst of all ‘Bipartards’ who refuse to acknowledge the absurdity of the current visa lottery system instead of one driven by competition, economic efficiency, merit and how much most immigrants (trying to achieve legal status) waste in effort, money, time on immigration attorneys. These attorneys are among the special interest groups who have the most to lose from moving forward toward a more Constitutional immigration and naturalization policy.
Postscript: Rev. George Bandy passed away January 16 in this 2018th year of our Lord after a third of a century in God’s service at St. James Missionary Baptist Church. Rep. Bandy was elected to House District 83 in 1994 as part of the Lee County Delegation serving in many capacities and on many committees including Chair of the Lee County Legislation Committee. George ‘Tootie’ Bandy’s legacy continues at Bandy Park which now bears his name in Opelika conveying his long, well established history of service starting as a student working for Opelika Parks and Recreation under the prior “Jeter Street” park nomenclature.
Mr. Bandy was Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, President of the Lee County Alliance and Lee County Concerned Citizens and member of the NAACP as well as the Lee County Voters League. League President John Andrew Harris began elected public service the same year with the Honorable George Bandy as the first two African Americans elected to the Opelika City Council and submitted a Proclamation to the Lee County Commission in keeping with the Spirit conveyed by House Speaker Mac McCutcheon who led a moment of silence in Rep. Bandy's memory at the end of chamber proceedings on the day of his passing who said, "The institutional knowledge that he gathered during his long service often provided needed insight and guidance to his colleagues," and, "We will miss his presence in the hallways, committee rooms and chambers of the Alabama State House." Rev. Bandy will be missed in the Spirit of 2 Timothy 4:7, this servant of God indeed fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith who earned the words conveyed in Matthew 25:21, well done good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of thy Lord.