Liberty, Current Events

The Immigrants I Know

We are seeing a tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe. In this country the problem is considerably less severe; however, in a number of conservative quarters immigrants are blamed, against the evidence, for a variety of ills ranging from loss of jobs for natives to the increase of crime. I will not refute this nonsense today; others have done it much better than I could. Instead, I’d like to share the profiles of some of the immigrants I know.

When I lived in Arizona Antonio would mow my lawn. Bettina and I would go to Guadalupe, an impoverished immigrant community near Tempe, and would pick him up. We talked a lot. He had left his family in Hermosillo and was doing garden jobs to save enough money to bring them to the United States and start their own gardening business. I don’t know if he made it.
Evelyn is our cleaning lady here in Tallahassee. She and her family came from El Salvador, undocumented, many years ago. With great effort she and her husband, a construction worker, raised their family, bought a home in Quincy, and sent their daughter to Florida State.
Murat is my colleague at FSU Law School. A native of Turkey, he studied in Istanbul and went on to earn his JD and PhD from George Mason. He is a rising star in law and economics and a marvelous, outgoing colleague.
Our dry cleaners are a married couple from India. They run their shop a few blocks from here. Their elder daughter just got married. I have never seen them be anything but friendly, smiling, and welcoming.
José is one of our graduates; I had him for my international law class. His parents came from Mexico as undocumented field workers. Because of that, José was initially denied admission to the Florida bar. One of my colleagues took his case to the courts, prevailing in the end.
Jeremy, too, was my student. His family came from from Haiti on a refugee boat. Jeremy aced my jurisprudence exam, graduated at the top, and went on to practice law.
John was my son’s schoolmate at McClintock High, in Tempe. His family had fled the Iranian revolution in 1979. They had to leave because they practiced the Zoroastrian faith, one of the many religions persecuted by the ayatollahs. John is a graduate of the University of Michigan and lives in Alaska.
In Stuttgart, a few years ago, Bettina introduced me to Ilknur and her family, all Muslim Turks. They had flourished there, working for Mercedes and Bosch. They are among the most generous, likable people I’ve met.

These are the immigrants I know. The list could fill many, many more pages.

Published on:
Author: Fernando Teson
  • Sean II

    This post answers very well the questions “Are immigrants people?” and “Are some people in the category known as immigrants nice people?”

    Problem: those questions are not in serious dispute anywhere, and answering them doesn’t answer the kind of objections raised by actual skeptics.

    Which means: answering those questions doesn’t advance the debate, especially not the debate as it unfolds here, on this blog.

    • Adam Minsky

      Well put Sean. I particularly like the part about the “carefully selected sample.”
      The VERY controversial conservative writer John Derbyshire once drew a distinction between limited and mass immigration. Limited immigration is like sprinkling a little bit of salt in to your stew. It enhances the flavor. Mass immigration is akin to dumping an entire shaker of salt into your stew. It overpowers and changes everything.
      This article seems to be describing putting a little salt in the stew. This ,as you pointed out, is how most academics and other affluent professionals experience immigration. Less educated, lower income, and blue collar types experience something very different.

      • King Goat

        You think that a professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee experiences ‘sprinkle’ levels of immigration relative to the ‘entire shaker’ that ‘less educated, lower income and blue collar types’ in that same area experience? Maybe you’re right, but I wouldn’t assume so, big state college campuses are relatively pretty cosmopolitan places.

        • Adam Minsky

          It has been a few years since I was on a college campus, state or otherwise. I do think a college professor tends to be immune from having to worry about his neighborhood, voluntary organizations, or children’s schools be radically altered ,for better or worse, by a large influx of immigrants. Less affluent citizens with more curtailed options are not immune from such worries.

    • King Goat

      “it is you who ends up appealing purely to sentiment.”

      Yes, one certainly shouldn’t expect to find any sentiment based arguments on a blog called *Bleeding Heart* Libertarians.

    • j r

      …then surely the women of Rotherham should be allowed to perform a similar analysis, basing their opinions on such immigrants as they happen to know?

      Personally, I would love to hear from the women of Rotherham. I am guessing that their experiences would tell us a lot about the failures of law enforcement, social policy and of the European assimilation project writ large. And then perhaps we could ask why you haven’t asked to hear from the women of Dearborn, Michigan or Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

      Also, it is worth pointing out that we haven’t actually heard much from the women of Rotherham, while we have heard a lot from political partisans eager to score points on what happened there. I submit that there is a reason for that.

      • Sean II

        “I submit that there is a reason for that.”

        How suspenseful.

    • Ed Ucation

      Sean, what you suggest is actually pretty easy. Statistically, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are peaceful, law-abiding people. It is precisely because of this that the anti-immigration side has to rely heavily on isolated anecdotes to stir up anti-immigration sentiment.

      • Sean II

        This is just the kind of innumerate nonsense that drags down the debate.

        Let’s say you have two groups. Call them whatever you like, the Plaids and the Stripes.

        Now, let’s say the Plaids in Plaidsville have an agg’ assault rate of 100/100,000 annually, while for the Stripes in Stripetown the rate is 1,000/100,000.

        One day someone in Plaidsville says “Hey, I got a great idea. Let’s allow unlimited migration from Stripetown.” But then someone objects, saying “Maybe not, for among other things that would make our aggravated assault rate shoot through the roof.”

        Does it answer that objection to point out that the majority of Stripes are not, in fact, aggravated assailants?

        Nope. It does not answer that objection. Not remotely. It’s a true statement, but a trivial and irrelevant one. A non-sequitur, given the claim it’s attempting to answer. Most people are not criminals, and so of course most immigrants are not criminals. But that banality does nothing to wave away differences in the rate of occurrence.

        • King Goat

          It’s not a banality at all, because there are all those positive contributions of the many more non-criminal aliens (and their welfare) on the other side of the ledger from what is usually, at most, a relatively slight (and temporary) increase in negative social impacts (like crime).

          • Sean II

            That comment is a perfect example of why I usually ignore you, Goat.

            You just can’t keep to an issue. When someone says X, and another guy offers a piece of evidence for not-X, you jump in to say “But what about Y!”, where Y is something that might be interesting in its own right, but has nothing to do with the case for or against X.

            See what I’m saying? You’re always just plugging a final outcome, but never really debating any of the constituent issues.

            The immigration question has many facets. But you don’t discuss any one of them properly. Indeed you work against the efforts of others to focus on the particulars, and you work against deep discussion of each issue, thereby confining the conversation to an exchange of broad talking points. If someone raises a point about crime statistics, you defend with an irrelevant comment about economics, never answering the original point. If someone answers the economic argument (as I have many times, and once indeed in the last few weeks), you switch to a moral-deductive claim, and so on.

            Look, we all do it sometimes, especially when cornered and keen to avoid conceding a point. But you do it A LOT, and you seem to do it more than most on this forum, with unfortunate impact on the overall quality of debate.

            But returning to the point of this particular sub-thread, here’s a chance to redeem yourself…

            Do you have anything to say about crime statistics, that addresses the little hypothetical I just gave Ed showing how migration can dramatically change crime rates even though, as I freely concede, most members of all groups are not criminals. Do you have ANYTHING about that? Anything about the comment to which you actually responded?

          • King Goat

            So let me get this straight, Fernando starts this discussion by saying ‘I know there’a a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment out there, some people say they’re bad for the economy or law and order, but I think they’re wrong and that that’s been shown before, so today I’d just like to talk about how many positive interactions I’ve had with immigrants in my life.’ And then you respond by saying ‘that’s nice, but what about the overall average differences in crime rate?’ But when I respond to you with ‘ok, crime rate differences, that’s nice, but what about the economic benefits of immigrants’ you call foul? Come on.

            I don’t think you get something, that, as far as I can tell, virtually no one disagrees, as a factual matter, with what you think is your Big Fact, and that is that average crime rates among different groups of people reliably and consistently differ. I’ve yet to see anyone deny that fact itself. We can handle that truth.

            The disagreement people have with you is not their resistance to that fact. Instead, it’s from people who disagree with you that that fact is as genetically based as you think it is. Or it’s from people who think that that fact is outweighed by advantages immigrants on average bring. Or it’s from people who are not consequentialists but rather deontologists of some sort. Like the person who says ‘I’d rather let ten guilty men go free than punish one innocent man’ they see you as something like ‘I’d rather punish 100 innocent immigrants to stop one evil one.’

          • Sean II

            Another all-over-the-place, shotgun style reply. Great.

          • King Goat

            You’re like someone who argues that Topeka is better than NYC, to which people respond ‘are you crazy’ and your response is always ‘look at the crime rates in NYC,’ and then when they respond ‘we grant you there’s more crime there, but other stuff outweighs all that’ you say ‘hey, we were talking about the crime rate there, do you not want to acknowledge that or something?

            As to your ‘another all-over-the-place’ rebuttal, wow, physician heal thyself. You felt the need to provide an analysis of my past argumentation, at least when I did the same to yours I stuck to the specific way you’ve been missing people.

        • urstoff

          So as long as the immigrants have a crime rate lower than the natural population, it’s ok to let them in? That seems like a fairly arbitrary standard.

          • Sean II

            It might be, but since I never proposed that standard or anything like it, I don’t really care.

            The standard I’m proposing is more like “Hey, we should probably know something about crime rates, crime stats, distributions, etc. if we’re gonna argue about those things.”

            If you want to leap ahead to some policy conclusion not entailed in any of my remarks, go ahead (I guess) but then don’t charge the absurdity of that policy conclusion to me. It isn’t mine, and I’m not proposing it.

          • urstoff

            So you’re taking the controversial stance that we should consider facts about immigrant populations, but about what facts should matter, why, and how much, you are neutral?

          • Sean II

            You joke, but in fact it IS a controversial stance. Many people ARE opposed to studying and discussing characteristics of likely immigrant populations.

            They avoid the subject in any number of ways. Ignoring the facts in favor of emotional story-telling is one. The most common is simply pretending that all populations are identical, so that no different characteristics exist to be studied. The next most common after that is insisting that, yeah okay, different characteristics exist, but it doesn’t matter because diversity is always an improvement.

            Least common, except it seems among libertarians, is the idea that those different population characteristics aren’t worth studying because we’re going to decide the entire question on a theory of rights anyway.

            So yeah, lots of people are functionally opposed to the idea of “considering facts about immigrant populations”. To do that shouldn’t be a radical suggestion, but it is.

          • urstoff

            Seems like all of those positions aren’t opposed to “considering facts”, they just give them very little or no weight. After all, using a rights-based argument may be considered to be a legitimate response to someone who wants to exclude immigration due to some aggregate statistic of a population. That’s not being against consideration of those facts, just the judgment that rights trump those facts.

          • Sean II

            Right, but three problems:

            1) People REALLY shouldn’t assign a low weight to facts they haven’t actually studied. It’s one thing to say “after careful consideration I’ve decided that the risk of X is low enough to be called negligible”. It’s quite another to say “I’ve decided X is negligible, and therefore I will refuse any invitation to carefully consider X”. Lots of people doing the latter here. I’m often stunned by how little my opponents know about the specific topics on which they choose to fight. A while back, there was a guy – arguing with total self-confidence – who thought a heritability of .50 for some trait meant great news for future environmental improvements on that trait. I submit: anyone who could make that gaffe, anyone who doesn’t know why that’s wrong, should not have strong opinions about heritability. Yet he did. And yet many do have strong unfounded opinions, on many subjects.

            2) A judgement that rights trump facts probably shouldn’t express itself as a flat refusal to discuss or acknowledge those facts. Yet it often does. I’d be much more impressed if the rights-based people could first admit the facts, and then calmly explain why they must be set aside. A few people do that, but not many. “Calmly” isn’t exactly in long supply among advocates of open borders.

            3) Wait a minute…insisting that rights always and automatically trump facts is a terrible idea. Readers of this blog in particular have been over the absurd results of that thinking countless times. You know the drill: “There’s a 20% probability that Smith’s home contains a bomb that will kill 1,000 people. So that means expected value= 200 lives. Ranged against that is Smith’s right to privacy under the 4th Amendment…”

            Urstoff, seriously, who but a lunatic or a first-year libertarian really sees that as a tough call?

            Okay, good, and now we’re just haggling about the price…

          • King Goat

            “a heritability of .50 for some trait meant great news for future environmental improvements on that trait. I submit: anyone who could make that gaffe”

            Are you sure you understand this yourself (you’ve told me before you’re not credentialed or accomplished in a field related to this topic, just a layperson whose read articles and such on it)? A trait can be very highly heritable, take height for example, and that can still mean significant disparities can exist due to environment. If I had plants for which their height was 100% heritable and I put half in poor soil and the other half in rich soil they’re going to be different heights.

            And if I remember, that discussion was with me and we were talking about your article about personality traits having that heritability, and basing policy decisions on it, and my point was not about environmental changes in that trait, but about how a ‘personality trait’ is a less than well defined, and also measured, thing, that at best is about ‘tendencies’ or ‘predispositions’ so that combined with an impressive but not perfect heritability, you would be talking about the kind of situation where your multiplying several fractions, getting a smaller and smaller basis upon which to base your policy decisions that you admit result in harm to those denied admittance.

          • Sean II

            No, not you. It was someone else who blew off .50 heritability like that = no big deal.

            But don’t miss the point: any number of commenters could have made that mistake, and only a tiny few could, if challenged, explain why it is a mistake.

            The other part you remember correctly. I’m not a geneticist. I just like learning things from them.

          • urstoff

            I’m not sure who has argued that rights always and automatically trump facts. I don’t think open borders proponents think we should let known ISIS terrorists immigrate (as his right to immigrate has been superseded by the fact that he is a known dangerous individual). Most people view rights as defeasible, but generally that threshold of defeasibility is pretty high for rights-based theorists, and “those immigrants come from a bad culture” does not meet that threshold, nor does “that population has a slightly higher crime rate than the general population”.

            And then you get into the intractable debate about where that threshold should be (if you can get the other side to recognize that freedom of movement is indeed a right at all), and you run into citizenist vs. non-citizenist talk, etc., etc.

          • King Goat

            Exactly, some people say ‘better ten guilty men go free than one innocent one be punished.’ Some replace that 10 with 100 or a higher number, some with a lower number. But at a high enough number, even some strong deontological types are going to flinch. Sean’s right about that, though I don’t think he’s right that that would mean these matters become matters of simple arithmetic. But even there I think he’s wrong, as Sean seems to be saying ‘better a hundred innocent immigrants be punished than that one guilty one be admitted!’

          • Sean II

            Yeah, well I’m no fan of the citizen-ist argument. I think people like Huemer and Brennen have pretty well done that one in.

            Also, I completely concede that the prima facie case for a right to migrate is very strong. Clearly there is such a right, and clearly it is very important.

            My only problem is this: neither the weakness of the citizenship story, nor the strength of the individual right to migrate, get us to “and therefore we must now rush out and do something that carries with it a high probability of destroying liberalism everywhere it is tried”.

            Where do I get off claiming that as a high probability? It’s not terribly difficult:

            The U.S. is a nice place to live. The Global South is not. The first contains 320 million people. The second, conservatively defined, contains 3 billion. If there is no limit to the inflow of those 3 billion people, then the most probable outcome is obvious: the U.S. will become more like the Global South, and will become so in proportion to the number of people who migrate from there to here.

            And that would be a massive calamity, not only for everyone here (including recent immigrants!), but for the whole human race, which is very much dependent on the productivity of first world civilization.

          • Adam Minsky

            The idea that all people are essentially identical is very common among universalists and propositional people (and nations). And in many cases, libertarians are universalists and propositional people. They believe free markets and the rule of law are applicable to all groups at all times, irrespective of history, culture, or situation. Too many libertarians remind one of Trotskyites and neocons.
            I do remember you writing several days ago that you have no use for Hoppe (I’m paraphrasing). From what you been contributing to this thread, you seem like you would be at home in the Hoppe/Rockwell/Rothbard wing of the aanti-statist spectrum. Have I not understood you at all?

          • King Goat

            Adam, one can think that as an empirical matter that people are not ‘identical’ (that’s a bit of a strawman) but still think that the government, and its policy, should treat people identically (or something very close to it), and that they especially shouldn’t treat individuals differently based not on any act of the individual, but rather only (or even primarily) on differences in averages of some group the individual is placed in.

          • Adam Minsky

            I admit to not fully understanding you (I am a simple man). Are you saying that immigration to the U.S. can’t be restricted because our nation might be excluding someone who would adapt well to our society? And that this is true even if that person comes from a group that ,as a whole, would experience great difficulty assimilating into our country? Or am I confused?

          • King Goat

            I think, that it’s a basic tenet of liberalism to judge people based on their individual acts not on the average act of the group to which they are a member, and that this is especially true when we are talking about ‘immutable’ qualities.

            But I think even more can be said if you don’t accept this. Even if this is a straight up consequentalist matter, to continue to use Sean’s own example of a group that has 99 good people for every assaulter, then you have to weigh the contributions of the 99 you’d be denying against the negative impact of the one that is admittedly bad before you could justify barring the 99.

          • Sean II

            My take on Rothbard is: interesting guy, too bad they had to make a legend out of him. I hold him as similar to Rand, in the sense that a) you can indeed learn things from both, but b) they, and the cult of personality around them, always makes you regret that by overstating the shit out of every little thing they ever thought.

            My take on Rockwell is: I know very little, other than hearing him introduce a podcast here and there.

            My take on Hoppe is: I know even less. The truth is, I don’t really feel obliged to dig deeper because the Argumentation Ethics things is so goofy (there were some funny posts on that here awhile back).

            As the Austrians would be first to say, time is scarce…

          • Adam Minsky

            I think it is important to point out that Rand seems to have been complicit in the construction of her cult. From what I’ve read she was a forbidding, often unapproachable figure. She never hesitated to refer to herself as a genius unique n history.
            Rothbard was a very different kettle of fish. He was often self deprecating, and went through life laughing and cackling. Some folks in the Austrian school may have built a cult of the personality around him, but I get the sense he would have been uncomfortable with this.
            Outside of Hoppe/Rockwell, are there any serious libertarian theorists who come down on the side of immigration restrictionists?

          • Sean II

            Bob Murphy, who’s gotta be the least doctrinaire Austrian going, had one. If I’m summarizing correctly it went like this:

            There’s an order of operations to an-cap reform. First, you must privatize property so there is no border for the state to control, or not control. Then, you get true open borders – i.e. a situation where any individual can go where they like, subject only to the need of finding a willing trade partner.

            Which is a fine argument indeed.

          • Ron H.

            Yes, Murphy’s argument goes to the heart of the matter. Often ignored by those who advocate restrictive or no immigration is that NO ONE is calling for allowing the uninvited onto private property. Property rights are one of the cornerstones of the libertarian position, and that’s not likely to change.

            Those who fear mass immigration by hundreds of millions of people must consider where all those people would stand while waiting for invitations onto someone’s private property to live or work – and that’s after they’ve overcome the substantial difficulties of even getting to what is now the US from wherever they currently live.

          • Sean II

            “…must consider where all those people would stand while awaiting invitations…”

            Given restrictive labor market policies throughout the first world, many would stand out in the cold.

            This is already happening in Europe, and it’s coming soon to a California near you.

          • Ron H.

            How in the world will people get to work with all those immigrants standing in the streets?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN
          • Adam Minsky

            I haven’t had the opportunity to read this yet, but at first glance it certainly looks serious (and interesting). Thank you for posting it.

        • Ron H.

          Gee, assuming there’s a benefit to allowing migration from Stripetown, and assuming any one from Stripetown actually wants to migrate, would those thinkers in Plaidsville even wonder why the aggass rate in that hellhole is higher? Are Stripos just genetically more prone to violence? Is there anything about their social / political / economic environment (SoPoEcEn) that’s conducive to violence?

          In other words is there any good reason to believe those Stripos would commit the same level of aggass in their new home, Plaidsville, assuming once again that those who immigrate are a representative cross section of all Stripos?

          Maybe there’s something about Plaidsville that discouraged aggass.

          • Sean II

            Of course you would ask that. Everyone does. But then you look at the data and discover that groups show the criminal participation rate predicted by their continent of origin, and not by their current place of residence.

            Move the Plaids to Stripetown, they still show an agg’ assault rate in the vicinity of 200/100,000. Move the Stripes to Plaidsville, and they too hover around their home rate of 1,000/100,000.

            Barring some very powerful selection effects in the transfer, that’s how it always works out.

          • Ron H.

            Hmm…who’da thought? I haven’t seen that data, but I guess it can be whatever you want it to be since it’s your story.

          • Sean II

            You a) haven’t seen the data but b) feel safe in preemptively dismissing it with a passive aggressive bit of “whatever you want…it’s your story”?

            What a dick move.

          • Ron H.

            I was hoping for some additional insight into your simplistic assumptions about two apparently homogeneous groups of people. I don’t believe you have any reliable data to support your claim that violent tendencies are mostly genetic, and predictably you haven’t offered any. Questioning your claim doesn’t = dismissal, but usually when someone asserts something they are prepared to defend that position with additional information.

    • The notion that questions about the humanity of immigrants “are not in serious dispute anywhere” could only reflect a deep ignorance of basic facts about the state of contemporary discourse.

      • Sean II

        Don’t hold back then. Unleash your evidence. Find for us these madmen who insist that immigrants aren’t people.

        • You’ve got me. In five minutes of Googling and reading what Trump and other members of the GOP have to say about immigrants, I wasn’t able to find a single one of them claiming immigrants aren’t homo sapiens. I concede.

          • Sean II

            Very classy of you. Situation like this, a lot of dudes would throw in some grudging sarcasm to cover their turn. Not you though.

            In any case, it’s funny to see what happened here. For many people, maybe it seems like there is no difference between “refuse X entry at the border” and “deny the basic humanity of X”. So when they hear someone suggesting that it might be permissible to refuse people entry at the border, they think “they only way anyone could ever do that is by denying the basic humanity of such people”.

            Problem: in the context of this debate that’s a huge question beg.

            First you must establish that “basic humanity” entails “right to migrate”. For that’s the very thing in dispute. Then you must demonstrate there is no other right or question of utility to balancing against it, such that “denial of basic humanity” is the ONLY possible reason anyone would ever question or deny “right to migrate’.

            So far, no one’s done that.

          • I’m sorry I tried to seem classy. That was a mistake.

            The original post proceeded as a corrective to “anti-immigrant sentiment” and “nonsense.” Your first move in responding to the post was to suggest that the apparent questions raised “are not in serious dispute anywhere.”

            I have no desire to persuade you to believe differently. You seem steeped in this debate. I’ve characterized the statements at issue. Professor Tesón characterized the statements at issue. You characterize them differently. I’m assuming you’re aware of the rhetoric in the United States and Europe around immigrants. If you find it unproblematic, I have no idea how I would change your mind. My comments are merely for the record.

            Still, if you were interested in defending your initial claim, you might offer criteria for what would make statements “anti-immigrant” or “nonsense” or “humanity denying.” You might offer examples of statements that would meet that criteria. And then you might take some of the statements made by any one of many prominent figures on the right and explain how they don’t meet your criteria. Feel free to ice skate up that hill or not. I’m not sure which would be the more classy move.

          • Sean II

            Wrong. You claimed denying the humanity of immigrants is a common, prominent thing in political debate today.

            The burden’s on you to prove that.

          • I quote you making an argument you refuse to defend. You attribute to me an argument I didn’t make. I engaged so I feel some obligation, classless though I am. I’m just not sure how to proceed.

          • Sean II

            I can’t help but notice: you keep doing things other than providing evidence for your point…whatever it is.

          • Very classy of you. Situation like this, a lot of dudes would throw in a well-placed ellipsis to cover their question begging. Not you though.

            (I actually kind of like that formulation, although it telegraphs the snark a bit too much. Still, I might steal it.)

            I’m at a bit of a crossroads here. I don’t usually engage in these sorts of conversations. I’m not classy. But, for reasons way beyond the scope of this discussion, I’m trying.

            So, let’s take the claim you accuse me of making. In fact, I’m going to quote it here, because I think it’s important to pay attention to what people actually say: “You claimed denying the humanity of immigrants is a common, prominent thing in political debate today.”

            Let me concede, to lay out my own failings, that I’m not sure I disagree with statement. On some level, to me, it rings true. But I wouldn’t advance it in this debate. I certainly didn’t ever use your two key words: “common” and “prominent.” (We’re just going to leave aside “thing.”) And why not? Because I don’t even know how I’d establish commonality or prominence in any rigorous, empirical way. And those are empirical, perhaps even quantitative claims. What are you going to count as evidence? Some sort of empirical news analysis? How foolish am I?

            But wait. I actually am that foolish. I’ll bite, at least a little. I’ll pretend the argument you attribute to me is actually mine. But I’m not going to go through all the evidence, which everyone here is actually aware of. I’m just going to provide one piece of evidence.

            You mentioned Trump. Here is his most famous relevant quote (perhaps his most famous, period):

            “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

            I would submit that this statement is racist, dehumanizing, morally objectionable, anti-immigrant, and nonsense. It’s nonsensical in many ways. Most importantly for our purposes, it’s underpinnings are demonstrably false.

            But is it common? It’s probably Trump’s most commonly quoted statement. He commonly expresses his anti-immigrant views. It has become one of the most commonly held reasons why his supporters back him.

            And is it prominent? He is prominent, poised to become more prominent still. It is his most prominent statement on his most prominent issue. In fact, most people argue that his anti-immigrant stance brought him to prominence this political season.

            Of course, these goalposts, “common” and “prominent,” are ones that you’ll soon move, not too hard a task, given that they’re on wheels. Still, I feel okay about the argument. I’ll live with it.

            So, what about yours? Let me quote you again, because, and I can’t repeat this enough, we’re talking about the arguments people actually make, the words they actually use. Is it true that questions about the humanity of immigrants “are not in serious dispute anywhere?” Or are you just using such a narrow definition of humanity (member of the species) that you’re not actually making an argument at all?

          • Sean II

            Yeah, that quote – typical though it is of the Trumpian style – doesn’t get you anywhere near him saying that Mexicans, aren’t made out of people.

          • And consensus built! I knew discourse would prevail. We both agree that it is a common, prominent part of some right-wing discourse to deny the humanity of immigrants in every way except insofar as that they are “made out of people.”

  • Jeff R.

    Evelyn is our cleaning lady here in Tallahassee. She and her family came from El Salvador, undocumented, many years ago. With great effort she and her husband, a construction worker, raised their family, bought a home in Quincy, and sent their daughter to Florida State.
    Florida State? Man, that’s too bad. Her parents must be wondering what they did wrong.

  • David Morris

    A good article, though short on facts and arguments. There’s a real question about whether can and should increase legal immigration and have “amnesty”. I say Yes! but that’s a different article.

  • Fernando Teson

    The post does not attempt to make an argument. For a sustained argument in favor of liberal immigration laws, see chapter 4 of my book Justice at a Distance: Expanding Freedom Globally [with Loren Lomasky]

  • AtlanticReader5

    I believe remittance payments to immigrants’ home countries are the single largest international investment flow, more than FDI and foreign aid combined. So not only are many immigrants making a better life here, they are helping their home countries climb out of poverty.

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  • pamela alma weymouth

    beautiful! thank you! please check out my essay: The Mexicans I Know: We could write a book!