Ron Paul on immigration: What’s the worst that could happen?

One of the more disturbing things about Ron Paul’s popularity is his staunch opposition to legal and
illegal immigration. I pick on him not because his views on immigrants
are especially harsh, but because they stand in stark contrast to his
reputation as an advocate of free markets and Austrian economics. On his campaign issues page,
he warns that “current reform proposals would allow up to 60 million
more immigrants into our country” and that “this is insanity.” I am
surprised to see Ron Paul buying into this tired bit of socialist
rhetoric. The idea that simply allowing 60 million would actually
result in 60 million people rushing into the U.S. is absurd, but
suppose it were true. What’s the worst that could happen?

According to the Malthusian theory subscribed to by socialists and environmentalists, the amount
of resources and capital in a particular region is fixed, so the average income
of individuals can be calculated by dividing the total resource/capital base by
the number of people.  A fixed resource
base means a fixed number of jobs, so a large influx of immigrants means rising
unemployment and falling standards of living.

Fortunately, it is socialism, not open immigration that is
“insanity.”  The premise that
the resources available to meet human needs are fixed – that each new human
being requires a fixed amount of land, metal, and fossil fuels to live – is
absurd.  Each additional individual
creates not only new demand for the products of civilization, but also provides
new resources and insight for meeting those needs.  Every self-supporting worker produces more
than he consumes, adding to total productive output and raising the real wage
rate for everyone.  Historically, the
American standard of living rose fastest during peak immigration periods and
continues to rise today.  Our greatest
source of wealth is not natural resources or the capital base, but the
ingenuity and creativity of our entrepreneurs and workers.

By increasing the division of labor, immigrants free up
workers previously employed in maintaining the capital base to invest their
time in growing capital and efficiency. 
So for example, by lowering labor costs, new immigrant factory workers
free up engineers to invest in expanding production and improving the
efficiency of labor.  This improves
everyone’s living standards.  A free
society allows a growing capital and knowledge base to be multiplied by
entrepreneurs who find new methods to improve human life, proving an
exponential growth in prosperity. 

A further complaint of Dr Paul is
that “taxpayers should not pay for illegal immigrants who use hospitals,
clinics, schools, roads, and social services.”  I completely agree.  However, this is besides the point.  No one
has a right to live of other people, regardless of where he was born.  American welfare bums do not have any more
right to my property than Mexican bums.  It
is the welfare state that is immoral, not immigration.  Furthermore, the argument is misleading
because illegal immigrants and permanent residents are generally not eligible
for welfare, and already pay the property, fuel, and sales taxes that pay for
schools and roads.  Illegal immigrants don’t pay income taxes, which Dr. Paul believes we should eliminate anyway, but they often pay social security taxes via bogus social security cards – effectively subsidizing legal workers.  Do people who oppose
granting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses realize that they are for forcing
citizens to pay for the illegal immigrants’ share of road-maintenance

For more on the issue, read my case for open immigration.

4 responses to “Ron Paul on immigration: What’s the worst that could happen?

  1. I tend to agree with your assessment on immigration, but I’m curious if you know to which reform bill Dr. Paul is refering in his comment about 60 million potential new immigrants. A general anti-immigration stance would seem out-of-line with his constitutional views, which leads me to wonder if there is something missed…


  2. G

    Erm, Paul isn’t anti-immigrant at all. He’s stated many times he’s anti-illegal-immigrant, and that if we had a free economy without all the giveaways to immigrants, we would probably do fine with open borders.

    But he knows there is no political way to stop the welfare state, so the only recourse is to stop illegal immigration. He’s very bearish on the economy, social security and Medicare, so he sees this as necissary to keep the feds from bankrupting themselves.

  3. Nick Constant

    Why is Ron Paul a Republican? For millions of people like myself this one thing defeats his other-wise mostly sound positions. The Republican Party is the greatest threat to America we have ever faced, and very well may it’s main destroyer.

  4. Ron Paul is for abolishing federal welfare in almost all forms as far as I know. But even a politician as principled as Paul (probably the most principled American politician for generations) understands that illegal aliens cannot continue to come into the country and use public services.

    The notion that illegal aliens do not use welare is absurd. In my state, illegal aliens are issued welfare credit cards whereby monthly payments are merely dropped into accounts. I see it 1st hand.

    Likewise, illegal aliens here, and in many other places use hospitals and medical services for free, as they cannot be denied service. I see this all the time.

    In fact, when my father recently went to a hospital in Southern California to deal with a serious issue of blood clots, the entire waiting room was filled with illegal aliens. He watched as one after the other were admitted before him. The hospital clerk merely asked if they had insurance or spoke English, they said no, and were quickly admitted.

    My father spent an over an hour attempting to make sure he was covered by his insurance. The hospital was actually prohibited by law from telling him if he was covered. It’s insane.

    The same thing goes up here in Minnesota. My mother in law is a nurse at the local hospital and says it is no different here.

    The welfare state is the problem, there is no doubt. But it is insane to sit by and allow a government-imposed system which literally invites abuse and yet more subsidy.

    This isn’t an issue of normative purity. It is an issue of fiscal survival and legal equality. We cannot be at war, spending more money than all but 15 nations even produce in terms of GDP on it, lavish the retiring babyboomers with government benefits, AND pay the bill for mexicans who want to live in the United States illegally.

    Sure, borders should be open, welfare should be elminated. But that isn’t happening any time soon, and I’d prefer not to have to pay for illegal aliens medical bills while it costs me $20,000 to have my last child delivered.

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