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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Economic Realities

John Tierney of the New York Times (subscription):

The Border Patrol has tried building fences and adding thousands of agents, and in some places it has made smuggling harder. Yet the overall flow of immigrants hasn't slowed. No matter how hard they work, the agents can't outlaw basic economics...

It's the same kind of economic quandary that has stymied the war on drugs. For more than a quarter-century, federal and local authorities have tried to solve America's drug problem by making smuggling and dealing prohibitively expensive.

They've stepped up enforcement at the borders, promising that more agents and new technology would make a difference. They've taken the fight to countries supplying drugs. They filled prisons with dealers and addicts. But even though they raised the cost of smuggling and dealing, the increase was never enough to make a difference...

I'm not suggesting that stopping drugs is the same as stopping the flow of illegal immigrants. In many ways the drug war is easier because it enjoys more popular support. Most people would like to see less drug use. No one wants a drug market on the corner, and people will urge the police to round up dealers and addicts there.

They're not about to turn in the illegal immigrants working in their stores, their neighborhoods and their homes. They know how hard immigrants work and how much they contribute. They may tell pollsters there's too much immigration, but they like the immigrants they know.

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