May 8, 2005

Open Borders and Closed Minds

Laguna Beach is pretty much a Bobo town. Among the sights to be seen on the main road into town is a shaded area where day laborers wait to be hired. Conveniently organized by the Chief Nannies of the City, this redoubt likely houses close to 100 per cent illegal aliens.

A local anti-immigration group has made the street across from this outdoor hiring hall the locus of small demonstrations, where a mostly blue-haired, white platoon carries American flags and hand-made signs protesting the influx and reminding the would-be exploiter of labor that hiring those without the mica or green card signifying the right to work for hire in the USA is a crime.

Yesterday, this demo was met by a counter-demonstration, not by libertarians out to protect the free market in labor, but most prominently by a banner in Spanish favoring world-wide open borders and claiming (in English) sponsorship by something called the International Socialist Organization.

The ISO are one of the lately more visible decay products of Leon Trotsky's "Fourth International."

The problems of illegal immigration are real enough, affecting most directly those of whatever color who must compete for low-wage work with desperate border-crossers, but also threatening national security, because by definition illegal immigrants are not vetted by anyone, and to the extent that such immigrants remain here and are slow to assimilate, creating a "plural society" of different ethnic groups who meet only in the marketplace.

Whether it is politically or morally possible to do much about illegal immigration is unclear. No doubt the wall could be extended to cover the entire US-Mexican border, and one conceivably could be built at the Canadian frontier as well, at least if another terrorist attack linked to the border (as the near-miss Y2K bombing at LAX was) occurred.

A large-scale razzia for illegals who have lived far from the border for years and have American citizen children, whatever the anti-immigration movement might dream of, is not on, as the Brits say, absent some sea-change in our national mood, such as one brought on by a depression, widespread rioting, or major terrorist attacks.

The cynical ISO slogan of world-wide open borders, even if in the abstract it could warm a libertarian heart, is in reality even less practical. This is what Leon Trotsky called a "transitional demand," a reasonable-sounding, if radical, reform proposal, whose inexorable logic, if it were ever followed, points toward revolution, as did the Bolshevik "Bread, Peace and Land" in 1917 Russia.

Where is the center-left, center, and center-right in this debate? Nowhere, it seems. The problem is too intractable. Let the center-right beware. If neglected, the issue will provide fuel to the extremes.

Update: An on-the-scene report on the situation in SW Arizona here.HT: Real Clear Politics.

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