My fifth open letter to Mr. Mitt Romney on immigration
Dear Mr. Romney,
We have not one documented incident of national security being endangered due to Mexicans crossing the border illegally, but everyone seems to be eager to spend my tax money on militarizing the border with Mexico. Without even considering the cost, if we build a wall along the Mexican border, or even two parallel walls as some suggest, and saturate this border with cameras, sensors and armed patrols, it will only change the way the border is crossed. When it is hard to find a spot without border guards, more people will try to bribe border guards. Just a few years ago, illegal border crossing was handled by petty smugglers. With tougher border control, it is falling into the hands of organized crime. With their resources and money, organized crime is on its way to criminalizing border crossing, as it criminalized alcohol production and distribution during Prohibition.
It is worth noticing that a law practically eliminating legal immigration was enacted in 1924, just a few years after Prohibition was voted in. Both acts represented the same illusion of the American people, namely, that the government can solve their personal problems. Prohibition made criminals out of people who enjoyed having a beer after dinner. Our immigration laws make criminals out of people who want their grass cut for less, or who want to cut that grass for less. Prohibition was repealed. Repealing our immigration laws should at least be an option worth considering.
The world has become a small village, and it is naïve to believe that we can stop people from moving around. Most countries have higher population density than the U.S. Most of these countries have much lower standards of living than here. From basic physics, we know that different potentials create a movement of medium. Some who do not like the laws of physics would build barriers, bureaucratic or actual concrete walls, to stop the flow – in this case – of people. It is natural for people to migrate. Instead of fighting against this rule of nature, we should accommodate it.
A much larger danger to national security would be due to too many high-tech jobs leaving the country. In particular, many major U.S. corporations have recently moved R&D jobs to China and other Asian countries. In the past, the U.S. became a superpower precisely because it was technologically ahead of everyone else in the world. This might not be the case anymore with major R&D centers in Asia. Furthermore, the technological superiority of American industry was the backbone of our military. This will be over if we lose too many scientists and engineers.
Americans are eager to give extra power to the government in order to stop foreigners trying to cross the border illegally. In other words, Americans are giving their government the power to control the migration of people. One can easily imagine that, as a result of our restrictive immigration policies, our economic crisis will deepen, prompting even more scientists and engineers to leave the country. It will be only a matter of time before this outflow of engineers and scientists will endanger national security. The government will react the way it does now: it will make it illegal for scientists and engineers to move out of the U.S. without government permission.
A government that is powerful enough to stop people from immigrating to the U.S., can, if needed, use this power to stop Americans from leaving the country. Only then, the militarized wall on the Mexican border will come in handy, catching scientists and engineers trying to escape from Silicon Valley.
Am I fantasizing, or I am envisioning the worst case scenario, as every good businessman should?
Huffington Post refused to publish this text. Henryk A. Kowalczyk is a long-term blogger at Huffington Post, and letters to Mr. Romey are the only texts that editors of HP ever rejected.