Thursday, February 08, 2007

Illegal Immigration

When will illegal immigration end? Victor Davis Hanson offers an answer:

We hear all sorts of solutions for ending illegal immigration. Build a wall! Beef up border security! Fine employers, and create a massive guest-worker program. Or America could insist on tamper-proof identification cards, or detention, deportation or even amnesty for some illegal aliens -- or all of these measures somehow combined.

But ultimately the solution lies in the hope that a Tijuana might become as prosperous as a San Diego -- now a few miles away but a world apart.

After all, Hong Kong used to be a magnet for illegal immigrants who streamed in from impoverished Red China. Not so much any longer. Shanghai, for example, in two decades has become almost as wealthy as the old British colony.

East Berliners used to risk their lives to cross the wall into the West. Now billions of dollars are being invested in restoring the eastern half of a united Germany's capital. . . .
I suspect this is the case because people seem to be seeking better chances of becoming prosperous by coming to the United States. Our government can make greater efforts to "close the border," or greater efforts to catch and punish employers who break the laws against hiring illegal workers, or each of these and even more. And, I suspect such efforts will reduce the flow of illegal immigration to our country. After all, such efforts will increase the price of choosing to immigrate illegally to the United States. But such efforts will probably cannot end illegal immigration because it seems to me the bottom line is that the governments of Mexico and of many other countries to our south are simply not very good at providing the institutional necessary conditions for economic prosperity [see Mancur Olson, Power and Prosperity] in their countries. These governments are not very good at enforcing contracts and private property rights, they tend to be characterized by much corruption and by many forms of economic predation.

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