Tag Archives: immigration black markets

The East German Immigration Model


A U.S. Senate candidate in Alaska thinks that the U.S. should follow East Germany’s example when it comes to immigration. GOP nominee Joe Miller told a town hall audience, “The first thing that has to be done is secure the border. . .  East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow.  Now, obviously, other things were involved.  We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border.  If East Germany could, we could.”

He’s darn right “other things were involved.” See CEI’s video on the Berlin Wall for details. What a terrible choice of example.

Miller also forgets that East Germany’s 858 miles of fence weren’t meant to keep people out. That fence was meant to keep people in. Against their will. On pain of death.

It’s almost certain that Miller doesn’t really want the full-on East German border enforcement model. It was probably just a tasteless slip of the tongue. But he clearly favors a border fence. Which, of course, he should oppose if his goal is actually to reduce illegal immigration.

Many undocumented immigrants only stay in the U.S. for a few months. Get a job, make some money, go back home and share it with family. A border fence will keep a lot of people like that out, yes. But it also keeps current undocumented immigrants in. Unwillingly, in many cases.

If Miller wins his election, there is a lot he can do to reduce illegal immigration. Building an American version of the Berlin Wall is not one of them. As Alex Nowrasteh and I wrote, “The immigration black market only exists is because the government has made the legal market as cumbersome as it can.”

Miller should make legal immigration less cumbersome. People will come to America, no matter what. That’s what happens when you have one of the freest, richest, most dynamic nations on earth. That’s a fact of life that our broken immigration system does not take into account.

Neither, apparently, does Joe Miller.

 

How to Fix Immigration’s Black Market

Alex Nowrasteh and I have a piece in today’s Detroit News arguing that liberalization, not regulation, is the way to shrink immigration’s massive black market. Our main points:

-New rules that came into effect this month, such as raising the minimum wage for H-2A visa holders (that’s the visa for low-skilled agricultural workers) makes cheaper undocumented workers look more attractive for employers. They actually harm legal workers.

-Other new regulations, including background checks, workplace inspections, and mountains of paperwork, cost thousands of dollars per employee. These regulations also make black market workers look more attractive.

-The way to reduce illegal immigration is liberalization. For agricultural workers, that means making their H-2A visas inexpensive, easy to obtain, and keeping the bureaucracy to a minimum.

-When legal channels cost too much in time and money, people will turn to illegal channels every time. That’s how the world works. Getting rid of immigration’s black market begins with admitting that fact.