?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Which border should we control? - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Oct. 1st, 2006

08:37 am - Which border should we control?

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Advocates for immigration restrictions use the term "border control" to refer to restricting immigration across the U.S.'s national border. But the national border is just one of many borders. There are also state borders, and county borders, and city borders. If you own land, the borders of your property are defined by your property lines. Even your car and body have borders.

What does it mean to control a border? To me, "border control" means to control who and what can cross that border in either direction. For example, I control the border of my apartment. It's largely up to me to screen who I can bring into my apartment. If I want to bring a black woman home on a date, there's not much my neighbor can do about it. Or a gay man. Or a mariachi band.

Now, my control of my border is not absolute. I can't bring home a prostitute. I can't invite customers without a business license. The number of people allowed is limited by zoning restrictions. I'm not allowed to bring dangerous chemicals. Once there, the people I invite can't be too loud, or shoot off guns, or damage the property. Most of these restrictions are intended to address the negative externalities that I may impose on my neighbors--noise, pollution, physical danger. And they may or may not be the best way to address those negative externalities. But note that to the extent that I'm restricted, I no longer control the borders of my property--the zoning board of my local municipality does.

But there's wide variation in the laws. If I don't like the zoning restrictions where I live now, I can move to a town with zoning restrictions more to my liking.
Move out to the country, and I can shoot guns, host raves, or blow things up real good. Move to Palo Alto, and I can be assured of carefully manicured streets, "smart growth", and good schools--albeit at a hefty price tag.

As a result of this variation, people with different risk profiles and aesthetic preferences can find communities that satisfy their desires.

However, suppose that we had national zoning regulations. Suppose that no matter where you lived--whether it be the Bronx or Butte--you would be governed by the same zoning restrictions. There would be constant battles in Congress over who got to define the zoning regulations. If the city people prevailed, those in the Bronx would be happy, but those in Butte would be angry as hell. And likewise for the reverse scenario.

And what of the special interest groups? Who would be surprised to find that many a senatorial campaign was financed by the National Association of Realtors? Or that Christian fundamentalists got laws passed banning adult bookstores?

Would you want Congress to decide who was allowed in your house, or how many people you could host? After all, the more decisions that are made by the national legislature, the fewer decisions that are up to you. And to try to change laws you disliked would be a massive undertaking, requiring millions of dollars and a national political campaign.

With respect to the immigration debate, the assumption by "border control" advocates is that the national borders should be the point at which immigrants are screened. However, what evidence is there that this is the optimal point for screening? How do we know that the state or city level wouldn't be the best level? Or, as free movement advocates suggest, at the individual level?

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:polyanarch
Date:October 1st, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC)

Which border?

(Link)
I think we should make an 18' wall from one side of the Candidian border to the other. It should be seamless from Atlantic to Pacific. Don't let even a mosquito across without a 400 Megawatt laser shooting it's wings off in a puff of smoke.

Those Kanooks are dangerious and really annoying. And some of them are FRENCH! God, they smell...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kmo
Date:October 1st, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Which border?

(Link)
As long as the barrier doesn't prevent Cascadian's from enjoying the riches of the BC Hydro industry, I'm down with it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:polyanarch
Date:October 1st, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Which border?

(Link)
Mmmmm. Hydro! Nothing like putting a million acres of arable land out of production, destroying whole ecosystems and making it impossible for salmon to spawn...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kmo
Date:October 1st, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)

Wrong Hydro

(Link)
Hydro, as in hydroponic. Not hydro-electric.

link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_bud
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:polyanarch
Date:October 1st, 2006 06:32 pm (UTC)

Hoser!

(Link)
Take off!

I totally forgot about that, eh? We'll need a little gap for the weed to pass freely...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kmo
Date:October 1st, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC)

Your essay has sparked a bit of discussion in my LJ

(Link)
http://kmo.livejournal.com/256779.html?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:chutzpahgirl
Date:October 1st, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The assumption by "border control" advocates is that the national borders should be the point at which immigrants are screened. However, what evidence is there that this is the optimal point for screening?
For clarification, do you mean the physical border? Because people who want to come here are frequently screened long before they are within spitting distance of the U.S.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:October 2nd, 2006 06:27 am (UTC)
(Link)
Whether the screening happens literally at the physical national border isn't really that important. The question is whether immigrant screening should be done at the national level vs. at the state/city/individual level.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 3rd, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
As a practical matter it is advantageous to have the physical implementation of the screening process happen at two levels which align, roughly, with the two purposes of such screening. At the national border it is rational to screen out individuals who will present a high likelihood of negative externalities -- people who will almost certainly cause trouble whereever they go. Violent criminals, known terrorists and officials in the UN bureaocracy should be stopped at the national border because no rational person wants them around. The second level of screening should occur, if desired, at property lines -- based on evaluation of direct threats, not of externalities.

In theory one can argue for implementation at other levels -- state, county, town, neighborhood, etc. but these are difficult to implement. Just as soon as you set up a roadblock where some well-fed and well-armed member of law enforcement can say "We don't like your kind around here, bub." you will get some ACLU type saying "You don't speak for me, pig! I have no objection to wild-eyed young men carrying suitcases that tick loudly and glow in the dark!"

One can introduce some aspects of local decision making into the process while retaining the physical enforcement at the national border by allowing exceptions based on sponsorships. To some extent we do that now with sponsored visas but we could do more. If a locality desires a particular individual be let in they could be allowed to sponsor him/her, agreeing (possibly by posing a bond) that they would be responsible for the potential problems that prevented entry wihtout the sponsorship. In the case of a "guest worker" any bond money forfeited would be used to provide the worker with means and motivation to return to his country of origin. In the case of a suspected terrorist the required bond, even if calculated conservatively, would be likely to be prohibitively high and that individual is unlikely to be allowed in.

Just a few ideas...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:bigleeh
Date:October 3rd, 2006 09:12 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The above was me. Forgot to turn off my cloaking device again.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)