Monday, May 16, 2011

The Progressive Contradiction: Undocumented Immigration

Underlying most progressive positions is a support for greater regulation and government planning. From finance to pharmaceuticals, fair housing to farming, health care to hiring practices, gas mileage to green house gases; it is a given that social, economic and environmental welfare are furthered by greater government involvement. Free markets must be tamed and guided by a wise use of subsidies and penalties. Little is left to choice or chance.The one exception to the rule is the manner in which most progressives approach undocumented immigration.

Those who seek to regulate virtually every facet of the lives of American Citizens refuse to support measures to control the unregulated entry of non-citizens. Those who are normally averse to free trade and free markets extol the virtues of the free movement of labor. Individuals who view permits and licenses as sacrosanct turn a blind eye to unlicensed activities of undocumented plumbers and carpenters. These same individuals fight for higher wages and better working conditions, yet refuse to address a phenomena that has eroded both. And those who promote the micromanagement of restaurants, via the elimination of trans fats and happy meals, ignore the proliferation of completely unregulated immigrant street vendors. Some may respond that they seek to take undocumented immigrants out of the shadows into the "regulatory light," but do not mention how they would address the future waves of individuals who would "fill the shadows."

I would welcome this laissez faire approach if it were applied across the board, if it originated in a new found respect for economic freedom. But, I believe that it stems from a vision in which diversity and a fear of being perceived as racist trumps all other values and social goods. Even though the progressive approach to immigration is motivated by humane sentiments and noble intentions, its unintended consequences are the de facto formation of different rules, standards and expectations for members of different groups. De factor sancutaries and other accommodations have their economic and social benefits, but we should take heed, because in the long run they are inimical to the rule of law and true equality.

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