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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Immigration and Citizenship

In a comment on an earlier post on immigration, Larry Ruane said:
Given the current welfare state, would you oppose citizenship, including and especially voting rights, for at least some immigrants (approximately those that are called illegal immigrants today)?
I've been thinking about a proper answer, and here's what I've come up with:

Obviously, no one should, in defiance of justice, be able to get anything from anyone by force, even if the booty passes through the state first. The citizenship issue is complicated by the welfare state. If the state were minimized (and kept that way -- a pipe dream in my view), citizenship wouldn't matter much. But today voting means being able to vote for legal plunder and warmongers. (I'm reminded of what Lysander Spooner said about women's suffrage: Women should have the same right to vote as men have: none.)

So I guess I have no problem with conditions for citizenship, such as a residency requirement and no criminal record (meaning real crimes with victims). I have to laugh at requirements about speaking English and taking a history and civics test. Could most natural-born Americans pass such a test? (A recent survey found that more people can name the Simpsons than the freedoms specified in the First Amendment.) The state of their English literacy isn't too good either. I do see a problem with saying that immigrants can't partake of the welfare state: schools, hospitals, Medicaid, etc. They do pay taxes. As long as the system exists and immigrants are taxed, it can't be proper to exclude them. I once proposed that if they are going to be excluded, then in fairness they shouldn't be taxed.

In which case I will renounce my citizenship and apply for immigrant status.


Anonymous said...

I think voting is still legitimate as a defensive measure. When an immigrant enters the country, he is not, in my libertarian-informed opinion, entering into some contract with the owner/operators of the state (an unjust "contract" no doubt), so a vote is one way to show that the state cannot run roughshod over his natural rights. Sure, most votes nowadays are for some kind of legal plunder, but they need not be. Sometimes votes are cast for a deduction of state power, or at least the prevention of further power.


Sheldon Richman said...

I don't rule out that some people vote in self-defense. Whether it does more harm than good is another matter, however. I like this line from Anthony de Jasay's Against Politics (23): "It is a fallacy of composition to believe that if a group as a whole has some capacity, parts of the group must have parts of the capacity."

Anonymous said...

Sheldon Richman wrote ...

"I do see a problem with saying that immigrants can't partake of the welfare state: schools, hospitals, Medicaid, etc. They do pay taxes."

As a former legal immigrant (initially a work visa that had to be renewed annually), I always thought it preposterous that I had to pay not only income taxes on my "worldwide income" which some would excuse as payment for the current "services" I received from the U.S. government (LOL), but I also had to contribute to Social Security, no matter what, which would do me no good if I willingly decided to go back to my country or if the Feds decided not to renew my work visa.

Anonymous said...

Puppetboy asks....
SR, if you believe the reduction of the state is a pipe dream, why are you still struggling. Reflex action ?
Do you vote at any level ? Local stuff ?
I do not vote as I believe it simply legitimizes evil doings. I have long pondered what to do given the momentum of the state.

Sheldon Richman said...

Puppetboy: What I said is a pipe dream is keeping it limited. We might be able to roll it back. But the question is, how do we keep from growing again?

Anonymous said...

This post is ancient in Blog timescales, but there's a small chance someone will find this comment useful.

See this Language Log post for an explanation of how the results of that survey were spun deliberately to make Americans look as dumb as possible.