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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 8, 2024

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The behavior of the federal government here is bizarre.

In the US, how many people are open-borders advocates? 5% 10%? And yet, the people who pull the strings in the federal government seem to be okay with defacto open borders. Let's be honest. Most of the people who are processed, shipped to another state, and given a court date years in the future will be here for good.

There appear to be two paths to US citizenship. A legal route, which is nearly impossible for most people, and an illegal route which gets easier and easier.

Recently a school in Brooklyn was shut down (for one day) to house illegal migrants. Source, with bonus inaccurate fact check:

New York and other cities are howling about migrants being bussed into their communities, but so far seem reluctant to change their sanctuary city policies. Why? Just to stick it to Trump? To me it seems only fair that migrants be housed in the communities that explicitly claim to want them.

This has to be the number issue for every Republican candidate in 2024. It seems that the European migrant problems have made it to America. The situation seems to be getting out of control.

It's not the percentage of the people, it's the percentage of the donor class that supports easy immigration.

Are the rich really so attracted to the idea of cheap servants that they would see their communities destroyed? I think there are some true open border believers in the far left, and that the rest of blob is just sort of going with the flow.

The dominant theme of the post Covid period has been that incentives don't matter and we can't enforce rules on anyone. So maybe we are theoretically against open borders, but we also can't actually enforce any rules (that's mean!), so we end up with defacto open borders.

2024 will be the true Red Wave if Democrats can't get their shit figured out on immigration quick. "Biden's border crisis" has a nice ring and it also happens to be true. Biden looks weak as hell here.

Are the rich really so attracted to the idea of cheap servants that they would see their communities destroyed? I think there are some true open border believers in the far left, and that the rest of blob is just sort of going with the flow.

This touches another one of those thoughts that would coagulate into an effort post if I had the will. I watch people believing obviously absurd and horrible things ("We should let infinite numbers of people across the border", "Trans women have no advantage in sports" while staring at a 250-pound "female" rugby player, etc.) and my conclusion, from being in a pretty Blue bubble with mostly leftist friends, is that you are underestimating both the number of true believers and the degree to which normies don't notice and don't care until their schools are actually being taken over by illegal immigrants.

Yes, a lot of lefties (and not just the "far" left, but mainstream liberals) literally cannot imagine that letting more people across the border is anything but good. It's a combination of "They are poor refugees fleeing oppression and it would be immoral to turn them back" and "We need more people who will become good productive American tax payers." Any suggestion that a lot of these people becoming criminals and/or net drags on the social welfare system? That's racism.

When I was younger, even on the left, "I support immigration but not illegal immigration, we welcome new Americans as long as they come the right way" was the mainstream position. Now that's racism and dangerous Trumpism.

And the normies who don't pay much attention except when a picture of people flooding across the borders hits the news? They vaguely understand that there are poor people who want to come here, as there always have been, and we have some sort of immigration system that's supposed to filter them, but to speak up and say that there seem to be some problems and maybe too many people are getting through would make you sound like a MAGA or something.

The dominant theme of the post Covid period has been that incentives don't matter and we can't enforce rules on anyone. So maybe we are theoretically against open borders, but we also can't actually enforce any rules (that's mean!), so we end up with defacto open borders.

From talking to a number of my true blue Democrat-voting friends (but who would not describe themselves as "leftists"), yes, this is pretty much the case. Ask them if they are literally in favor of open borders and they will say no. But ask them what sort of restrictions we should have, and what measures they would consider acceptable to keep undesirables out, and the best they'll come up with is "Well, maybe not someone with a violent criminal record." (As if we have access to that information for hundreds of thousands of people coming from dozens of countries.) Like, in theory they'll allow that letting Cartel soldiers just come across the border is probably bad, but anything that resembles strict enforcement makes them cry about children in cages.

Any suggestion that a lot of these people becoming criminals and/or net drags on the social welfare system?

Do you have statistics to back this?

Bluntly, this is a perfect example of the obnoxious "Cite?" demand that isn't really expressing skepticism or a desire for evidence, it's just saying "I dislike your argument so I will try to force you to waste time looking up citations which I can then dismiss."

I do not believe that you actually believe that the statement "a lot (illegal immigrants) become criminals and/or net drags on the social welfare system" is false. You might disagree with me over how much "a lot" is (a number I made no effort to quantify, but let's stipulate that I implied it's large enough to be a significant problem, and you could reasonably disagree), but you don't actually disagree that it happens with measurable frequency. You are just testing me to find out if I keep bookmarks handy for my arguments, or how much time you can get me to waste Googling something.

I actually started to do this. But I'm not going to post the links (you can use Google as well as I can) because I realized that you wouldn't actually care.

(Unsurprisingly, what you will discover is that in raw numbers, it's pretty indisputable that illegal immigrants are a net loss economically. Groups that are anti-immigration highlight the raw numbers and dismiss potential long-term benefits (how many of them eventually become citizens, or produce children who become citizens and taxpayers), while groups that are pro-immigration highlight the fact that illegal immigrants aren't technically eligible for most social welfare programs, and downplay the fact that many receiving benefits either married a US citizen or have children here who then become eligible, as well as ignoring things harder to quantify like downward pressure on wages, increased presence of organized crime, etc.)

Did more searching and found this:

It's been a while and you still haven't responded to my follow up, so I now doubt that you do have sources and am now more convinced that immigration is actually a positive for jobs and economy.

It takes time and effort to find good sources. If you have good resources to share, I will read them and maybe learn a thing or two about immigration in the US.

"you wouldn't actually care"

Even being pro immigration, I would want to know if immigrants are far more likely to be criminals or net negatives because that would influence the kind of policies I would want to see pursued or how I would argue.

When I google, all the top results (from Penn Wharton, from CBPP, from AIC, from NBER) say immigrants are good for local economies. I would share links except I don't know if any of them are actually good sources or not.

Bad faith accusation. Takes a simple request to provide evidence for inflammatory claims as a personal insult.

I tend to agree as my personal journey on the issue was pro-open borders. If we let the migrants in today then tomorrow they are more wealthy American citizens.

One thing to not is there is I believe a Milton Friedman type school of thought that illegal immigration is better than legal migration. Illegal provides a selection effect for the hungriest immigrants willing to do the work Americans don’t want to do. And from a selection effect the illegal immigrant today has more selection effect for the American characteristics (prior immigrant waves having a much harder journey so selects for entrepreneurship etc).

My journey on immigration likely went from a “Why Nation’s Fail” type mindset where the primary reasons some nations fail are bad institutions, lack of property rights, corruption etc. My guess is this is still the dominant elite view and therefore more immigration into a society with good institutions translates into a huge net positive for humanity. You then summarize into some sort of Yglesias thesis of “One Billion Americans” who I believe is considered slightly a center right writer.

The work of Garret Jones on national average IQ being the driving force of a national wealth drives my thinking much more, but George Masons Econ department sits outside elite consensus. Even at that school he can’t specifically make hbd arguments. If you want to explain why some countries always have poor institutions then you end up using Jones arguments.

In summary I completely agree it’s very tough in America to make strong anti-immigration arguments especially in elite circles. The very best you can do is find agreement that the border needs to be secure enough to limit the pace of illegal migration to allow our economy to have enough low-end work and public resources to turn migrants into American citizens.