Over the weekend, a mass caravan of some 7,000 prospective illegal immigrants, mostly from Honduras, made their way to the United States through Mexico. According to The Daily Mail (UK), the line stretched for a mile, with people walking 10 abreast. Mexican authorities attempted to limit the number of migrants crossing the border with Mexico, but migrants simply swam across the river illegally. Hundreds of those migrants had sought refugee status in Mexico, but that didn’t stop far more from entering Mexico without permission. The Mexican government has pledged to stop the caravan from reaching the American border, but so far, the caravan has proceeded unmolested.
This prompted a spate of tweeting from President Trump:
Now, many of those moving toward the US are looking for work and a better way of life. As The Daily Mail (UK) reported:
Olivin Castellanos, 58, a truck driver and mason from Villanueva, Honduras, said he took a raft across the river after Mexico blocked the bridge. ‘No one will stop us, only God,’ he said. ‘We knocked down the door and we continue walking.’ He wants to reach the U.S. to work. ‘I can do this,’ he said, pointing to the asphalt under his feet. ‘I’ve made highways.’
Some of those in the caravan have previously been deported from the United States:
Nearby, Julio Asturias, 27, a migrant from San Juan, El Salvador, charged his cellphone from a dangling wire.
“I want to return to Arizona, and when I heard that the caravan was passing, I joined it,” he said, adding that he was deported a couple of months ago after being pulled over for a burned-out tail light.
But just because there are millions of people across the world who would love to enter the United States for purposes of finding work does not mean that the United States has either the resources or the responsibility to open its borders to all comers. As a libertarian on the flow of labor, I have no problem with people coming to the United States to work – but there are obvious economic costs associated with unchecked illegal immigration in a welfare state. Furthermore, the failure of the United States to assimilate new immigrants has increased radically in recent years with the rise of a multicultural ethos on the political Left. To suggest that the United States leave its borders wide open to anyone wanting to enter is to suggest national suicide, as it would be for any nation.
It’s also not clear who all the migrants are. Pictures have emerged of members of the caravan carrying the Honduran flag, for example – an odd choice for people fleeing the situation in Honduras.
If you’re leading a march of economic migrants, not an invasion of citizens of a foreign state, why carry the flag of the nation you are escaping, exactly?
What’s the solution to illegal immigration? More ease in legal immigration would be useful; so would serious governmental attempts to ensure that those entering the United States cannot access the social safety net built for and paid for by American citizens. But in the end, the key to any successful immigration wave is an American program of cultural assimilation, rather than an attempt to suggest that such assimilation represents cultural xenophobia. Immigrants who want to leave behind the failed policies of their homelands often make incredible American citizens; the most obvious examples include but are certainly not restricted to the Soviet and Cuban refugee populations. But that doesn’t mean they always do. That’s why we have to check who is coming into the country, and we have to insist that our incentive system is structured properly to draw the best immigrants rather than simply assuming that everyone who enters the United States enriches the country equally.
And what is the solution to waves of migrants seeking entry to the United States? In the end, regime change in failing countries. That doesn’t mean American military involvement. It means incentivizing and supporting movements in countries like Honduras determined to bring democracy, rule of law, and property rights to bear. So long as failing states continue to maintain power on our southern border, such caravans will continue.