With all of the discussion on illegal immigration floating around the political sphere today, I did some digging around into what Milton Friedman had to say about the topic. I also found this blog post on Classically Liberal that has the transcript of the video typed out with some analysis. And in a nut shell, Friedman basically comes to the conclusion that with the presence of the welfare state, it is much better to have the illegal kind, where he supposes that everyone benefits, the immigrants having a more productive set of incentives and not being damaged by the welfare state.
I have mixed feelings about this. I agree at a high level. But the fact of the matter is that being “illegal” in itself is like being a sitting duck to floating whims of politics, government attitudes, and various types of extortion by unsavory characters. I remember growing up in Southern California where every few months there would be a story in the news about abandon vehicles being found in the desert packed with the corpses of human trafficking victims; and I am sure that hasn’t changed.
Walls will not change that. Deportations will not change that. The would-be immigrants and the coyotes will simply become more cunning and resourceful. As long as there is demand, there will be people coming here. Just look at the lengths to which the Syrian refugees go to in order to get to Europe as an example. They take on the sea in inflatable rafts stuffed well beyond capacity. They walk from Greece to Germany facing fences, riot police and, in many cases, bitter opposition.
The only thing any of the policy proposals on the table will produce is a warm fuzzy for the people who are adamant that the government do something. It makes them feel better at what cost? It’s madness.