The case of Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who recently admitted his status as an “undocumented immigrant,” highlights the injustice of the immigration system, in fact, the whole concept of immigration. Why should state officials, and not my desired associations, determine my geographical location?
I WAS KIDDING ABOUT THE TITLE
I admire the fact that Vargas, who had previously come out as a homosexual, would dare to come out a second time, to reveal his immigration status. Of course, it was only a matter of time before being found out, but to write about it in the New York Times was quite audacious, or a huge gamble that his situation would attract enough attention for people to rethink the present law.
I was quite moved by this part of his narrative:
We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.
NATIONALITY IS A STATE OF MIND, NOT A MIND OF THE STATE
It is unfortunate that Vargas has a bad conscience about his predicament, in that he equates ‘America’ with the US government.
Although it is quite necessary to distinguish places from each other, it would be a mistake to think that governments are necessary for such delineations to occur. With such twisted logic, there would have been no way that languages could have evolved, for words to develop specific meanings. The thing is, communities and countries have always preceded governments.
And even in the case that, say, Czechoslovakia is split into two nations, people will identify themselves with certain cultures regardless of the state’s say-so. There are deeper ties between persons, than what surface declarations by politicians reveal.
PRIVATE PROPERTY IS KEY
But then, perhaps this feeling of belonging is also why the ideology of collectivism is so attractive. Up to the present day, political systems have tended to reflect a centralized viewpoint, where dictates from ‘on high’ are to be brought down to the people.
This is in spite of the demonstrable efficiency of decentralized markets, where individuals make choices and associate with one another for mutual benefit, to raise the standard of living over the years.
The reason Vargas feels he is American and loves America is because he is American, and no statute can say otherwise. Whether he is welcome to live in the US ought to be determined not by immigration officials, but by people exercising their right to private property. The fact that he has gotten work and awards is an indication that he is welcome and appreciated.
WON’T PLACES BECOME OVERCROWDED?
There are other factors involved in one’s residence other than employment or ‘usefulness to society.’ As long as private property owners don’t object to associating with the person, and he is able to purchase or rent his own property in which to stay, he is ‘welcome’ in his city, state, country, etc.
Now there is the fear that sans immigration policy, places like ‘Isteytsayd’ (Stateside) would become overcrowded and quality of life will decrease. This could only happen when private property is trumped by bureaucratic say-so, which would incentivize welfare recipients and promote black markets (due to minimum wage laws).
FREE ENTERPRISE IS THE GREAT EQUALIZER
Free markets tend to an equilibrium in conditions. Even if conditions are better in one country (e.g. the US; let’s forget the government-induced depression for now) and people flock there, businessmen take advantage via outsourcing or bargain hunting, by which consumer goods become more affordable and conditions elsewhere likewise improve.
Unrestricted prices and wages are the best way of ‘spreading the wealth’ around, and the movement of peoples could never be so one-sided that an entrepreneur won’t find opportunity elsewhere and reverse such a trend.
Jose Antonio Vargas is a case that challenges us to reconsider our ideas about immigration. Amnesties for TNTs (‘tago ng tago’; constantly hiding) may be a start in rectifying injustice, but as long as people do not recognize the state’s monopoly on travel for what it is, and demand its abolition, injustice will persist.
Related article:My review of ‘Crossing over,’ which was quite a good movie actually. Have some popcorn with it.