The Catholic Church Catches a Break…from Steve Bannon

I’m from a Lutheran & Catholic family, and believe that there are sound, religious reasons to support immigration, and especially to support Dreamers’ continued residency in America. (Indeed, the are sound reasons of free markets in labor to support an immigration policy as open as possible.)

For today, though, let’s consider – as a purely political matter – the huge break that Steve Bannon has offered the Catholic Church in America. The American church has faced all manner of self-inflicted moral and political wounds in the last generation, abuse scandals primary among them. (I would not look aside or set aside any of those inflicted injuries – each one should be redressed, so much as one can redress any grievous harm.)

Now, along come the modern-day Know Nothings, looking to keep out as many non-whites as they can, Steve Bannon and Breitbart being in the vanguard of that group. A report this morning contends that, in an upcoming 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose, Bannon will hit the Church on immigration:

Bannon: The bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why? You know why? Because unable to really – to – to – to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. That’s – it’s obvious on the face of it. That’s what – the entire Catholic bishops condemn him. … They have – they have an economic interest. They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration. And as much as –

Rose: Boy, that’s a tough thing to say about your church.

Bannon: As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine. This is not doctrine at all. I totally respect the pope and I totally respect the Catholic bishops and cardinals on doctrine. This is not about doctrine. This is about the sovereignty of a nation. And in that regard, they’re just another guy with an opinion.

(Obvious point: the Church does point to doctrine on immigration, clearly, exhaustively,  and repeatedly. Bannon surely knows this – he’s simply lying.)


But consider this politically for a moment: if one had to pick an adversary, right out of central casting, what better foe than a broken-down bigot with a horde of lumpen followers?

Jennifer Rubin was right about Trumpism, and that these times are about Trump vs. an America that works:

….We don’t think it is a coincidence that in the election Trump lost the most economically productive areas of the United States. Brookings found,“The less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015. By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output—just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity.” To be clear, Clinton carried the most diverse, most cosmopolitan and most successful parts of America. (“Her base of 493 counties was heavily metropolitan. By contrast, Trumpland consists of hundreds and hundreds of tiny low-output locations that comprise the non-metropolitan hinterland of America, along with some suburban and exurban metro counties”)….

A reasonable person wouldn’t want a fight over immigration, knowing that free markets in labor are beneficial to society. A fair person wouldn’t displace children.

If one had to face a fight with nativists, however, one could not have found more desirable opponents. A fight with Bannon puts the Church squarely in the camp of the most dynamic parts of the country, against stagnant ones. Bannon and his ilk have forced this issue, but on terms favorable not to themselves, but favorable instead to the pro-immigration forces of which the Church is a key part.

Anti-Immigration Measures, Wrong Yet Again

Embed from Getty Images

An anti-immigration position is for economics something like a flat-earth position would be for natural science: one may hold it only through either ignorance or disorder. (The ignorance would have  to be profound, as even the weakest grasp of economics would incline a rational person to acknowledge the benefits of a free, transnational  labor market; the disorder would have to be grave, as only obstinacy or prejudice would long resist a reasoned explanation.)

In this free, commercial republic, there are still some who are merely ignorant on immigration, but one has reason to believe that Trump pushes his line to fill empty vessels not merely with weak economics but with strong prejudices.

There are officials both in and outside the city who would bring Arizona-style ‘show us your papers’ laws to Wisconsin. They are wrong on economics, wrong on liberty, but at least they have this going for them: each and every one of these politicians (or the out-of-area mouthpieces on whom they rely) is an easily-identifiable troll for either ignorance or lumpen prejudices.

A quick note to the local officials of the city, school district, and university who are in the habit of inviting these anti-immigration politicians to public events: you debase the American tradition, and turn away from sound reasoning and thorough study, when you bring these few to your events. No supposed political necessity will justify their presence. One cannot profess a worthy education proudly and honestly while simultaneously offering a platform to the ignorant or biased. 

Just a bit of light reading in this regard —

Heather Long, It’s a ‘grave mistake’ for Trump to cut legal immigration in half:

President Trump endorsed a steep cut in legal immigration on Wednesday. Economists say that’s a “grave mistake.”

A Washington Post survey of 18 economists in July found that 89 percent believe it’s a terrible idea for Trump to curb immigration to the United States. Experts overwhelmingly predict it would slow growth — the exact opposite of what Trump wants to do with “MAGAnomics.”

“Restricting immigration will only condemn us to chronically low rates of economic growth,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group. “It also increases the risk of a recession”….

Jeremy Robbins, Trump says the proposed immigration bill will raise wages for Americans. It won’t.:

But while moving to a merit-based immigration system, Cotton and Perdue also propose reducing the number of legal immigrants admitted into the United States every year by half — from about 1 million to about 500,000. They argue that having fewer immigrants will leave more jobs available for American workers.

But the economy simply doesn’t work that way.

Economists who study immigration overwhelmingly agree that immigration is an economic boon to our country. Indeed, nearly 1,500 Republican, Democratic and independent economists — including six Nobel laureates — recently released a letter stressing the “near universal agreement” among economists of all stripes on “the broad economic benefit that immigrants to this country bring.”

To that consensus, Cotton responds: “Only an intellectual could believe something so stupid.” He instead points to Canada and Australia as models for limited legal immigration. However, while it’s true that Canada and Australia admit far more high-skilled immigrants, they also admit more family-based immigrants. In fact, on a per capita basis, they admit 2.4?and 3.5 times as many immigrants, respectively, as the United States does….

Jennifer Rubin, A crass play to xenophobes will go nowhere:

Because the bill went nowhere in April and will not make it onto the Senate calendar for the rest of the year, it’s an obvious, typical play to Donald Trump’s base, once more using immigrants as scapegoats and distractions. (“Trump’s appearance with the senators came as the White House moved to elevate immigration back to the political forefront after the president suffered a major defeat when the Senate narrowly rejected his push to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” The Post reported. “The president made a speech last Friday on Long Island in which he pushed Congress to devote more resources to fighting illegal immigration, including transnational gangs.”)

When introduced in April the bill was roundly criticized by more than 1,000 economists. There is near-uniformity among respected economists that immigrants do not “steal” jobs from native-born Americans (in part because they have different skill sets and in part because they make the economy bigger), have almost no impact on domestic wages (except for non-high school graduates, where the impact is less than 2 percent) and are essential to keep the economy growing. By reducing the number of immigrants by a half a million, the bill would shrink the U.S. economy and exacerbate the problem of an aging workforce (immigrants statistically are younger than the native-born population).

Nevertheless, for anti-immigrant groups who often insist they oppose only illegal immigration, it’s a revealing moment. They cheer the idea that we should take fewer hard-working, pro-American immigrants through legal avenues. (Trump, by the way, continues to hire substantial numbers of foreign workers at his resort in Florida.) No, the anti-immigrant forces simply want to keep people unlike themselves out of the United States. Their economic arguments are tired, wrong and a pretext for xenophobia.

The notion that immigration restriction raises wages has been disproved by past experience. (Canceling the 1960s Bracero program, akin to the Cotton-Perdue plan for lowering immigrant numbers, had “little measurable effect on wages.”) A slew of conservative think tankers and former officials condemn immigration restrictionism as rotten for the U.S. economy. The plan was swiftly criticized by Democrats, pro-immigration activists and economically literate Republicans.  Trump’s promise of 3 percent annual growth was far-fetched; with a proposed reduction of 500,000 people, it becomes impossible.

This is a confidence game from Trump: the bill is for suckers who think Trump will actually get something passed, and it wouldn’t lift wages as promised even if it should pass.

Ryan Chose This

Paul Ryan’s had quite the career: Congressman, House budget chairman, vice presidential candidate, Speaker. He chose each of these positions; not one was the result of conscription.

Ryan chose again, this morning, freely and deliberately.

There is likely no way back from this choice. There are, of course, people who grew up in the Klan, for example, and later turned away. Of people who grew up in reasonable conditions, however, and only thereafter turned away into grave error, there are (for reasons inscrutable) far fewer redemptive outcomes.

Many will have ruined themselves, freely and with fervor, before Trumpism is finished.

Ryan is one from among those many.

On Rumors

Whitewater is a small town, with a population under fifteen thousand, approximately half of whom are college students. One of the advantages of being far smaller than Los Angeles or Atlanta should be the ease with which municipal leaders and law enforcement can meet and talk to residents. A person of average health and energy could walk the town easily, talking with residents along the way.

How odd, then to hear some city’s officials bemoaning rumors about possible federal law enforcement actions. If there are rumors among residents, city officials have only themselves to blame: if they were closer to their own residents, and even partly knowledgeable about those residents’ day-to-day experiences, they’d have a better ability to manage these matters.

Ice cream socials at a senior citizen facility (honest to goodness – the softest audience on the planet) are not enough. Admittedly, officials burn very few calories driving to a retirement home, sitting & talking, but that energy savings is an underuse of a taxpayer-funded salary.

If it should be true that “the rumors have truly been disheartening and harmful,” then it’s time for officials to work harder – connecting through true community-based enforcement – to dispel what so disheartens and hurts. All the servile commission cronies in the world, and their conniving boosters, can’t do what publicly-paid officials should be doing each day.

After so very long, after over twenty-six years, one should have expected better results than this. But people choose variously well or poorly, and Whitewater has so many times chosen poorly, and consigned herself to a weak, short-sighted, addled leadership. She’ll stay stagnant, and so decline relatively, until she chooses another course.

In the meantime, these failings may yet prove a useful lesson to other communities, so that they might avoid the same mistakes.

Cato’s Policy Handbook, Chapter 13: Immigration

Cato’s Policy Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition, is now available. Chapter 13 offers excellent immigration suggestions to move toward a freer labor market.

It’s a reasoned approach in the place of dodgy data and nativist biases. What private individuals believe about these matters is their own concern; policymakers and officials should meet a higher standard, in communities large or small.

Download (PDF, 4.16MB)

Asked and Answered

Pope Francis often speaks up for immigrants and refugees, and that’s not to the liking of alt-right, race-bating After the Pope’s recent remarks in support of immigration (Pope decries ‘Populist rhetoric’ fueling fear of immigrants), Breitbart decided to ask a question about the Vatican’s sincerity.

Patrick Kingsley answers Breitbart’s question:

One doesn’t have to be Catholic to see that Breitbart’s question is weak and lacking in foresight. Breitbart has two problems here: the first is that they are either too dim or too lazy to see that a direct, effective rejoinder is possible; the second is that their very formulation is poor, as concern for immigrants from a vast, transnational institution like the Catholic Church is not confined to a single location in any event.

For all Breitbart’s reputed alt-right fury, their question shows a lack of intellectual rigor.

The 1940 Map That Depicts America as a Nation of Immigrants

“America—A Nation of One People From Many Countries,” by Emma Bourne published in 1940 by the Council Against Intolerance in America. FROM THE COLLECTION OF STEPHEN J. HORNSBY/COURTESY THE OSHER MAP LIBRARY AND SMITH CENTER FOR CARTOGRAPHIC EDUCATION (click for larger image)

Lauren Young describes The Powerful 1940 Map That Depicts America as a Nation of Immigrants:

In the years leading up to the Second World War, isolationist sentiment coursed pretty strongly throughout the United States. Some Americans feared that immigrants were a threat to the country. Sound familiar? Then you’ll have no trouble understanding the reasons why the map below, titled America–A Nation of One People From Many Countries, was published in 1940 by the Council Against Intolerance in America

“With the exception of the Indian, all Americans or their forefathers came here from other countries,” the illustrator Emma Bourne inscribed on the map. The Council Against Intolerance commissioned Bourne’s work in an effort to remind Americans that the U.S. had always defined itself as a country of varied national origins and religious backgrounds.


Neither Shocked Nor Awed

In these next months ahead, one should expect that the Trump Administration will do what it can to make statement after statement, in part to impress hardcore supporters and in part to shock and awe opponents.

As a guess, one can reasonably say that immigration deportations will be one of Trump’s prominent efforts. See, As soon as he is inaugurated, Trump will move to clamp down on immigration. Expect ready-for-the-camera deportations on the news.

This is likely to be a focus throughout 2017, with small towns affected as much as big cities. Small, rural towns will offer the Trump Administration the advantage of many collaborators who will aid federal authorities, and many residents who will identify neighbors as targets for deportation. Almost no one in these places will say a word in public opposition; outspoken residents will hail deportation as a necessary part of Making America Great Again.

We’ve a long campaign in opposition ahead, just beginning, and in these early months we can expect loss after loss. Those who expect as much – who see this with clarity – will succumb to neither shock nor awe.

Tragic although these moments will be, it is not how this conflict begins, but how it ends, that should occupy one’s efforts.

Trump Surrogate Defends Precedent of Internment Camps

Carl Higbie, a Trump surrogate, while speaking to Megyn Kelly on Fox News suggested the internment of the Japanese during the Second World War as a precedent for a registry of Muslim immigrants to America. Kelly rightly rejected the precedent, as the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War and the Korematsu decision upholding that internment have been considered – at least until recently, it seems – among the worst civil liberties violations of that era.

What was unmentioned only weeks ago is now part of our political discussion; what is part of our political discussion now may yet become policy in the new administration.

Immigration in America Is Not Broken

Immigration has proven to be one of the most divisive issues in the 2016 presidential race. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have expressed that the system is broken, but a consensus on any solution seems untenable. In this video, Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows and contributing writer Deborah Fallows ventured across the country to bridge the disconnect between national political rhetoric on immigration and the realities in migrant communities. They travelled to three American states—Pennsylvania, California, and Kansas—to understand the economic benefits that immigrants bring to the small towns they most often reside in.

This documentary was produced for American Futures, an ongoing reporting project from James and Deborah Fallows. The couple has spent three years exploring small town America by air, “taking seriously places that don’t usually get registered seriously.”

Via The Atlantic.

Americans Support a Diverse Society 

From a March survey of several countries, America stands out as expecially supportive of a diverse society:

I’m not a bit surprised: much of our unmatched greatness lies in our embrace of universal principles and cosmopolitan values, offering as they do a free & equal place for newcomers from the world over.  (We are now and have been a great country; we don’t need to be made again what we already are.)

My forefathers came to this continent well before the Revolution, believing & knowing from their arrival onward that those later arriving from other parts of the world would only enrich the American experience, and make this country stronger.  

SeeAmericans more likely to say growing diversity makes their country a better place to live @ Pew Research Center.

Film: From Dishwasher to Award-Winning Restaurateur

I suppose that if I wanted to curry favor with others, I’d talk about the need for immigration restrictions, or at the least I’d avoid taking a contrary view (a restrictive position being so popular these days). That would seem to me a timid way to face the world, unfit for robust Americans. One should be direct in one’s views.

So, I’ll say what I do believe — in the ethical and practical value of free markets in capital, goods, and labor.

A major party that once embraced these views has turned away from them. We who are libertarian will not do the same. We are confident that an economic philosophy of free markets was right yesterday, is right today, and will be right tomorrow.

Hugo Ortega crossed over the Mexican border and arrived in Houston, Texas, without documents and without knowing any English. Over the next few years, he would become a citizen through President Reagan’s amnesty program and go from washing dishes to owning multiple restaurants. Now, he and his wife, Tracy Vaught—whom he met while working as a dishwasher in her restaurant in the 80’s—are the “reigning powerhouse couple of Houston’s competitive restaurant scene.”

In this documentary produced by Katherine Wells for The Atlantic‘s American Dreams series, Ortega reflects on his journey within the industry. “I have a great responsibility to represent the Mexican cuisine in a proper way,” he says. “It’s a magnificent cuisine.”

Who Should Live in Whitewater?

It’s a simple question, with a simple answer: anyone who’d like to live here.

Who those many will be, ten or twenty years on, I am not sure. One may be confident that the city will be more diverse, but in which ways there’s no certainty.

(It’s better that there is no certainty, for if there were, we’d not merely know the future, but likely know it because we were trying to control the time from now until then.)

Did some want to bring Arizona’s laws to Wisconsin, and — of all places — Whitewater? One well knows that there were some in this town who wanted exactly that, who dreamed of making something like the Star Packaging Raid the standard practice of this beautiful city. Their dreams were, in truth, the dark nightmares of intolerance and unfairness. They stood against free choice, voluntary exchange, and free markets.

The unreconstructed, nativist impulse to restrict immigration into Whitewater – an impulse that was the fuel of lies, rogue policing, prejudice, and cruelty – is finished in this city, as it is now finished in most of America. (See, along these lines, Rubio Shows Opposition to Immigration Reform is an Inch Deep.)

Those who sought to torment and roust Whitewater’s immigrants, and to build a career or legacy upon it, may now look around and see the ruin of their ambitions. It would have been better for all Whitewater if this rebuke had come sooner, but come it has.

There’ll be rear-guard actions and ferocious kicking and screaming – but a Know Nothing impulse has met its deserved rejection by the majority, a majority with a respect for tolerance and pluralism.

We’re a better city today, and will be a better city in the generation to come, for having turned away from that dark course toward a better one.

Immigration as Voluntary Exchange

It’s not only markets in capital and goods that should be free. It’s markets in labor, too. What’s immigration, at bottom? It’s a voluntary and peaceful transaction between employer and employee. Government interference in these many transactions is presumptuous, oppressive of individuals, and stifling of economic growth.

One hears, more often since Gov. Romney’s defeat, that the GOP regrets its recent, strident anti-immigration views. (Funny, too, that Reagan and Kemp, among others, would have rejected policies even half so restrictive as the ones that Romney and Santorum advocated in 2012.)

Whatever the motivation, it’s to America’s benefit if Republicans abandon their anti-market opposition to immigration.

For it all, libertarians can say that we were right a generation ago, right last year, and that we’re right now: free immigration is both morally and productively better than restrictive alternatives. If all the world were to declare otherwise tomorrow, we’d not be disproved.

We’d just have more work to do to show otherwise.

Posted also at Daily Adams.

The Right and Immigration

Steve Chapman, writing in a reposted 2007 article at Reason, explains Why the Right Shifted on Immigration.

Chapman thinks the shift began with the fall of the Berlin Wall, when many conservatives no longer saw immigrants trying to reach our shores as proof of America’s sound economy and society.

If so, consider the cynicism of the Right: they didn’t support individual liberty for its own sake, but as a talking point in an ideological battle with the Soviet Union.

Broad-based free markets in capital, labor, and goods are superior in efficiency and morality to their alternatives. They didn’t become less so because the Cold War ended.

Then or now, a free flow of labor benefits America. Conservatives will have none of it today.

Libertarians might, of course, decide that a battle with the Left requires support for conservative candidates who back immigration restrictions, however Draconian. Those libertarians may choose as they wish, but they would do the liberty-movement a courtesy if they were to call themselves by another name.

Conservative, I think, would fit nicely.

The rest of us will do better to stay as we are, advocating for individual liberty, limited government, free markets in capital, labor, and goods, and peace abroad.

Posted originally on 3.22.12 at Daily Adams.

Note about Whitewater: It’s unlikely that legislation as bad as AB 173 will ever become Wisconsin law. Enactment of those provisions over this community, or any community, would justify a diligent and zealous campaign by every legal means, at whatever cost or difficulty it would bring (“One should be prepared to seek legal redress against each and every exercise of a wrongful law in one’s community. Time for this effort, and the cost of that time, however much may be needed, should be offered without charge or expectation.”)

The GOP’s Wrong Turn on Immigration

Over at National Review, libertarian Daniel Griswold makes the case for liberalized immigration policies, by reminding Republicans that current GOP Candidates Betray the Spirit of Reagan on Immigration.

Commenters at the site will have none of it, and are highly critical of Griswold’s views. Their criticism matters no more than if flat-earthers railed against the idea that the world was a sphere. It is and will remain a globe no matter how much others insist against the fact.

There is no better large-scale arrangement on immigration than a free market in labor. All else is inferior, being less efficient and less fair. For resources on immigration, see the Cato Institute’s thorough collection of studies.

Griswold makes the good and reasonable case for reformed, not restrictive, immigration policies:

Conservatives should be friendly to immigration, and the first to seek expanded opportunities for legal immigration. Immigration has been integral to America’s free and open economy. Immigrants embody the American spirit. They are self-starters seeking opportunity to support themselves and their families in the private sector.

Current immigration is driven largely by demand and supply. Immigrants come when there are jobs available that not enough Americans are able and willing to fill. That’s why immigration rates, legal and illegal, tend to fall when the economy is struggling, and to pick up as the economy grows. Immigrants stimulate job creation for natives by promoting investment, creating new products and services, and increasing demand for housing and other goods. Immigration keeps America demographically healthy while other, less open Western nations struggle with declining workforces.

Griswold correctly notes that immigrants not only boost our economy, but that they are less dangerous, and less likely to commit crimes, than native-born Americans.

Some GOP candidates today reject these truths, but Reagan understood and advocated for markets throughout his career. (Disgracefully, former GOP contender and all-around embarrassment Herman Cain even called for a lethally-electrified border fence between American and Mexico.)

There are, sadly, worse things than calling for an electrified fence. The harshest proposals call for a dramatic expansion of state power to detain and deport. (See, Wisconsin Assembly Bill 173.)

The most extreme proposals call for all these things in the name of the rule of law, as though any law were a good law. In this way, these harsher proposals serve as contemporary versions of Jim Crow – they are laws wrongful and shameful, no matter how they are enforced. (See, The War on Immigrants.)

Toward these unjust proposals, there can and should be no compromise. (See, Eight Steps for Responding to Political Wrongs.)

It’s a long and tough year ahead, on immigration and a dozen other topics. No matter: either one year or several should be met with the same diligent and zealous perseverance.