One thought on “An all-too-typical story

  1. The underlying politics is even ickier. Ever since the immigration law of 1965 (which was a tough sell), Pew has been taking polls on whether people think immigration levels should be increased or decreased. Every year, the balance of the poll has been to decrease even legal immigration … up until the middle of the Trump administration. As politicians know, there’s a danger in succeeding on your highest priority.

    Watching the current “border crisis”, I notice that of the tens of thousands of Haitians who’ve shown up, a few thousand have been granted provisional permission to stay in the US while their asylum cases are considered. I’m sure that this is 100% in compliance with US immigration law. It’s also clear that lots of people think this is a bad thing, that “the United States is losing control of its borders” and it’s seriously hurting Biden’s popularity.

    In comparison, the Atlantic had an interesting piece about Canada and immigration. Immigration levels in Canada are higher than in the US, but that seems to be supported by a political sense that “the government controls the border”. That is, that the government can decide in advance the number and type of people it wants to admit in a year and achieve that. In particular, due to transportation it’s hard to immigrate into Canada unauthorizedly, and hard to show up at a Canadian port of entry and claim asylum (because you’d have to do so from the US, and Canada says you should claim asylum in the first safe country you get to).

    Ironically, Trump triggered a political crisis in Canada. A lot of Haitians in the US were worried that Trump would cancel the forbearance they were living under, and discovered that there’s a place where a 100 yard walk will take you from a US road to a Canadian road. The technicality is that at that point you are inside Canada and can request asylum and Canada can’t turn you back into the US, as it’s not a port of entry. This resulted in some hundreds of people getting into Canada in an uncontrolled way and Trudeau had to do political damage control.

    The immigration “system” is a device for keeping certain types of people out and all of its nastiness is the unavoidable consequence of actually doing that. If we let people vote on it directly, it would likely be even harsher. IMHO what we need is a chronic labor shortage, and then the politics will change.

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