When times are tough, focusing on illegal immigrants helps distract the people's attention from the real threats to our economy, a Libertarian Party spokesman said Monday.
“In an environment of fear, which is where many politicians seem to want to keep us, they use immigrants (both legal and illegal) as scapegoats so they can duck blame for problems caused by too much government,” said Wes Benedict, LP executive director. He was responding to the legislation recently passed by the Arizona legislature.
“People are playing into the problem-reaction-solution' ploy to have their liberties restricted by choice,” said Barry Coe, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate District 24.
“The problem with government being pushed by ignorant, meaning misinformed and non-principled, people to solve this crisis' is they are dooming themselves to further government intrusion and loss of liberty.”
The Libertarian Party has a long history of defending immigration.
“From an economic point of view, immigrants are an asset, not a liability,” he said. “Business owners usually understand that, but politicians often either don't understand or don't care.”
While he acknowledged this is a controversial issue, Benedict said he fears immigration restrictions are a “sneaky” way for the federal government to “crack down” on all Americans. “I'm also very concerned the immigration debate will be used as an excuse to impose a national ID card,” he said.
If some immigrants take advantage of the welfare system, Benedict said that's one more reason to dismantle government welfare. If some immigrants commit violent crimes, that's a reason to abolish victimless crimes which divert police resources and fill prisons with people who haven't hurt anyone.
“However, those aren't good reasons to stop people from coming to America,” he said. “America was founded by immigrants, many of whom were escaping economic and religious oppression.”
The Arizona law requires law enforcement officers to ask for identification from anyone they legally contact if they have reasonable suspicion that person is an illegal alien. But Coe, a retired law enforcement officer, notes that police don't need special authority to ask anyone for anything, nor do people have an obligation to respond during a voluntary encounter.
“I don't know Arizona's constitution, but North Carolina's Constitution, a much ignored document in our General Assembly, would offer a challenge to the Arizona approach,” Coe said.
Coe said that the Arizona approach is not moral or ethical, nor is it rational or intelligent. “Our citizens commonly express pride in the character of our people, but abandon truth at a whim in order to gain or protect a perceived advantage,” he said.
Benedict has traveled extensively overseas, lived in South Africa for six months, spent six months traveling through Mexico, and most recently lived in Texas.
“I've met and worked with a lot of Mexican nationals who were in Texas working hard in the construction industry,” he said. “I can imagine that if I'd been born in Mexico or Central America, and the American immigration laws were so convoluted, I'd have found my way around them one way or another,” he said.
“Each year our economy creates hundreds of thousands of net new jobs in such sectors as retail, cleaning, food preparation, construction and tourism that require only short-term, on-the-job training,” he wrote. “At the same time, the supply of Americans who have traditionally filled many of those jobs those without a high school diploma continues to shrink.”
“Yet our system offers no legal channel for anywhere near a sufficient number of peaceful, hardworking immigrants to legally enter the United States even temporarily to fill this growing gap.”
“If there's a problem with massive illegal immigration, then one of the best solutions is to make legal immigration easier,” Benedict said.