jim crow and immigration

Bryan Caplan asks: What is the difference between restrictive immigration policies and Jim Crow?

1. Under Jim Crow, there were many places in America where blacks were not legally allowed to live.  Under current immigration laws, there is nowhere in America where illegal immigrants are legally allowed to live.

2. Under Jim Crow, there were many jobs in America that blacks were not legally allowed to perform.  Under current immigration laws, there are no jobs in America that illegal immigrants are legally allowed to perform.

The goal isn’t to cheapen Jim Crow. Merely, Caplan points asks: why is it ethical to ban people from working and getting housing based on immigration status while it is unethical to prevent people from working and getting housing because of their race?

Some may say that immigrants did something illegal. The proper response is that current immigration law is immoral. The law requires potential immigrants to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and wait years, possibly a decade or more, in line. That’s a de facto ban on activities, like getting a job, that are legal and legitimate for natives. Why should a man born south of the border be banned from mowing my lawn or going to school in America? If you come without papers, the punishment is expulsion. Expulsion from friends and family is cruel and unusual punishment for not getting some paperwork done.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 8, 2012 at 12:02 am

Posted in fabio, the man

7 Responses

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  1. I am generally and easily opposed to restrictions on immigration. The progressives invented these laws to bar Chinese (among others) from America. Historically, there were no barriers to travel. Even passports were rare or nonexistent before World War I. Keats and Shelley never used them…

    My paternal grandparents came to America in 1920 “Without Passport” and so were labeled WOPs. But they were allowed in.

    Is the federal government the de facto owner of all property, like an English king? What else would empower them to prevent one person from inviting another person to visit their home?

    The latest figures are that every year 65,000 illegal immigrant children graduate from high school… while we wring our hands over those native borns who do not graduate…

    I am embarrassed to admit that I only have one job, not two or three like my illegal Mexican neighbors.


    Michael Marotta

    March 8, 2012 at 7:00 am

  2. Yea, it is _exactly_ like Jim Crow! Why didn’t I think of that? Brilliant.



    March 8, 2012 at 10:48 am

  3. I think this raises some really interesting questions, but to flat out say that immigration law is immoral seems a little problematic. What about the fact that they chose to move here? Also, if immigration law is immoral, why is breaking and entering not? Isn’t the national territory like a country’s private property? (not that this is what I believe, but the comments in the original post do raise questions like these)



    March 9, 2012 at 12:36 am

  4. Actually, immigration goes hand in hand with race/ethnicity. If you ever look at immigration policies in this country, they have been always restrictive on groups that may pose “threat” to or are considered to be inferior to the majority in the US.



    March 9, 2012 at 12:45 am

  5. Sheesh, they can’t build Seastead quickly enough!* In other news, Ayn Rand received the Legacy Award at the fifth annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood awards luncheon held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on February 23rd.

    *With Tyler as Provost of GMU – Seastead, we know they will at least have decent food.



    March 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

  6. The underlying question seems to be, what are legitimate bases for treating two humans differently? Sociology tends to assert a pretty aggressive humanism (i.e. that there are very few, if any, bases for treating humans differently, and those are mostly hyper-practical, such as treating the very young as not fully responsible for their actions). That being said, we also tend to focus more on intra-national forms of discrimination/differentiation (race, class, gender – which are not only intra-national, but do exist there) than international forms (nationality).


    Dan Hirschman

    March 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

  7. I suppose it’s like the difference between white separatism & white supremacism. In the run-up to the civil war many “free soil” advocates opposed both slavery and the immigration of blacks into the “free” states. The separatists basically won out over the supremacists, and so coexisting with unequal status came to be seen as worse than separate existence. I suppose that’s also related to the rise of the nation state with well defined borders and citizenship status, as opposed to imperial/colonialist systems which often had “millets” for partiicular communities.



    March 12, 2012 at 5:12 am

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