A Personal View of Immigration by Shea Levy

I am please to present our first guest blogger, Shea Levy!

Discussions about immigration, like most political discussions, often revolve around general, abstract political, sociological, moral, and economical points. One person might make a point about crime statistics in border cities, another might respond based on the economic law of supply and demand, etc. While principled points are extremely important and are ultimately the best way to approach an intellectual issue, it is easy to forget that these principles are ultimately about specific, individual people, which sometimes leads to advocating absurd cruelties. The purpose of this post is to use a real-life situation to highlight some of the key issues with US immigration law.

I'm a native-born citizen of the United States (8th or 9th generation on my father's side) and I've lived here my whole life. I am a 20-year-old college student, I work to support myself with the exception of health care (which my parents pay for) and tuition (which is a loan), and if my plans go as I hope, then my eventual career in biotech will result in huge benefits both for myself and for the society I live in. I love the United States for its noble political and philosophical underpinnings and the freedom that living here offers me. Although I have huge misgivings about the current course of America, I would defend her with my life, if necessary.

Rory is a native-born citizen of the United Kingdom. He's in the last year of his undergraduate philosophy degree, he works at his parents' bed-and-breakfast while on break, and he plans to be a philosophy professor. He too loves the ideological roots of America, wants to celebrate its culture and enjoy its freedoms, and thinks it is the best place for him to have a positive impact on society.

Rory and I have been best friends for about four years. For my sake, I want him to be in the United States: I want to be able to interact with him in person, I want to be there to celebrate and help with his work and for him to be there to celebrate and help with mine. I want to see his work have an effect on those around me here rather than those in the UK. For his sake, he wants to be in the United States: He wants the freedom available here, he wants to be able to interact with his large cohort of friends here, he wants to be a part of the intellectual climate here, and he wants to live in and help improve the society that he thinks gives people the best chance in the world for happiness and success. I want him here badly enough that I would be willing to put him up for free in my apartment until he was able to find a job to support himself and a place of his own. He's a dedicated and enthusiastic worker who many employers would probably love to hire, if they could.

So, there you have it. Two men who love the US, want to live and work here, are determined to support themselves and eventually create more wealth than they consume and who pose absolutely no threat to anyone else, yet immigration law punishes us both. Apparently, the facts that a lot of other people from the UK have immigrated here, that the American job market is slim, or that some foreigners are criminals means I am not allowed to offer him a place to live on property that I've paid for, that employers are not allowed to offer to pay him for work with money they have earned and that he is not allowed to accept those offers and live his life as he sees fit.

Why? Why are Rory and I responsible for the fact that many others have immigrated here too? Why are Rory and I responsible for the fact that some Americans don't have jobs? Why are Rory and I responsible for the fact that some people are criminals and some of those criminals live abroad? Why are Rory and I responsible for the fact that some people are moochers and some of those moochers live abroad? Those are the questions that need to be answered. If you advocate immigration quotas and impossible entrance criteria, you are preventing people like me, Rory, and Rory's potential employers from living their own lives as they see fit because of the aggregate actions of others who happen to originate in a certain geographic area.
Only collectivism or determinism could justify such a view. It’s collectivism if you maintain that all Europeans or Mexicans or Chinese or whatever are the same, interchangeable, and bear responsibility for the actions of others in their group. It’s determinism if you maintain that geographic origin ensures certain undesirable character traits, such as laziness or criminality. Both ideas are at fundamental odds with American ideals and reality.

America was founded on the idea that men are individuals, that they can make their own path and live their own life, that a son is not responsible for the sins of his father nor is he protected by his father's virtues. When those American ideas are put into practice, it is readily shown that men are individuals, that they do make their own paths, and that one man's moral stature does not depend in any way on the past or future actions of another.

To be anti-immigration, even under the premise that you are protecting the values of the United States, is to sell out America, its most fundamental values, and its citizens for a false security that brings no benefit, now or in the future.

Shea Levy is an undergraduate at the University of Rochester studying biomedical engineering and neuroscience and is a 5-year student of Objectivism. He is for completely open immigration on philosophical, political, and economic grounds, and the issue became personal for him when he learned it would be nearly impossible for some of his close friends to ever live in the United States. He is a huge fan of the Mother of Exiles mission and hopes to help it play a major role in changing our country for the better.

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