By J0hn Shaffer
Many of us absolutely believe that the generous benefits that Americans enjoy – such as safety, a robust economy, education, and health care are very attractive, as is the welfare to which illegals apparently are entitled. But we don’t have thousands of Canadians storming our northern border, demanding entrance to the USA. Why not? Because Canada itself provides all of those attributes. Canada, and America, have many things that most citizens in the rest of the hemisphere can only dream of: rule by the consent of the governed; an independent judiciary; honest police officers; militaries that do not insert themselves in the choice of governments; peaceful exchanges of power after free elections; freedom from an oppressive government; the protection of basic liberties and civil rights – not merely in words but in actual practice; a free exchange of ideas; free economies; fair tax rates; and hundreds of other traits that we take for granted but are but dreams for much of the rest of the hemisphere.
Some think that there are ways to diminish the flow of illegals: if illegal immigrants were told that, as long as they were illegal, they NEVER could be citizens; that children born in American cannot be US citizens unless their parents are citizens (which is the way the law was interpreted for many years); that the government has no obligation to provide benefits to illegals; that they cannot be employed here nor possess licenses, weapons, etc. All of those things would surely discourage illegal immigration.
And some of those may be effective ways to reduce the flow of illegals – but perhaps the most effective is to treat the conditions in their native countries, to transform them from “unattractive” places that people are ready to flee from to attractive places from which there is no reason to flee. If the Central American republics, and other nations had the same basic freedoms that we have in the US or in Canada, there would be far less incentive to try to sneak here illegally. Our State Department and the international lending agencies to which the US is a party should reject any “development” involving “crony capitalism” or investments that enrich friends of the local official’s family. We should insist that countries that receive our aid use it productively and allow for the free creation of wealth without fear of confiscation or expropriation when the governments of those countries change (which often means by coup or overthrow or revolution).
We should insist that our aid go only to places where there is a free press, free courts, free elections, police forces that are not corrupt; officials that are not out to feather their own nests through payoff or bribes or “squeeze.” There is no reason why our “American way” (or the “Canadian way” should not work anyplace else. Let’s work to spread freedom, and not to treat with governments that do not grant basic freedoms to their own people. has me.
*John Shaffer is a writer for this newspaper. To contact him, email him @ firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at P.O. Box 128, Canton PA 17724