All decent human beings, all people who care about both the economic health of this country and the values it stands for, should reject, resoundingly, the nativist xenophobia hawked, cynically, by the current president to a tragically receptive segment of our population. Illegal immigration is less than one fifth of what it was 20 years ago, and reached that low mark prior to Trump’s election. Our border security is quite sufficient, in reality, with crime rates by illegal immigrants being lower than crime rates by natural born citizens and crime rates by geographic locale being inversely correlated to the proportion of the population that are immigrants in that locale (i.e., more immigrants = less crime). Those are statistical facts.

There is absolutely no evidence that even a single terrorist has ever come across our southern border, according to Trump’s own justice department. The 4000 number that Sarah Huckabee Sanders used refers to people arriving at airports from countries that we consider to be countries that terrorists frequently hail from; they are not even suspected of terrorism, and they do not come across the southern border. In fact, the justice department and anti-terrorism experts in general consider the Canadian border to pose a greater danger of providing a conduit for terrorists, because there is much more radical Islamic influence in Canada than in the Latino countries south of us.

It’s also a fact that at a certain point further investment in border security costs more per person successfully prevented from crossing the border illegally than that person costs us if they do cross the border illegally. In fact, it’s extremely likely that we have already passed that point. Non-partisan analyses of the costs and benefits that illegal immigrants provide to our coffers and our economy range from net benefits on both scores at both the state and federal levels to fairly marginal net costs on both scores. No peer-review study has come to the conclusion that costs are any significant portion of GDP, or that they are anywhere near posing an economic crisis to the country.

Conversely, that which is currently illegal immigration DOES redress a critical and rapidly growing demographic imbalance between retirees drawing out of pension funds and working people paying into them. Developed countries really have little choice, if they want their pension funds to remain solvent, but to legalize and normalize fairly massive immigration of working age people.

Furthermore, the argument that the nativism and xenophobia on very prominent and obvious display by this president and his followers is just a commitment to the rule of law, not an anti-immigrant stance, is belied by both the nature of the issue and the facts. We determine what the laws are, and virtually everyone agrees that we need immigration reform, which means changes in the laws. So the real debate is over what the laws should be and how we should implement them. The divide in the debate is between those who favor a kinder and more open society and those who favor a crueler and more closed society.

That it isn’t just, or even primarily, about enforcing current laws is highlighted by the fact that when Trump proposed changes in the law to make immigration more restrictive and favor “Norwegians” over people of color, and when crueler and more restrictive choices of policy not dictated by currents law were implemented, his supporters passionately supported and defended his choices, demonstrating that the debate isn’t over enforcing the law but rather shutting out precisely the people we used to welcome.

Those who echo Trump’s narrative on immigration often compare the nation to a house, insisting that just as we use walls and locks to exclude people at will from our homes we should do so to exclude them from our country. It is redundant at this point to address the ineffectiveness of a wall (something a review of expert analyses of border security makes perfectly clear), so instead let’s focus on the errors in that analogy.

A country isn’t a house. It wasn’t legally purchased from its previous owners; it was stolen. Its property lines aren’t​ determined by developers selling lots; they’re determined by military conquest. Its walls don’t separate inhabitants from the elements, but rather secure those who managed to divert more of the Earth’s resources to themselves against those who have been violently relegated to diverting less to themselves. And it is not a refuge from the world financed by inhabitants’ labors external to it, but rather a complex economic, social, and cultural entity that thrives by means of its robust interactions with the world around it.

Let’s address the last point first, because it is the one that cuts across values and appeals directly to systemic realities. Our nation functions through an internal and external market economy, engaging in market exchanges within our borders and across borders. Classical (and conservative) economic theory maintains that the fewer barriers there are to such market exchanges, the more wealth is generated by them, the ideal being a “free market,” characterized by unhindered market activity. Advocacy for strengthening national borders and obstructing the flow of people across them is a contradiction of this ideal. Less ideologically pure understandings of market dynamics also recognize the value of allowing labor to travel to where there is demand for it. Whatever limits we feel we must place on that free flow of goods and people in service to a free market, the fact that it is a consideration is one of the principal ways in which a country differs from a house, not just on scale, but also in systemic attributes.

But a country differs from a house in other ways as well, on moral and historical dimensions. We can’t return land to all those with historical claims on it, but we can stop pretending that we have some absolute, inherent moral authority to deprive entry to those who are the descendants of the ones we stole it from seeking to work hard and provide opportunity for their children under our rule of law. Those who *have* always pass laws to protect what they have from those who don’t; one can defend that through a cynical insistence that might makes right but not through a claim to having the morally virtuous position. The morally virtuous position would be to recognize our moral debt to humanity as a result of the historical moral infractions through which we secured our privileged place in the global political economy.

And it’s a pretty easy form of “generosity” to let hard working people come here and do our dirtiest, most difficult jobs for the lowest wages, contributing to our economy, to our coffers, and to our culture. The fact is that most analyses show net gains to our economy, many show net gains to our state and federal coffers, and all show a net gain in our demographic distribution of workers to retirees, a critical imbalance at present that massive immigration redresses.

You people who think we should wall out the less fortunate because you feel threatened by them are the least fortunate of all, coveting material wealth that isn’t being threatened by inflicting passive and active brutalities on those most in need. You’re not Christians; you’re what Christians exhort us not to be.

This entire nativist, xenophobic narrative is a fabrication, refuted by fact, by reason, by our own national interests, and by basic human decency. And it is one that an opportunistic con-artist has leveraged, as he’s leveraged other similarly dishonest scams before, to stoke up the bigotries of a certain segment of our national population in order to serve his own personal self-aggrandizement.

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Mexican Drug Violence. Many recognize that the organized crime and violence associated with the drug trade is closely analogous to the rise of organized crime and violence that occurred as a result of Prohibition in the 1920’s. But a less noted aspect of Mexican Drug Cartel Violence is that, while we bitterly complain about the illegal flow of low-wage workers from Mexico, we also rabidly defend our own laws which help foster a far more disastrous and unredeeming illegal flow of arms to Mexico ( The differences between this two flows across our southern border are that the flow of arms is entirely destructive (as opposed to illegal immigration, which may actually have net economic benefits), undermines Mexican sovereignty and security to a far greater degree than illegal immigration undermines U.S. sovereignty and security, and is a direct product of our own lax gun control laws rather than an organic product of economic dynamics over which governments have limited control. In this light, American indignation about illegal Mexican immigration is just that much more shallow, self-serving, and hypocritical.

An extraordinarily productive Congress. Despite the popular meme to the contrary, the 111th Congress has been one of the most productive in American history, and the impending backlash is similar to the backlash that occurred when the 89th Congress (also Democratic) passed the now extremely popular Medicare and Medicaid programs and additional still much needed civil rights protections for African Americans ( We tend to punish in the moment those who do what history recognizes to have been the politically courageous and responsible thing to do. I hope enough people are wise enough today to recognize the folly of this, and motivated enough to work hard in the days and weeks to come to prevent us from replacing those who are doing the right thing, and governing responsibly, with those who are committed to undermining our economy along all relevant dimensions (robustness, sustainability, and fairness).

Americans talk about The Tea Party. I especially like the guy who said “their anger is very justified and their fear is very justified and their explanations for why we’re having the problems we’re having are almost completely wrong.”

President Obama is going to appear on an episode of Mythbusters Though the president is appearing on an episode addressing the question: Did Greek scientist Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun? there are plenty of myths to be busted closer to home.

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Tina Griego wrote about The Dream Act’s latest rude awakening in today’s Denver Post ( Despite her support for it, she actually exaggerated the ability of a child brought here in infancy to gain legal permanent residence (LPR) status. She said, “To get back in you must have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or have a permanent legal resident as your sponsor.” Actually, only in some very rare circumstances are either of those possibilities. More often, the best you could hope for is to get at the back end of a twenty-something year waiting list for family members of various categories, and as for an LPR sponsor, not so much.

But the point is that the kids in question have no legal path to citizenship, or even legal residency. They are Americans in all but name, often with no real connection to any other country, no knowledge of the Spanish language, no more affinity for life in Mexico than a suddenly impoverished and deported Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck would have. We deprive them of opportunity, despite, in these cases, their having been model citizens, served in the military or attended college, stayed out of trouble, in short, been good Americans.

Some Americans thrive on turning the world into in-groups and out-groups, and managing to just not give a damn about those in the out-groups. And then they are eager to cut off our own national nose to spite our own national face. If we provide a path to LPR status for these people who are on the path to being productive citizens, we end up with productive citizens, contributing to our shared wealth, not contributing to crime rates and other social problems. If we don’t, we continue to breed a festering social illness within our borders, a group of undocumented people with little opportunity to succeed, a group that, despite the mythologies of the right-wing demagogues, can’t be removed to any significant degree at a price even those demagogues would be willing to pay, and will, in many instances, end up with little choice but to become predators rather than the productive members of society that they had worked hard to become.

The truth is, the Dream Act isn’t just good for those kids who some would rather throw under the bus; it’s good for all of us.