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Economic Nonsense about Immigrants

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I don’t know anything about Virginia Republican Delegate Jeffrey Frederick’s educational background but based on his understanding of economics, my hunch is that he is a product of public schools and state-supported universities, many of which, as a general rule, teach absolute nonsense in their economics classes.

Exclaiming against illegal immigrants in Prince William County, Virginia, where government officials have imposed a severe crackdown on illegal immigrants, Frederick said,

“They want to come here and take what they can and send it home and leave when they can — take billions of dollars out of our economy and send it to Central and South America.”

Even for a nation that is accustomed to hearing inanities erupt from the mouths of politicians, that is one inane, ludicrous statement.

Frederick’s contention seems to be that by sending the money they earn back to their families in Latin America, illegal immigrants are stealing money from the U.S. economy and thereby hurting America.

Consider this article that Reuters published this past Tuesday. It tells about American farmers who have moved their farm operations into Mexico. One reason they have abandoned the United States for their farming operations is that thanks to the U.S. government’s war on immigrants, there is a shortage of workers to pick their crops. For example, two years ago farmer Larry Cox left 750,000 pounds of tomatoes unpicked on his California farm because he couldn’t find the workers to harvest them. Cox now hires hundreds of Mexican workers on his Mexican farm.

What does Cox do with the profits he is earning on his Mexican farm? Well, the article doesn’t say but one can safely assume that he sends the money back to the United States. Does that mean that Cox is a thief? Well, under Frederick’s fascinating economic reasoning, we would have to conclude that he is. After all, isn’t Cox stealing from the Mexican economy and sending the money back home in the United States? Even worse, I’ll bet that Cox has absolutely no intention of permanently settling in Mexico, that he fully intends to retain his U.S. citizenship, that he continues to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, and that he continues to root for American sports teams.

When you stop to think about it, under Frederick’s interesting reasoning on economics, a massive amount of stealing is taking place every day in Virginia. After all, think about the amount of money that Virginians spend on out-of-state items. All that money being stolen from the Virginia economy by being sent out of state. Somebody ought to tell the Virginia Attorney General so that criminal indictments can quickly be secured. Gosh, if we’re not careful all that trade could steal every bit of money out of the Virginia economy. Start pacing the floors!

Maybe Congress ought to pass a law that encourages foreigners to buy products from America but prohibits Americans from buying anything from overseas. And why stop there? Why not state laws in all 50 states encouraging people to sell things to people from other states but prohibiting them from buying things from people from other states? And why stop there? Why not do the same at the county level to stop people from sending their money outside the county?

If an American farmer wishes to hire Mexican workers on his farm in California, that is his business. If an American farmer wishes to own a farm in Mexico and send his profits back to the United States, that is his business. If a Mexican immigrant enters in a labor relationship with an American employer and wishes to send his money back to his family in Latin America, that is his business. The key to prosperity and harmony among the people of the world lies in the freedom of people to do whatever they want with their own money, including buying and selling goods and services with anyone they want anywhere in the world. That’s what freedom, free enterprise, and economic prosperity are all about.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.