Response to a request for a statement on immigration from Gubernatorial candidate Marco Battaglia

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Immigration policy should be
generous; it should be fair; it should
be flexible. With such a policy we
can turn to the world, and to our own
past, with clean hands and a clear
John F. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants

Give free markets a chance! Free movement of people is often regarded as one of the core concepts of libertarian theory and philosophy. Every American who ever lived, with the exception of one group, was either an immigrant himself or a descendant of immigrants. Libertarian Party national chair, Nicholas Sarwark, says of the recent political actions on DACA, “This is a heartless move by the Trump Administration. The recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) did nothing wrong. In fact, their parents loved them so much as to risk everything to bring them out of areas of extreme violence and poverty. They wanted a safer, better life for their children in America. How can we disparage them for that? This president shows mercy to a criminally convicted sheriff, but would toss young immigrants to the wolves for the acts of their parents? You can measure a bully based on whom they choose to pick on.” I agree with him. The Libertarian Party does not support classifying undocumented immigrants, of any age, as criminals. The current US immigration system is an embarrassment. I believe that as long as I have been living and breathing that it has been the duty of congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. People who would like to follow the legal procedures are unable to because these procedures are so complex, expensive, and lengthy. If Americans want immigrants to enter through legal channels, we need to make those channels fair, reasonable, and accessible. Immigration should be an encouraged easy path with precious employees and resources spent focusing on deportation of violent criminals and terrorism suspects both still to be given due process. The country that I want for us and our children is one that reduces illegal immigration in droves by simply highlighting the protections and liberties gained by becoming a legal citizen. Things like internment of enemy aliens and lawless deportation should remain in history books as examples of how government attempts to manage the labor market have failed.

The primary reason that the USA had such an illegal immigrant problem in the 1900s was a demand for labor. Mexico began discouraging emigration to the United States in the early 1900s, beginning with President Porfirio Díaz. Diaz, like many other Mexican government officials, realized that the laborers leaving for the United States would be needed to industrialize and expand the Mexican economy. Despite the concepts of illegal and legal immigration Americans continued to recruit and hire illegal laborers to meet their labor needs. Food shortages were common in Mexico while food rotted in the fields and most of the foodstuff that was successfully produced was exported.

What must be understood is that Mexico and American governments worked together to deport illegal immigrants! Mexican and American governments developed a strategy in 1945 to deport Mexicans deeper into Mexican territory by a system of planes, boats, and trains. In this country state force against illegal immigration peaked initially in the 1950s with the joint effort between the United States and Mexican governments called Operation Wetback. Overall, there were approximately 1,078,168 apprehensions made in the first year of Operation Wetback, with approximately 170,000 being rounded up from May to July 1954. In addition, many illegal immigrants fled to Mexico fearing arrest; estimated at over half a million from Texas alone. Scholars who have studied that period say it is impossible to verify the Border Patrol’s claim that more than 1.3 million people were apprehended and left the country in 1954. On a different front after Americans withdrew from the Vietnam War, our Indochinese allies faced imprisonment, torture and death under communist regimes. The Tai Dam, an ethnic group from northern Vietnam, campaigned for sanctuary, writing letters to 30 U.S. governors in 1975. Only Republican Governor Robert D. Ray of Iowa agreed to help. In fact Ray wielded more influence over Indochinese refugee resettlement and relief than any other governor in the nation. I am proud that this legacy of compassion is left by a Governor from my state.

Efforts by government to manage the labor market are as apt to fail as similar efforts to protect domestic industries or orchestrate industrial policy. It is important to note that deportations reached their highest point in history under President Obama in 2013. Though statistically true it is not giving the whole picture to put this burden on one President. It would be difficult to increase these numbers without a significant increase in federal spending across multiple administrations and substantial changes to the current legal system. Until recent years, most people caught illegally crossing the southern border were simply bused back into Mexico in what officials called “voluntary returns,” but which critics derisively termed “catch and release.” Those removals, which during the 1990s reached more 1 million a year, were not counted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation statistics. Now, the vast majority of border crossers who are apprehended get fingerprinted and formally deported. The change began during the George W. Bush administration and accelerated under Obama. The policy stemmed in part from a desire to ensure that people who had crossed into the country illegally would have formal charges on their records. If you ask me we simply corrected the definition. If a government moves a person forcibly from one spot on the planet to another I consider that deportation. For what it is worth I think that Rand Paul is right on this matter when he says that Sessions does have a valid legal argument against DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This matter should be addressed by congress as it should have been since before I was born. Congress should act to pass legislation to reinstate the policies from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Utah’s delegation are uniquely positioned to take a leading role in shepherding it to the president’s desk. Rep. Mia Love has already released a strong statement in support of DACA legislation, pointing to her own history as a daughter of immigrants. By their words alone it appears to me that congress has the votes to pass immigration reform. The issue appears to me that, as with war powers, many in congress would rather pass this power to a President than have to make a hard decision that may impact their paychecks and/or their donations. In the meantime if we are truly concerned about curbing violence and vetting terrorist suspects, we could focus our resources on these areas while working with our neighbors to improve trade policy, and working to end prohibition.


Sincerely, Gubernatorial candidate Marco Battaglia