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We've come a long way from "Mr. Gorbachev - tear down this wall."

In case you forgot, here's an excellent reminder clip from June 12, 1987.

Tear Down That Wall in Global Reverse

  1. An extremely contentious political debate is recently underway in the US. Illegal immigrants are frequently separated from their kids and held in hellhole facilities. Even some prominent Republicans disagree with Trump's policies.
  2. Trump wants a wall with Mexico, and he insists Mexico will pay for it.
  3. Today, Trump Mocks Germany in Immigration Tweet. The German government and the Schengen Agreement of no EU border checks may both collapse.
  4. On June 11, Italy stirred up a storm by refusing to allow a ship with refugees to dock. The result was Eurozone Immigration Crisis 2.0. Matteo Salvini, who refused to let ship carrying 629 refugees and migrants to dock, says: ‘We have opened a front in Brussels’.
  5. Australia has a "no immigration boat" policy. At its peak, 18,000 people arrived in Australia illegally by sea according to an October 2017 BBC report. Boats are now turned away and forced back to Indonesia.
  6. PBS reports Venezuelan Refugee Crisis Faces a Backlash Across Latin America. Five thousand Venezuelans flee the economic collapse at home every day and resettle across Latin America, a region with a tradition of open borders. But now, countries are facing a backlash. This month, the governor of Roraima in northern Brazil sued the federal government, demanding it close the border and provide aid to states.

Contentious Debate

The Texas Monthly asks What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated?

Some of the details are sickening. I cannot support them.

Judging from the mothers and fathers I’ve spoken to and those my staff has spoken to, there are several different processes. Sometimes they will tell the parent, “We’re taking your child away.” And when the parent asks, “When will we get them back?” they say, “We can’t tell you that.” Sometimes the officers will say, “because you’re going to be prosecuted” or “because you’re not welcome in this country” or “because we’re separating them,” without giving them a clear justification. In other cases, we see no communication that the parent knows that their child is to be taken away. Instead, the officers say, “I’m going to take your child to get bathed.” That’s one we see again and again. “Your child needs to come with me for a bath.” The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.”

These are people seeking asylum. Bear in mind they did arrive illegally.

They effectively US closed the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge by shutting down the asylum application process to a trickle. The potential refugees illegally crossed by raft and in many cases turned themselves over to the border patrol. the above paragraph shows the result.

Here is the policy: If you come to a bridge, we’re not going to prosecute you, but if you come over the river, we’re prosecuting you.

I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no. In another case, the father said, “Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?” The officer said, “You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.” So the father just let the child go.

Parents are not getting any information on what their rights are to communicate to get their child before they are deported, what reunification may look like. We spoke to nine parents on this Monday, which was the 11th, and these were adults in detention centers outside of Houston. They had been separated from their child between May 23 and May 25, and as of June 11, not one of them had been able to talk to their child or knew a phone number that functioned from the detention center director. None of them had direct information from immigration on where their child was located.

Bear in mind, we are talking about kids 5 years old and in some reported cases younger. These kids likely cannot spell their parents' names or know their former street address. Reunification may not even be possible if there is any slip up in communication or ID process.

Change the Laws

Secretary of Homeland Security

That last Tweet is controversial. Even if one gives Nielsen the complete benefit of the doubt where "border" means "legal crossing for those seeking asylum", she already admitted they will separate kids from their parents if they believe a need to do so to protect the kids.

Importantly, the decision a child is in danger can be real, imagined, or purposely fabricated.

Laura Bush Former First Lady

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Sen. Susan Collins says Family Separation Policy 'Inconsistent' With American Values.

Collins said she’s still waiting to hear from the Trump administration with more information on the practice. However, she said it’s already known that separating migrant children from their parents “doesn’t act as deterrent” and “is inconsistent with our American values.”

“What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that if you cross the border with children your children are going to be ripped away from you,” she said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“That is traumatizing to children who are innocent victims,” she added.

Collins is correct on all counts.

What's Going On? A Simple Explanation

  1. Opportunity
  2. Free Benefits

That's it. People want to move from Africa and the Mideast to Europe, and to the US from Latin America (and in general), because of opportunity and free benefits.

Those two categories overlap as free benefits in education and healthcare in and of themselves create opportunity. However, many would elect to migrate to the US on opportunity alone.

The US has its flaws, like constant warmongering and external meddling coupled with hypocrisy on both.

But the fact remains that in the G7 the US has among the most open and free markets.

That is what creates opportunity.

Friendly Discussion

I exchange emails with two friends on economics and Trump-related political issues every day.

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One of them (X) is a free market capitalist, the other (Y) is a self-admitted socialist.

As you may guess, I most often agree with X. But on this issue we all agree that Trump's handling is despicable.

Yet, Trump's behavior is easy to explain. If word gets out that children are forcibly taken from their parents, many will stop trying to get in.

Meanwhile, Trump has put a gun to the head of Democrats to get what he wants: a wall.

This is might-makes-right strategy no matter how many kids lives gets destroyed in the process.

US vs Europe

The US has huge barriers known as oceans, specifically the Atlantic and the Pacific. Except through Mexico, it's tough to get here.

It is much easier to get into the EU through Turkey or from Africa across the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, Chancellor Merkel welcomed the refugees with open arms. Refugees came in a flood. But they did not want to stop in Greece or Italy, they wanted to go to Germany.

Why? Because Germany had the most benefits.

The EU is a basket of pathetic regulations. If it could, the EU would bust up Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel.

Yesterday, I wrote: Trade War Stupidity: US Chip Makers to Pay Tariffs On Their Own Chips

Friend (X) replied "Our high tech guys can kick the shit out of the world competitively and don’t want stinking tariffs. In truth, trade protection is not about workers. It’s to protect the grandees of non-competitive US firms that want to kill competition and enhance their firm’s stock value."

Bingo. Tariffs are for the same reason everywhere: to kill competition.

Break Up Google?

A Boston Globe editorial ridiculously said Break up Google.

I may comment further on that story, but the attitude is wrong. The US leads the word in technology because it does not hinder business.

Venezuela Hell-Hole

In Latin America, who does not want to escape the socialist hell-hole known as Venezuela?

Escape from Venezuela may mean going to another socialist country, but it's a matter of degree. Nearly every country is better than Venezuela.

If Venezuelans could get here, and we would let them in, they would come. This leads us to the critical point.

Milton Friedman on Incompatibilities

In an Email to Henryk A. Kowalczyk, Milton Friedman wrote:

Immigration is a particularly difficult subject. There is no doubt that free and open immigration is the right policy in a libertarian state, but in a welfare state it is a different story: the supply of immigrants will become infinite. Your proposal that someone only be able to come for employment is a good one but it would not solve the problem completely. The real hitch is in denying social benefits to the immigrants who are here. That is very hard to do, much harder than you would think as we have found out in California. But nonetheless, we clearly want to move in the direction that you are talking about so this is a question of nitpicking, not of serious objection.

Libertarian View

A reader made a comment just the other day that he stopped being a Libertarian because of the open immigration issue.

He view is incorrect. Libertarians do not object to open immigration under the current scheme of things.

On Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux made this note on a previous Anti-Immigration Argument.

Since the appearance of this column [Mish Comment: That is a broken link] of mine, on immigration, several friends (as well as non-friends) have accused me of ignoring the fact that Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, and some other free-market advocates oppose more-open immigration.

But let’s be clear. In the case of Milton Friedman, his only reason for opposing more-open borders was the existence in the U.S. of a welfare state. Friedman emphatically did not make the anti-immigration argument that I criticize in my column. (And he would not have made that argument. Just before he died, I asked him by e-mail if he’d favor a return to the pre-1920s immigration regime if the U.S. abolished its welfare state. He wrote back saying yes.)

Unfortunately, the link to the Boudreaux's referenced article is broken. I have his Email address and will ask him to fix the link.

Note that following WWI immigrants received relatively few benefits and had to quickly learn English and get a job to survive.

Complex Issue

Clearly this is complex issue. But unless we address the fundamental issue of free benefits, the problem will not go away.

In that regard, Europe is much worse off for numerous reasons, as stated above.

Unlimited Demand for Free Services

I respect Friedman's view and do not believe it is incompatible, under current conditions, with the Libertarian view.

Let's make it clear with a simple indisputable fact that I have made many times: "There is an unlimited demand for free benefits and services."

That fact makes it perfectly logical for Libertarians to oppose immigration under the current setup.

However, that fact does not justify the immoral response of President Trump and his willingness to destroy families to get his way.


I received an Email from Don Boudreaux on the broken link. He fixed it. The link points to Libertarians & Immigration.

Inquiring minds may wish to give it a look.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock