No, I’m not going to suggest we eat illegal immigrant children, an idea I saw today on a Fox News message board. However, the Fox comments got me to thinking. One called for sending illegal immigrants to GITMO. It sounded kind of mean, but then I wondered: What if Congress and the president agreed to build a concentration camp? We would call it a concentration camp. We would let people know that if they get caught crossing illegally, or are otherwise determined to be probably here illegally, that they would be detained indefinitely, pending a transparent legal process.
Calling the facility a concentration camp might convince some conservatives to literally get out of the way so we could process these children (and grownups) in an orderly way; operating it as a humanitarian concern could secure liberal buy-in.
But what could really sell the plan is the practical benefits.Illegal immigrants would have no danger of leaking into the labor market, which is a big concern. Often they will work harder for less money and under poorer conditions than American workers. This is not fair to American workers, who chose to enter the U.S. legally via their mother’s birth canal.
Then we get Congress to pass sweeping legislation to put the migrants to work immediately on vast marijuana farms. Due to climate concerns, we might have to outsource production of other drugs. Coca doesn’t do well in the continental U.S., apparently. Opium poppies, I’m not sure about. GITMO might come in to play. The business plan is simple: Produce a great product in staggering quantities.The product would be seized, pending legislation to feed government-stockpiled drugs to everyone who wants them, in an orderly way. By making all recreational drugs affordable and legal, we would find out quickly who would succumb to addiction and who wouldn’t. Those who find heroin or cannabis more alluring than work could go live at the concentration camp, where they would be given a bottomless supply of whatever they want, plus Wi-Fi and munchies.This immediately solves many problems with gangs and drug cartels. It creates jobs, by both increasing agriculture and removing people who’d rather be stoned and unemployed from the labor market.
For each American who chooses to retire in this fashion, a job might be opened up for an immigrant. (BTW, I’m all for making them learn English. I’m an English teacher, among other things). It could save a lot in health-care costs, because drug-related violence would be vastly reduced. Prison costs would go down, because many crimes would disappear, and many prisons could be converted to agricultural use.This can’t really be laissez-faire. The private sector doesn’t have the resources to do this. It will take a lot of political will to build the camps, alter drug laws, set up drug-production infrastructure and create an orderly process for the intake of drug addicts into custody (They don’t necessarily have to be locked up indefinitely; but while they are being stabilized on the substance regime short-term incarceration might be desirable.) The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, so we have the experience.
We also have experience creating agricultural surpluses. The illegal immigrants would be creating actual wealth – too much of it to dump on an open market, IMO. No, the point is to create enough supply to radically alter the supply-and-demand dynamic, making cartels irrelevant, which in turn might improve life in Latin America enough to reduce illegal immigration.
To me this scenario solves a variety of problems. Put people to work who want to work; let people who don’t want to work stop working; neutralize organized crime cartels; help addicts reach their “bottoms” so they can figure out what they want out of life and do something about it or not as they see fit. Boomers would get their weed – a bipartisan issue if I ever saw one. The U.S. could become a net exporter of drugs, possibly improving the balance of trade. And actually the problem of prison capacity largely takes care of itself, because with fewer laws to break there will be fewer criminals to lock up at taxpayer expense. Plus, government welfare checks won’t be spent on drugs – no need – babies will get their milk or medicine or whatever.
Also, it could strengthen America militarily, by offering citizenship opportunities for young people willing to serve in the Armed Forces, and it could even help the environment, reducing degradation due to off-road trafficking, cutting transportation costs and reaping solar energy to both grow the crops and power the farms.
This all seems humane to me, and possibly even constitutional. But I do believe the government needs to take the lead. If lawmakers can focus on getting this up and running it could yield tremendous benefits.