home political and economic essays Control the Borders

Control the Borders

by David Brin, Ph.D.

Diversity is our greatest strength and immigrants often give far more than they take. Anybody who takes this posting as xenophobic simply doesn't get it.

Control the Borders

If I seemed to lean a little "left" in some of my earlier missives criticizing a worldwide drift toward crony-aristocratism, and then to the right in supporting a repair of the U.S. military, and then left again by pushing the vital importance of citizen-level resilience... then prepare for another of my patented sudden veers! Because I believe the Obama Administration can, should... and will... act swiftly to regain control over the borders of the United States. In fact, I will lay heavy odds that he does it very soon.

This may sound surprising, but it shouldn't, if you had been paying attention to one of the great ironies of the last 16 years — one that lay in plain sight, largely unnoticed. As one of his first acts upon entering office, Bill Clinton doubled the number of field agents in the Border Patrol. And one of George W. Bush's first endeavors was to savagely undercut that service.

It sounds counter-intuitive, of course, and neither political party ever spoke up about it much. But the reasons are simple. Democrats like legal immigration, which results in lots of new voters and new union workers, while illegals drain resources, get embroiled (against their will) into crime, and prevent domestic programs from achieving full effectiveness. On the other hand, Republicans — well, not your neighbors, but some influential people near the top of the party — like access to pools of cheap, undocumented labor that won't talk back. Only when border state citizens began getting riled did the GOP start talking tough about immigration. And talk, for the most part, is all they ever did.

I fully expect the same political factors to apply under Barack Obama. Watch for a serious attempt to increase cross-border trade and legal human contacts, but to crack down on illegal crossers and smuggling. This change of emphasis also happens to be a good idea for enhancing homeland security. And those who are offended by this illustrate that "liberal" and "leftist" really are different terms that apply to different sets of political passions that are only allied most of the time. We must not assume that the former have to always cater to the latter.

What I further expect is a change in the tilt of immigration laws. There has to be a limit to the chain of "family re-uniting" visas. It isn't logical at all to make that the fundamental basis for ingress of new legal residents. It isn't even fair in a human sense, since families here can already send home remittances, but what about other people in the old countries? Don't they deserve a chance, too?

Let there be no mistake, I am proud of America's heritage — and present-day status — as the world's leader (by far) in offering opportunities to hope-filled people from all over the globe. Diversity is our greatest strength and immigrants often give far more than they take. Anybody who takes this posting as xenophobic simply doesn't get it.

Nevertheless, as a nation, we have a right to have immigration be orderly and legal, at a pace that doesn't overstrain services. So long as we continue to be generous and prudently open, overall, immigration can even be tuned to benefit America in directly tangible ways. For example, by restoring somewhat of a merit system, especially when it comes to skilled workers that our industries desperately need, or allowing some of the foreign graduate students who we have (expensively) trained to stay and add their brilliance to our stew. After all, half a million people is half a million people. There's no rule of honor or nature that says we can't look for some of them to enter as a win-win deal.

America deserves plaudits for being the nation of fresh starts. It is a moral claim that can never be taken away from us. But we have to use some basis to choose among those wanting in, and doing so in an orderly and rational way — one that is both generous and in keeping with our own best interests.

THE END


Control the Borders

about this article

"Control the Borders" (published in full here) was one of a series of 21 "Unusual Suggestions" Brin posted following the election of 2008, when it seemed that everybody — columnists, political sages, bloggers and citizens — wrote missives about "what I'd do if I were president."

Copyright © 2009 by David Brin. All rights reserved.



join David Brin's discussions

David Brin blogs at Contrary Brin and posts social media comments on Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and MeWe specifically to discuss the political and scientific issues he raises in these articles. If you come and argue rationally, you're voting, implicitly, for a civilization that values open minds and discussions among equals.


better than walls

letting others have their say

Peter Frase, Four Futures

Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger

Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

Beth Simone Noveck, Smart Citizens, Smarter State

Rosa Brooks, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything

Cass R. Sunstein, Simpler: The Future of Government

Adrian Vermeule, Law's Abnegation

#AmazonCommissionsEarned

a brief intro to author David Brin

DAVID BRIN scientist

novels

David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!).
Learn More


shorter fiction

Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form.
Learn More


Contrary Brin blog

Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore.
Learn More


social media influencer

Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages.
Learn More


scientist

David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research.
Learn More


transparency expert

Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy.
Learn More


speaker & consultant

Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.
Learn More


future/tech advisor

Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others.
Learn More


Contacting BRIN

All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN


0

facebook followers and fans

  join me on Facebook

0

twitter followers

  join me on Twitter

0

quora followers

  join me on Quora


get on the Brin newsletter!

DAVID BRIN newsletter sign-up

subscribe to David Brin's newsletter and keep up to date on his books, signings and appearances

pinterest boards

DAVID BRIN Pinterest

share David Brin's pins from these Pinterest boards and share the word about science and science fiction


other points of departure

visit other pages on this website

pages about DAVID BRIN

  • latest news and activities
  • information about DAVID BRIN
  • public speaking and consulting & popular topics
  • speaking/consulting references and testimonials & a list of past appearances
  • print and podcast interviews
  • video interviews and talks
  • Brin's presskit and complete biography
  • traditional media and social media
  • Brin quotes and frequently asked questions
  • pages about BRIN's science fiction

  • Brin's novels and books
  • Brin's short stories and novellas
  • all about Brin's uplift universe
  • a selection of book reviews
  • Brin's special-order books for sale
  • Brin's advice for new writers
  • Brin reviews sci fi films — including The Postman
  • a compilation of great sf books to read
  • recommended sf films
  • science fiction that teaches
  • BRIN's nonfiction explorations

  • THE TRANSPARENT SOCIETY
  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
  • keeping track of changes in science and technology
  • scanning our sky for habitable (inhabited?) worlds