The libertarians, are ‘libertarianing’ again.
The immigration fiasco on the southern border is not the only ongoing U.S. crisis involving an exodus of Spanish speakers. Since 2006, Puerto Rico has endured an economic and fiscal collapse that has seen nearly a million people emigrate to the mainland United States, which is now the home to more Puerto Ricans than the island itself.
The libertarian argument is that since Puerto Ricans don’t want to live in Puerto Rico, we need to find people desperate enough to go there. Why we need to do this is something only understood by the Cato folks.
After Puerto Rico’s official default in 2017—and the ensuing saga that led to a de facto bailout in 2021— the economic devastation has been such that the island now faces a shortage of construction workers, despite its desperate need to rebuild much of its infrastructure after a recent spree of natural disasters. For their part, Puerto Rican businesses have also reported a significant shortage of skilled workers.
We need to find immigrants to do the jobs that Puerto Ricans won’t?
Puerto Rico’s labor force participation rate is below 50%. In 2021 it was around 40%. Maybe some of those missing percentiles can actually get jobs and rebuild their own infrastructure?
Or we can import more migrants to do the jobs that Puerto Ricans won’t do. And when they won’t do them and move to America, we’ll have to important more immigrants to do the jobs that the immigrants won’t do.
Surely, at some point even the libertarians have to recognize that open borders for labor markets is madness.
Since migration into Puerto Rico depends on U.S. federal immigration laws, the island’s authorities can do little to attract foreign workers.
Since Puerto Rico can’t even attract Puerto Ricans… why should it attract anyone?
The measure that can best fix Puerto Rico’s labor shortage also would go a long way toward easing the troubles along the Mexican border.
I don’t see that opening the border to mass migration by sending them to Puerto Rico helps anything.
As Jason L. Riley argued recently in The Wall Street Journal, allowing states to issue work visas would leave immigration decisions in the hands of local leaders who tend to have “a better sense of their economic situations” and are more accountable to voters than central government bureaucrats. By giving the states more autonomy over their specific immigration needs, more legal routes would be open for immigrants to enter the country according to the realities of local labor markets.
This is classic libertarian insanity that operates purely in the realm of market theory while completely ignoring what’s going on in the real world. It’s every bit as detached from reality as any leftist dogma.
State work visas, an idea first floated in 2014 by Cato Institute scholars, are once again relevant in several states that are experiencing post-pandemic labor shortages.
As the Cato Institute’s David Bier writes, a decentralized immigration system such as Canada’s “would allow state or local authorities to address challenges facing their area without those issues becoming national crises.”
Given control of immigration, blue states like California would act to completely shift demographics by flooding in mass migrants. As they’ve already done in their own way. And those migrants would not stay inside those states. Unless we dismantle or fundamentally reimagine the United States, millions flooding in to a blue state wouldn’t stay there. And a Democrat state administration that seized power could completely overturn state demographics in 2-4 years making it impossible for anyone else to ever win elections there again.
Libertarians keep pushing the myth of worker shortages bolstered by the promise of filling them with mass migration. They never ask why we have a massive population, a weak economy and worker shortages. It’s almost as if everything in life can’t be explained by markets.