Free-market supporters and conservative advocates alike should all be on the side of DREAMers. There is no other logical conclusion if one follows the principles that these groups espouse. DREAMers are people who, brought (read: forced to come) to the United States before the age of sixteen, have lived in the United States for at least five years, and have at least a high school diploma while being under the age of thirty-five. Under immigration policy for most of United States history, immigrants such as these would have been welcomed with open arms and almost without question. Why?
Prior to the early twentieth century, for over one hundred years the United States had a very open immigration system, and no border patrol. The Industrial Revolution was happening, with a personal connection right here in Rhode Island – Slater Mill, which opened in 1793,was one of the first factories in the United States to use water-powered machines. The United States thrived under more open immigration policies, becoming the largest and strongest economy in the world, which it still is today. Why? Because there were jobs, families, and communities ready to accept immigrants and assimilate them into a growing and budding economy.
Free-market supporters understand that when you introduce competition into a market, it lowers the cost of a good or service while often increasing quality and safety. This is as true when it comes to flat-screens and cars as it is when it comes to labor – which is why, if you support keeping the minimum wage low and allowing people to contract for what they feel their labor is worth, you should support more open immigration policies. Immigrants, especially DREAMers, are entrepreneurial in spirit and deeply committed to family – values we need to continue to welcome if we want to remain the largest and strongest economy in the world.
Conservatives are overwhelmingly pro-life, arguing that unborn children have a right to life and should not be punished for the actions of their parents. That logic very clearly extends to DREAMers, who through no choice of their own were brought to the United States. To punish them for the actions of their parents is wrong, and they deserve better. Being pro-life is about so much more than abortion, and there is no country better at assimilating immigrants than the United States. The vast majority of immigrants come here for the same reason – to live a better life. My parents did, too; they just happened to be lucky enough to come from a caribbean island called Puerto Rico rather than from the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.
Between 1900 and 1920, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office, the United States let in over fourteen million immigrants. We survived, thrived, and all this without the U.S. border patrol (which wasn’t founded until 1924). Why? Because DREAMers, and immigrants in general, benefit our country and should therefore be welcomed, by conservatives and liberals alike. The party of freedom should reject the big-government policies of fear by ending our unnecessarily restrictive immigration policies, working to protect DREAMers now, and returning to the free-market principles that consistently have made our country the great place it already it is.
Luis Vargas is the Director of Community Development for the RIGOP, a board member of the America’s Future Foundation of Rhode Island Chapter, and an executive board member of the Rhode Island Republican Liberty Caucus.