No, Not Anti-Immigrant, or Anti-People, Just Pro-Common Sense

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has some issues with my blog last Friday, criticizing their stance on immigration policy. Aside from throwing around over-the-top invective like, “anti-immigrant,” “anti-human” and even “anti-life,” I welcome their response. I am a staunch advocate for a free market of ideas.

Despite CEI’s rhetoric, FAIR’s positions on immigration policy are in fact abidingly pro-human. FAIR’s views are rooted in the concept that humans, unique among all species, are endowed with the ability to reason – and that reason can and should be applied in all human endeavors, including immigration policy. I must point out the irony that CEI is arguing that limiting immigration is “anti-human” while it champions labor policies that treat workers as mere commodities, not as fellow citizens who have the right to earn a fair wage for their work.

Whereas all other species are governed by Darwin’s law of the survival of the fittest, we humans have the intellectual capability and the moral obligation to make choices that serve a greater good. We understand that economies and markets exist to serve humans, not the other way around. As such, we possess both the ability and the ethical obligation to exercise control over them, rather make them our masters.  We also recognize our responsibility to consider the environmental effects of rapid population growth, a notion that CEI considers worthy only of their scorn.

CEI charges that, “FAIR doesn’t want to leave people, or the market, free to choose to immigrate or not.” They are correct on the latter; we do not want our destiny to be determined by an amorphous and unaccountable entity like “the market.” We would prefer to leave it to people to decide: specifically, the American people. Self-determination is, after all, the reason all nations exist. Moreover, we Americans pride ourselves on being a free people who are ultimately responsible for making choices, rather than having choices imposed upon us.

FAIR understands that immigration always benefits immigrants – they would not come (or want to come) otherwise. We also understand that there will always be people and entities in this country who will find a way to capitalize on the presence of whatever immigrants arrive here. That does not mean, however, that allowing immigrants or an unbridled market to entirely determine our immigration policy will produce a happy and desirable outcome for the vast majority of Americans. It is FAIR’s position that, to the best of our human capability, we, the American people, should choose who we admit to our nation. Making choices, by definition, means setting limits.

Interestingly, in a subtle way they probably don’t even realize, CEI also acknowledges that maximizing the presence of warm human bodies is not a formula for success. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the jobs page of their website. At the moment, there is not a single job opening posted. If CEI truly believed that simply having more workers guarantees success, they would just hire anyone who walked through their doors. They don’t, of course.

In doing so (or, more accurately, in not doing so) CEI is acknowledging that their organization can benefit from the skills of some workers, but not others and that their organizational resources are limited. Some workers will turn out a work product that will make their donors more likely to write them checks to keep the organization going. Other workers will be redundant and wind up making people who are already employed at CEI less productive. Still other workers will be of no use at all to CEI and having them as part of the organization makes no sense.

If CEI can set limits and make informed choices about who they include (or don’t include) as part of their organization, why shouldn’t the American people be empowered to make the same choices about who should be included as part of our nation?

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. Pingback: Anti-Immigration Group FAIR: Market Is Like “A Mob Without Reason, Irrational and Immoral”

  2. Pingback: Debate with CEI: Part III Libertarians Preclude the Application of Reason in Immigration Policy

  3. avatar

    Leland, yes, immigration is widening the wealth gap. You’ve said it, and I totally agree. It is so obvious, yet never will you hear a media person say it. Thank you.

  4. avatar

    What CEI favors is the free flow of indentured labor as guest workers. This is an anti-labor and anti-free market approach to immigration.

    • avatar
      softwarengineer on

      I Call It What It Is

      Its not liberal or conservative to be open borders…..its Foreign/Corporate Fascist Slavelords.

  5. avatar

    The idea that organizations like CEI give one damn about the average American worker is a joke. They are about cheap labor. Trying to claim some moral high ground by casting those who want reduced immigration as “anti human” is the height of hypocrisy. These people don’t care if the average worker starves in the street. It is no coincidence that groups like CEI, the Heritage Foundation, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Wall Street Journal, all want what are essentially open borders. Pro business to a fault everyone one of them, and contemptuous of any rights for workers, whether it’s wages or safety standards. It’s also no coincidence that our past three decades of mass immigration and work visas have produced lower wages at the bottom of the scale and an ever bigger share of the pie for the top.

    They defend Wal Mart, a company that pays it’s workers nothing, limits their hours so they can’t collect the benefits mandated for full time workers, and dumps the costs of medical care and food stamps on local communities. When you leave decisions solely to “the market”, you get companies who don’t care about anything but the bottom line. I guess CEI would have us go back to the good old days when “the market” determined that companies were free to pour whatever poison and pollutants they wanted into our waterways and rivers. And they did, until we made them stop.

    • avatar

      And let me be clear. I am not arguing for any kind of government control of business. That doesn’t work. But neither can you believe business when they say trust us.