Ashley O’Kurley

Black Panther is Undocumented

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Ashley O'Kurley

Miami, FL

I have an economics degree from one of Canada’s best universities. I have a Master’s degree from one of the USA’s largest universities. Yet the money I have expended and the agony I have endured to legally stay in the US is an example of over-regulated, big government run amok. I work in the financial industry, I identify as an economic/fiscal conservative and as such, I believe in free trade — lower barriers to immigration mean lower barriers to trade and, ceteris paribus, to greater economic growth!! Increased cross-border traffic means increased economic activity. The knee-jerk conflagation of counter-terror and anti-drug policies with higher and higher barriers to immigration (some literal in the form of walls on the border) inhibit economic growth and are ultimately counter-productive. For example, US citizens spend billions of dollars paying Mexicans to deliver drugs into the US. US citizens simultaneously spend billions of their tax dollars trying to stop those very Mexicans. Blaming others in a fit of xenophobia does not change those facts. Indeed, the only reason that cross-border drug smuggling exists is because millions of US citizens demand it with their dollars! Blaming your neighbors for actually showing up to deliver that which you are paying them to deliver is not a shining example of a responsible orientation to public policy, especially when doing so inhibits economic growth. Economic growth can only be sustained with a combination of growth in capital, productivity AND population — for a country with a birth rate that is effectively flat, population growth (ie: immigration) becomes even more important. As an analogy, lowering taxes and reducing regulation generally helps to spur economic growth because it helps to deploy more capital into the economy. Likewise, lowering barriers to immigration helps to spur economic growth because it helps to deploy more labor into the economy. Knowing how difficult it is to go through the US immigration process as a highly-educated Canadian with some resources (not to mention an easy facility with the English language), I am not surprised by the number of undocumented people in the US. Getting a Green Card has become analogous to filing a 90 page tax return, completing a bachelor’s degree and learning a new language….all while standing on your head! No wonder so many fall out of status, they simply don’t have the resources to get through the gauntlet. This is not the way the USA was built. Immigration policies from 1850-1920 worked exceptionally well at making the USA into the country that it became. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s something that a conservative like Ronald Reagan would say, and indeed he did (“Tear down this wall”) — Free peoples who are not at war do not build walls between their countries. Immigration policy should consist of two, and only two, objectives. 1) To determine if the applicant is bringing any public health concerns (ex: typhoid, polio, etc) into the country and 2) to determine if the applicant has any kind of violent criminal history. For anybody who has anything but the most myopic view of freedom and liberty, the only other requirement should be to show up. I attended a financial industry conference earlier this year where George W. Bush was the keynote speaker. I was encouraged to hear him talk of the importance of being on guard against what he called “the triplets” which he defined as the insidiousness of protectionism, isolationism and nativism. People who advocate for even higher barriers to immigration often get upset when the word “racism” is used against them. I would not go that far. However, I submit that the recent hot-button immigration laws in Arizona, Georgia and Alabama are very good examples of the triplets that George W. Bush portended. If the cultural and political pressures of immigration and millions of undocumented neighbors bothers you, than I would not call you a racist, but you are likely a nativist. And morally, I suggest that there is not much daylight between the two. As for how I define “American”, I would do so as I always have being born and raised in Canada. America is defined as the 43-some countries in the Western Hemisphere, most of whom are in the Organization of American States. From the northern tip of my native Canada to the southern tip of Chile, and everywhere in between, those who live and share an attachment to this Western Hemisphere of our world are Americans. Why US citizens consider themselves alone to have a monopoly on that word to the exclusion of the rest of us has always disapointed me and seemed rather condescending. After all, the name “United States OF America” refers specifically to the fact that the United States is a part OF America, and not, in and of itself, America. To refer specifically to those OF the United States, it seems more appropriate to use the phrase “United Statesian” !!

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