The danger of Mexican drug cartels along the border, the threat of ISIS, refugees and welfare expansion has made immigration a popular topic this election year. Most of the rhetoric is about national security and the motives of foreigners who are possibly just looking to live on the government dole. Immigration itself does not cause these problems, they are secondary and independent of them. Immigrants often are willing to work low-skilled jobs in such sectors as farming, retail, cleaning, food preparation, construction and tourism. This is particularly true when demographics shift. As baby boomers age and begin to retire, middle aged people will fill some of the higher paying jobs, leaving many lower paying jobs available. Immigrants are only the scapegoats for the problems that our government created in the first place. They are used as an excuse to further expand the power of politicians.

Drug trafficking across the border continues despite the billions of dollars spent in the War on Drugs. Prohibition of drugs has predictably failed in the same way as alcohol prohibition of the 1920’s. Making a substance illegal to use does not stop people from using it, but instead creates a black market in which violence is used to resolve commercial disputes. Alcohol prohibition created crime bosses like Al Capone, the mafia, and bootleggers in the same way that prohibition of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs has created drug lords like El Chapo and the syndicates and gangs of today. The best solution to violence on the border is to end the federal government’s War on Drugs and allow the states to legalize and regulate drugs the same way they do with alcohol.

The War on Terror is another failed government intervention that is negatively associated with immigration. For decades the United States military has been meddling in Middle Eastern countries – invading countries without a congressional declaration of war, toppling regimes, propping up puppet governments, funneling armaments to supposed allies and enemies, torturing and imprisoning suspected terrorists without due process, nation building, drone bombing, sanctions, killing thousands of non-combatants, obliterating infrastructure, and occupation and usurpation of land. The root of terrorism lies not in Islam per se, but in the reckless destruction of our military and provocative foreign policy in the Middle East. This is clearly stated by Osama Bin Laden’s letter to America following the 9/11 attacks. The FBI was already tracking Bin Laden for his connection to the bombing of U.S. embassies overseas, yet members of Al-Qaeda still managed to get into the country and hijack airlines. Until Americans acknowledge the cause of terrorism, the threat of attacks on our own soil will continue regardless of how many resources for security the government uses.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the perpetual war against terrorism is the mass exodus of citizens in Arab countries to seek asylum in other countries. The concern is that refugees will migrate to the U.S. mainly to use welfare. It is true that immigrants use welfare including Medicaid, food stamps, cash welfare and public housing at higher rates than natives. These statistics are true across all ethnicities and nationalities too. The irony is that the many of the conservatives that see this problem have failed to recognize how their support for the war has helped create the migrant crisis. On the other hand, the leftists that favor open borders have failed to recognize how bribing immigrants with votes in exchange for citizenship and handouts has created an anti-immigration atmosphere. They inadvertently discriminate against ambitious immigrants looking for work and living within their means.

All immigration issues are part of the common problem: a government that has become too powerful and too expansive in our personal lives and around the world. Giving more authority to politicians will only make the problem worse. Border walls require eminent domain, giving the government an excuse to intrude on private property. Welfare incentives will create more racial and socioeconomic tension. ID cards for Muslims will breed more hatred toward Americans and make recruiting easier for terrorist organizations. It’s similar to treating the symptoms of a disease without addressing the underlying cause.

Instead the size and scope of government needs to be drastically scaled back. In a freer society, immigration would look similar to the way it did during the greatest wave of migration between 1880-1920. During this period the United States saw the highest rate of immigration compared to any other time including now. The difference was government was much more limited. There was no Medicare or Medicaid, no minimum wage laws, no IRS, no DEA, and no military empire to police the world. For much of this time no central bank existed to finance a welfare-warfare state and create massive national debt. The United States was the envy of the world because it was the freest both socially and economically. Immigration was not used as a political tool to win elections. People could come into the country to make a better life without the hassle of red tape and onerous requirements that are necessary for an omnipotent government. The authoritarian nature of government was restrained by the Constitution and liberty thrived.