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One of Jonah’s correspondents asks how I would feel about Mexican immigration if Mexico were a totalitarian country. China was a totalitarian country, and in some respects still is; it’s certainly a brutal and tyrannical regime. I’m sympathetic to anyone trying to get out of there. That doesn’t mean I would think it a good idea to take 20 million of them next year.

I think the comparison of living in a poor country to living in a totalitarian one, however, trivializes the evil of totalitarianism.

I was annoyed by the implicit charge that I treat illegal immigrants from Mexico with “disdain.” I’m sure the charge is true of some, even many, opponents of high immigration policies and of laxity in enforcement of laws against illegal immigration. But I am happy to concede–indeed, to declare–that illegal immigrants are human beings with understandable motivations who should be treated decently. I just don’t see that open borders follows from that view. Part of my point has been that if you let in one million immigrants, letting in another million is unlikely to be good for that first group for all sorts of reasons.


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