“Shall issue” entry visas for immigrants would create a more free labor market, reduce the national debt, deny organized crime syndicates the illicit profits from human smuggling, eliminate arbitrary and racist immigration quotas, ensure the government has a better record of who is in the United States, and move America back to the ideals inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
The key change in policy that makes this proposal so powerful is shifting the burden from a prospective immigrant having to prove a bureaucrat that they should be allowed to come to the United States, to have a bureaucrat have to prove that the particular immigrant should not be allowed to come to the United States.
In practice, this would work like the system of shall-issue concealed carry permits that have resulted in an increase in gun rights without a decrease in public safety. An applicant would submit a form with basic identifying information, including a photo and biometrics, along with a $1,000 processing fee. Within 60 days of that application, the applicant shall receive an entry visa to come to the United States, unless the Federal government can show a specific reason why that applicant should not be allowed entry.
Such a visa could be renewed on an annual basis with the submission of a $500 renewal fee and would likewise be renewed within 60 days if there is no specific showing that the applicant should be denied renewal.
The average cost for an illegal immigrant to get smuggled across our border with Mexico is approximately $4,000. By having a clear application process that costs a fraction of a dangerous ride through the Sonoran desert, we can deny the organized crime syndicates their profit on human misery, in the same way, that legal American cannabis has taken the profit out of illegal Mexican cannabis.
With a simple and predictable front door for immigrants to come through, there would be much less incentive for someone to seek to enter the country illegally. As we saw with the way iTunes displaced Napster, when the law is simple and easy to comply with, more people comply with the law.
Our present system of country-based immigration quotas is not only racist in its application, it is subject to the fatal conceit of central planning, the idea that not only is there an ideal number of immigrants from each country around the world, but on top of it that a bureaucrat or group of bureaucrats could know that ideal number. Removing that artificial barrier would allow our labor market to find equilibrium in the same way that our markets for goods find equilibrium, reducing the barriers to transactions in the marketplace.
Nicholas Sarwark is Executive Director of the Libertarian Policy Institute. He served as Chair of the Libertarian National Committee from 2014 to 2020, a period of unprecedented growth. Over the last two decades, he has worked as a systems developer for a major non-profit, tried over 30 cases to a jury as a deputy public defender in Colorado, and managed the oldest independent car dealership and loan company in Phoenix. He founded Wedge Squared Strategies in 2019, a strategy, communications, and campaign consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations maximize their impact on the world. Licensed to practice law in Colorado and New Hampshire, he lives in Manchester, New Hampshire with his wife Valerie and their four children where they volunteer to build a better local community.