Immigrants benefit the United States

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

In a recent story, the Orlando Sentinel wrote about a local official who had quoted the libertarian-leaning former radio host Neal Boortz when he tweeted, “name just ONE country that was improved in ANY WAY by the addition of more Muslims.”

The answer is easy: The United States. This country is home to countless success stories of people who have escaped from political or religious authoritarianism, emigrated to a much freer country, and built better lives for themselves and their communities.

Shahpour Nejad and Reza Kalantari, for instance, came to the United States after fleeing Iran. They co-founded Pizza Guys in 1986, a chain that today provides delicious food from more than 60 West Coast locations. Another Iranian immigrant, Hamid Akhavan, has been the CEO of Unify and T-Mobile.

Famed dancer, pop star, and television personality Paula Abdul is the daughter of an immigrant from Syria and Oscar-winning actor F. Murray Abraham is the son of a Syrian immigrant. One of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, was the son of a Muslim immigrant who also fled oppression in Syria.

These are only few examples of a story that has played out innumerable times, in cases both large and small. Immigrants come to the United States and fill needs, open businesses, raise families, and add their unique stories to a vibrant and diverse American culture.

It’s important not to let Boortz speak for Libertarians on this issue, because Libertarians ardently support freedom of migration. “Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders,” the Libertarian Party platform states.

Boortz appears to have a healthy skepticism of government power over the economy and some aspects of our personal lives, but like many conservatives he loses that skepticism when it comes to big government’s oppressive border controls. The vast, vast, majority of immigrants make our lives better, not worse. They bring a vital work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, expanding the economy and improving their communities.

On his now-defunct website, Boortz wrote, “Don’t believe anything you read on this web page or, for that matter, anything you hear on The Neal Boortz Show unless it is consistent with what you already know to be true, or unless you have taken the time to research the matter to prove its accuracy to your own satisfaction.”

This apparent dedication to facts and research is admirable, but Boortz has not applied his own advice to the issue of immigration. The Cato Institute, a libertarian policy think tank, has published definitive research showing that immigrants commit crime at a lower rate than native-born Americans, are less likely to consume welfare benefits, and generally consume a lower value of welfare benefits when they do use such services. Immigrants, almost across the board, are a net value to the United States.

Libertarians support free and open migration across borders. Whatever other good ideas he may have, Boortz is simply wrong when it comes to immigration.

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