the nation celebrates its 225th birthday, the Wall Street Journal
again calls for the abolition of the United States.
Journal editor Robert Bartley continues his
paper's tradition of using Independence Day to promote open
borders, a tradition begun with a 1984 editorial calling for a five-word
constitutional amendment: "There shall be open borders."
This year's contribution applauded Mexican President Vicente Fox's
goal of modeling NAFTA after the EU, with free movement of people
as well as goods. The headline writer asked, "Open Nafta Borders?
Why Not?" Here are a few reasons why not:
1. Immigrants are people, not objects, so the free movement of goods
cannot be comparable to the free movement of people. President Vicente
Fox of Mexico said in January, "When we think of 2025, there is
not going to be a border. There will be a free movement of people
just like the free movement of goods." But the supposed moral equivalence
of trade and immigration is baseless; while an imported good can
be discarded when it has outlived its usefulness, an immigrant is
a human being, created in the image of God, and thus more than merely
a labor input.
Even practically speaking, trade and immigration are different.
Henry Simons, the pioneer advocate of the benefits of free-market
economics at the University of Chicago, wrote in 1948 that, "To
insist that a free trade program is logically or practically incomplete
without free migration is either disingenuous or stupid. Free trade
may and should raise living standards everywhere
would level standards, perhaps without raising them anywhere."
2. There is a very high cost to cheap Mexican labor. Adult Mexican
immigrants are almost seven times more likely to be high-school
dropouts than native-born Americans and account for 22 percent of
all dropouts in the labor force. This means that even those who
have lived here for decades continue to lag behind: Among Mexican
immigrant families that have lived in the United States for more
than 20 years, more than half still live in or near poverty, one-third
are uninsured, and they use welfare at double the rate of natives.
3. Illegal immigration from Mexico is not a force of nature that
must be accommodated, but rather an artifact of government policy
that can be interrupted. We created the Mexican immigration flow,
through past guest-worker programs, amnesties, and failure even
to try to enforce the ban on hiring illegal aliens. To now plead
to helplessness in the face of the illegal flow, as Bartley and
others do, is tantamount to the killer of his parents begging for
mercy because he's an orphan.
Most importantly, open borders are a bad idea because Americans
aren't ready to abolish their country yet. The reason for expanding
NAFTA beyond trade agreements into a regime of open borders is political
consolidation the dream of the European Union, after all,
is to create a United States of Europe, with its own currency and
army. A North American Union is the inescapable corollary of open
borders already, our new ambassador to Canada, former Massachusetts
governor Paul Cellucci, is touting the need for common policies
on energy, the environment and immigration policies as part of a
The Wall Street Journal is at the forefront of this process.
In Bartley's own words: "I think the nation-state is finished."
This is not the anti-Americanism of the non-patriotic Left, but
rather the post-Americanism of the non-patriotic Right. Post-Americans,
like the leadership of the Journal, are not enemies of America;
they have just "grown" beyond it.
The post-American trend is especially pronounced among the Journal''s
corporate readership. During the previous immigration wave a century
ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of
Manufacturers encouraged their members to promote the Americanization
of their employees, while Henry Ford established an English school
for his employees, which taught immigrants as their very first English-language
sentence, "I am a good American."
The contrast with today could not be more stark. In 1996, Ralph
Nader, of all people, wrote to 100 large American corporations to
ask that they open their shareholders' meetings with the Pledge
of Allegiance. Of the half that responded, only one agreed that
it was a good idea; the rest were indignant, saying that they were
global companies, and calling the request "political and nationalistic"
and reminiscent of the loyalty oaths of the McCarthy era.
An increasing number of corporate executives have been forthright
enough to acknowledge their status as post-Americans and formally
renounce their citizenship. Michael Dingman, a director of the Ford
Motor Co., for instance, took Bahamian citizenship to avoid paying
taxes; John (Ippy) Dorrance III, a Campbell Soup heir worth an estimated
$2 billion, became an Irish citizen for the same reason. New names
in this rogues' gallery are published every quarter in the Federal
An open border with Mexico would move us rapidly toward the kind
of world sought by Bartley and his newspaper. But it would be a
calamity for those of us who still cherish the republic whose birthday
we are celebrating this week, the nation to which our forebears
pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.