A Way to Pay for Immigration Reform
and Border Security
In another of my essays I noted that there will likely be no
difference on people (whether terrorists or immigrants) coming into America
illegally whether or not an immigration reform bill eventually passes. Current problems are less problems with the law than
problems and will enforcing current immigration law and border security. (I’m deliberately ignoring the issue of
whether or not additional foreign workers need to be admitted to fill vacancies
that companies are having a hard time filling.) Enforcing immigration law and closing gaping holes in border
security will require much larger budget allocated to those activities. Where will we get the needed money?
One way is to legalize recreational drugs. Okay, that seems totally unacceptable for
moral reasons. But consider these
Something like 90% (not an accurate number) of
prisoners in our prisons are there for relatively minor drug possession crime,
or for small scale selling drugs. We
pay for their upkeep (housing, food, prison clothing) and we pay to guard
them. The large number of drug
convictions has required us to build many more prisons. How much money would we save if we could
release even ¾ of these prisoners.
There is so much money to be made in wholesale illegal
drug sales that competitors are murdering each other, and unfortunate innocents
who are hit by stray bullets, over sales areas (“turf” wars). Police resources need to cover
investigations of these homicides, intelligence on drug dealer activities, and
bringing to jail and to court motorists or others found to be in possession of
drugs, as well as in providing testimony for those case that go to trial.
Offices of Prosecutors need resources to plea-bargain
many of these cases and to prosecute the rest in court. Each case requires several trips to court,
even those in which plea bargains are reached.
Border security has to divert resources from searching
for weapons and explosives to finding drugs.
They use resources for training dogs and their handlers to detect
illegal drugs. That is in addition to
training dogs to detect explosives.
Although the same dog is sometimes used for both purposes, it is my
understanding that they have to know which they are expected to detect when
they go to work sniffing for contraband.
Our foreign policy is skewed by the effort to get
foreign governments to crack down on opium and hemp farmers and coca growers. Drinking alcohol has many of the same moral concerns as
illegal drugs. That is why America once
prohibited the sale of alcohol. As in
the situation with drugs, making alcohol illegal did not eliminate its
use. It just drove it underground and
created opportunities for major criminals.
Bootleggers smuggled foreign liquor into the US. Some criminals had their own illegal
stills. We’ve all seen movies about
Elliot Ness and the resources FBI devoted to catching these criminals. Nevertheless, illegal alcohol remained so
profitable that there were turf wars over that illegal drug, similar to our
current drug wars. As we all know,
after this bad experience the Prohibition law was repealed.
We know that alcohol is a drug and that it has addictive
properties. Some people can drink and
control their drinking. Others become
addicted to alcohol. These people are
alcoholics. Their bodies are more
sensitive to alcohol than the average person.
They remain alcoholics even if they are sober, i.e., as you know, if
they imbibe a little they will likely not be able to control themselves and
they will become drunk.
Some drug use is reportedly similar. There are some people whose bodies cannot
tolerate drug use. They become easily
addicted and can’t control themselves.
Marijuana (pot and hash) is reportedly not addictive. Unlike alcohol and nicotine, marijuana does
not trigger receptors in the brain that demand more of the substance. It may be, however, psychologically
addictive. A person might like the
effect of the drug and want to repeatedly have that effect. But there are no withdrawal symptoms from
stopping. “Hard drugs,” including
heroin, are believed to be universally addictive. If drugs were to be legalized they would still need to be
controlled, particularly hard drugs.
It seems likely that marijuana cigarettes would be sold in a
manner identical to sale of tobacco cigarettes. That is, they wouldn’t legally be sold to minors and the
government would collect a tax and the tax seal would need to be on each
pack. Instead of costing the taxpayer
money to suppress growing, selling, possessing, and using marijuana, it would
become a source of revenue. (Besides
being less addictive than tobacco, and not having the heart health problems
caused by nicotine, marijuana cigarettes might be less of a cancer risk.)
Hard drugs would need to be more tightly regulated, possibly
requiring a doctor’s prescription for purchase. Possibly hard drugs would be dispensed from government public
health centers. Other options seem
possible. The price of hard drugs
should be set high enough to cover the cost of dispensing, hopefully with some
left over as a source of revenue for funding other government activities.
Legalizing drugs and regulating them would not necessarily
lead more people to become addicted.
Under the current laws illegal drugs are still readily available. What legalizing drugs would accomplish would
be to save the money being spent on the unending drug war that we seem to have
no chance of winning. It would mean
that we faced up to reality in the same manner as we did in repeal of
prohibition. It would lead to less
murder and less income for criminal gangs.
It would mean we didn’t have to pressure foreign governments to curtail
major income sources for their farmers.
It would lead to less transmission of disease through shared
needles. It would help addicts manage
We need more revenue if we are serious about controlling our borders. We don’t want to raise taxes to pay for it. We can’t afford to continue running up national debt. So let’s give this idea