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featured guest
 Dan Stein

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Your Questions 6 Questions >

P.O.V.'s Borders visitors sent Dan Stein these questions in response to his work and his answers to P.O.V.'s initial 6 Questions. Read on!

Question: Very interesting and provocative theory about how borders serve. Clearly they also have negative impacts, yes? But how do we think about the benefits of borders dissolving since globalization is clearly leading to that?

Dan: Borders never dissolve entirely. They change, they realign themselves in response to changed external conditions. The total elimination of national boundaries would undermine the very essence of democracy. An editor at the Atlantic Monthly, Robert Kaplan, has observed that our organic understanding of democracy is tied to the land. Without identifiable national boundaries, democracy cannot exist. A borderless world would need to be governed by a single world government. In such case, no democracy could exist. Bertrand Russell speculated that without effective national boundaries and borders, a world government would not succeed. It would dissolve because it would lack the center of gravity needed to hold the whole thing together. It is at present chic to refer to globalization as dissolving national borders. I doubt that will ever be the case.

Question: I would welcome anyone who is looking for a better life. Unfortunately, the majority of immigrants in my neighborhood come here with one thing in mind: money to send back home. The money being made in this country is being sent out of it to support families in other countries. If we don't spend some of that income here, all Americans will soon be out of work. I also object to the majority being paid under minimum wage and without paying taxes. Please write back. I would love to hear other opinions.

Dan: I couldn't agree more. Many foreign governments have depended upon so-called remittances as a form of foreign aid. This enables corrupt governments to be sustained beyond their useful lives. As a form of foreign aid, it tends to be very inefficient. Because it stimulates demand for subsidized domestic products, the funds are not invested as capital to improve the productive potential of these economies. Moreover, in the long run, a reliance on remittances simply encourages more illegal immigration. People learn about this country, and a desire to live here is thereby stimulated. Americans are also disadvantaged, not only by unfair labor competition, but also by — as you say — the negative impacts on wages and working conditions of Americans. The money that is sent out of this country is not reinvested here. Excellent point.

Question: What do you think about English-only laws? Do you think the English-only advocates overlap much with advocates of stricter borders?

Dan: English should be the common language of the United States. If there are advocates and groups in this country who seek to establish any version of official "multilingualism" then immigration needs to be dramatically reduced until we can absorb and assimilate the millions of immigrants who have arrived since 1970. There are many people who are concerned about maintaining a common language but remain unconvinced of the need to control immigration. I am not one of them.

Question: Dan and Frank — if you were director of INS for a day — what would be the first thing you'd do?

Dan: One day is not a lot of time. I would probably fire a couple of key people whose views I disagree with, and try to replace them with people who have the proper mindset. I would also issue a statement that the proper purpose of the INS is to only allow U.S. citizens and authorized aliens to enter the country and to keep all others out.

Question: What's your feeling on mass T.P.S. (temporary protected status) for immigrants already living here for many years? If memory serves, the first President Bush gave it to the Salvadorans here, and the second President Bush was going to give it to thousands of undocumented Mexicans (before 9/11), though that idea kinda fell off the radar after 9/11.

Dan: FAIR opposes transforming any "temporary" humanitarian relief program into a permanent amnesty. This status is to be reserved for those conditions requiring extraordinary humanitarian relief. When someone enters the country illegally, that person is jumping in front of millions of people who are waiting in line respecting our laws. If you allow that person to stay permanently, you're committing a grievous offense against fundamental fairness and the American way. What are you telling those people who wait patiently in line for years? Why do you want to encourage people to come to this country seeking "humanitarian protection" as a mere pretense around the immigration quotas?

Question: What's your opinion of the "wet foot/dry foot" policy here in Florida? In light of the recent events regarding the over 200 Haitians to land in Miami, do you think they should be treated as the Cubans? Or as expressed in local newspaper editorials, the Cubans should be treated as the Haitians? Finally, do you feel this is reflecting the homeland security of protecting our borders since we have so many rafters and people coming ashore? Do you think our Southern borders should be more heavily guarded to prevent these illegal entries?

Dan: We should have one refugee and asylum policy for one world. FAIR has opposed the Cuban Adjustment Act since our founding in 1979. People with bona fide asylum claims can make those claims through the normal process. The Cuban policy is unconscionable and reflects the typical special-interest pressure that so dominates politics here in Washington. Naturally, advocates on behalf of mass immigration would like to see anyone who claims eligibility for asylum be released on demand. Their approach would create border chaos — to the extent the situation could be any worse than it already is. The only way to deter illegal immigration is to lead by example, and to make it clear that U.S. border laws will be enforced. This is the way to protect national security.

Want to read more? Check out Dan's answers to P.O.V.'s 6 questions, the same 6 we asked all of the featured guests.

about Dan Stein


Dan Stein has been the executive director of the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) since 1988. He has worked for nearly 15 years in the field of immigration law and law reform, and has appeared in Congress on behalf of FAIR.


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