Immigrants and Tariffs

Jack Horton, Staff Writer

All across the world many families have been estranged and many people have been denied access to various countries while attempting to cross borders. Additionally, countries have used taxes on imports in an effort to gain an upper hand against other countries. Such policies, due to their international human impact, must surely have a valid justification. However, despite the arguments that limiting immigration will lead to more domestic labor, this reasoning is insufficient to justify such an action. Additionally, I find that taxes on imports are actually overall more harmful rather than being useful tools to promote domestic production.

The first segment of this debate is in regards to a policy called protectionism. Those who practice protectionism generally follow the principles of seeing countries as rivals to each other. Additionally they would argue that if a country is not self sufficient then it can be influenced by other countries. Protectionism achieves country self sufficiency in theory by using tariffs. Tariffs are taxes on goods being imported into a country. In my view tariffs function as a double edge sword. While they do improve domestic production as many companies try to get around the costs of imports, tariffs can also cripple an economy if they prevent companies from getting vital materials for construction or fuel. If a company can not get these vital materials cheaply then they are forced to use shortcuts which ultimately have higher maintenance cost and are less functional. As for the argument of countries being more influenced without protectionism, this argument fails to account for the power of using trade access to influence countries. By promising countries trade another country can gain diplomatic leverage which they can turn towards military pacts, economic pacts, and other diplomatic agreements which overall lower domestic cost. This outsourcing and mutualistic cooperation between nations creates a greater flow of scientific discovery, cultural opportunities, and fosters less hostility. A counter to this argument is to focus on the various authoritarian regimes. These troublemaker countries can grow stronger from trade and therefore be able to promote their authoritarian ideologies abroad. This argument is analogous to the concept that if you disagree with speech then you should create better speech rather than censoring the speech you disagree with. In other words, if you disagree with authoritarian ideologies then the best way for your country to continue to promote non authoritarian ideologies is for it to promote its own ideology through cooperation, economic production, and political reform. However, countries which use unfair international trading exploits should be punished with tariffs to deter countries from trying or continuing to try similar exploits in the future.

The second segment of this debate has to deal with the concept of regulating immigration. Immigrants are economically useful as they both provide cheap labor and also buy various goods and services. This buying of goods and services creates jobs for people who can sell and create those goods and services. The counter often provided to such an argument is that immigration causes two functions which lead to social harm. The first is the idea that immigrants promote crime on a level greater than that of a local population. Supposing this statement is in fact true, one would think economically it would be better to reform criminals into useful members of society rather than expensive arrests and costly deportation. This is effectively the idea of a long term investment versus a short term gain. Such a policy of reforming criminals is expensive and short term. The second function argued that immigrants cause is this idea of weakening social unity as a result of other languages or cultures emerging within countries who accept immigrants. This point really comes down to whether you view a pluralistic society as a good thing. A society which includes many cultures while being unified by the idea of allowing many cultures is able to over time function better and have less instability as well as loss of ideas.

To conclude, there are reasons which necessitate these policies. An example is using fishing tariffs on countries which perform wasteful overfishing as a way to discourage these practices. A factor which could provide a valid reason for immigration control would be quarantine against pathogens or maintaining borders between extremely war torn mutually hostile regions.