Monday, August 31, 2015

FedEx Packages

In keeping with the GOP's attempt to keep up with Donald Trump's fascist appeal, Chris Christie proposed a technocratic "solution" to undocumented immigration. I put solution in scare quotes not because his policy plan is ridiculous, but because I remain unconvinced that undocumented immigration is a problem to be solved. By and large, immigration is a boon for the economy - it tends to positively impact citizens' earnings, has minimal impact on domestic unemployment, and are comparatively less likely to be violent criminals than citizens.

What Christie proposed was a bit silly in its phrasing. Par for the course for Christie. According to Christie 40% of undocumented immigrants are here on expired visas. He proposed that we use FedEx's expertise with tracking packages in order to track human beings. The video is under the cut.

As a New Jerseyian and an anarchist, I have never liked Chris Christie and still don't. His only redeeming quality in my opinion was his response to Hurricane Sandy that bucked the pseduo-academic suicidal policy principles of his party - namely implementing price ceilings for gasoline and allocating Federal money to actually help people in desperate need. I say this to make it clear that what I am about to say is not a defense of Christie.

The immediate reactions from Christie's detractors all centered around the theoretical inhumanity of objectifying and surveilling non-citizens. Supposedly, this would make resident aliens into a dehumanized subclass. My question is: Would it really be a subclass?

The fact is that the word "undocumented" actually does have a meaning here. It's not merely a political buzzword that is kinder than the term "illegal." It means that these folks don't have documents and therefore the government is unable to document them. As a citizen or legal resident alien the government knows from postal records where you live; they know from employment records where you work; and they know from educational records where you and your family go to school.

Unbeknownst to him, what Christie is really proposing is to come up with better ways to surveil, to monitor, to track, to document them with the same level of increasingly invasive scrutiny that the government at all levels reserves for its citizens. Perhaps the easiest way to do that would be to significantly ease the unnecessary restrictions on immigration & residency and abolish the concept of citizenship altogether.