Imagine that you take your family on a vacation to Disneyland, but in this imaginary situation, Disneyland works differently than in reality. In our tale, when you arrive, there are 50 different entrance lines, one for each state in the Union, and visitors are required to join the line of the state in which they were born. Of course the lines are of vastly different lengths.

The line for Floridians—because of the comparative distance to Disneyland (in California) and Disneyworld (in Florida)—is nonexistent. There is a booth, and an attendant, for sure, but there is no need to wait, you simply pay the fee and you enter the park.

On the other hand, the wait time for people from Arizona (because of its proximity), and Texas and New York (because of their populations) is between ten and fifteen years long.

People born in California don’t even have to pay a fee to enter. These people claim a uniquely inherent right to enter Disneyland, and often get angry when “dirty” Arizonans are riding one of the rides for which the Californian is waiting. “They took my seat,” the simple-minded Californians argue, feeling personally violated, while the more sophisticated realize that although any given seat-taking-Arizonan didn’t take any given Californian’s seat, the presence of so many Arizonans certainly affects the supply and demand for seats on rides.

Because the line from their respective state is so long, some visitors don’t wait. Some “illegal visitors,” as they are sometimes called, have fake California ID’s made, while others sneak in under the fence, prompting many inconvenienced Californians to lobby for an electrified, barbed-wired fence, and sharpshooters to protect the perimeter of Disneyland. A few zealous Californians even prefer to help Disneyland Host Security (DHS) guard the fence rather than enjoy the rides, claiming that DHS is failing in its job to keep potential terrorists out of Disneyland.

tv_immigrants-waiting-to-en.jpgWho would want to visit such a Disneyland? Well, given that Disneyworld has its own problems with long lines from Georgia and Mississippi (in fact, Disneyworld recently had violence break out because several Georgians who had already been admitted couldn’t find any ride operators who would serve them), most people reluctantly tolerate what has become a decreasingly pleasant experience with Disneyland.

Such is the current U.S. immigration quota system. Granted, this policy is better than the days when the lines for people from India, China, and Japan were closed entirely or from the days when the quotas for Spaniards and Italians were microscopic compared to the quotas for the English and Germans. (The ratio between quotas for Germans and Spanish during this time was 391 Germans per Spanish.)

But when Mexico has the same quota as England you have to acknowledge that the system is unfair. England has Disneyworld, why would anyone want to travel across the Atlantic to visit Disneyland? Well, some do, but not nearly as many as who want to leave Mexico for the better job market, housing market, freedoms, security, and stability of the U.S. Thus, the line from Mexico is years longer than the line from England.

Throw into the mix that people with enough dumb-luck to have been born in the U.S. claim the uniquely inherent right to be here simply because of their nativity (an immutable characteristic, arbitrary from a moral point of view).

Clearly our immigration system is broken. How can we claim to have a democracy when we exclude morally equivalent people as those who we include? Still, the purpose of this post is to propose the smallest of changes, but that would certainly make our immigration system more fair.

Lump all quotas together and put all immigrants, regardless of nation of origin, in the same line.

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