I’ve gone and gotten hooked on Penn Jillette’s weekday radio show recently, thanks to the podcast that enables me to catch it out here in the Bay Area at times when I can manage to listen. In addition to being frequently hilarious, Penn very often has interesting things to talk about and insightful things to say about them. To borrow terms in which Penn frequently describes himself: He’s my kind of nutty libertarian atheist wack-job.

Monday’s episode regarding the pro-immigrant / “Day Without Immigrants” rallies held around the U.S. was especially good, and Penn managed to express almost verbatim what I’ve been thinking on the subject.

Open up the borders entirely. Let anyone in. In order to do that — in order to let anyone in — you have to stop running a socialist country.

Given sufficient attention to security concerns, I’m all in favor of there being a reasonable legitimate means for immigrants to enter the U.S. and petition for and obtain citizenship. It’s been said so often as to have become a cliché, but it’s an accurate one: We truly are a nation of immigrants — and who are we, once in the “club”, to shut the doors? Immigrants, on balance, contribute far more to this country than they take, and I think we should welcome anyone who wants to come here and contribute to and be a part of this way of life we’ve defined with open arms (though unlike some advocates of open immigration I think it’s reasonable to expect immigrants to assimilate to some extent). It should come as no surprise, however, that this desire for openness to immigration comes into conflict with the desire many people have for our government to guarantee citizens a growing array of social service provisions. Having the latter only lends fuel to the otherwise specious counter-argument that immigrants are a net drain on resources and here to take more than they give back.

On a related note: Given that there appears to be a fair amount of overlap between those who advocate on behalf of immigrants and the folks who continually insist that the U.S. is such a dreadful place to have to live, I can’t help but wonder how such people proceess the fact that there are so many people who want so desperately to come here and live in this supposed cornucopia of crises that they routinely endure great hardships and take great risks in order to do so. Do they simply think these people have been misled about the promise of America?

Seems like if it was that big a disappointment, word would eventually get around and the immigrants would stop coming in droves. And yet, they keep coming. Fancy that.