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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4417/the-libertarian-immigration-conundrum/

The Libertarian Immigration Conundrum

December 8, 2005 by

The immigration issue is heating up in all parts of the world, and libertarians have a major contribution to make to the debate. There is internally debate on the issue but the two main views on this subject are not really at odds. Libertarians can condemn both restrictive and open immigration, under current arrangements, as contrary to liberty and prosperity, in favor of a position that removes the state and its borders from being the primary political consideration. FULL ARTICLE

{ 94 comments }

Michael A Clem December 8, 2005 at 9:40 am

A very nice summation of the libertarian view and the problem facing libs in existing society–alas, the heart of the problem and the arguments is what is the proper “interim” solution? I disagree with Hoppe that the nation as a whole should be treated as if it were private property. While there may be no simple solution, I would push towards a general open border policy, while at the same time discouraging welfare benefits to non-citizens and encouraging the rights of property owners to deal with or be protected from trespass. In short, let’s discourage the government from taking extreme immigration measures, and instead allow the private solutions to work as much as possible.

Duane Cochran December 8, 2005 at 10:04 am

You stated it well when referring to ideal situations as Utopian. While the state exists, and I live in this ponzi sheme nightmare, adding more ‘players’ to the distribution of available goods (extorted from me in the first place) can only diminish my already shrinking resources.

Under the current circumstances I cannot support or afford open borders. Since every aspect of my life IS regulated, the costs associated with this influx of humanity is slowly, but surely, smothering what little freedom I manage to extract from this vale of tears.

This short message in response to your great article cannot convey a hundreth part of what could be said – duty calls (I owe, I owe, so off to work I go).

Fritz Angermeyer December 8, 2005 at 10:08 am

If I am living in any country and it is my wish to contract a foreing employee, because I think his/her work is better, the government or anyboby cannot prohibit me to do it. I am the owner of my firm, and my house. The only border that matters is that that start and finish on my door. Libertarian or anarchists againts my right to hire whatever employees do not make any sense. They are not libertarian, they are fascists

Fritz

Ike Hall December 8, 2005 at 10:11 am

Congratulations on an excellent article, Mr. Bylund, it’s always great to read your well-reasoned articles.

My favorite part was the second footnote, and it underscored another fundamental “conflict” within libertarianism: that of freedom of association, especially within or between existing human cultures. Many of the current problems associated with immigration have as much to do with this, I think, than whether they are using tax-based resources. (Not all immigrants are net tax-eaters.) Tolerance is indeed a necessary trait in a free people, but stable social relations are necessary to maintain liberty. Everyone needs to know where they stand in relation to their neighbors so that they may either accept the prevailing cultural norm and work towards achieving it, or reject it and move. Contracts help tremendously in this regard.

Hoppe said (I’m paraphrasing) at a seminar last summer that he did not think that, in the absence of the State, any geographical area much larger than a county would be socially and politically stable over the long haul, and I think he’s right about that.

Michael A Clem December 8, 2005 at 10:15 am

Duane, you forget one thing: it is quite unlikely that politicians will ever actually implement a full, closed-borders position. It is too political useful to them to allow various exceptions.

Marwan December 8, 2005 at 10:17 am

Like many other libertarian viewpoints this issue presents us with a conundrum. We all agree in the Utoian or ideal sense of the idea; however, we get lost in the practical application given our current situation.

This article helped unify the idea of no borders — i think we all agree on that.

The problem is that we DO live in a country and it DOES have borders. The invitation or repulsion of immigrants by the government WILL cost all of us regardless of which policy they advocate.

Truly securing the border is impossible and opeing it up completely will flood us with an ever increasing supply of parasites who will be granted voting rights eventually becuase they are good serfs and will voluntarily succumb to the government aparatus. Hell, why not? They don’t have any rights now and they are broke, when they come here they may have marginally more rights but they won’t be broke. What politician doesn’t want a constituency like that?

The practical answer, arm the border-hoppers and arm the border-agents — they can take each other out, which leaves the rest of us with less immigrant parasites and less government agent parasites.

Louis Cox December 8, 2005 at 10:22 am

I am the president of USA according to Hoppe’s argument, that is repeated by Bylund, I am the owner of this country (my private property). Well both are not allowed in my property. I’m gonna decree that order to my Secretary.

L. Cox (II WW veteran who fought against fascism)

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 10:37 am

This is a slippery article and I am having trouble getting a handle on it. I’ll comment more later, but my initial impression is that it is a not very honest attempt to avoid some hard questions.

Fritz, your position is nonsense. People generate waste and take up space. Did you ask all your neighbors if they would be willing to bear the additional load on the infrastructure? Also, your foreign workers have to traverse the property of others to get to your door.

John Christopher December 8, 2005 at 10:38 am

I am stunned to learn that Libertarians could oppose open immigration. Is there a pro-government/anti-freedom wing inside the Libertarian movement? Anyway, as a Libertarian, I am more interested in emigration to a pro-immigration, government-free land (ideas always welcome).

Marco de Innocentis December 8, 2005 at 10:39 am

The problem is not how to treat immigration in a libertarian society but rather: how should we deal with immigration, given that the State is here and is not about to go away? Only the latter question is of practical importance.
“Open borders” together with anti-discrimination laws is clearly a violation of property rights.
My proposals, not very different from Hoppe’s, are

1) Immigration should be made a local issue, not one regulated by the central government.

2) All anti-discrimination laws should be abolished.

Marco de Innocentis December 8, 2005 at 10:43 am

John Christopher: libertarianism stands for the protection of liberty and property. If you agree that the state should use “public” resources (i.e. financed with money stolen from taxpayers) to help immigrants, then you should probably ask yourself if you really are a libertarian.

John Christopher December 8, 2005 at 10:55 am

Marcos de Innocentis: Where did I support the idea of the State using resources to help immigrants?
In any case, I am quite willing to drop the libertarian label if it associates me with people against open immigration. My dreamed “pro-immigration, government-free land” would certainly not use resources or the Law to fight/regulate/help immigrants. Maybe I should have written “immigration-tolerant” instead of “pro-immigration”. I am still amazed that Libertarians could oppose immigration.

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 11:04 am

John,

Should a libertarian society allow the immigration of socialist revolutionaries?

Michael A Clem December 8, 2005 at 11:12 am

Decentralization seems to be a good idea on most issues, so getting the feds out and making immigration a local issue is probably a good idea. The latter proposal, about abolishing anti-discrimination laws, is another noble idea, but perhaps only marginally easier than, say, getting rid of government welfare.

John Christopher December 8, 2005 at 11:12 am

Absolutely! Socialist immigrants are welcome! If they break the Law, for instance using violence to raise taxes… the Law will apply! By the way, how do you prevent socialist revolutionaries from entering your country? They fill in Form DE4-L21-a where they swear the are neither socialists nor terrorists? How do you expel from your country your daughter who has become a socialist revolutionnary? In any case, the key is to abide by a clear and simple Law focusing on defending freedom and private property.

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 11:20 am

John,

Everywhere and always, the law is what the most people or the most guns say it is. If the most people or the most guns are socialist, your formerly libertarian society will be just that: formerly libertarian.

Marco de Innocentis December 8, 2005 at 11:24 am

John: you didn’t, but if you don’t support it that creates a problem. In a libertarian society there can be no such thing as public property, all property is private. In a statal system like the real world however, there are two problems

1) The state provides public services out of taxpayers’ money. Immigrants are eligible for services (like free health care) which up to that point have been subsidised by citizens.

2) Citizens may not enjoy the company of the new immigrants, but they have no say in the matter thanks to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The owner of a restaurant can’t refuse to serve them, and the owners of accommodation can’t refuse to let them to immigrants. This is not free immigration, it’s forced immigration. And it doesn’t work.

I myself enjoy living in a colourful, cosmopolitan environment (I live in London and was born in Italy). But we have to admit that forced immigration doesn’t work: it produces social conflicts, crime, riots, etc. Remember the riots in France a few weeks ago, or those in Bradford and other northern English cities a few years ago.
This is why I think the best solution is simply remove immigration from the responsibility of the central government and assign it to local communities. So if an Indian software engineer gets an offer for a job in London and London has a relatively pro-immigration policy, he can move over there without many formalities. However, that doesn’t mean he will automatically be allowed to settle anywhere else in the UK, and he may even find that even in parts of London there are some restaurants or clubs, or maybe apartment complexes, where he is not welcome. This should not shock anyone.

Marco de Innocentis December 8, 2005 at 11:26 am

“This is not free immigration, it’s forced immigration.”

Sorry, I meant to say “forced integration”, not “forced immigration”.

Mike Linksvayer December 8, 2005 at 11:32 am

To a non-libertarian bystander, the discussion of the two alternatives must seem quite absurd.

To this libertarian the idea that the Hoppe position, used to back enforcement of government borders now, is libertarian or pro-property is patently absurd.

Destroy the nation state through conflating its territorial mononpoly with private property! Hrmpf!http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/category/apartheid/

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 11:40 am

The Western social democracies use immigration to import more constituents and breed social conflict to justify their existence, in effect postponing the libertarians’ oft-predicted day of reckoning.

The Mises Institute’s response to this expansion of the state is to posit a hypothetical. Heroic.

Marco de Innocentis December 8, 2005 at 12:02 pm

Incidentally, I believe that until late in the 19th century immigration to the US was a local (i.e. state) issue, not a federal one.

Curt Howland December 8, 2005 at 1:28 pm

As usual, this subject brings out the worst in people.

One of the things some few “libertarians” never ask themselves is, “How is it done NOW?”

I’ve moved multiple times. Whether it’s across the town, across a state, across a country or internationally, I have never trampled on anyones private property to do so, nor have I depended upon government license. Oh sure, I’ve *gotten* the license, but that license did not include the power to infringe upon anyones property rights.

I believe this is what the “property rights” “side” doesn’t get. There is always someone willing to rent me a room where I wish to go. There is always someone willing to sell me some space. So far, I have been able to find work on entirely voluntary terms where ever it was I chose to go, or I moved on to where I could find such work.

Not once, anywhere, has a libertarian “open immigration” advocate also advocated theft of land, squatting, or some invented “right” to a square inch of space previously owned by anyone else that was not voluntarily transferred.

“Borders” are irrelevant to the property issue, because the property issue is already solved. It is exactly the same issue solved when I moved out of my family home, the same issue solved when YOU did exactly the same thing.

Sheesh! It is no wonder that there are otherwise intelligent people who don’t “get” libertarians. Arguing non-issues is not a way to win friends or influence people. Every “abuse” mentioned in this blog is one of government interference in private property. “Public” property, welfare payments, “allocation” of limited resources. None of which have anything to do with immigration!

Caley McKibbin December 8, 2005 at 1:43 pm

“To this libertarian the idea that the Hoppe position, used to back enforcement of government borders now, is libertarian or pro-property is patently absurd.”

It’s a gross distortion to refer to that as his position. He merely compares the justness of open borders, as bound with forced integration, to closed borders. His conclusion is that closed borders is the preferable of the two.

“The Western social democracies use immigration to import more constituents and breed social conflict to justify their existence, in effect postponing the libertarians’ oft-predicted day of reckoning.”

That’s a nice conspiracy theory, but it doesn’t even seem to work out as that when you consider that the same policy has the equal and opposite effect by destroying the state’s social engineering within the territory.

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 2:16 pm

Curt,

Again, that’s a nice, non-controversial hypothetical but fails to deal with the reality that immigration in its present form strengthens the welfare-warfare state by importing more constituents.

Caley,

The government engages in social engineering by forced integration (i.e., criminalizing discrimination) and effecting transfer payments to poor immigrants.

Laurence Vance December 8, 2005 at 2:30 pm

John is “stunned to learn that Libertarians could oppose open immigration.” He is “quite willing to drop the libertarian label if it associates me with people against open immigration.” He is “still amazed that Libertarians could oppose immigration.”

Most libertarians who favor “open borders” really don’t mean it. Is John in favor of letting someone with a known deadly disease into the country? Is he in favor of admitting known criminals into the country? If he is not in favor of these things then he is not for open immigration. He might be in favor of open immigration with some restrictions, but he is not in favor of open immigration.

Assuming that we had an open borders policy, what if the entire country of Zambia suddenly decided tomorrow that they wanted to come to the United States? Would this be a good thing? Should there be no restrictions on who comes in? What if 20 or 30 of them wanted to use John’s swimming pool? Do they need permission? John would object that his pool is not their property and therefore they would need his permission. I would say that no part of this country is their property either and that therefore they need permission to enter and stay. This doesn’t mean that libertarians who disagree with John hate immigrants. And it certainly does not mean that they are not libertarians.

My position? After much study of this issue, I would say that Hoppe is correct. I may contribute an article to the debate in the future.

Neil Craig December 8, 2005 at 2:47 pm

The idea that Europe has created a Fort preventing immigration is demonstrably wrong – demonstrated on the streets of Paris.

One option would be to take the model of the corporation & each citizen as a shareholder of one vote. Thus to buy a share in USA Inc, ie immigrate, would require selling your share in Bangla Desh Inc & I suspect, paying the seller or selling government a substantial sum. A requirement of this would be that free trading in citizenships is allowed to everybody. A possible problem in this is quite a lot of elderly people without children might fancy taking their retirement fund to Goa but their substitutes would young & fertile.

The main problem is that libertarianism, while arguably the best way to run an economy, is not all their is to a nation. Nations survive on the loyalty of citizens from pro Patria Mori to bearing witness to crimes – I don’t know how you assure such loyalty but it doesn’t come by making immigration either free or for money.

Don Beezley December 8, 2005 at 3:16 pm

I would suggest that Marx was right about one thing–the eventual wasting away of the state, though obviously for a long list of reasons that he couldn’t grasp and that have nothing to do with egalitariansim. While such wasting away (becasue of the expansion of liberty) will mark the ultimate and final evolution of human beings, we currently live in a world of nation states and will continue to for hundreds of years at least. In the meantime, national sovereignty can represent bad things (a “national” prison violating the fundamental nature of human beings ala the old Soviet Union and any number of other countries around the world), or represent a country like the US doing a half assed (and, of course, increasingly poor) job of protecting life, liberty and property. In the meanitime, I will do what I can to preserve the sovereignty of the least bad option or options available to me.

The important issue with immigration (as in trade) is understanding that it is human beings that ultimately have value (which can come to maximum fruition only in liberty), and lines on a map (national sovereignty) have value (in today’s nation state world) only to the extent that the government inside those lines understands this and protects the freedom of human beings. The more they do so, the more value the lines have, the less they do so, the less value they have.

For libertarians, the intelligent position is not to oppose all immigration based on property rights–that starves us of the ultimate resource–the minds and talents of other human beings. Nor to advocate completely open borders, because of the irrational policies of our own government that will utimately whore out the souls of many immigrants be teaching them dependency and move us farther from the goal of a free society.

What we can do is advocate policies that preserve the benefits of immigration and the (current) benefits of sovereignty: Expand the number of legal immigrants and tie citizenship to 3 basics:
–If you are employed for three straight years, receive no public assistance and commit no crimes, you’re in. And yes, God forbid, that implies a role for the limited nation state in this issue, just on more rational grounds that reflect the fundamental issues and values at hand.

Those who would advocate any policy approach that denies the nature of reality is not an idealist or a principled libertarian; he is a fool as surely as the environmetalist who says there should be no SUV’s and stands in the middle of the road like there aren’t any until one runs over him. Those who advocate anarchy in today’s world are not advocates of liberty, they are a threat to it, and retard real progress towards it.

Curt Howland December 8, 2005 at 3:20 pm

Steamship, again you are confusing the issues. The issue you raise is the military-industrial complex, not immigration.

John Christopher December 8, 2005 at 3:28 pm

Lance, my pool is my pool, you have no right over it and certainly no right to say who cannot swim in it. If I don’t mind 20 people from Zambia in it and they are willing; why would you use government violence (immigration laws) against my freedom? You may object that, to reach my pool, they would have to trespass over the properties of people who may object… How would those 20 people be different from 20 dudes from Boston? Human beings are human beings and equal in their fundamental rights to freedom and private properties. So the way you handle travel for members of your family across the USA should be the same way you handle travel for my twenty buddies born in a different country. They are sick? Are you going to prevent a sick American from Boston to settle down in Seattle? He is a criminal? Same as the criminal moving back from Washington D.C. to Dallas.
I am 100% with Curt that that problem is not immigration but government intervention. The right “targets” are not immigrants but government people and their actions.

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 3:38 pm

Curt,

Government proponents of immigration have expressly cited expansion of the tax base as one of the desired effects.

More people means the locality has to build more roads, more sewers, etc. And more poor, violent people means more EASL instructors, more social workers, more cops, etc. The net tax producers in the locality are not asked whether they would like to bear these additional costs. The policy is set in Washington D.C. Nor are the locals consulted on whether they want their culture transformed.

Government immigration is rent-seeking, pure and simple.

Larry N. Martin December 8, 2005 at 4:04 pm

Good gosh, Steamship. If it’s really as you say, why do you want to protect the government from its own destructive tendencies? Wouldn’t they simply be hastening the day of reckoning for *government*?

Som December 8, 2005 at 4:10 pm

Man i wish i had this paper for backup at my Economic Issues with immigration class last year (a meaningless GPA booster that professors use as fodder for “research”). I did a ideal policy presentation and just about everyone was offended by it. I gave the libertarian “ok we open the borders so people can be invited in, but will get no tax funded handouts or support from the gov”, and out here in california i criticized the socialist health care were injured immigrants pile up emergency hospital and create shortages, and i concluded with complete health care privitazation and repealing minimum wage laws, to remove all shortages of jobs and health care no matter how many immigrants fall and “cant get up here” Those last two points really pissed off my professor too :).

HOWEVER, and EVERYONE in the class intuitively agreed with this position, I argued that immigration be handled by local governments instead of state governments or the federal government. This is a very libertarian stance (comparatively to current ideology) and amazingly everyone agreed. After the snide remarks on how i’m heartless (sad, i laughed) I got more and more questions about the local immigration policy alternative. One girl (who i know is very socialist from her presentation) even said “yeh it makes sense, why would i let someone from DC, who barely has any idea of what goes on here, make decisions on how many people we let in, but what about national roads?” my answers was denationalize them, keep all territorial roads owned by local gov instead. Everyone seemed to agree with that too

Anyway my point is, just like abortion, the best policy is to let local governments decides. No, not county, state, or federal, just local governments, closest to the people. Just about Everyone intuitively agrees with this, and if the libertarian movement needs a strong stance on the immigration issue, localization is very good start that everyone can identity with.

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 4:25 pm

Larry,

The welfare-warfare state is importing more constituents and breeding social conflict, which it uses in turn to justify its existence. It also abets the continued centralization of power with the federal government, since that is the only entity to which the new arrivals pledge their allegiance.

Mass immigration is a self-destructive policy for libertarians to advocate. The Third World isn’t crossing the Rio Grande with their copies of “Man, Economy and State” held aloft to keep them dry. We have enough home-grown social democrats. Why import more?

Richard Fuerle December 8, 2005 at 5:51 pm

There are many functions that people would perform themselves in the absence of a state, such as the apprehension and punishment of criminals. But not only does the state take over these functions, it prohibits people from competing with it by performing those functions themselves. Were there no state, the people would determine who can enter onto land they own; now the state does it and prohibits the people from doing it.

If the state prohibits you from doing that which you have a natural right to do, and seizes your money to pay for it to do the job, surely you do not violate any rights by trying to get the state to perform that job to your liking.

Each of us has the right to keep people off our land, including streets and parks that were seized from us by force by the state. But the state prohibits us from doing that, both as individuals (Civil Rights Laws) and as groups. If it violates no rights if we do it, then it cannot violates any rights if the state does it as we want it done. We can, after all, make the state our temporary agent.

As Per pointed out, unfortunately we cannot disentangle exactly who owns what. Perfect justice is not possible and, until something better comes along, the political process is all we have.

Ohhh Henry December 8, 2005 at 8:30 pm

The welfare-warfare state is importing more constituents and breeding social conflict, which it uses in turn to justify its existence. It also abets the continued centralization of power with the federal government, since that is the only entity to which the new arrivals pledge their allegiance.

Yes, SteamshipTime, I think this is pretty much correct.

As a Canadian I have very little experience with the warfare state (except in that it was extremely strong in Canada in the WWI and WWII eras and has left a legacy of big government), but I can certainly testify that it is the welfare state and its voracious appetite for taxpayers that has caused our government to seek to import far more immigrants per year, per capita, than any other nation on earth; and it is the welfare state which is the biggest attraction that brings immigrants to Canada.

Mass immigration is a self-destructive policy for libertarians to advocate. The Third World isn’t crossing the Rio Grande with their copies of “Man, Economy and State” held aloft to keep them dry. We have enough home-grown social democrats. Why import more?

I really don’t think that mass immigration would exist in a libertarian state, unless there was a shortage of workers for some reason. Assuming a steadily growing free market economy, with no welfare or business subsidies, there would only be a relatively small flow of immigrants in any given year, subject to the availability of jobs and housing.

The Economist December 8, 2005 at 8:44 pm

The world’s rich nations is an extremely exclusive club whose membership is very snobbish to the poor. The problem with open-door immigration is obvious: a rich nation adopting this policy would be flooded with the poverty-stricken masses of the uncivilized world. However adopting open-door immigration between different members of the club causes no problem. In fact this situation exists within the borders of sovereign nations. Anyone can freely leave New York and head to Arizona and vice versa. Similarly you can leave Poland and make a living doing plumbing in Paris.

The open-door policy that exists internally in the US causes no problems for socio-economic stability. The policy causes some problems for the French. And it is unthinkable to adopt for a country the size of Mexico. What is the pattern here? When is an open door immigration policy problematic and when is it not problematic? Obviously the French are not going to massively depart from France and move to England, but Poles have less trouble doing the same, and Mexicans dream of it. The requirement for an open-door policy is for economic liberty and security, and the prosperity that comes with it, to exist on both sides of the door. Then a peaceful equilibrium is quickly established.

If you leave a corrupt unfree country for a free country you are not an immigrant, you are a refugee. Mexicans in the USA are economic refugees, and if Americans want to solve the refugee problem they must look at encouraging freedom and security in Mexico instead of trying to turn the border into a fortress.

David Andersson December 8, 2005 at 9:22 pm

Now, there will always be a (limited) public domain in all geographical jurisdictions, even privatized corporate ones. Property rights will only be created/divided as long as the perceived benefits exceed the perceived transaction and exclusion costs associated with creating and maintaining the new property rights.
But, public spaces that are shared among a group of people in spatial proximity can be shared in corporate form, as in condominium developments.
Therefore, the solution to the immigration issue is to transform states into publicly traded corporations, with voting rights proportional to ownership.
While this is in principle similar to Hoppe’s argument, Hoppe makes a lot of unnecessary empirical assumptions that are frequently untrue. For example, he believes that people prefer their own ethnic and socio-economic group. I will use myself as a counterexample. I am an “educated” Swede who lives in an ethnic Chinese agricultural neighborhood in Taiwan. Would I prefer to live in a Swedish or more “educated” neighborhood? Definitely not. Why? Because I perceive the average “educated” Swede to respect the property rights of their neighbors (i.e. me) much less than the average “uneducated” Taiwanese. While it is true that I’m using roads that Taiwanese taxpayers paid for before I arrived, you could say the same about Taiwanese children.

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 9:25 pm

“Mexicans in the USA are economic refugees, and if Americans want to solve the refugee problem they must look at encouraging freedom and security in Mexico instead of trying to turn the border into a fortress.”
_________________________

The Spanish oligarchy which rules Mexico has no incentive to provide economic opportunity, since the US obligingly takes in a mestizo and Aztec underclass which might otherwise be back home in Chiapas plotting revolution.

This is why Honduran and Guatemalan immigrants attempting to make their way overland to the US through Mexico’s southern border are captured and beaten by Mexican border police.

Fritz Angermeyer December 8, 2005 at 10:21 pm

Whoever address my point. I just wanna add that in a stateless but law ordered society, neighbors would tend to share some values, would arrange privately if employees pay or not pay a fee, or even if visits should pay any or not. contracts would internalize that. You all may thing that you are libertarians or dare to think you are anarchists, but neither of you can apply their reason to understand a little bit how a stateless society could work. you are a bunch of statists who maybe do not know how to carry a gun or shot either. Rothbard would excommunicate all of you commies

Fritz

Blah December 8, 2005 at 11:12 pm

The state provides public services out of taxpayers’ money. Immigrants are eligible for services (like free health care) which up to that point have been subsidised by citizens.

In that case, we should either 1) get rid of the state or 2) not allow immigrants to get “free” health care until they have paid a certain amount of taxes. I say that immigrants have a right to be here, and I will not advocate any violating of their rights; I will only advocate solutions 1 or 2.

Citizens may not enjoy the company of the new immigrants, but they have no say in the matter thanks to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

In that case, the state has violated your rights. Infringing the rights of a third-party (immigrants) by not allowing them to be here only makes the situation worse. The only way to fix the problem is to abolish anti-discrimination laws.

Is John in favor of letting someone with a known deadly disease into the country? Is he in favor of admitting known criminals into the country?

I would argue that every property owner, whether a private property owner or the State, should mandate that people with deadly diseases or known criminals only be allowed on their property if they are being transported to a destination that will accept them (i.e. a hospital or a prison). If the property owner does not state that rule, then I would probably choose to avoid their property. I don’t see how national or local borders are a factor here.

Assuming that we had an open borders policy, what if the entire country of Zambia suddenly decided tomorrow that they wanted to come to the United States?

Great! I would ask them if I could use their abandoned capital goods, since they won’t be using them anymore.

Would this be a good thing?

For some people yes, for others, no. If you own a store, then you definitely want more people to buy your goods and compete for your wages. For others, it won’t be as good, but they can always move somewhere less crowded. You only have the right to control your own property…not what other property owners around you choose to do.

I would say that no part of this country is their property either and that therefore they need permission to enter and stay.

Many businesses would like to give permission to foreigners to enter their stores and buy goods. Why should other property owners be able to stop this? You should only have a say over YOUR property, not anyone else’s.

Mass immigration is a self-destructive policy for libertarians to advocate. The Third World isn’t crossing the Rio Grande with their copies of “Man, Economy and State” held aloft to keep them dry. We have enough home-grown social democrats. Why import more?

If we want to teach people about liberty, we should show them liberty.

The problem with open-door immigration is obvious: a rich nation adopting this policy would be flooded with the poverty-stricken masses of the uncivilized world

So what? Put the poverty-stricken masses to work. Let them chase the American dream. For the life of me, I just don’t see the problem here.

SteamshipTime December 8, 2005 at 11:26 pm

Blah,

The problem with importing poor people is that they are net tax consumers. They are not interested in learning about liberty; they are interested in getting something for nothing like all the rest of humanity, as the Austrian school itself teaches.

There is actually plenty of “liberty” in the Third World. Bribes to government officials are probably equivalent to what you would pay Somalian bandits to refrain from killing your family.

Arman Demirjian December 9, 2005 at 2:08 am

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Marco de Innocentis December 9, 2005 at 5:36 am

John:

“Lance, my pool is my pool, you have no right over it and certainly no right to say who cannot swim in it.”

And who enforces this right? Currently the state, paid for with your taxes.

“If I don’t mind 20 people from Zambia in it and they are willing; why would you use government violence (immigration laws) against my freedom?”

Your freedom to do what?

“You may object that, to reach my pool, they would have to trespass over the properties of people who may object… ”

The point is that if industrialised countries opened their borders to everyone, they would be deluged with refugees from all over the world (particularly Europe at first, but eventually North America and Australia as well). It’s better to be sleeping on the street in Austin, Texas, say, than in a slum in Guatemala. And it’s better to live in the streets in Rome, Paris or Madrid than in Monrovia. With no borders there would mass immigration of economic refugees into industrialised countries until the above conditions no longer held. That is, until the economic and social order in industrialised countries broke down.
Earlier I was assuming that by “open borders” you meant free immigration of workers, but this is insane.

Allen Weingarten December 9, 2005 at 7:07 am

I see merit in both points of view, namely that individuals should have freedom of movement (as well as the right to hire whom they please) and also that there should be complete property rights. I view these as moral and desirable, and therefore recognize the possibility of finding them compatible, or at the very least, permitting tradeoffs.

Nevertheless, I am very much against open borders as well as absolute property rights, because I believe that in the case of emergencies, survival trumps morality. Today, illegal entries contain those with illnesses, criminal records, hostility toward America, and other disabilities. Moreover, we have a welfare system wherein there are all sorts of costs to many individuals.

I recall when Cuba took many of its prisoners, diseased, and mental defectives, put them on a boat, and sent them to America. This was far from a boon to our citizens. Now I have heard the arguments that the costs of such immigrants are not large, and that the slippery slope renders them acceptable. Yet consider the situation in France, where the 10% Muslim population commits most of the crimes, and uses most of the social services finances. If France permitted 20% of their population to become Muslim, they could handle the problem. Yet what if there were 40%, or 80%, or virtually all of such turnsters. Would libertarians still hold to their principle of open borders? Perhaps the anarchists would, because it surely would have the benefit of destroying the state.

At any rate, my case is not on a moral basis, nor a pragmatic one, but on a different principle, namely that survival trumps morality and pragmatic considerations, for absent survival, there can be neither morality nor effectiveness.

Wild Pegasus December 9, 2005 at 9:15 am

John T. Kennedy nailed this one:

My basic point is that preventing free immigration requires targeting peaceful individuals with deadly force. There is no other way to prevent what they oppose.

Those advocating such immigration control ought to be willing, in principle, to go down and patrol the Mexican border themselves and employ deadly force against a peaceful individual who wants to come mow my lawn.

- Josh

Curt Howland December 9, 2005 at 9:30 am

Steamship,

The problem with importing poor people is that they are net tax consumers.

So again, the problem you cite is not the importation of “poor people” at all, it is the fact that government redistributes wealth to buy votes.

What I find astounding is that you, over and over, point out how government is the problem. Then you claim the answer is to restrict immigration. This is a classic error of “non sequiter”, your conclusions to not follow the facts, not even the facts that you present.

John Christopher December 9, 2005 at 9:30 am

In a column (http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/rothbard.html), Lew Rockwell writes: “Actually, Rothbard held the same position his whole life: there is no right to immigrate (as he writes in Ethics of Liberty) but rather immigration should be by invitation, not invasion, as consistent private-property rights economics would dictate. In the exact opposite of what a market policy would be, the state forbids invited people to immigrate, but permits hordes who have no invitation to come on down”.
I guess the issue is really what an invitation is. If someone can reference an article where Rothbard elaborates on this what is an invitation, I am interested. In the meantime, I will start reading the book.
To me, renting a room to a foreigner, hiring his services is an invitation. What I cannot accept is involving government into the invitation process. I support a no-border approach to immigration with no law whatsoever on immigration. If private ownership is respected, immigration is not an issue. Don’t you think that opposing the free-border approach is really supporting a government-managed immigration?
Why would government violence be unjustified and ineffective for education, health care, money, trade, guns, drugs… but justified and effective for immigration? Why such an exception? Education, health care.. are as much a question of survival than immigration. While Libertarians realize that government is not the right tool for survival in all the above fields, they make an exception for immigration.
Most Libertarians agree that killing, stealing and slavery are crimes and that doing business is not a crime. Why would immigrating be a crime? It is perfectly possible to move from location A to location B in full respect of property rights. It is important because only violent crimes may require government intervention. And why immigrating from Mexico would be more a crime than immigrating from Oslo? As if stealing could be a crime unless you steal the poor. Why would Libertarians drop their principles just on immigration?
Once the state is entitled to intervene in the field of immigration, be sure that big-government will be back soon. If Libertarians need help to build a Department of Immigration Sanity to decide who has a right to move in and how, Bush and Chertoff might be available to share the experience. Apparently, Fidel Castro could also bring cool ideas to the table. Will the Libertarian wage a war on immigrants while being otherwise anti-war?
All the problems associated with immigrants are really the direct consequences of government intervention. Libertarians would now be in favor of fixing governement-created problems with more government? Assuming a Libertarian world, if you don’t like immigrants from France or New Zealand, don’t rent them a house, dont’ sell them your land, don’t purchase their services, buy ads in Paris and Wellington to convince people to stay there… but don’t use government violence. The integrity of the Law is precious.
In the end the only relevant fight is the fight against government. Supporting government is more dangerous to society than being a foreigner, poor, speaking broken English, and willing to immigrate to the United States or Canada to enjoy a better life.

Paul Edwards December 9, 2005 at 11:27 am

John,

Thank-you for the Rockwell quote: “Actually, Rothbard held the same position his whole life: there is no right to immigrate (as he writes in Ethics of Liberty) but rather immigration should be by invitation, not invasion, as consistent private-property rights economics would dictate. In the exact opposite of what a market policy would be, the state forbids invited people to immigrate, but permits hordes who have no invitation to come on down”.

I was feeling off balance on this question, and somehow this thread was making it worse as both sides were striking chords with me. Perhaps it really is as Per is saying, we’re looking at two sides of the same libertarian coin.

SteamshipTime December 9, 2005 at 12:32 pm

Curt,

The welfare-warfare state uses immigration to perpetuate its existence.

When welfare and civil rights laws are eliminated, immigration will be drastically reduced as the immigrants and their employers will be forced to bear the entire cost of their travel, employment, and residence here. Immigration will then be governed by market forces rather than by bureaucrats eager to implement their cultural Marxist vision.

Until such time, there is no principled argument for open borders since so long as the state controls the borders, immigration is just another form of rent-seeking.

Klueless December 9, 2005 at 3:12 pm

Current birth rate in US is 4 million per year.

That is 4M newcomers entering the society every year, by a “private invitation”.
These newcomers initially do not have any basic skills to survive, not even the ability to speak and read.
They *definitely* use tax resources and public property during the first 18 or so years.

Now – why an immigrant coming by a private invitation, with completed education and in good health, should be treated any worse than a newborn American?

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