Libertarianism Has Only One Position on Immigration

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It is sometimes claimed that libertarianism encompasses two different positions on immigration. One position is the controlled-borders position, and the other is the open-borders position. 

That claim, however, is false and fallacious. Libertarianism is an internally consistent philosophy. It does not embrace contradictions. It’s either one or the other.

So, given that the controlled-borders position and the open-borders position are opposite to each other, how do we determine which one is the true libertarian position?

There are three ways:

The most important way is to determine which position is consistent with the libertarian non-aggression principle. That’s the principle that holds that it is morally wrong to initiate force against a human being.

A border is nothing more than an artificial line that delineates political jurisdictions. Sometimes it’s possible to easily identify the line — for example, when a river forms the border between two states (e.g., Maryland and Virginia) or two nations (e.g., the United States and Mexico). Other times, it is impossible to see the border. Oftentimes, people cross from one state to another not realizing that they have crossed a border until they see a sign that says, “Welcome to the state of Nevada.”

When a person crosses a political border, he is not initiating force against anyone. For example, every day many people cross the Potomac River from Maryland into Virginia. No one knows how many because no one keeps count. When they cross the river and enter Virginia, they are not initiating force against anyone. They are not violating the libertarian non-aggression principle 

The same principle holds true for an International border or any other border. When a Mexican citizen walks across an international bridge spanning the Rio Grande, which is the border between Mexico and the United States, and enters Laredo, Texas, he is not initiating force against anyone. He is not violating the libertarian non-aggression principle.

What if a person crosses the Rio Grande by trespassing onto a privately owned ranch or farm? Then he is violating the libertarian non-aggression principle. But the only reason so many immigrants do that today is because it is illegal to cross at the established publicly owned crossing points. 

Thus, when the government sends armed agents to interdict someone crossing a border at a public crossing point, it is the government that is initiating force against a peaceful human being. It is the government that is violating the libertarian non-aggression principle with its system of immigration controls.

Another way to ascertain which immigration position is the libertarian one is with respect to unnatural deaths. Libertarianism is a glorious, life-inducing philosophy. When a system is producing a large number of unnatural deaths, one can easily conclude that that system is not libertarian.

The current immigration control system produces a large number of deaths arising from people who are attempting to circumvent the controls in search of a better life. Such deaths occur from thirst or dehydration from crossing arid lands, from suffocation while being transported in the backs of 18-wheelers, from drowning while swimming across the Rio Grande, from being shot by Border Patrol agents, or from murder by drug cartels.

None of those deaths would occur in a system of open borders. That’s because people would be crossing the border in the normal ways. 

A third way one can determine which position — government-controlled borders or open borders — is the libertarian position is with respect to a police state. Libertarians abhor a police state because it is antithetical to the principles of a free society. The quest for liberty is at the heart of the libertarian philosophy.

The government-controlled system brings into existence a police state to enforce it. Domestic highway checkpoints, roving Border Patrol checkpoints, warrantless trespasses onto ranches and farms and warrantless searches of such properties, boarding of Greyhound buses to check people’s paper, and violent raids on American businesses. They are all part and parcel of a government-enforced immigration system. 

All those police-state measures would disappear under a system of open borders. That’s because they would no longer be necessary given the absence of the government-controlled system that brings them into existence.

Libertarianism is the most glorious and honorable political and economic philosophy that has ever been discovered. It is not a philosophy that embraces the initiation of force, unnatural deaths of human beings, or the imposition of a police state. The thought that libertarianism embraces the immigration-control position held by both conservatives and liberals is patently ludicrous. 

The post Libertarianism Has Only One Position on Immigration appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.

* This article was originally published here

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