Libertarians and Immigration
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Laws that would have to be repealed for unrestricted immigration to be safe, or "How immigration can increase the role of government in your life."

Libertarians like immigration because they see it as increasing freedom (it doesn't, necessarily), and because the means of stopping illegal immigration tend to increase the power of the state.

Many become frenzied with enthusiasm for immigration, and that's why Peter Brimelow has been known to refer to us as "low-IQ libertarian loonies." (That's "high-IQ libertarian loonies" to you, Peter, thank you very much.)

But libertarians forget that as it stands now, immigration is just another government program, importing tax liabilities in the form of welfare cases, business liabilities in the form of affirmative action problems, and criminals against whom you're not allowed to defend yourself, and last but not least, importing political liabilities, in the form of voters who don't believe in freedom.

Here are some of things that should be dealt with before tearing down the fences:

1. Gun Control.

If you're going to import criminals, you should have the means to defend yourselves inside the boundaries of your own country. And it would be stupid to disarm the populace during an invasion. America's southern border includes a lot of formerly Mexican territory that the Mexicans would like back. (I think of this every time someone says, "I wish I could magically make all the guns in the United States just vanish."  If this magic trick didn't include all the guns in Mexico, it would also succeed in making Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada disappear.)

2. Anti-Discrimination Laws.

If I'm not allowed to decide who I'm allowed to hire or do business with, immigrants are going to cause problems.

Libertarians are mostly anti-racist in principle. But before we're anti-racist we're anti-slavery and pro-freedom, which is why in 1963 Frank Meyer denounced the Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Act in the same National Review column. (Frank S. Meyer, The Negro Revolution, NR June 18, 1963)

3. The Tax/Welfare System

Every productive person is taxed to support non-productive people. If we import more non-producers, then taxes go up.

For Libertarians this does mean the separation of school and state, and an end to free emergency rooms, if by "free emergency rooms" you mean the law that says that no one can be turned away from an emergency room.

As for the idea of letting people immigrate with the present welfare system in place, but barring immigrants from participating in it, that law already exists.

Any immigrant becoming a "public charge" within his first five years of residence can be deported, but the Government won't enforce this. They deported a total of 42 people for this in the period of 1961-1982.

Of course, welfare bureaucracies would be better if they would enforce or even obey the law, but only in the sense that cats would be more practical and useful if they could be taught to bark.

The Taxation and Welfare system is part of the principle described by the first Republican President:

It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

  Abraham Lincoln. Seventh and Last Debate with  Stephen A. Douglas, October 15, 1858

4. Democracy

"What! You want to repeal Democracy?" I hear you saying.

Calm down. It's not the demos that's the problem. It's the cracy.

"The Tyranny of Democracy" as L. Neil Smith calls it. As long as the majority rules, and rule means draft, tax, and jail, I am not enthusiastic about sudden changes in the majority.

Some claim that majoritarianism, despite its faults, is an alternative preferable to physical conflict.

They're wrong: majoritarianism is physical conflict. Elections are a process of counting fists, rather than noses, and saying, "We outnumber you—we could beat you up and kill you—you might as well give in and save everyone a lot of trouble.

Majoritarianism, to put it straightforwardly, possesses the full measure of nobility manifested by any other form of extortion.

— L. Neil Smith, 1989

Mork and Mindy are arguing about something to do with the house (which Mindy owns) and Mork calls for a vote. It splits 50-50 because there are only two people voting. So the next evening he brings home a homeless man and calls for a revote.

The Democrats are trying the same thing.

Libertarians should be concerned about the possibility of block voting by foreigners, or dissident elements in society, as in Northern Ireland, which may have reached the magic number of 51% Catholic population. This would allow victory in a referendum on turning Northern Ireland over to the Republic of Ireland. Once that happens, Protestants will go instantly from being a 49% minority to being a 3/35ths minority. (Unless they separate again.)

A similar referendum might turn much of the Southwest over to Mexico, if the Federal Government didn't go to war to prevent it, as happened in 1861.

5. Affirmative Action (Especially for Foreigners)

Giving affirmative action preferences to the American descendants of freed slaves might have some historic validity, but the Beninese immigrant from Africa is the descendant of slave merchants, and the Sudanese immigrant may be a slave owner himself.

And when your workforce is required by law to "look like America," you should be concerned about changes in America.

6. The Criminal Justice system as it now stands

The criminal justice system is broken, and it won't either punish criminals who have committed genuine crimes, or let go the average citizen who has done little or nothing.

It will more or less viciously pursue anyone who has defended himself against a criminal, and strips citizens of the means of self-defense. (Mentioned in point 1, it's the King Charles' head of libertarians, and if King Charles the Martyr had had a .45...)

7. Tort Law

Danger / Peligro/ Achtung/ Avis/ 

Did I forget anything ? Oops! That's $10,000,000 dollars I owe you.

If people are allowed to first injure themselves, then impoverish the nearest business with "deep pockets," then perhaps we shouldn't encourage people who don't speak English or understand machinery to come here.

8. Drug Laws

Crime is the 'dirty work' that some post-1965 immigrant groups are positively anxious to do—more violently, particularly in the burgeoning drug business, than the Mafia ever was.

Alien Nation, p. 185

Alcohol Prohibition produced Capone and the Mafia. The war on (some) drugs is doing the same thing, in six or seven new languages. Do we really want to learn the Russian for "consigliere" and "caporegime?"

As long as these stupid, pointless laws are on the books, criminal immigrants will have access to huge amounts of money with which to corrupt the police and politics. Legalize drugs, and Americans will be buying them for a dollar at 7-Eleven or McDonald's.

9. Cultural Imperialism

Instead of trying to make the U.S. hold all the people in the world, why not try raising the standard of living elsewhere?

Not by foreign aid, and not by bombing. (Bombing actually did more to help the post-war industrialization of West Germany than the Marshall Plan. German factories had to put in all new machinery because the old stuff had been bombed flat.)

But Americans, as individuals, and as businessmen, could help liberate foreign countries. America is the richest country in the world, and individual Americans could bribe governments to allow free enterprise. Does it surprise you that this is illegal under US law? The U.S. should get out of the business of trying to enforce other countries' laws.

10. Environmentalist Wacko Laws (Cue Chainsaw Theme)

Nuclear power is safer than any other form of power going, but that's not important now.

Rush Limbaugh reported on Dec. 7, 2000, that the population of California has about doubled in the last ten or fifteen years, but no power plants of any kind have been built in that period. (Limbaugh seems to think that these people have moved there from colder parts of the U.S.)

See "Games Antinukes Play" by Rael Jean Isaac, American Spectator, November 1985:

For the impact of intervenors has not been solely on nuclear plants. Utilities are reluctant to invest in building any new capacity: While it has been eight years since the last nuclear plant was ordered, in the last three years only one coal plant has been ordered. Yet demand for electricity has been growing steadily, and merely replacing existing aging plants means new capital investment essential. Essential or not, Frederick Mielke, chairman of the board of Pacific Gas and Electric, Remarked in February 1985:  "No prudent investor would risk the capital needed to build coal or nuclear plants  in California." By their actions, it is clear that utility executives around the country share his sentiments.

More recently, see Phony Deregulation By Adrian T. Moore in Reason, November 2000:

Many pundits complain that no new capacity has come online since restructuring, but they don't bother to ask why. First, the restructuring law forced California's utilities to get out of power generation and sell their power plants—so they aren't investing in new ones. Several groups have applied to build new generation plants, some of them immediately after the law was passed. But even after four years, those new plants aren't likely to come online until next year because of the glacier-slow approval process.

The "carrying capacity" of the North American environment can be raised (by building more homes, and more power plants, and liberating more land), but that's illegal. Perhaps California should stop doubling its population every ten years until it catches up.

Enough points. Paul Craig Roberts has written powerfully about the dangers an overbearing American government poses to Americans. So has Jim Bovard. Even The Weekly Standard has started to take notice.

Even at its most dangerous, however, the American government is one of the better governments in the world. Ask a Mexican or a Guatemalan. Hell, ask an Englishman!

Libertarians who think that unrestricted immigration is an unmixed good should remind themselves that included in the baggage many immigrants bring with them is a tradition of statism, and that for every one who thinks like Tibor Machan there are a dozen who think like John Kenneth Galbraith or George Soros.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves if unrestricted immigration to a democratic country is likely to increase human freedom, or decrease it.

Forget the Statue of Liberty for a moment; and look at the New York City Council. Is that the kind of government you want?

June 6, 2001

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