I had an interesting debate against a conservative named Mark Krikorean on the Stossel show on the Fox Business Network on the subject of immigration. Krikorean heads up an organization called the Center for Immigration Studies, which calls for immigration controls.
As I have long pointed out, I find conservatives to be fascinating people. One reason for my fascination is that they advocate principles and policies that are opposite from each other and, even better, they don’t even seem to realize it.
Immigration is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Every conservative will tell you that he favors “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” It’s one of their most popular mantras. They use it in their speeches, post it on their websites, and have it on their business cards. They might even believe it.
But then they favor immigration controls, which are the exact opposite of “free markets, private property, and limited government.”
My hunch is that they don’t even notice the contradiction, until, that is, we libertarians point it out to them.
With the possible exception of public schooling and the Federal Reserve System, one would be hard-pressed to find a better example of socialist central planning than immigration controls.
Under immigration socialism, government officials plan the number of immigrants that will be permitted to enter the country, what their qualifications will be, the allocated number for each country, and other criteria.
Therefore, how can anyone, including conservatives, be surprised with the permanent state of chaos and crisis in the area of immigration? At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that’s what central planning does—it produces chaos and crises. Recall the title of Ludwig von Mises’s great book on socialist central planning: Planned Chaos.
The reason is simple: There is no way for government bureaucrats to have the knowledge and expertise to plan an intricate and complex system, especially one involving people from all over the world who wish to better their lives and one involving constantly changing market conditions. The bureaucratic belief that purports to have such knowledge and expertise, in the words of Friedrich Hayek, can be called “the pretense of knowledge” or “the fatal conceit.”
So, immigration controls are inherently defective. They are the cause of all the immigration chaos and crises.
Yet, statists, including conservatives, just cannot see that. Year after year, decade after decade, they come up with all sorts of reforms to fix the disorder. That’s what Krikorean’s group is all about—constantly coming up with “immigration studies” that study the chaos and crises (that are produced by immigration controls that Krikorean’s group favors!)
But no matter how many studies are done, no matter how many reforms are proposed, no matter how many reports are issued, the immigration chaos and crises continue. That’s because socialism is an inherently defective system.
Statists sometimes accuse libertarians of being impractical, but what’s impractical about endorsing something that works? Free markets work. We know that. They harmonize people’s interests. They enable people to enter into mutually beneficial transactions.
That’s what open borders are all about—free markets. People coming to together to transact and trade with each other.
Look at the domestic United States. It’s the biggest free-trade and open-immigration zone in history. It didn’t have to be that way. The Framers could have stated in the Constitution that each state would be empowered to establish immigration controls and trade restrictions against the other states.
Imagine they had done that. Think of the difficult task we libertarians would have today convincing people to amend the Constitution to abolish all those restrictions. Statists would be making the same arguments they make on immigration with respect to international borders. “It will make it easier for terrorists to cross state lines and get us.” “It will take jobs away from people in our state.” “It will create a trade imbalance for our state.” “People will come here to get on welfare.” “What if all Americans decide to move here?”
Fortunately, the Framers protected us from modern-day statists by ensuring constitutional protection against immigration controls and trade restrictions on a domestic basis. America’s system of domestic open borders is one of the reasons for America’s economic prosperity.
Not surprisingly, our American ancestors also favored open immigration on an international basis. That’s why the United States embraced open immigration for more than 100 years, until statists finally prevailed in bringing socialism to our land.
The free market is the cure for the perpetual immigration chaos and crises that besiege our nation. The free market would mean no more immigration chaos and crises.
For that matter, the same holds true for the drug war, welfare, education, the dollar, and so many other areas of statism within our society.