With laws come enforcement. Whenever one supports a law, he necessarily supports the enforcement of the law. After all, it wouldn’t make any sense to support a law and oppose its enforcement. That would be like supporting lightning and opposing thunder.
This point is an important one for libertarians in the context of the immigration debate.
There are obviously lots of people, including some libertarians, who support immigration laws — that is, laws that prevent the unrestricted entry by foreigners into the United States.
The support of immigration laws is no big deal for non-libertarians. For them, immigration laws are, in principle, no different from any other laws.
Not so for libertarians, however. Libertarians pride themselves for being about freedom. Liberty is the essence of the libertarian philosophy. It’s what sets us apart from liberals, conservatives, and everyone else.
Thus, as part of the freedom philosophy, libertarians oppose socialism and police-state totalitarianism and support the right to do “anything that’s peaceful.”
There’s one big problem, however, for libertarians who support immigration controls: The enforcement of immigration laws entails socialism, police-state totalitarianism, and infringements on economic liberty. That means, obviously, that libertarians who support immigration controls are, at the same time, supporting socialism, police-state totalitarianism, and infringements on the exercise of economic liberty.
Is that a good thing?
What does it say for a philosophy that prides itself on freedom when its adherents are endorsing socialism, police-state tyranny, and infringements on economic liberty? Doesn’t that make libertarians just like everyone else?
Immigration controls involve socialist central planning. A government commission plans, in a top-down, fashion, the movements of millions of people, usually as part of a complex international labor market. It assigns quotas to each country and it decides the qualifications for entry.
It shouldn’t surprise any libertarian that there has been an ongoing immigration “crisis” for than 50 years. Every libertarian knows that that’s what central planning, as compared to a free market, does. It always produces economic crises or what Ludwig von Mises called “planned chaos.” Is there any better term than that to apply to America’s immigration situation?
Mises also pointed out that when government intervenes in a particular economic activity, each intervention will inevitably lead to more interventions, in order to fix the crises that always arise from the previous interventions. Ultimately, the situation moves increasingly in a totalitarian direction.
If you would like to see what a police state looks like without going to Cuba, travel to the border regions of the U.S.-Mexico border. The area is filled with agents of the Border Patrol, who have the authority to enter onto (i.e., trespass) onto people’s ranches and farms without a warrant. Oftentimes, they leave gates open and damage the natural habitat with their vehicles. They don’t care. They know that they can’t be sued for what they do. They know that they have the authority to “control the border” and that private owners had better not resist them.
And no, we are not talking about only ranches and farms along the border itself. We are also talking about ranches and farms miles away from the border.
Take a trip down to my hometown of Laredo, Texas. But if you are a dark-skinned Hispanic you had better be sure to take your passport with you. No, I’m not saying anything about traveling into Mexico and returning. I’m saying, just go to Laredo, Texas, and never enter Mexico. Then, try driving north without your passport. You will not be permitted to go north and return home. Unless you can get your passport sent to you, you might well have to spend the rest of your life in Laredo. That’s because the immigration gendarmes will not let you proceed through their highway checkpoint 40 miles north of town unless you can show your papers.
If you think you can avoid the problem by taking a flight to San Antonio or Dallas, forget it. At the airport, the immigration police are there too. You not only have to go through a TSA check, you also have to go through an immigration check, even though you’ve never entered a foreign country. If you’re a dark-skinned Hispanic-American who can’t speak English very well (and there are many of those in Laredo and elsewhere along the border), you’re not going anywhere unless you can provide your papers.
On a flight out of Laredo, a young Hispanic man seated next to me, who was born and raised in Laredo but who now lives in Dallas, told me that when he comes to Laredo to visit family, he always carries his passport.
And it’s not just in Laredo. Go to Arizona and travel east-west on the Interstate highway. You’ll encounter the same types of checkpoints.
You might decide that you’re not going to cooperate with these officials by refusing to answer their questions or to show your papers. Be prepared for the possibility of having your car window shattered and being dragged from your car, beaten up, and incarcerated. That’s what they sometimes do to people who don’t show the necessary deference to their authority.
What better example of police-state tyranny than these immigration checkpoints? They’re in the American Southwest and they’re also found in communist Cuba.
Should libertarians really be supporting this sort of thing?
That’s not all. There are also roving Border Patrol checkpoints. That’s when the immigration cops just drive around and stop cars indiscriminately and demand to search them. No warrant. No probable cause. Just a “reasonable suspicion” because your car seemed to be riding a bit low and, therefore, might have illegal immigrants in the trunk.
By the way, if they find illegal drugs during any of these immigration checkpoints, I don’t need to tell you what happens. Just ask Willie Nelson.
Should libertarians be supporting this sort of thing?
That’s not all. Remember the point that Mises made: Every new intervention brings new interventions, ultimately leading to omnipotent government.
To enforce immigration controls, they’ve made it illegal to hire, transport, or harbor illegal immigrants.
What does that mean? Let’s assume that a housewife in Laredo hires an illegal immigrant to be a maid or nanny. The immigrant likes the deal because otherwise she wouldn’t have entered into it. If that maid or nanny spends the night in her employer’s home, the employer is guilty of both hiring and harboring an illegal immigrant. Those are felonies, crimes that carry hefty terms in jail.
Or suppose the employee is just a day laborer. At the end of the day, a rancher or farmer gives a ride to his employee to the international bridge. If he happens to be pulled over by an immigration cop, he will be charged with transporting an illegal alien, once again a felony.
Let’s not forget the immigration raids on private businesses in cities across America — that is, the places where American employers have hired illegal immigrants owing to their strong work ethic. Here we have a perfect example of a peaceful, harmonious exchange. The employer wants to hire the foreigner and the employee wants to take the job because it’s much better than what he can get back home.
And then the raid takes place. Well-armed immigration SWAT teams suddenly swarm into a business, screaming and yelling, terrifying everyone, separating out the illegals and arresting them and summarily deporting them, oftentimes without permitting them to notify and say goodbye to their spouses and children.
That’s what a police state looks like. That’s what libertarian supporters of immigration controls are supporting. That’s what they’re trying to get the rest of us libertarians to support — socialism and police-state tyranny.
And it’s not going to stop. We all know that. Despite more than 50 years of the ongoing crisis that immigration controls have produced, nothing has changed. Everyone is still pacing the floors and pulling out his hair in consternation over the immigration “crisis,” a crisis that is caused by immigration controls themselves.
So, that means more and more plans and interventions, which means moving more and more in a totalitarian direction. And the movement toward totalitarianism — toward omnipotent government — becomes permanent because no plan and no intervention will ever accomplish what they want to accomplish.
Is this what libertarians want? Is this what the libertarian movement has come to — the support of socialism and police-state tyranny for the sake of such things as expedience, credibility, or respectability? Are we going to become like the liberals and conservatives?
Heaven forbid. Libertarians and libertarianism are the last best hope for mankind, including people everywhere who are simply trying to pursue happiness and better their lives. We stand for freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony among the people of the world. Let’s keep it that way.