Newsweek is about as mainstream as one can get, right?
Now, consider the fact that yesterday Newsweek published an article by libertarian Jeff Tucker entitled “To Become Even More Prosperous We Should Open Our Borders,” which is a full-throated call for open immigration and free trade.
The article was originally published on the website of The Foundation for Economic Education, where I worked as program director from 1987-1989. Like FFF, FEE is a libertarian educational foundation that has long called for open borders. In fact, when I first discovered libertarianism in the late 1970s, one of the FEE essays that had an impact on my libertarian intellectual development was one published in 1951 entitled, “The Freedom to Move (pdf)” by Oscar W. Cooley and Paul Lewis Poirot.
Amidst a decades-long immigration uproar that revolves almost entirely around the hope that immigration controls can finally be made to work, I consider it astonishing that a mainstream publication like Newsweek suddenly decides to publish a piece calling for open borders.
Why would they do that?
I think the most likely reason is the practical one. Freedom and free markets work while immigration controls don’t.
Some people undoubtedly think that the so-called immigration crisis is new. Not so. The immigration crisis has been an ongoing crisis for decades.
There is a simple reason for that: the immigration controls themselves produce chaos and crises. There is no way around it. And no matter how many immigration reforms have been adopted over the decades, the chaos and the crisis have not only remained but have actually gotten worse.
That leads to but one conclusion, one that the Newsweek editors might be sensing: There is no possible plan that will make America’s system of immigration controls work. That is, no matter what plan is adopted, the chaos and the crises will not only not disappear, they will actually grow worse.
There is a simple reason for that: a system of immigration controls is inherently defective. That means that nothing can be done to fix it.
So, the natural question arises: Why should anyone continue endorsing a system that he knows is inherently defective — that is, one that he knows cannot possibly work no matter who is in charge of it and no matter what reform is adopted?
Take a look at the comments beneath Tucker’s Newsweek article. Most of them are the nasty diatribes that statists hurl at libertarians whenever we propose open borders. But notice something else: None of the commenters offers a plan as to how to make immigration controls work. That’s because they can’t. No one can come up with a way to make an inherently defective system work.
On the other hand, we all know that a free-market system does work. It enables people to work together for mutual self-benefit. It harmonizes their interests. It provides people with the opportunity to trade, which increases the standard of living of both parties to the transaction. Economic liberty improves the economic well-being of everyone in society.
What does a free market in immigration mean? It means open borders — the right of people to cross borders peacefully in search of jobs, to tour, to open a business, to visit, or whatever.
That doesn’t mean that everyone who freely enters the United States suddenly becomes an American citizen. Everyone retains his citizenship, unless he wishes to apply for new citizenship. He retains his citizenship and is simply here as a foreign citizen visiting, touring, working, investing, or whatever.
There is something else to consider about immigration controls: With each reform, America moves one more step in the direction of a totalitarian police state. Who wants to endorse a position that comes with national identification cards, highway checkpoints, warrantless searches of farms and ranches, roving Border Patrol checkpoints, a fence or wall that resembles the Berlin Wall, separation of families, snitches, and raids on private businesses?
What about foreign citizens who commit crimes? They are treated the same as American citizens who commit crimes. They are arrested and prosecuted for the crime.
What about foreign citizens who have committed crimes in the country from which they fled. That’s what extradition laws are all about.
Think of it this way: Suppose the United States threw open its borders for the summer. Everyone who wanted to come to the United States as a tourist would be free to do so. Every foreign tourist would retain his citizenship.
Who would complain about that? Certainly not American businesses! They would love the revenue generated by all those foreign tourists.
Now, just extend that principle from summer to all year long, and from touring to working, investing, and opening businesses.
In fact, under a system of open borders no one would really care who was a citizen and who wasn’t. How many times do Americans today ever ask to see the citizenship ID of a person? I’d say: Never. The only people who do that are agents of the federal government. We certainly never see Walmart, Macy’s, or McDonald’s ever demanding to see citizenship papers before selling items to people or posting signs that say, “Immigrants are a burden on us and, therefore, are not welcome to buy here.”
Or look at it this way: Every day, citizens of Maryland and Virginia cross back and forth across the state line. No one knows how many and no one cares. They are visiting, touring, traveling, working, investing, or whatever. The border doesn’t disappear. It remains intact. It’s just that people are free to cross it without governmental interference. When people enter into the new jurisdiction, they are subject to the laws of the new jurisdiction. If they commit a crime, they are subject to arrest and prosecution.
That’s the way that open borders internationally would work. Just think: No more immigration chaos. No more immigration crises. No more police-state measures. Just peaceful, harmonious interactions among people.
For a great explanation of open borders, read Jeff Tucker’s Newsweek article. It would be difficult to find a better case for open borders than it.