Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Bionic Mosquito’s Immigration Strawman


The Bionic Mosquito has an article today that takes libertarian Sheldon Richman to task for what Bionic says is a strawman, one that, he says, Richman has constructed with respect to the concept of culture.

In the process, Bionic defends the concept of private property by implying that the libertarian position favoring open borders violates the principle of private property.

Talk about a strawman! Open borders are consistent not only with the principles of private property but also the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government. It is actually government-controlled borders — and the enforcement mechanisms that come with them — that violate the principles of individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government.

Bionic is correct when he states that in a free society, an owner of private property is free to discriminate when it comes to deciding who is going to be permitted to enter onto his property.

That’s a no-brainer. You own your home. It belongs to you. You have the right to decide who comes into it and who doesn’t. The same applies to a business owner. He has the right to decide who comes into his store. The business belongs to him.

That’s libertarianism 101.

Let’s consider the 11 million illegal immigrants that currently reside here in the United States. As Bionic well knows, they are not living on public (i.e., government owned) property, such as streets, parks, and bridges. They are living in privately owned dwellings, either as owners or renters. They are there by consent. They are not trespassers because they have either purchased the property from willing sellers or rented the property from willing landlords. Moreover, they are working in privately owned businesses whose owners have willingly and voluntarily hired them.

How do immigrants get from, say, Mexico to privately owned dwellings and businesses here in the United States? It’s true that some of them trespass on ranches and farms along the U.S.-Mexico border, but that’s only because of immigration controls. If there were no immigration controls, there would be no illegal immigration and people would legally cross the border at public bridges and other such crossing points.

That raises the concept of public (i.e., government-owned) roads and bridges. They are nothing more than a means by which people go from private property to private property. Very few people live in vehicles that are parked on the public roads and highways.

What Bionic is suggesting, without actually coming out and saying it, is that if all roads, highways, streets, and bridges were privately owned, there would be no more foreigners coming into the United States because all the private owners of such facilities would discriminate against them by preventing them from using their facilities.

But that is a palpably nonsensical assertion. I repeat: today there are 11 million illegal immigrants who have found their ways into millions of private homes and businesses. I think it’s safe to say that the people who have sold or rented them the homes and apartments and the people who have hired them have not done so out of the goodness of their hearts. They have done so out of self-interest. They have made money selling homes to, renting apartments to, and hiring illegal immigrants. And the same applies to commercial establishments who have sold groceries, cars, clothing, and other consumer items to those 11 million people.

If roads, bridges, and highways were suddenly privatized, would all those millions of Americans suddenly lose their quest to make money? Of course not! They would be as interested in maximizing their economic status as they are today. They would want foreigners to be able to get to their privately owned dwellings and businesses.

We can also apply that principle to the private owners of the roads, highways, and streets. They would be interested in making money too. Why would they discriminate against foreigners when that would means reduced revenues? Why wouldn’t they behave like the millions of Americans who are renting, selling, and hiring immigrants?

The reality is that today roads, bridges, and highways are government-owned. Do we want government to have the authority to discriminate against people with respect to who is permitted to use the streets, highways, and bridges? Should the government have the authority to discriminate against Catholics, Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Mexicans, or anyone else on the basis of race, color, creed, or national origin? Perish the thought! If government is going to own the roads, streets, highways, and bridges, then those facilities should be open to all, thereby enabling people to go to privately owned dwellings and businesses with the consent of the owners.

The problem with the controlled-border position is clear: The controlled-border advocate wants government gendarmes to initiate force against a foreigner who I have invited into my home or my business. Sure, Bionic has every right in the world to exclude foreigners from his home and business. No question about that, and no libertarian is arguing otherwise. But that doesn’t entitle Bionic or the government to forcibly prevent foreigners from voluntarily entering my home or business. By doing so, he is violating my fundamental, God-given rights of private property, freedom of association, free enterprise, and economic liberty.

That, of course raises the concept of immigration-control measures, which controlled-border advocates never address because it makes them so uncomfortable. It’s really the Achille’s heel of the controlled borders faction within the libertarian movement. How about it, Bionic: How do you feel about Trump’s Wall, eminent domain to construct it, warrantless trespasses and searches of ranches and farms near the border, highway checkpoints to examine people’s papers, roving Border Patrol checkpoints, raids of homes and businesses, domestic airport checkpoints to examine people’s papers, and the forcible separation of families through deportations. What say ye about all of these police-state initiations of force against others? Do you defend them or denounce them?


This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.