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Immigration Hypocrisy, Left and Right


One of the best examples of the deep hypocrisy that pervades the liberal and conservative movements is immigration. It is here that one finds liberal-conservative hypocrisy in its purest form.

Consider liberals, who are currently crying crocodile tears over the deportation of immigrants who have been here illegally for many years. Liberals exclaim, “It’s just not fair. It’s so draconian. Trump should let those poor people stay here.”

Yet, when we ask those crocodile-tear-shedding liberals whether they are now prepared to join up with us libertarians and call for open immigration, whereby it would no longer be illegal for foreigners to enter the United States without official permission, they respond, “Oh, no! That’s too radical.”

Then what are you crying about? By deporting immigrants who are here illegally, the government is simply enforcing the law that you support.

“But some of them have been here for more than 10 years. Oh, it’s all so cruel and unfair.”

Okay, would you at least like to see the law amended to provide that any illegal immigrant who has been here for more than 10 years will be immune from deportation?

“Oh, no! That would be too radical. We can’t do that.”

Well, then, by deporting people who have been here illegally for more than 10 years, isn’t the government simply enforcing the law that you liberals support?

“But some of them have children who have been here all their lives.”

Okay, so are you saying that the immigration law should be amended to provide that illegal immigrants with children who have been here much of their lives should be immune from deportation?

“Oh, no! That would be too radical. We can’t do that.”

I figured out liberal hypocrisy back when I was in my mid-20s. I had returned to my hometown of Laredo, Texas, to practice law. I was a liberal Democrat. I believed that government had a legitimate role in helping the poor. I supported Democratic candidates for office. I believed in the welfare-state, regulated-economy way of life. I was the ACLU representative in Laredo. I served on the board of trustees for the Laredo Legal Aid Society, a government agency that provided free legal assistance to the poor.

One day, I was inside what was called the federal detention center, which was located outside Laredo. That was where U.S. officials incarcerated illegal immigrants. It reminded me of a Nazi concentration camp, with its barbed wire fences and high guard towers. Inside were hundreds of men whose only “crime” was illegally entering the United States to improve their lives with labor by working for American employers who wanted to hire them. I was there to interview men who I was representing as their lawyer. I had not yet discovered libertarianism.

That’s when the liberal hypocrisy occurred to me. As I looked around at all those men, it just hit me: If liberals really love “the poor, needy, and disadvantaged,” like they love to say they do, then why are they treating these people like this? Illegal immigrants are among the poorest people in the world. Why arrest, incarcerate, abuse, and deport them for simply trying to improve their lives with labor?

Doing some soul-searching, I began directing those questions to my liberal friends in Laredo. Their response was always the same: “It’s the law.” Yeah, so was segregation.

I came to the realization: With their self-professed love for the “poor, needy, and disadvantaged,” liberals were guilty of sheer hypocrisy. It was soon thereafter that I discovered libertarianism, whose philosophy of open borders treated immigrants in a way that was consistent with humanitarian, Biblical, economic, and moral principles. At the same time, I learned how the welfare-state, regulated-economy way of life, which is the socialist core of liberal economic philosophy, does such enormous damage to those at the bottom of the economic ladder. I learned how libertarianism is the key to rising standards of living, especially for the poor.

Unfortunately, the immigration hypocrisy is not limited to the left. It also afflicts the right. Consider the favorite mantras of conservatives, who have long been fierce supporters of immigration controls: free enterprise, free markets, private property, limited government, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bible, the Golden Rule, America’s heritage, and compassionate conservatism.

Yet, immigration controls violate every single one of those mantras. By seeking to improve their lives through labor, immigrants are simply pursuing happiness, which is one of the fundamental, natural, God-given rights that adhere to all men, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, which conservatives purport to revere. In fact, as the Declaration itself states, one of the reasons the British colonists took up arms against their own government was because their king had instituted immigration controls against the British colonies.

Open immigration is also consistent with Biblical principles and the Golden Rule, including: Love thy neighbor as thyself. It is also the essence of free enterprise and free markets, given that immigrants are entering into mutually beneficial economic exchanges with others. Open borders are also consistent with the Constitution, given that that document failed to give the federal government the power to control immigration. They are also consistent with the principles of private property and limited government, given that they don’t give rise to a vast army of immigration police who wield the authority to trespass onto people’s property without search warrants.

I’ve got an idea. Let’s have a big immigration conference. Libertarians could have a session on free-market economics and basic morality. Liberals and conservatives could have a joint session on the fundamental principles of hypocrisy.

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.