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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Immigration Militarism


COME TO CHARLESTON! The Ron Paul Institute and The Future of Freedom Foundation are co-hosting a conference on U.S. foreign policy in Charleston, SC, on Sunday, April 29, from 1-5 pm. Speakers: Ron Paul, Dan McAdams, Richard Ebeling, and Jacob Hornberger, with special guest Congressman Mark Sanford. Details here.


Immigration statists are celebrating today! Their icon, President Trump, has granted them their long-held wish. He has just announced that he intends to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border by dispatching U.S. troops to that part of the country. You know — to defend our borders and our national sovereignty and, of course, to protect us from all those illegal immigrants who are “invading” our country (and stealing our jobs).

Trump and his acolytes have been terribly frustrated over his inability to get his infamous wall built along the border. Not only has Trump failed to persuade or force Mexico to pay for it, he’s also been unable to get Congress to do so.

It’s possible that all that mounting frustration over the wall induced Trump to suddenly decide to militarize the border. But the immediate cause of his decision came about because a group of 1,000 immigrants from Central America recently crossed Mexico’s southern border and were headed north in a caravan.

That did it! The illegals were coming! No doubt about it! That 1,000-man army was coming north to get us. They were undoubtedly planning on crossing the border at Brownsville or at (my hometown) of Laredo, take over the City Council and then the Texas state government and then head north to take over the federal government, where they would decree welfare benefits for all the poor people in the world.

Yikes! Batten down the hatches! Get your assault rifles ready! Keep your powder dry! The illegals are coming to get us. They are about to invade America.

Okay, I write in jest. But conservatives don’t. When they learned about that caravan, they became deadly serious about what they consider to be a grave threat to “national security.” When they learned about that 1,000-man army of illegals, they demanded that Trump send troops to the border to defend us from the invading army.

Consider, for example, some excerpts from conservative icon Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ website, which describes itself as “The online news source for conservatives and Tea Partiers committed to bringing limited-government constitutional conservatives to power”:

“Fox & Friends” reported on Sunday morning that a “small army of migrants [is] marching toward the United States.”

The UK’s Daily Mail also reports “An army of a thousand migrants from Central America are marching through Mexico to the US where they hope to get in by any means – legal or not.” And the UK outlet reports, “the number is only growing,” and “So far no one in Mexico has tried to stop them.”

What does a normal country do when its border and sovereignty are threatened by a hostile army? It sends troops to defend its border, and in some cases, it may even interdict the hostile army before it can breach the border.

This is the situation the United States finds itself in today as a hostile army, variously estimated at one to two thousand – and growing – is crossing Mexico headed toward the United States – and they are not merely a ragtag mob, they are organized.

Scary, right? The illegals are coming to get us, right? That 1,000-man army is getting ready to invade the United States, right?

Why wait for them to invade? Interdict them now! Bomb them now, while they’re still over there! Preventive war, just like the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein was coming to get us with WMDs and mushroom clouds! Oh my, where is John Bolton when we really need him?

Notice something important about conservatives, as reflected by the mantra on Viguerie’s website: They call themselves proponents of “limited government,” convincing themselves that a massive warfare state, including the militarization of the border, constitutes “limited government.”

Check out North Korea’s southern border. It is fully and totally militarized, just like Trump intends to do to America’s southern border. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the North Korean regime is not exactly a “limited government.”

Of course, the North Korean communist regime takes the same position as American conservatives: That it has the legitimate authority to “control its borders” by preventing people from freely entering or freely leaving the country. It’s the same position that the East German regime took when they had their version of Trump’s Wall during the Cold War.

Yesterday’s New York Times contained an article by a young writer named Tyler Page about a trip that he and NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof took in the Central African Republic, a country that is besieged by internal strife and civil war. Page writes:

Our drive, along a mostly unpaved one-lane road, took more than 15 hours; in the rainy season, our driver said it could surpass 20. Instead of tollbooths, there were armed checkpoints….

That’s what travel is like on highways in unfree countries — armed highway checkpoints. They have the same thing in Cuba, which most conservatives would acknowledge is an unfree country.

Well, guess what: Federal highway checkpoints exist here in the United States too, especially in the American Southwest. They are part of the enforcement of immigration controls and the drug war, which is another government program near and dear to conservatives.

That’s what conservatives call “limited government.”

The same for warrantless searches of farms and ranches, where U.S. federal agents wield the authority to trespass onto people’s property and conduct searches. No, not just for properties located adjacent to the border but also for farms and ranches that are located as far as 20 miles away from the border. It’s the same power that communist and other totalitarian regimes wield.

Conservatives call that “limited government.”

It turns out that that big 1,000-man army was just a group of Central American immigrants who were making an annual statement about the miserable and dangerous conditions in their countries and expressing a desire to escape to the United States to save and improve their lives and the lives of their families. That’s what all the hoopla is about. Did I mention that they weren’t armed, especially since Mexico and Central American countries have strict gun-control laws?

Perhaps it’s worth pointing out what an “invasion” is. It is what the U.S. government did to Iraq, where U.S. troops forcibly entered the country and proceeded to kill hundreds of thousands of people and destroy the entire country with bombs, bullets, torture, and assassinations, with the full support of American conservatives, who were as convinced that Saddam Hussein was coming to get them as they are today about the illegals (and the Muslims, ISIS, and the terrorists) coming to get them.

People who enter the United States to seek employment or to pursue happiness, on the other hand, aren’t invading. They are just exercising their God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as reflected in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Undoubtedly, young conservatives will exclaim, “Golly, a militarized border! Yippee! Why didn’t anyone think about that before now? After decades, the immigration crisis will finally be over.”

Well, I hate to rain on conservative parades, but someone did think about it before. That would be President Bill Clinton, another ardent supporter of immigration controls (and the drug war). During his term in his office, he sent troops to the border. After they shot 18-year-old American high-school student Esquivel Hernandez, Jr., who was just herding sheep when they killed him, Clinton gave up and ordered the troops to withdraw.

Isn’t it interesting how history repeats itself? Isn’t it even more interesting how proponents of immigration controls just keep doing the same things, over and over again, and remain convinced that they are going to get different results?

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.