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Why the Silence from Libertarian Immigration Controllers?


Let’s recap some of the recent events in the federal government’s decades-long war on illegal immigrants, a war that is part and parcel of a system of immigration controls, which a small segment of conservative-oriented libertarians have supported in the past.

A couple of months ago, a team of well-armed ICE agents raided a privately owned slaughterhouse in Tennessee. According to an article in the Independent, it was the largest immigration raid in more than a decade. With a helicopter flying overhead, the raid brought about the arrest of 97 people, “pulling breadwinners from the families and sending shockwaves through the quiet, rural community.” According to the article, President Trump and his immigration goons are doubling the number of workplace raids in their attempt to finally make their system of immigration controls work.

In an attempt to put a stop to what immigration controllers call an illegal immigrant “invasion” of America, the president recently sent U.S. troops to the border to enforce immigration controls. So far, the troops haven’t killed any of the “enemy” but are fully prepared to follow whatever orders they are issued to protect America from the “invaders.”

In Havre, Montana, a Border Patrol agent detained and questioned two American women who were caught speaking Spanish in a convenience store. What was the Border Patrol doing in Havre given that it is not located on the U.S.-Canadian border but instead 30 miles from the border? Because the Border Patrol has the power to control not just the actual border but also everything within 100 miles of the border, all around the United States. In other words, under immigration controls, the border isn’t actually the border but instead a huge swath of land within 100 miles of the border. That swath of land just happens to encompass 2/3 of all the people living in the United States.

Trump and his immigration goons are now enforcing a policy of forcibly taking away children of people who are caught illegally entering the United States. The idea is that if people in Latin America realize that they are going to lose their children if caught illegally entering the United States with them, they might be less likely to try to enter the country illegally, at least with their children.

Meanwhile, forcible deportations are soaring under Trump, who undoubtedly would love to receive the same immigration moniker as his predecessor President Obama: “deporter in chief.” According to an article on NBCNews.com, people “deported after being arrested away from the border jumped 25 percent to 81,603 the previous year.”

So, why the silence from libertarian immigration controllers? Wouldn’t you think that they would be ecstatic over this state of affairs and celebrating?

There are two reasons for the silence.

First, as I repeatedly emphasized for almost 30 years, no immigration plan is ever going to work. No matter what the president and ICE do, there will continue to be an immigration crisis. That’s why libertarian advocates of immigration controls aren’t celebrating. They realize that despite Trump’s immigration crackdown, the immigration crisis continues. Why celebrate if the crackdown hasn’t produced the desired result?

Here is an idea. Gather together all the conservative-oriented libertarians who favor immigration controls. Put them in big conference room in ICE headquarters. Add the top 100 immigration experts at ICE. Insert 100 conservative intellectuals into the room. Ship in a hundred of the fastest computers in the world. Give them one month to come up with an immigration plan. Implement the plan.

What will be result? An ongoing immigration crisis!

That’s the point that advocates of immigration controls just cannot bring themselves to accept — that there is no immigration-control plan that will ever work (just as there is no drug-war plan that will ever make the war on drugs work). That’s because labor movements are controlled by the laws of supply and demand, natural laws that cannot be repealed, rescinded, or nullified by government officials.

There is high demand in the United States for immigrant labor. Like at that slaughterhouse in Tennessee. That high demand is reflected by high wages being offered to workers. Immigrants see that high price and decide it’s worth the chance to sneak into the United States to accept it. The federal government cracks down. The supply of labor decreases, causing wage rates to go even higher, which motivates more people to sneak in.

Immigration controls are nothing more than a system of socialist central planning. A government board is in charge of planning and directing a complex labor market. Socialism inevitably produces crises or as Mises called it, “planned chaos.” Look at Venezuela. Look at Nicaragua. Look at U.S. immigration controls.

Ever since immigration controls were first enacted, they have failed to achieve their end. That has motivated immigration controllers to adopt an ever-increasing array of vicious and brutal enforcement measures, including turning employers into felons, implementing warrantless searches of farms and ranches, highway checkpoints, roving Border Patrol searches, and a Berlin Fence along the border.

With each new enforcement measure, hope has sprung eternal within the minds of immigration controllers. Maybe, just maybe, their system of immigration controls would finally work and they could finally celebrate. But none of it has worked. All that each new enforcement measure has done is increase the suffering, misery, and even death.

That’s why immigration interventions have always left advocates of immigration controls feeling empty, angry, and depressed. That was most recently reflected by Trump’s angry outburst against Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen because she hasn’t solved the immigration crisis. Trump just doesn’t realize that there is nothing that Nielsen can do to make immigration controls work. There is nothing anybody can do to make socialism work.

There is a second reason for the silence of those conservative-oriented libertarians who favor immigration controls: the nature of all these enforcement measures. Such advocates are obviously reluctant to come out in favor of violent, militaristic raids on privately owned establishments, or detaining Americans for daring to speak Spanish inside the United States, forcibly separating children from their parents, official beatings of citizens at highway checkpoints, warrantless searches of ranches and farms, roving Border Patrol checkpoints, the Berlin Fence, eminent domain to steal people’s property to construct the  Berlin Fence, turning American employers into felons, and other immigration-enforcement measures.

Why the reluctance of libertarian immigration controllers to openly endorse such enforcement measures? They all violate the libertarian non-aggression principle, the principle that holds that people should be free to live their lives the way they want so long as their conduct is peaceful — the principle that holds that the initiation of force is morally wrong.

Thus, it’s just easier to come out and favor, in an esoteric way, the general idea of immigration controls. Or to repeat Milton Friedman’s old (and incorrect) bromide that you can’t have open borders and a welfare state. But when you confront the libertarian advocates of immigration controls with the anti-libertarian enforcement measures that come with immigration controls, they go silent. It’s easier to embrace lightning and remain silent about the thunder that comes with lightning.

God has created a consistent universe. Socialism, along with the state violence that comes with it, produces nothing but chaos, crises, death, suffering, misery, anger, exasperation, and depression.

Freedom and free markets, on the other hand, produce peace, prosperity, morality, and harmony. They are the only thing that works.

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.