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.

Open Borders and the Welfare State


In my article “Death, Suffering, and an Immigration Police State,” I pointed out how conservatives who have come into the libertarian movement have brought some of their conservative baggage with them, including their position favoring a massive and intrusive system of government monitoring and control of the peaceful movements of people across international borders. I stated that since death, suffering, and a police state are inherent parts of a system of immigration controls, libertarians should oppose efforts by these conservative libertarians to induce them to abandon their principled position in favor of open borders in favor of the conservative-liberal (i.e., leftist) position favoring immigration controls.

Yesterday, I receive the following response to my article:

Thank you for writing Death, Suffering, and an Immigration Police State. I have long argued for open borders, but only if we also dismantle the welfare system since one of the biggest arguments against open borders is that illegal immigrants exploit welfare programs. Can you point me to one or more reliable sources that might help me to better understand whether that argument has any validity?

Here is the response I sent him:

Hi [first name],

Thanks for your interesting question. The answer is a moral one: We libertarians must continue to adhere to principle even if statist welfare programs result in causing us to pay higher taxes. If we permit the statists to induce us to abandon our principles for the sake of expediency, they win and they celebrate because there is nothing they would love more than to have us join them in their wrongdoing. We have to continue standing for what is right and opposing what is wrong.

Thus, with respect to immigration, we have to continue standing for liberty even if it means paying higher taxes.

Another example — the statists’ drug war. One might argue that we libertarians should join up with conservatives and liberals and support drug prohibition until Medicaid is abolished. The idea is that if we were to legalize drugs today, many drug addicts could use Medicaid to support their drug habit or rehab program, which would mean higher taxes for the rest of us. I hold that libertarians must continue hewing to principle and calling for the immediate end to the drug war, even if the potential exists for higher taxes.

In other words, we should continue focusing on ending the wrongdoing — ie, the welfare state (and the taxation that funds it) — and continue standing on principle by steadfastly standing in favor of open borders and drug legalization.

Another thing to consider is that during the time that one is supporting a system of immigration controls until the welfare state is dismantled, which could be a long time, he is, at the same time, supporting a system that is producing death, suffering, and a police state, as I point out in my article today. Obviously that is not an attractive position, especially for a libertarian.

Best regards,


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.