A system of immigration controls inevitably entails the destruction of a free society. That’s because of the enforcement measures that inevitably come with immigration controls, just as thunder inevitably comes with lightning. Immigration enforcement measures always and inevitably bring into existence an immigration police state, which, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, is the opposite of a free society.
This phenomenon is no big deal for conservatives. While they have long used pretty words in their pro-freedom mantras (e.g., “free enterprise, private property, and limited government”), everyone knows that conservatives support every socialist, interventionist, and imperialist program that comes down the pike, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid to dictators, torture, indefinite detention, warrantless surveillance, presidential sanctions, embargoes, and trade wars, and other totalitarian-type measures.
But this phenomenon is obviously of critical importance to libertarians. The reason is because libertarians are about freedom, genuine freedom. A free society is our goal. That’s what we are striving for, and we understand that a genuinely free society is one in which there are no governmental infringements on liberty. That’s why we aren’t interested in reforming welfare-state and warfare-state programs. We instead want them dismantled.
So, here’s the quandary for libertarians who favor immigration controls: They are, at the same time, favoring the police state that a system of immigration controls always and inevitably brings into existence as part of the measures that are enacted to enforce the government’s system of immigration controls.
That is, no doubt, why libertarian supporters of immigration controls never — repeat never — address the problem of immigration enforcement measures when they give their complex, convoluted arguments as to why they join up with conservatives and liberals (i.e., progressives) when it comes to the issue of immigration. They always scrupulously avoid the issue of immigration enforcement measures because they don’t want to be in the position of defending a police state under the rubric of libertarianism. That’s why they limit their arguments to supporting immigration controls generally and always, without fail, remain steadfastly silent about the issue of immigration enforcement measures that bring into existence an immigration police state.
Don’t believe me? Go look at any article or speech in which a libertarian supports immigration controls. I will guarantee you that the writer or speaker will say absolutely nothing about immigration enforcement measures. That’s because the writer or speaker, being a libertarian, simply does not want to put himself in the position of openly endorsing a police state.
Now, I say “never,” but that’s not technically correct. Some years ago, one libertarian who is an ardent supporter of immigration controls seemed to have finally come to the realization that immigration enforcement measures do in fact violate the libertarian non-aggression principle, which is the core principle of libertarianism. In one particular article he wrote, he implied he could no longer support immigration enforcement measures. If I construed his article correctly, he is the only libertarian I have ever encountered who had the courage to face the issue and then to resolve it in the correct manner.
However, I’m not sure he realized that that left him in the position of becoming, as a practical matter, a proponent of open borders.
If a nation has a system of immigration controls with no enforcement measures, what it essentially has is a sign at the border that says, “It is illegal to enter the United States without the official permission of the U.S. government.”
That’s it. Just a sign. No border control station. No stopping of people. No body-cavity searches. No questions regarding citizenship. No warrantless searches of vehicles and cell phones. No forcible disclosure of cell-phone passwords. No Border Patrol along the border. No highway checkpoints.
No beating up of people who refuse to answer questions. No roving Border Patrol stops and searches. No warrantless trespasses onto ranches and farms. No boarding of Greyhound buses and demanding to see people’s papers. No detention of people for speaking Spanish in the U.S. No violent raids on private businesses. No forced separation of children from parents. No forcible deportations. No Berlin Walls. No fake emergencies to justify totalitarian powers. No felony convictions and incarceration for hiring illegal immigrants.
Just a sign at the border or at airports that essentially says, “Do not enter without official permission.”
Do you see the problem? The problem is that given the laws of supply and demand and the inner drive that exists in human beings to better their lives and pursue happiness, most people who desire to come to the United States are going to ignore the sign and walk or drive right past it.
In fact, that’s how America’s immigration police state came into existence. When U.S. officials first enacted the law, hardly anyone complied with it. That’s why they had to begin enacting enforcement measures. Over the years and decades, as each enforcement measure failed to achieve the desired goal, new enforcement measures kept being added to the previous ones, so that today, we have ended up with a full-fledged immigration police state, especially in the American Southwest.
Of course, that’s no problem for conservatives given that they are convinced that a police state is “freedom” so long as it’s being enforced by officials who have an American flag on their sleeves. But a police state obviously presents problems for libertarians, given their deep commitment to achieving a genuinely free society, i.e., one without a police state. That’s undoubtedly why libertarians who join up with conservative and progressives on immigration inevitably remain silent when it comes to immigration enforcement measures.