It’s been a while since I have seen any articles by libertarians who support America’s system of immigration controls. I can’t help but wonder whether the reason for that is the immigration system’s massive death and suffering that has recently been reported by the mainstream media. After all, any system that produces massive death and suffering is obviously not an easy sell.
As I have long pointed out, libertarian advocates of immigration controls always, without exception, fail to address a big problem with a system of immigration controls: enforcement. Such libertarians always limit their arguments for joining up with the statists on this particular issue by relying on esoterica, such as by arguing that everyone in the world would flood into the United States, go on welfare, and force Americans to learn communism, Islam, or Spanish. In doing this, they ignore the fact that in order for the government to prevent people from illegally entering the United States, the government must engage in enforcement measures.
At first, enforcement is weak, which means that people circumvent it. That then induces the government to adopt an ever-increasing array of harsh, brutal, ruthless, and tyrannical measures. Yet, owing to the great disparities of economic opportunity between the United States and their countries of origin, immigrants are willing to risk getting caught or even losing their lives. They keep coming, which causes federal officials to crack down even more brutally, ruthlessly, and tyrannically.
That’s why that father and daughter drowned in the Rio Grande recently. The video of their dead bodies on shore was widely published by the mainstream media. The victims were circumventing the tremendous immigration enforcement crackdown along the border. The same holds true for the people who are dying of thirst trying to enter the United States via deserts in the Southwest. The same for those people who die in the backs of 18-wheelers. They are all trying to evade the increasingly harsh enforcement measures designed to keep them out of the United States.
Also, there are all the children who are suffering tremendous psychological damage from being separated from their parents by federal officials. There is also the squalor in America’s immigration prisons.
Consider also the federal criminal prosecutions of Americans who come to the assistance of illegal immigrants. Indeed, if an American had seen that father and daughter drowning and jumped in, saved them, and rushed them to a hospital, there is no doubt that federal agents would have arrested and prosecuted him for helping them illegally enter the United States, transporting them, and harboring them. It’s all part and parcel of enforcement of immigration controls.
There is another reason that libertarian advocates of immigration controls never mention the problem of enforcement. That problem is the police state that comes with all this harsh enforcement. Things like highway immigration checkpoints on U.S. highways, where people who have never entered Mexico are subject to complete warrantless searches, including body cavities. There are roving Border Patrol stops, which stop and search people and their vehicles for arbitrary and capricious reasons. There are warrantless searches of ranches and farms within 100 miles of the border. Federal agents boarding Greyhound buses and demanding to see people’s papers. Immigration officials forcing Americans who are returning from vacation in a foreign country to deliver their cellphones and passwords to federal agents to enable them to copy the personal data on the phone.
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, there is no way to reconcile a police state with libertarianism, which is a philosophy of liberty and limited government. That’s another reason why libertarian advocates of immigration controls never address enforcement in any of their articles pleading with libertarians to abandon their principles and join up with the statists on the immigration issue.
There is another inherent problem with America’s system of immigration controls, one that libertarian advocates of immigration controls also never address: central planning, which is a core feature of socialism. Under America’s immigration system, federal officials centrally plan how many immigrants to let into the United States, what their qualifications will be, and from what countries they will come from. As anyone in Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, or any other socialist country can attest, central planning produces crises, or what the economist Ludwig von Mises called “planned chaos.” Is it any wonder that libertarian advocates of immigration controls never address this fundamental problem? How does one reconcile socialism with libertarianism?
Let us libertarians leave the deaths, suffering, tyranny, and immigration police state to conservatives and liberals, who continue supporting and defending America’s system of immigration controls. Let us libertarians continue standing firmly in favor of liberty, free markets, private property, morality, religious principles, harmony, and limited government by standing fast in favor of a system of open borders.