Last week, I delivered a talk entitled “Open Minds on Open Borders” at PorcFest, the annual libertarian festival held in Lancaster, New Hampshire, by the New Hampshire Free State Project.
In my talk, I pointed out that America’s system of immigration controls necessarily comes with an immigration police state. Since I grew up in South Texas and practiced law there for eight years, I lived under that immigration police state for much of my life.
That’s an important point for libertarians to note, especially because there have long been conservative-oriented libertarians who spend a lot of time and effort trying to persuade libertarians to abandon their position in favor of open borders and join the statist position of government-controlled borders. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, an immigration police state is not something that is consistent with libertarian philosophy, which is grounded in liberty and limited government.
As I also pointed out in my PorcFest talk, a system of immigration controls also brings into existence a culture of death. Every year, hundreds of people die because of America’s system of immigration controls.
The latest example of America’s culture of immigration death involves 46 immigrants in San Antonio. Their bodies were found in the back of a tractor-trailer. They had died of dehydration in the blistering South Texas heat.
Needless to say, there have been the standard expressions of outrage and sorrow over the deaths. According to the Los Angeles Times, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the deaths “nothing short of a horrific tragedy.” San Antonio City Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia said, “These families, I can’t imagine what they’re going through, not knowing if their family member was one of the ones who passed away. All they were doing was trying to come for a better life.”
The official anger will be directed to the driver of the tractor-trailer and everyone else who was involved in the transportation of those people. Federal officials will go after them with all guns blazing. In 2003, 19 people died in a similar manner; the driver received a 34-year jail sentence. In 2017, 10 people died in the same way outside a Walmart in San Antonio; the driver is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.
in the process of punishing those drivers, supporters of America’s system of immigration controls block out of their minds a critically important point: The deaths of all those people are a direct consequence of America’s system of immigration controls. Their transportation in the back of tractor-trailers is simply a predictable black-market response to that system. In other words, America’s national culture of immigration death is an inherent part of America’s system of immigration controls, just as America’s immigration police state is.
With a system of open borders, people would be free to cross the international border in the same way that people cross state borders — that is, as human beings. To enter the United States, they wouldn’t have to travel in the backs of tractor-trailers, swim across the Rio Grande, or walk over scorched deserts in the Southwest. They could cross the border and travel within the United States normally, such as by bus, plane, automobile, or train. The deaths that arise from America’s system of immigration controls would come to an immediate end.
Libertarians are the only hope for bringing an end to America’s culture of immigration death. Libertarians should reject the pleas of conservative-oriented libertarians to join the ranks of those who favor an immigration-control system that comes with an immigration police state and a culture of immigrant death. Libertarians should continue leading America and the world to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by continuing to embrace the libertarian concept of open borders.