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Closed Minds on Open Borders, Part 2


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Did you ever think you would see the day when the United States government would be forcing people into communism? Thirty years ago, the U.S. government sent 50,000 American men, many of whom had been conscripted, to their deaths in Southeast Asia. The purported reason: “We don’t want the South Vietnamese to have to live under communism because communism is bad. It is necessary to conscript and send American men to their deaths to prevent this from happening.”

What hogwash! If communism was so bad as to justify the deaths of 50,000 American men, then why is the U.S. government now forcibly repatriating Cuban refugees into Cuban communist tyranny?

Today, men, women, and children flee Cuba in dangerous, leaky rafts in shark-infested waters. But this is not the biggest danger that these people face. Their major threat is the U.S. government, which, like a pirate of old, prowls the high seas around Cuba in search of people who have escaped communism to seek a better way of life elsewhere.

When U.S. governmental officials find such refugees, they capture them, force them onto U.S. government vessels, and then radio their Cuban communist counterparts. The U.S. government’s boat and the Cuban government’s boat rendezvous, and the officials on both boats work together to force the refugees onto the Cuban boat for repatriation and punishment back in the Cuban communist paradise.

What is our government’s justification for this evil, immoral, and unbelievable conduct? You’ve got it — immigration controls. Anyway, in the minds of the Clinton administration and the Republican Congress, Cuban communism isn’t all that bad. After all, the Cuban people have free education and health care, and no one is exploited by evil, greedy, profit-seeking capitalist swine like Bill Gates and Michael Milken.

For the past few years, there have been a small number of libertarians who claim that immigration controls are a legitimate exception to the libertarian philosophy. They, like conservative right-wingers, believe that America must build a wall to protect “us” from the Latin American, Asiatic, and African hordes that they are certain are about to “invade” America.

One of the amusing parts of all this is the reaction of the libertarian controllers to the concept of repatriation. Every single time — without fail — they are confronted with their implicit support of the repatriation of Cuban refugees, their response is one of muteness — silence — no comment. They are too ashamed to publicly admit that they fully support, endorse, and embrace the forcible repatriation into communism of defenseless, penniless immigrants who have risked their lives to seek a better way.

Repatriation is, of course, the logical consequence of immigration controls. In the ideal world of the libertarian controllers, there would be officials of the U.S. Immigration Service lined up along a wall that would run all along the southern border of the United States. As Latin Americans tried to cross, they would be warned to stay away and if they persisted, they would be shot for violating the law.

But what if a foreigner tried to enter by one of America’s eastern or western beaches? There would be only two alternatives: throw him back into the water, which could be dangerous if his raft has sunk, or repatriate him to his home country. It is these uncomfortable alternatives that always bring silence to the libertarian who calls for immigration controls.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that the U.S. government has engaged in repatriation. Recall when Adolf Hitler offered to let Jews out of Germany. What was the response of that great humanitarian President Franklin Roosevelt? His response was the same as that of libertarian controllers today: We have immigration controls that must be followed. So, millions of Jews had to die because the U.S. government had to enforce its immigration controls.

Recall the famous “voyage of the damned.” A German ship loaded with Jews tried to land in Havana on the eve of World War II. It was not permitted to do so. As the ship approached Florida, the U.S. State Department put out the order that no Jew would be permitted to disembark in the United States. The purported reason: immigration controls.

Recall the repatriation of 1,000,000 (yes, one million) Russian anticommunists at the end of World War II. These were Russians who hated communism and who refused to return to Stalinist Russia at the end of World War II. Nevertheless, in a deal cut between Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Truman, they were forced to go back to Russia so that they could be murdered for opposing Stalin and communism. (See The Failure of America’s Foreign Wars, edited by Richard M. Ebeling and Jacob G. Hornberger.)

It is appalling, to say the least, that any libertarian would ever justify or defend any of this rotten, evil, immoral conduct. Of course, some libertarian controllers say, “But we don’t intend for our ideas to have such horrible consequences.” We have leftists saying, “We’re sorry for the ravages of the war on poverty; please judge us by our good intentions.” We have conservatives saying, “We’re sorry for the ravages of the war on drugs; please judge us by our good intentions.” Now we have the spectacle of libertarian controllers saying, “We’re sorry for the ravages of immigration controls; please judge us by our good intentions.”

Libertarian controllers say that a nation — a government — has the sovereign right to control its borders. And they point back in history to all of the governments that have exercised this sovereign prerogative.

Well, that’s just great. Now we have libertarians telling us that when it comes to determining whether the U.S. government has a certain power, we need to throw out the Constitution and revert to the sovereign right of kings. Traditionally, libertarians have held that the U.S. government is a creature of the Constitution. The Constitution called the federal government into existence but with one major condition: that its powers were limited to those enumerated in the Constitution itself. If the power wasn’t enumerated, it didn’t exist. The idea of an unlimited government with sovereign powers was discarded with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

For decades, leftists and conservatives have held that the Constitution is a “flexible” document that must be interpreted and reinterpreted as each year goes by. Now we have libertarian immigration controllers adding their trumpets to the modern-day band: “We can’t resort to the Constitution when it comes to the power to control immigration. The Constitution was written in a buggy-whip era. It’s not suited to the demands of modern-day life. The Founders could never have imagined the number of dark and yellow people who might want to come to America. When it comes to immigration, America has got to forget the Constitution and instead resort to the old sovereign right of kings.”

What is also sad is the collectivist notion that these libertarians employ to justify their argument. Notice how they talk: A “nation” has a right to protect its borders. “Society” could become polluted if Latin Americans, Africans, and Orientals were permitted to come here.

Where do the concepts of individualism and private property fit in all this? In a libertarian society, all property would be privately owned. Each person would be free to interact with anyone he wants. If an American property owner chose to invite a Cuban citizen to visit him, that would be his right under libertarian principles.

But in the eyes of libertarian controllers, such a visit would be trumped by the right of the “nation” to control its borders. When you suggest to a libertarian controller that the “nation” consists of separate individuals, each free to pursue his own interests, his reply inevitably is: “No, the nation ultimately is our government, and it has the duty to protect us from foreigners.”

Another amusing aspect of the libertarian controllers’ immigration arguments is what happens when you ask them about foreign tourists. Ask them: What about Latin American, African, and Oriental tourists? Don’t they increase population levels when they visit? Don’t they put a burden on the infrastructure? Don’t they threaten us with their culture? Isn’t there a danger that they won’t go back? Isn’t there a danger that they could have an American baby while they are touring? Why not just ban foreign tourism? Doesn’t a nation have the right to protect itself from temporary immigrants?

The libertarian controllers will stare and glare at you, but they will never answer the questions. To publicly call for an end to foreign tourism is just too extreme, even for them. They will try to appear respectable and say, “Oh, no, tourists are fine; it’s the immigrants we want to keep out.”

But what’s the difference? How long can the tourist tour? Six months? A year? Does he have to stay in a hotel or can he get an apartment? Can he work part-time or must he just spend money? Is he prohibited from engaging in any activity that might result in pregnancy during his tour?

Oh, but the burden on the public sector is enormous, the libertarian controllers tell us. Notice, however, that it is always the public sector that complains about too many customers. When was the last time you heard Sears, Microsoft, or Exxon complaining about two many customers? But rather than concentrate their efforts on privatizing government enterprises, libertarian controllers find it easier to spend their lives condemning people who come here mostly just to improve their lives.

Another amusing aspect of this is what happens when libertarian controllers say, “It’s not that we have anything against brown, black, or yellow people. It’s just that white, northern Europeans are more attractive because of the similarity of their culture.”

Well, that’s just great. So we should reject all those dark and yellow people who may very well be libertarians for the sake of those northern Europeans who “share our culture.” Yeah, maybe like those blond, blue-eyed Germans in the 1930s who favored: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, public works, public spending, government-business partnerships, economic regulations, trade restrictions, immigration controls, a central bank, paper money, a national highway system, and a massive military-industrial complex. Some culture.

What is most disappointing about libertarian controllers, however, is their refusal to be honest about their feelings and beliefs. The truth is that all too many of them simply don’t like living with people who are brown, black, or yellow. But rather than being honest about this, they couch their silly arguments for control in terms of “A nation has the right to control its borders”; or “The United States is a one-culture nation”; or “Americans are descended from white, northern Europeans.”

Finally, many of the libertarian controllers, like many Republican right-wingers, constantly remind us of what good Christians they are. But when you ask them about our Lord’s second-greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” they inevitably respond that He simply forgot to add “but only if he is a white American of northern European descent.”

Immigrants, no matter what color their skin is, are the greatest asset that a country could ever hope for. They are people who are willing to risk everything — money, family, security, even life itself — for a better way of life. They are the entrepreneurial infusion into what commonly has become a stagnant pool of collectivism. They bring a warmth and a vitality into a society. They should be honored, thanked, and treasured, not condemned, castigated, and punished.

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    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.