President Trump was elected, in part, because he promised to restrict illegal immigration into the U.S. and deport those here illegally. Now, as an anarcho-libertarian the phrase “legal immigration” is hard to parse logically, but the political reality of the day is that governments claim the power to restrict crossing their geographical borders by force of law.
I get that. This article is not about arguing the merits of that. In fact, the opposite. I’m going to accept reality as it stands and offer insights as to potential solutions that can set us on a path to freer movement of honest people looking for a better life.
Immigration laws, for the most part, are, however, pain medication to mask symptoms brought on by other issues, some domestically induced, i.e. bad laws, and others the result of another country’s bad laws which ruin their economies.
As an economist, I see underlying causes of mass immigration too numerous to list here but, for discussion’s sake, I want to just discuss the Welfare and Warfare systems in the U.S. and its connection to mass immigration.
My position is that open borders are incompatible with a welfare system that incentivizes immigration and a warfare state that displaces millions of people around the world. This shouldn’t be controversial.
But it is to many ‘left-libertarians.’
In the past couple of months, I’ve had several twitter wars over this issue because Trump’s proposed wall has so polarized people. The biggest pushback I get is from these aforementioned libertarians.
Their insistence on a doctrinaire adherence to open borders is counter-productive in a world of social democracy, public safety nets and central banks subsidizing aggressive foreign policy through the manipulation of money.
It makes libertarians look as out of touch with reality as the lunatic left and their slavish devotion to identity politics has them arguing in favor of genital mutilation for their children and wearing hijabs in the name of gender rights.
These are the same people who wouldn’t back Ron Paul, repeatedly calling him, believe it or not, a fascist on this issue. In my nearly twenty years of libertarian politics and philosophy, I refuse to underestimate the fecklessness of those who came to it from Marxism.
But worst of all, it squanders a brilliant opportunity for libertarians to use their analytic tools to separate the causes of the country’s problems from the practical steps we can then take to solve them.
And, frankly, it’s ticking me off.
Because, while I have my preferred position on the free movements of peaceable people across arbitrary political borders, I know the reality is so far removed from that ideal that no one will take me seriously if I just pontificate arrogantly and shut down any further discussion.
Then I’d be no better than the smug bi-coastal liberals wearing their genitals on their head to console themselves about Hillary losing the election, convinced of their own moral superiority.
Because to deny the reality that our policies create both the supply of refugees seeking asylum – regime change operations in Ukraine, Syria, Honduras, Libya and Iraq to name a few, and encourage them economically through subsidies, i.e. welfare, health care etc., is just as out of touch as those open borders libertarians.
Creating positive incentives like that encourages, what economists call ‘rent-seeking’ behavior. Rent is simply another way of saying ‘unearned wealth.’ They didn’t earn the money they have, it was given to them by the government.
That’s doesn’t sit well with most people who are struggling with scarcity themselves for their families. So, removing those incentives removes that portion of ‘illegal immigration.’ And in doing so, lowers the perceived need to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
In addition, a lot of illegal immigration from Mexico recently came as a result of our regime change operation in Honduras in 2013, under Hillary Clinton’s leadership at the Dept. of State. Europe is struggling with the results of Clinton’s policies in Libya and Syria.
The burdens from these systems are passed onto the taxpayer. Here’s where the libertarian reminds everyone that taxes are simply organized theft. And what’s worse is that those taxpayers who tolerated this thievery did so with the understanding that the money would come back to them or their community in tangible ways, not handed out to people who came here looking for a handout or in need because of a policy decision made in Washington they disagreed with.
The whole system is rife with exercises of power that are not only immoral but tyrannical.
And that’s why those systems need to be scaled back if not wholly eliminated if you want to have a rational flow of people into and out of this country or any other. Trump’s wall is simply yet another band-aid on the festering wounds of our government’s globalist ambitions. And, personally, I would hate to have the landscape in the southwest permanently marred by such a thing. But, I understand the perception that it is needed. And the emotional response to fear of unease it is intended to salve.
We are humans. We are hard-wired to discriminate. It’s called ‘in-group / out-group bias.’ Is it logical? No. It’s emotional. It’s an endocrine response. And we aren’t going to get rid of it by calling everyone either a ‘statist’ or a ‘racist’ for acknowledging that it exists.
Breaking down those biases is going to come about through people rubbing elbows and doing business with each other. But, that business has to be honest and voluntary. It can’t be coerced. That’s where the Left fails. By insisting on open borders as a means to (and I kid you not) collapse the State through these wealth transfer systems is where the ‘left-libertarians’ fail.
The folks who elected Trump have no issue with what they call ‘legal immigration.’ What most of them mean by that is those looking to come here and be constructive members of the community. And they are willing to let the government handle the process, knowing it’ll do a bad job of it.
In exchange for that most people are willing to assist in some way to help them through the adjustment. But, that assistance must be voluntary. It should not be stolen through taxes. If that means separating the assistance packages from the vetting process, then that is an option.
The amount of immigration into the U.S. should rise and fall with our desire to tolerate it. And this is one way in which we can both move towards open borders while alleviating the current stresses.
I’m not saying I have all the answers to this. It’s a big problem. But, as Ron Paul said on the campaign trail over and over again, “When you subsidize something, you get more of it.”
We subsidize rent-seekers to cross our border. Remove the subsidy, watch the numbers fall. Deportations are tyrannical but, again, are a band-aid. They are not a solution to be cheered. Until the economic incentives are removed, they won’t change a thing.
Once we’ve tackled this layer of the problem, we can begin solving those other ones I didn’t mention earlier. Just keep in mind that the government is bad at controlling the border. Giving it more control over it will only make the problem worse and everyone poorer.