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Immigration and Liberty

My sentiments on immigration are expressed by the welcoming words of poet Emma Lazarus' that grace the base of our Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Those sentiments are probably shared by most Americans and for sure by my libertarian fellow travelers, but their vision of immigration has some blind spots. This has become painfully obvious in the wake Arizona's law that cracks down on illegal immigration. Let's look at the immigration issue step by step.

There are close to 7 billion people on our planet. I'd like to know how the libertarians answer this question: Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.? Unless one wishes to obfuscate, I believe that a yes or no can be given to that question just as a yes or no answer can be given to the question whether Williams has a right to live in the U.S.

I believe most people, even my open-borders libertarian friends, would not say that everyone on the planet had a right to live in the U.S. That being the case suggests there will be conditions that a person must meet to live in the U.S. Then the question emerges: Who gets to set those conditions? Should it be the United Nations, the European Union, the Japanese Diet or the Moscow City Duma? I can't be absolutely sure, but I believe that most Americans would recoil at the suggestion that somebody other than Americans should be allowed to set the conditions for people to live in the U.S.

What those conditions should be is one thing and whether a person has a right to ignore them is another. People become illegal immigrants in one of three ways: entering without authorization or inspection, staying beyond the authorized period after legal entry or by violating the terms of legal entry. Most of those who risk prosecution under Arizona's new law fit the first category — entering without authorization or inspection.

Probably, the overwhelming majority of Mexican illegal immigrants are hardworking, honest and otherwise law-abiding members of the communities in which they reside. It would surely be a heart-wrenching scenario for such a person to be stopped for a driving infraction, have his illegal immigrant status discovered and face deportation proceedings. Regardless of the hardship suffered, being in the U.S. without authorization is a crime.

When crimes are committed, what should be done? Some people recommend amnesia, which turns out to be the root word for amnesty. But surely they don't propose it as a general response to crime where criminals confess their crime, pay some fine and apply to have their crimes overlooked. Amnesty supporters probably wish amnesty to apply to only illegal immigrants. That being the case, one wonders whether they wish it to apply to illegals past, present and future, regardless of race, ethnicity or country of origin.

Various estimates put the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. between 10 and 20 million. One argument says we can't round up and deport all those people. That argument differs little from one that says since we can't catch every burglar, we should grant burglars amnesty. Catching and imprisoning some burglars sends a message to would-be burglars that there might be a price to pay. Similarly, imprisoning some illegal immigrants and then deporting them after their sentences were served would send a signal to others who are here illegally or who are contemplating illegal entry that there's a price to pay.

Here's Williams' suggestion in a nutshell. Start strict enforcement of immigration law, as Arizona has begun. Strictly enforce border security. Most importantly, modernize and streamline our cumbersome immigration laws so that people can more easily migrate to our country.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


67 Responses »

  1. 1. Everyone in the world should have the right to enter into mutually willing transactions with Americans;
    2. Every American should have the right to enter into mutually willing transactions with anyone else in the world.
    (both presupposes that the transactions in question does not harm a third party).

    That means Every American should have the right to find the tenant willing to pay the most, and the laborer who is willing to do the most work for the money (as well as the consumer or employer willing to pay the most for whatever the American is selling). Excluding potential tenants, labor and consumers by place of birth is little different from rent-control, labor union and price-control by government coupons (i.e. banning black market). Rest assured there will be black market for "illegal labor."

    What brings about the latest wave of xenophobia is jobs. The whole idea about "illegal immigrants stealing jobs" smack of labor union philosophy gone amok. We go to jobs for pay; if anyone disagrees, he is welcome to come and work for me for no pay. The pay is the employer/consumer's money, i.e. private property. The worker is not entitled to a job any more than he/she is entitled to the employer/consumer's money. The employer/consumer has every right to shop elsewhere. The very idea of using government power to force employers/consumers to buy from a specific set of providers/workers, and exclude others, is outrageous to anyone with any concept of liberty and freedom.

    The problem with enforcement is creating and expanding bureaucracy. Not only is the exercise itself is going to be expensive . . . due to the very nature of bureaucracy, it's going to be never ending merely in order to justify the existence and expansion of the bureaucracy. It will be just like the War on Drugs or War on Poverty; War on Immigrants is not going to be any better. All the cost of the "wars" will be shouldered by American taxpayers, which further destroys real productive jobs and substitute them with make-belief jackboot jobs that make everyone's life more miserable.

    • Forcing people to pick from a certain set of those selling their labor may be outrageous to those who think they have a concept of freedom and liberty, but it is perfectly reasonable to those of us who would like to keep what freedom and liberty we have left.

      People are not inanimate objects. They come with ideas, motives and prejudices that they would like to put into practice in the place they live. It's human nature. Do you see the vast majority of the world choosing libertarianism? No, of course you don't, so why in the hell would you want to bring in even more statist neighbors? It boggles the mind.

  2. Dr. Williams, I couldn't agree more. Thanks for a wonderful article. In fact, my sig. other and I hope to move to northern Arizona next year, and this is one reason why.

  3. Dr. Williams writes:
    That being the case suggests there will be conditions that a person must meet to live in the U.S. Then the question emerges: Who gets to set those conditions?

    For me, the issue comes down to this: Are the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness granted by our Creator or the government?
    It sounds like Dr. Williams believes that these rights come from the government - Do what the government says, and you can have liberty, so you can pursue happiness.

    Here are a few simple questions for closed border people:

    Are we all created equal?
    Are we endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights or are our rights granted by the government?

    • According to the D of I, these rights are endowed by our Creator, however, since you asked the question, it's obvious you stopped short of the next sentence, where the D of I says it is the job of government to SECURE these rights.

      To this end, it is not the US government's place to guarantee these rights to anyone other than Americans. That task belongs to each immigrant's particular government.

  4. Does anyone have a natural or God-given right to tell another person where they can or can't live? As Lysander Spooner and others aksed. if I don't have a right to run you life, how can I delegate this right to a third party? It isn't logical or ethical.

  5. Immigration, Illegal?
    Some history and facts need to be looked into.
    by Asa Singleton

    Immigration, it is the same old social and racial discrimination against the Irish, Jewish, Polish, Chinese, German, Negro, slave and Indian "problems" of the 18th, 19th and 20th century. Old is new again for the 21st century, . . . again!

    The "Christian" roots of law for the treatment of aliens (Immigration) is found in the Pentitute, Old Testament and the mercy of Christ as read in the New Testament. In context, read the applicable sections in the Bible at: Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 10:12-22, Deuteronomy 23:15-16, Deuteronomy 24:14-22 and Matthew 25:31-46. Read in context God's love and Law, not opinion. They detail how we must treat aliens and strangers as home born. Home born? Then they have the same rights, (our laws are based on Gods Law, hence law equals rights and responsibilities) and exposure just as the people did when the Declaration of Independence was penned with the following words, . . .

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly". . "

    Nothing is different today as it was in times past. Self-serving "appointed and elected leaders" take on “assumed powers” and convert rights endowed by the Creator to licensed privilege through legal extortion and outright theft by reduction until what little is left, is lost. Destitute, the people are driven to serve the "state" and if not productive, are sent on to the final solution, man, woman and child. The critter changes it's clothing, but it is the same creature of times past, just different ways to exclude or include for "the authorities" to rally under and the leeches to attach to!

    At the time of the great immigration in the mid 1800 to the1900's, many ticketed first class passengers did not have passports or any other I.D. to go hither and yon to Europe or the U.S.A. . . . . They just paid the fare and took off to wherever, and lived where they pleased as evident at the turn of the 20-century. Steerage on the other hand had to prove they had money and the means to live and did not have bad health. If you could pass those simple tests, you were in! Supreme court decisions support this. It is context, not assumption of law that counts.

    Our problems we must address is English, the common language of the states is ignored. Christianity, the root heritage and moral foundation of this land is denied. Freedom, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are God ordained rights, knowing no borders or boundaries, the Christian heritage we so profoundly ignore at the cost of our safety and happiness. The Declaration of Independence is not inclusive to the English people; it is for all the people of the land when the document was penned in Philadelphia.

    "They, We", all came over on different boats from different waters at different times. What made “them” the same as “us” is they came here from there to get away from them or that or were stolen and taken here from there! We must stop the open blandishments of welfare and government programs heaped upon the people that is the main complaint supporting a welfare State system. U.S. Churches and other organizations can do the job at a tenth of the cost we are forced to pay for at the point of a gun in “taxes” and mandates by government assumed to be “Law”. With no welfare or other mandates, “they”, the "immigrants" will still come to America, subsist, grow and succeed, on their own dime! Best we welcome them who want to work, and we rid the ones who do evil as was done in times past. There were no such things as "Illegal Aliens" excepting the enemy, whoever they may be. If need be, we ferreted them out and shipped them back to where they came from.

    For all the wonderful people who were forced or volunteered to come here, they learned English, worked and bought freedom, started their own businesses, recognized this as a Christian Nation and acted accordingly. They got help on the way from family and friends, who volunteered! No force, but cooperation because they wanted too!

    That is the American way, entrepreneurial fellowship! If the need fits, help it, grow it!

    The Real I.D.
    The real test, I.D., of who you are is; who knows you and the standard test of time on the job and in the community. You will be known by what you do. Good people will communicate and grow and benefit community, bad ones can exist but for a short while.

    In reality, one did and still does not need I.D. to get a job or start your own enterprise except for government work, then comes the so called "alien" test, A.K.A. who are you? For government work, Congress has authority and wants to know who you are and has mechanisms to qualify one to work for the U.S. Hence the “Green Card”.

    Much "Illegal" stuff is racist, and "they" don't have to have I.D. to work outside of government employ! In my youth when I applied for a job, I did not need a so-called I.D. or a SS number. When I enlisted in the U.S. Military I then needed to prove who I was
    as my job was with secret materials and was a privilege, as all “government” positions are by appointment, contract or election.

    "Aliens" is not about Identity, who cares where I am from, can I do the job! Will I be reliable? Will I give honest work for the hire? What more is needed? Oh, . . . can I understand the language and or take instruction or direction? That’s what counts. All the rest is errata. If "they" are shady interlopers, sharp people will see through them, they will be shipped back from where they came from, as they must.

    This "Illegal Alien" stuff is a lot of bunkum and congress . . . . by the , . . . "Constitution, . . . THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA . . . Sect. 8. The Congress shall have power: . . . "To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, . . . "(please note, naturalization is not immigration) can't by law do anything about it! That is why they have not been able to pass a "new law" about the matter excepting working for U.S. government agencies, it's States, insular possessions, institutions and organizations of which the law ONLY applies to as I understand in the reading! A search of Title 8 USC should clarify it. It is language, which will reveal the truth, the law, not the rhetoric! United States of America Citizenship if for public service, elected, appointed, or hired as privileged positions for government, also known as positions of trust and profit by and for U.S. corporations, entities and activities. The state citizenship, which is separate from the U.S.A., is for state positions, which is bound by how long one lived in the community.

    Read the law in title 8 USC and the applicable regulations. Apply what you know about the IRS code, how it is written to be read, apply that understanding to the reading of Title 8 USC, Nationality and Immigration, accordingly. The acts read in title 8 and title 26 are for U.S. persons who are in appointed or elected privileged positions, serving as public servants for the United States, it's territories, insular possessions, agencies, offices, corporations of the United States, and the several 50 states of the union where Constitutional Obligations and responsibilities specific in the “Contract” with nothing else implied or assumed.

    Asa Singleton

  6. We should also impose a law to essentially support racial discrimination against blacks, the perpetrators of most violent crimes, right Walter? If the case involved a benevolent Sheriff your case still wouldn't make sense. Make-shift libertarians are quite hypocritical; and Friedman was a Keynesian

  7. I would say YES to your basic question as well. As for your remedy, it seems like a lot of energy and expense to provide people with "paper". After all the only difference between legal and illegal, in this case, is documents profered by the State. This isn't like burglery at all, is it? If we got rid of all this "stuff" - opened our borders completely - what would happen? I'm thinking things would stay about the same.

    • You're "thinking things would stay about the same"? I sure am glad you are so willing to experiment with the lives of 320 million based on a whim, when all of history shows otherwise.

  8. If I understand you correctly, you're reasoning is because it's illegal. But that doesn't hold water for me because legality doesn't equate to justice or morality or ethics.

    Basically, my answer to your question is yes, everyone ought to have a right to go wherever they want.

    It's certainly not right for any government to be deciding what the conditions are for entry. They don't own anything and they don't speak for everybody. Also, the U.S. government only exists by forcing themselves on us (because if taxation were voluntary nobody would pay taxes).

    • I could not disagree more. Governments, which exist through the consent of the GOVERNED, have every right to impose conditions for entry when the GOVERNED demand that conditions be set.

  9. Prof. Williams has history on his side when he writes that deporting some illegals (don't bother to jail them, just expel them) sends a message to the rest. That's exactly what happened during "Operation Wetback" in the 1950s. Relatively few illegals were actually deported; the rest saw the handwriting on the wall and left on their own. IOW, they self-deported.

    The only difference between then and now is that Dwight Eisenhower took his oath of office seriously. In fact, he's pretty much the last president to do so.

  10. How about also deciding that if we are going to have a welfare state (not something I agree with) that taxpayer funded benefits should be reserved only for taxpaying citizens. At the very least, if someone is here illegally and wishes their child to go to public schools, for example, they should be charged tuition, which would be the equivalent of what taxpayers pay per child.

    In addition, a good hard look should be taken at the advantages to employers of hiring illegals. Those same advantages should be offered American citizens to remove those incentives and ALLOW Americans to freely contract in competitive ways...

  11. There is no right of immigration. There is no right for anyone to enter someone else's private property and Liberatrians would argue against government/public property. Of course, government/public property is here to stay for the forseeable future. Under our current situtation where we live under a welfare system, open borders means imposing on me an obligation. In Libertarian parlance, stealing from me to benefit another. Very unlibertarian. If we want open borders then get rid of the welfare state first.

    • Survey after survey, election after election, in country after country, all around the world the vast majority of people have stated firmly and clearly they want the welfare state. I want one open border libertarian to explain to me how we eliminate the welfare state when each year we import people who overwhelmingly want to keep and in most cases expand the welfare state.

      All I ever hear is "Well they come here, we show them the wonderful things about libertarianism and deus ex machina, they all become Murray Rothbard clones". The open border libertarians can't even get 20 % of their own countrymen in America to go along with them, why do they think they'll do better with imported foreigners?

  12. Williams logical thought applied to governmental policy has been made illegal. The penalty for such presumption is, not yet, incarceration in a gulag in the badlands of the Dakotas but is rather the blackening of the name and reputation of any such miscreant. You being already, in a sense, "black" are perhaps exempt (although for some reason, incomprehensible to me, Clarence Thomas is not).
    Hopefully after having been apprised of this personal failing you will take up the cudgels of political correctness, take the tail of the circus elephant nearest to you and follow in lock step through the dictatorship of the proletariat to the advent of the new Marxist man; the Rousseauian Noble Savage (a template for which you will find at your nearest movie theater labeled "Avatar". be forewarned....LenG

  13. "Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.?"

    Yes, of course. I address Williams' article here.

  14. >I believe most people, even my open-borders libertarian friends, would not say that everyone on the planet had a right to live in the U.S.

    Yes they do. In fact, we could only pray for such a miracle. 7 billion people would come to the USA and use their new founded freedom to create wealth and prosperity that never existed before. 7 billion people would come here and trade without tariffs and import restrictions, creating a multi billion person middle class. 7 billion people would have access to things like the right to bear arms, who never had it before and security and peace in the world would break out, and spending trillions of dollars on military bases overseas and failed wars would be a thing of the past. It would immediately solve the housing collapse problem, immediately make our financial institutions solvent again as hard as they try not to be, immediately make it so that social security and medicare are not bankrupt anymore, (well, financially, though not morally). Sure, it would bankrupt our public schools, but since they don't educate people I doubt anyone would notice. Sure it would bankrupt our welfare and handout systems, but since they have never stopped poverty anyhow, I doubt anyone would notice that either. Sure it would ruin the unions and the political constituents, but they hardly do any work anyhow so I doubt anyone else would notice that too. Do you think all the businesses and stores in the community will complain about 7 billion new customers?

    All you proved is that people can't live in a statist society without assuming that people are parasites. But once one gets past that and assumes that people have inherent value in spite of the parasitic systems that attack us, then one can start to see people as a benefit and not a burden. In fact, nothing the color of the authors skin, I would say hs has have a lot of balls, that's for sure.

    • 7 billion people in the US? What if 4 billion them are lifelong leftists? Are you going to let them vote? Did you think this through?

      If you think that people will choose libertarianism in a country with many areas having the population density of the West Bank, you are quite mistaken. Hong Kong, sure you can make a fast buck, but it's no libertarian paradise in any other respect.

      With higher population densities come ever more stringent permitting, code enforcement, and licensing regimes. Every time. Look around the world. Singapore, low taxes but don't even think about owning a gun or even chewing gum. New York City, San Francisco, London; are any of these bastions of libertarianism?

      Try to operate under empirical evidence and not faith, all right?

  15. As a nascent Libertrian, Mr. Williams, I think the simple answer they would give is to dismantle the welfare state. If 'illegals' can't access the funds of the public they must stand on their own, as they did in the days of Ellis Island. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be in the cards, so I agree with your stance as a stop-gap measure.

    • And what is to keep these immigrants once they become newly minted citizens with the franchise from voting the welfare state back in to existence?

      Each wave of immigration the United States has taken in has been more statist inclined than the previous.

      From the German immigrants of the early 19th century, whose countrymen embraced the Bismarkian welfare state, to the Irish immigrants in the 1840s who formed the big city Democrat machines, right down to the Eastern European immigrants at the beginning of the 20th who brought with them Socialist ideals and were the main force of Communist agitators during the Red Scare.

      Each of these waves of immigrants had to be appeased for votes in line with their imported statist sensibilities moving the country in each wave ever more towards larger and more intrusive governments.

      The vast majority of the history of the world is people living under authoritarians and tyrants. What took place among Enlightenment Era English in America was truly unique and groundbreaking, happening no where else on the planet at any time. Believing that those ideals would be embraced by all people in all times once they come into contact with them is a matter of faith with no evidence. In other words multicultural libertarianism is more religion than rationality.

      • Well, to be completely honest, nothing. If we followed the constitution, the federal government would be constrained, but obviously that is not going to happen. Hence, my support of the AZ law, given the current situation and climate. As long as people can vote themselves money, this will always occur. Thus our founders feared democracy, and desired a republic, for as long as we could defend it (sadly probably less than a generation from its founding).

  16. I worked for several years, unsuccessfully, to get a concealed carry law passed in Wisconsin. Our toughest opposition wasn't from people who were anti-gun. It was from the fact that the current law was largely (if selectively), ignored.

    If the provisions of the current law were enforced uniformly and aggressively, getting it repealed would be a "no brainer". As it is a middle class, middle aged, white guy is highly unlikely to get arrested and effectively immune from prosecution for this offense. Gettng the law changed while a large chunk of the population is violating it with impunity just isn't going to happen.

    Our nations immigration laws are in the same fix. Whenever there is a public flap about illegal immigration the response out of DC is to make the people following the rules jump through additional hoops or cut down on the number of visas for LEGAL immigrants.

    Until we start actively enforcing the laws already on the books people will not realize just how unworkable they are. Start shipping the illegals out in wholesale lots and there will be pressure to increase the number of legal immigrant visas. I'd be perfectly happy with just as many immigrants in the country, even the exact same people, as long as they were properly documented and we weren't penalizing the ones who follow the rules to avoid getting tough on those who enter illegally.

  17. The governments should repudiate their debts, give up all state owned property to homestead (this gives the non-elites a chance at property ownership) and fade away, never to be again. All property would be private property. All rights, including immigration rights, should be based on natural law and private property rights. It would be up to the individual owners of property to determine who and what and for how long and for what purpose they allow on their property.

    Without the government entitlements that are ultimately funded by theft, and all rights based on nature and ownership, the real problem with immigration (the belief that alien indigents are trespassing and benefiting at my cost) will be eliminated.

    A true Libertarians answer to Mr. Williams question: Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.? Is no because that right should be governed by private property rights.

  18. Dr. Williams,

    I have an extraordinary amount of respect for you and your efforts on behalf of human dignity and freedom-you are indeed, sir, an inspiration of stellar proportions.

    And now for the obligatory "but". I think you analysis is a bit off, particularly when it come to the supposed need to restrict immigration. I don't see any evidence that all of the Earth's population WANT's to live in the US, seems to me that currently it is mostly dashingly poor people from frequently war-torn and politically heinous Latin America(and not all of them, even), who are attempting to immigrate-legally or not. It seems to me that it is reasonable to ask why?

    The answer is, seems to me, that there is work here-and also social programs that can be taken advantage of, admittedly-there are places to stay and things to buy. Well, what's the problem? If I have a job that needs done, what business should it be of the government's who I hire to do it? Or at what rate, for that matter? Likewise, if this is a 'free' country, should I not be able to rent property to whoever I wish? I don't think I-or anyone else-ought to have to pay for social programs at all, I fail to see why birthplace has anything to do with it.

    It seems to me, that all people should be able to pursue whatever they like in their lives, so long as they do not use force on others-causing a victim-as they do so. The free exchange of money through employment and living arrangements has no victims, and therefore I would say that yes, everyone in the world does have a 'right' to live in the US-they don't have a claim to government goodies, but then that's the fault of the imminently pious creatures of congress who offer such goodies, not people involved in just trade activities. As labor demand is met-the influx will stop.

    • The key phrase in your post is "it seems to me". That's fine, the problem is it doesn't seem that way to most people. Most people don't think libertarian and they never will.

      The battle is steadily being lost to native born statiists, and the "seems to me" libertarians want to take on the rest of the world's statists too by bringing them here for the fight.

      Open border libertarian cognitive dissonance: "I don't want to violate my libertarian principles by restricting 30 million commies from moving in."

  19. In order to first address the problem, a few things must be talked about.

    1)The War on Drugs needs to be reassessed. Let the states decide on that. First, decriminalize marijuana and then consider other drugs.

    2)The welfare state needs to be reduced and do not grant citizenship for anyone born here without at least one of the parents being a citizen or resident alien.

    3)The aggressive foreign policy abroad needs to be curtailed and no foreign aid should be given to any country. If a private citizen wishes to volunteer his/her money and send it to another country, that is fine.

    4)The monetary policy needs reform, let's start with the Federal Reserve system and interest rates need to be set by the free market. Artificially low interest rates led to the phony housing boom which increased illegal immigration.

    If all this is addressed and the economy booms, we will be clamoring for more immigration in the future.

  20. Umm..why don't they? The reference to all 7 billion of them is a bit of a straw man, because most of them don't particularly want to come here. There were no immigration laws until well after the Civil War, and those were primarily aimed at ensuring that the "right sort" of people were allowed in. Who decides what the "right sort" is? A border is an administrative fiction marking only the bounds of claimed coercive authority. It's not a property line.

  21. I nominate Williams for the Supreme Court!

  22. Professor Williams,
    Not all libertarians are for open borders, just not government controlled borders. Many free market libertarians are for rule of law that would include strict recognition of the property rights principle. This means many "borders" would be property borders. Any one who crosses these without permission would be trespassers. This would be resolved by the individuals involved or hired agents of the individuals involved. A larger central authority that neither party agreed to mitigate these types of disputes (federal government) getting involved only creates greater conflict. Therefore if a business owner would like to hire individuals and invites them to his/her property for employment and creates a contract, there is no trespass and this should be no one else's business. If property rights were respected, as described here, many conflicts could be resolved on much smaller scales and there could be a higher order to civilization with less chaos than currently exists. I have no proof of this but accept that this is possible. For a more detailed description of ideas like this, see Democracy: the God that Failed by Hans-Herman Hoppe or Boundaries of Order by Butler Shaffer.

  23. If all land was private, then it would be quite simple. I would have the right to sell, rent, give or allow anyone on to my land. I would also have the right to deny anyone that access. The question of whether everyone on the planet "has the god given right" to live in "America" isn't even a question in a completely libertarian society. The decision comes down to the individual owner of every piece of land. And the arguments in the article pretty much become moot.

  24. As a (legal) immigrant in a different country I'm deeply aware of how "cumbersome" immigration laws and procedures can be. Likewise how vulnerable you are and how delicate life becomes when not an officially sanctioned "citizen".

    As such I tend to root in favor of open borders.

    The fact remains however that if laws have any meaning at all they should be enforced. I suspect a great number of laws would be removed altogether if strictly enforced - which would be a good thing!

    "Laws" which are arbitarily enforced form the roots of tyranny. As such your suggestion that immigration be made easier, while enforcement is made stronger, makes perfect sense.

    • What nonsense!

      You want to strictly enforce the rules that are seldom violated, because suddenly it is much easier to come here? Lemmie see......the fine should be ten cents? or is that too much?

  25. Thank you for saying it's the right thing to do to send the damn Mexicans home.

    Every white person in this country is terrified of looking like a "racist" just for saying that we deserve to have borders.

    Citizens of all colors are sick of illegal, out-of-control immigration.

    Mexicans especially. They are the most racist, hateful people I know of.

    • Tina.
      Get a grip. I live in NYC and we have more than 115 different languages spoken. The Irish and Italian immigrations in the USA all have been branded more than 100 years ago with your fears.
      It isnt 1835 or 1900 anymore. Feel free to work as a dishwasher or go mow lawns if you desire.
      President Bush didnt offshore those jobs;he made them special just for you.

      Maximum C.

      • That corrupt Democrat Machine politics that New York (and Chicago and Boston) suffered under for 120 years and still has most of the negative lingering effects of, was a direct result of that Irish and Italian immigration.

  26. Aww man, I answered "yes" to your first question, but you didn't go down that road 🙁

  27. All of this talk about private property and payment of private property (money of the employer) to an employee would make sense if people weren't in the position of being stuck to a particular currency or regulated into the very positions that they are employed. Private property, in any of the states, is utter bullshit to begin with when you consider that, all I have to do is stop paying my "property taxes" and my property can be taken away. On this basis, we don't really have property rights....we're just renting.

    Tell ya' what, get this system configured to where I actually own property, then your arguments might make some sense. Otherwise, libertarianism is just another bullshit political philosophy.

  28. From the Article:

    "Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.? "

    This is entirely the wrong question to be asking, especially from an economist. The answer to the question is completely irrelevant to the subject of immigration.

    First, it's not the case that every individual on the planet is storming the borders. Second, that will never be the case. Third, it will never be the case because immigration is primarily an economic action. There is only just so much economic incentive per unit of time, and each new person who crosses over changes the equilibrium point (supply vs. demand).

    As an economist, he knows that (or should know that). Why would he be asking such a question in the first place?

    • Nonsense.....very few of those who participate in a Gold Rush actually strike it rich.....but they all flood the area and destroy it.

      It is utter nonsense to say that all those who jump the fence.....and join the Gold Rush.....are equal to the number of prospectors needed to dig the gold.

      Read more economics.

  29. Fake questions leads to foolish conclusions.
    Question: Does each individual on the planet (over 5 billions) have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.?
    Plausible answer: No.
    Remedy: Strict border controls and expulsion of illegal foreigners.
    Further question: Does each individual living in the USA (over 200 millions) have a natural or God-given right to live in … California?
    Plausible answer: No.
    Remedy: Strict border controls and expulsion of illegal migrants from other states.
    Further question: Does each individual living in California (over 36 millions) have a natural or God-given right to live in … San Francisco?
    Plausible answer: No.
    Remedy: Strict border controls and expulsion of illegal migrants from other localities.
    Further question: Does each individual living in San Francisco (over 800thousand people) have a natural or God-given right to live in … the Fisherman’s Warf area?
    Plausible answer: No.
    Remedy: Strict border controls and expulsion of illegal migrants from other quarters.
    Continue with further fake questions until you reach the level of your neighbourhood and your street and prepare to erect and finance through taxation a passport control post and police enforcement agents at every single level.
    Good luck to you Mr. Williams!

  30. Walter,
    You are just as silly as you are on radio.


  31. What the open border libertarians don't seem to grasp, if you have a democratic style governmental system, and you bring in people who aren't libertarians, guess what? You end up with a less libertarian society.

    3 out of the 4 major parties in Mexico are leftist parties. 2 are Socialist and one is Communist. The one supposed "center-right" party of Mexico has the platform of a Christian Democrat party in Europe. Not exactly free marketeers.

    That should give you a hint as to where America's political direction is heading with an ever increasing Mexican population.

    As America has gotten less white and less Protestant it has turned increasingly away from the free market. This is not a coincedence. Those of you who think the American free market system set up by English Protestants is a plug and play game where you can switch out any ethnicity or religion and have the same results are delusional.

  32. What about the US should not exist? I own my properties and myself; why would I support a state like the US, which is going to grant me nominal property right over me and my belongings and will make me think as if the defense of the state were more important than the defense of myself. Immigration will destroy the American state? Hopefully!

    • An excellent example of the attitude and views of the invaders.......destroy America.....today.

      And people like myself will oppose you at every opportunity.

  33. YES.

    If you understand what Freedom actually means, then 'YES' is the only correct answer to the question: "Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.?"

    However if America actually had such a policy (as it should), would everyone actually move here? Of course not. As the country became sufficiently crowded less people would be motivated to immigrate. For example: Imagine if all of Asia was unpopulated or lightly populated. How many people would then see that as an opportunity to move there or never leave in the first place? There are also probably billions of people who would NEVER even consider moving to the US no matter what. Does Williams actually think that everyone outside of the US is unhappy with their present living conditions?

    Bottom line: In a truly free country there is no such thing as an immigration problem. The real problem is entitlements (ie legalized ponzi schemes) for it is these programs which artificially inflate the demand to move here in the first place and create perverse incentives to do so. If Americans understood these facts, they would be re-directing their anger and energy toward repealing the schemes, not the immigrants.

    "In a Truly Free Country there is no such thing as an immigration problem."

    • Your idea of a "truely free country" is apparently......FREE FOR THE TAKING.

      The USA is not FREE FOR THE TAKING....not by you or anyone else.

  34. "Give me your tired; your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

    Yes, and get your cash a good lawyer and get in line for nine years.

    Many Americans ho are critical have ancestor that came to America when the good Doctor looked at an immigrant coming out of a boat at Ellis Island and said open your mouth, let me see you eyes and then said, next one please. Of course that was a bit too easy but what exists now is an immigration department bureaucratic nightmare. Let's be realistic government does not like to fix problems, its problems factory.

    This is there latest war; you know like the one on poverty, on Drugs etc "Illegal" is the Magic word. Does any one ask why there are illegal?

    Why is it that the immigration department need's several years to do what it did in about three months only forty years ago? at that time it took them only about three months to approve and get federal police record, Local police record, Character recommendations, Bank reference, Education, Complete health and Medical Record and much more. They could document and get every thing on a person and issue a Green Card.

    To day the bureaucrats will do this at a cost and it will take up to height or nine years.

    This problem creates a kind of soft prohibition. Is it any wonder why poor people jump the fence?
    If they did there job only real criminals would jump the fence and it would make it much easier to identify them. Like all prohibition it always result in tremendous cost to society and ends up getting the exact opposite result that it is trying to achieve.

    modernize and streamline our cumbersome immigration laws so that people can more easily migrate to our country.

    • I am completely opposed to making it EASIER for anyone to enter the USA and I know of no reason why that would be a good thing.

  35. Williams is definitely wrong when he says that "most people, even my open-borders libertarian friends, would not say that everyone on the planet had a right to live in the U.S." On the contrary, most libertarians would say that all people have a right to freedom of association, travel, and contract (assuming they repect other's rights while doing so.) I think that Williams tricks himself with his contrived wording. Asking "Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.?" is analogous to asking "Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to speak on the corner of Market and Main?" The real question, whether people have a right of freedom of travel or freedom of speech, is true regardless of location. To imply that everyone could or would do so in the same location only obfuscates the issue. Obviously only a limited number of people would want to speak on the corner of Market and Main, or move to the US.

    It is interesting that Williams takes an extreme collectivist view of the US, i.e. that "we" all own the US govt turf collectively rather than distributively. The answer to his next question,"Who gets to set those conditions?" is easy to an individualist - the property owner. If a property owner wants to rent to or employ someone, it is up to him, not up to the State.

    Finally, Williams assumes that being in the US without the US State's authorization is a crime. But is it really? Certainly it is not a crime by libertarian ethical systems, as there is no initiation of violence in moving onto someone's property with their permission. Thus Williams is taking the edicts of a State at face value - replacing morality by Statolatry. Most libertarians, contra Williams, ignore, evade, and/or oppose unjust decreed law.

  36. I didn't cross the border the border crossed me! " - mad illegal mexican

    Why do we NOT enforce the existing laws against perjury that every last illegal commits when he signs his W-4 form. Thats a TWO YEAR jail sentence

    Lets add to that a ONE YEAR minimum sentence for forging federal documents (social security or green cards)

    Thats 3 yrs in the pokey.

    Follow that up with a long slow boat ride to the southernmost tip of mexico... and WITH EXISTING LAWS ... our illegal immigration problems will be OVER in SIX MONTHS

  37. While I love Dr Williams on several levels, I feel, strongly, that he, like most, misses the mark on this. Let me explain. I more than favor open borders, I favor no borders at all. I believe with all my heart and mind and strength that God is the master of His creation and others (governments) that claim that title are usurpers BESIDES being filthy criminals/murders/thieves/terrorists (more). If deluded (government school or "Christian" educated (same thing for the most part) sheeple call themselves "Americans" and desire to retain welfare/unemployment compensation/Medicare/social security/"entitlements and then scream when others migrate here to horn in on the gravy train, their hypocrisy and amnesia with regard to history, bites them in the ass/wallet, then a pox on them and their stupidity. I'll misquote someone here when I say that democracy does not work because when (degenerate) people realize that the treasury is under their control, they will destroy the common good for their greedy 'benefit'. IMHO, there has never been an "american" (or any other national) who gained the company of the Creator, just His rival, at Judgment. Sell your souls for pottage and let the ends justify the means losers. A good short lesson is shown in today's Calvin and Hobbes cartoon (rerun - 05/23/2010)(http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/). Those who love their cognitive dissonance deserve their fate. God loves you but does not want your company.

  38. The "7 billion" question is pure hyperbole. What if there were only 300 other people in the world, other than those living in the US. Could we then say that everyone has the right to live in America, since, after all, it's not very many people? What, objectively, is the number at which it's just too darn many and beyond that number there is no longer a right to live here?

  39. You are not making any sense at all.

    To continue with your own example, what you suggest is that we enforce the law against burglary very strictly, but reduce the fine to ten cents with no time served.....in fact, you would be in favor of a law to forbid people who lock their doors and windows, since they are obviously racists. After all, only the government should discourage burglars.....and those pesky locks on the doors and windows are a deceitful way to try to enforce the law against burglary.....which only the Federal Government should do.....even when they don't.

    (I was economics professor from 1978 to 1998.)

    The illegal aliens are invaders. Drive them back to their own country.

    Don Reynolds
    Austin, Texas

  40. 1.) "Does each individual on the planet have a natural or God-given right to live in the U.S.? [...] I believe most people, even my open-borders libertarian friends, would not say that everyone on the planet had a right to live in the U.S. That being the case suggests there will be conditions that a person must meet to live in the U.S."

    I believe the author is correct that even libertarians would say that not everyone has a right to live in the U.S. I believe, though, that they would qualify that by saying that everyone does have a "right" to live wherever they can acquire property through voluntary means whether that be as a renter or owner.

    The author then states that the lack of a right to live in the U.S. implies that some conditions must be met prior to entry into the U.S. and that the American people (the implication being, by way of their government) should be the ones to set these conditions. I don't see the line connecting the lack of right to conditions for entry.

    2.) "One argument says we can't round up and deport all those people [illegal immigrants]. That argument differs little from one that says since we can't catch every burglar, we should grant burglars amnesty."

    I found it intellectually dishonest on the part of the author to equate (illegal) immigrants with burglars. I was reminded of an article just the other day by Laurence Vance entitled "Every Crime Needs a Victim" (the subject of which is pretty well summed up in the title). Immigration, in and of itself, does not have a victim, and therefore is not a crime in the context of Mr. Vance's article.

  41. Went door to door for IKE in '52! Way I understand it, Eisenhower pushed "Landslide Lyndon" (LBJ) and his boys aside, put a retired 101st Airborne officer in charge of the situation. (Knew something about securing lines and making raids.) Illegals were put over the border, not let back on the streets, with the hardcore shipped several hundred miles to Vera Cruz. Employers were raided. Result: About 80,000 deported and about 800,000 left on their own when the jobs dried up. The "Green Card" program was brushed up to benefit both sides. Problem solved.

    Also recall IKE riding in an open car through the streets of Kabul, during a time when Iraq was no threat, and Iran was an ally. Oh well, how soon we forget.........

  42. In all due respect, Dr. Williams - shame on you.

    Of all people - you understand basic market economy dynamics. Do you really believe asking the question about 7 billion people having the right to move to this country is a valid question? Some of us would jump at the chance to move to other parts of the world if those folks moved here. Heck, many Americans are rejecting this countries continued slide into a police state and moving out of the US as I type - and it isn't because a few million brown skinned folks chose to leave their squalid conditions (often caused by our war on drugs which creates massive corruption in their country), but rather because our government continues to increase their interference in our lives.

    Tell me, if a heavy handed approach is used against "illegals," and other decide to go home - what are they going to do when they find out the fence now keeps them here? Also - would you equate abolitionist underground railroad activists as "robbers" during the 19th century?

  43. A question. What law cite can you publish that says "these" people are illegal?


  44. I must confess that I was very disappointed with the commentary. Every human being should be free to live where he/she chooses as long as he/she does not violate the rights of others. The problem with American immigration is not the fact that people who want to work hard and create a better life for themselves want to live in the US but that local, state and federal governments hand out free stuff to buy votes.

  45. I greatly appreciate the perspectives espoused here. Many great points by many people. If I may toss in my own two cents: everyone talks about the financial burden that immigrants place on US society. They cost so much money in education, food stamps, what have you. I read somewhere else that the net cost (after they pay their taxes) is something like 10 billion yearly. WOW!!! THAT'S SO MUCH MONEY!!! Except that it would equal half a drop in the bucket that is our defense budget: $880 billion to $1.03 trillion for FY2010.

    If we didn't spend so much money on war, violence, and imperialism there would be more than enough to fund welfare programs, better education, universal health care, and the like. I don't necessarily believe that the govt SHOULD provide these things. But were it not for our massive defense expenditures, it certainly could provide all of the above (and more?) and I doubt such a clamor would be made about the presence of immigrants, "legal" or not.


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