Open Borders?

2007-07-03

I don't post much about politics anymore because it's too depressing. And although I'm no longer a member of the Libertarian Party, I do often vote Libertarian and I'm on a few LP-related email lists to keep track of things in that neck of the political woods. On one such list, someone recently posted about how Ron Paul's stand on immigration is decidedly not the Libertarian stand. So I got curious: what exactly is the LP position on immigration?

At the relevant LP issues page we find the following (see also the LP plank on immigration, which amazingly is the only plank listed under "Foreign Affairs"):

The Libertarian Party has long recognized the importance of allowing free and open immigration, understanding that this leads to a growing and more prosperous America. We condemn the xenophobic immigrant bashing that would build a wall around the United States. At the same time, we recognize that the right to enter the United States does not include the right to economic entitlements such as welfare. The freedom to immigrate is a freedom of opportunity, not a guarantee of a handout.

There's one clue here that something is seriously wrong with the LP position: they claim that foreigners have "the right to enter the United States". Um, no they don't. I am in favor of more rational immigration laws and I am in favor of serious reform of the INS (which now seems to be the CIS), so that we encourage more legal immigration and less illegal immigration. It's just wrong that we offer general amnesties to illegal immigrants every 10 to 20 years, whereas people who come to America on normal visas are hounded and harassed by the damn INS when they seek to become citizens. But no one has a "right" to become an American citizen -- citizenship is a privilege granted by the U.S. government, not a natural right of all human beings.

The existence of citizenship is connected to the existence of government. You could argue that government is a bad idea and that the world would be a better place without government. I've been attracted to that ideal myself, and I still am. But if you grant the existence of a given government, you thereby grant that the government has the power to determine who shall and shall not be granted the privilege of citizenship. Call me a constitutionalist rather than a libertarian, but this seems like simple common sense to me.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal