Thursday, December 29, 2011

AmericanRattlesnake: An Open Debate About Open Borders

The immigration website takes a look at the philosophical aspects of immigration reform between conservatives & libertarians. More specifically those libertarians that believe in open borders:
Yet, even if we were to concede that there’s no firm historical or Constitutional foundation for this nation’s current open borders policies, can it not be argued that there is a compelling moral case for the views espoused by those at the Wall Street Journal editorial board, Cato Institute, Reasonoids, and other trendy, beltway cosmotarians? You would definitely think so if you took their arguments at face value. The notion that we have no moral basis for barring certain immigrants from entry into the United States is certainly widespread in certain libertarian circles, but I don’t believe that makes the idea, ipso facto, libertarian. Julian Simon, in a 1998 essay published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, articulated the perspective felt by many that individual autonomy takes precedence over other “public” goods, including our national borders. In an anarcho-capitalist reality, nation-states would not exist, therefore deciding who should or should not be admitted to your nation would be a moot point.

But while it might seem logical that freedom of movement, freedom of association, and freedom of contract-and at its most essential level, the individual him or herself-are all prioritized over the wishes and feelings of citizens who have a vested interested in preserving the character of their nation, there are those that don’t think these competing values are necessarily mutually exclusive. In a persuasive essay written for Lew Rockwell several years ago, N. Stephan Kinsella made a very compelling argument that while the disposition of property in our society is unjust-insofar as the state has no right to expropriate land that rightfully belongs to individuals-so long as that property is entrusted to the state it has a responsibility to act as caretaker for the rightful owners. In this case, it has the responsibility to prevent the ingress of people that citizens do not want to welcome into their country. While those who are opposed to communitarianism in even its most minimal form might reject Kinsella’s public pool analogy, I think he makes a convincing case that some prophylactic measures need to be enforced to prevent the exploitation of your property-even if it’s already been subjected to theft by the state.

There are many cogent arguments against the current trendy libertarian support for open borders, several of them outlined by the first presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, John Hospers, in paper published by the Journal of Libertarian Studies over a decade ago entitled A Libertarian Argument Against Open Borders. The concluding paragraph of the essay is especially perceptive in its analysis of the problem:

Occasionally, we hear the phrase “limousine liberals” used to describe the members of the liberal establishment who send their children to expensive private schools while consigning all the others to the public school system, which educates these children so little that by the time they finish the eighth grade they can barely read and write or do simple arithmetic, or make correct change in a drug store. It would be equally appropriate, however, to describe some other people as ”limousine libertarians” —those who pontificate about open borders while remaining detached from the scenes that their “idealism” generates. They would do well to reflect, in their ivory towers, on whether the freedom they profess for those who are immigrants, if it occurs at all, is to be brought about at the expense of the freedom of those who are not.
I don't follow these issues very carefully so there still isn't a very solid idea that would be espoused by me on immigration. It is understood that you have the right to freedom of association, movement, and contract to anywhere you choose. At the same time should you simply bring your cultural sensibilities with you to a new land or place.

I think not. Perhaps that's why there are people who want to keep their eye on the border. There are people who immigrate who are unwilling to assimilate. Which could mean amongst other things learning English.


What say you on this topic?

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