Libertarians on Immigration

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Laurence, regardless of Boudreaux, I’m still honestly interested in understanding which policies anti-immigration libertarians should endorse.

The anti-immigration libertarians seem intent on avoiding the question of “so what?” If immigration is often bad, which I agree it is, then so what? What is the libertarian solution?

I have already noted the libertarian solution – shrink both access to the state and the state itself. If a libertarian says that this approach is “not practical” or “won’t work” or is a “pipe dream” that’s one thing. But if that person then says that the supposed insufficiency of such measures therefore justifies national ID cards, controls on whom businesses can hire, controls on whom landlords may rent to, controls on who may sell his or her labor for wages, controls on to whom a person may sell his or her house, a government wall, raids on employers, government surveillance, regulation of businesses or their employees, or any other such state action in the name of combating “illegal immigration,” I would submit that such a person is not a libertarian on this issue. If such an ends-justify-the means argument is ok for immigration, then why is it not ok for alleviating poverty, or pre-emptive wars?

Yes, we’ve established that many libertarians, including Rothbard and Mises favored controls on immigration, but as far as I can see neither of them offered specific policies either. I can’t imagine Rothbard supporting REAL ID or greater punishments for business owners, so what’s the answer? Mises speaks vaguely of controlling the borders, but what does that mean exactly? And perhaps Mises was wrong? Mises wants to keep out fifth columnists as quoted by Stephan below. Fine. But how? How exactly does Mises propose that be done? National ID cards? Government surveillance? What? And if we think national ID cards and secret police are necessary for a functioning society, then why are we claiming to be libertarians?

4:09 pm on September 15, 2007