There Is a Difference

Some of the most vicious e-mail I have ever received has not been from bloodthirsty Republicans, military apologists, conservative warfare statists, or Christian warmongers; it has been from libertarians—mostly self-identified left-libertarians.

Three of the most contentious issues among libertarians are abortion, same-sex marriage, and immigration. I know firsthand just how contentious these issue are because whenever I have written about them I have been called by left-libertarians a pseudo-libertarian, a conservative, a Nazi, a fascist, a right-winger, and a statist. I have also been called some other things, but cannot repeat them here on this family-friendly site.

I have argued in several articles that because the non-aggression axiom is central to libertarianism, and because force is justified only in self-defense, and because it is wrong to threaten or initiate violence against a person or his property, and because killing is the ultimate form of aggression that, to be consistent, libertarians should be opposed to abortion. My articles on abortion are listed here. The Making of the King... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $8.89 Buy New $5.53 (as of 03:10 EST - Details)

I have argued in several articles that libertarians are unnecessarily divided over the issue of same-sex marriage because there is no more a libertarian position on same-sex marriage than there is on chocolate, toothpaste, or whether the sky is blue. My articles on marriage are listed here.

But I have only written one thing about immigration. And that was back in February of 2009. There I calmly and reasonably argued that:

  • There is no “right” to immigrate if it means trespassing on someone else’s property.
  • The opposite of “open borders” is not “closed borders.”
  • Libertarians who reject “open borders” are not “anti-immigrant” or “anti-immigration.”
  • No matter who owns or claims to own the property in the United States, it certainly isn’t owned by anyone seeking to immigrate here.
  • The right to immigrate doesn’t necessarily follow from the right to emigrate.
  • The freedom to move does not include or imply the freedom to trespass.
  • There are many “solutions” to the immigration problem, but throwing open the borders is no solution at all.

For this I was termed—and I remember it well—in addition to being called all of the above, racist, xenophobic, and unlibertarian. Since it has been almost seven years since I have written anything about immigration, and since immigration is a hot topic these days, I think it is time to write something again.

Libertarian advocates of “open borders” sometimes maintain that there should be no difference between an American traveling across a state border and a foreigner traveling across the U.S. border. But if this is what War, Empire, and the M... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $16.00 Buy New $9.95 (as of 03:10 EST - Details) characterizes “open borders,” then that in and of itself is reason enough to reject “open borders” because, carried to its logical conclusion, “open borders” would then mean that if armed soldiers from any country in the world landed on America’s East or West Coasts, or massed at the Canadian or Mexican borders, and said that they were tourists coming to the United States to do some sightseeing, they should not be refused entry. And not only that, they could not be refused entry without violating their freedom to move, travel, migrate, or seek refuge. And if that weren’t ludicrous enough, foreign soldiers should be invited and welcomed just like everyone else in the world. If this conclusion is wrong, and not what certain left-libertarians envision as possibly happening with “open borders,” then perhaps they should use a different analogy or explain their position a little better.

I am still waiting for one self-proclaimed left-libertarian to write anything that distinguishes their view of “open borders” from the current forced immigration of the migrant/refugee crisis. From their perspective, the case could and should be made, but they are not making it. This silence is damning to their position.

What follows is not a critique of “open borders,” but merely some differences—twenty-five of them—that libertarians ought to be recognizing.

  1. There is a difference between the right of Americans to freely travel between states and the right of foreigners to enter the United States.
  1. There is a difference between open borders and no borders.
  1. There is a difference between unrestricted immigration and open borders.
  1. There is a difference between a free state and a welfare state.
  1. There is a difference between admitting refugees and subsidizing the admittance of refugees. War, Christianity, and... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $4.99 Buy New $9.95 (as of 03:10 EST - Details)
  1. There is a difference between government-facilitated immigration and government-controlled immigration.
  1. There is a difference between the government allowing refugees to enter the United States and the government transporting refugees to the United States.
  1. There is a difference between working immigrants and welfare immigrants.
  1. There is a difference between a “natural born citizen” and an “anchor baby.”
  1. There is a difference between “birthright citizenship” and “maternity tourism.”
  1. There is a difference between an immigrant and an illegal immigrant.
  1. There is a difference between the government welcoming refugees and the government resettling refugees.
  1. There is a difference between private relief efforts and government relief efforts.
  1. There is a difference between suspicion and hatred.
  1. There is a difference between profiling and persecuting.
  1. There is a difference between building a fence to keep people out and a building fence to keep people in.
  1. There is a difference between inviting immigrants and recruiting immigrants.
  1. There is a difference between being a guest and being a trespasser. King James, His Bible,... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $9.40 Buy New $188.48 (as of 03:05 EST - Details)
  1. There is a difference between discrimination and xenophobia.
  1. There is a difference between assimilated immigrants and alienated immigrants.
  1. There is a difference between privately-funded immigration and taxpayer-funded immigration.
  1. There is a difference between the United States giving sanctuary to refugees and the United States opening facilities overseas to process refugees.
  1. There is a difference between the U.S. government limiting the number of refugees its accepts and the U.S. government refusing to grant asylum to Jewish refugees on the St. Louis in 1939.
  1. There is a difference between the private, voluntary acceptance of refugees and the taxpayer-funded Office of Refugee Resettlement.
  1. There is a difference between free immigration and forced immigration.

I have not argued against admitting Syrian refugees to the United States. I have not argued that immigrants take American jobs. I have not argued against admitting Muslims to the United States. I have not argued that immigrants commit crimes disproportionate to their numbers. I have not argued against immigrants. I have not argued that some refugees might potentially be terrorists. I have not argued against lawful immigration. I have not argued that some immigrants don’t want to assimilate. I have not argued against unrestricted immigration. I have not argued that some immigrants don’t want to learn English. I have not even argued against “open borders.”

I have merely pointed out some differences that libertarians can and should be recognizing—even if they are sympathetic to “open borders.”