Open Borders and Strict Libertarian Theory

As a deontological libertarian, I have two main arguments in favor of open borders.

First, immigration without permission is not a per se violation of rights. To prove this, all I need is one example, even a theoretical one. Here’s mine: a Martian, or an African, comes to totally virgin territory in Alaska, or the Wyoming Rockies, and starts homesteading. He violates no rights. This is a victimless “crime.” In my book Defending I, I defended the pimp. Even if none of them refrained from beating up his prostitute, still, I could conceive of this occurring. That is all I need in my defense of the pimp, and the same goes for the illegal immigrant. Even if none of them homesteaded virgin territory, I can still conceive of this occurring.

Second, a reductio ad absurdum: an immigrant comes from outside of the US. So do new babies. The stork brings them from Storkovia (you’ve been led astray in your biology classes if you think otherwise). Thus, if it is justified to regulate the incoming of immigrants from Mexico, Africa, Asia, it is justified to regulate the incoming of babies from the country, Storkovia.

How, then, do we protect ourselves from rape-fugees, from truck-fugees, from being inundated by trillions of nice Martians, but with a different culture so that we lose ours? I answer this utilitarian objection as follows: privatize every single square inch of the US. Then, if immigrants come here, they must have the permission of the owners of the property in question. If not, they are trespassers. They no longer commit a victimless crime.

Libertarian theoreticians who favor regulated borders are so concerned about being over-run, about being victimized by criminal immigrants, that they are throwing the libertarian baby out with the utilitarian bathwater. They do not realize that immigration is not a per se violation of rights (if done on virgin territory)

I have published several refereed journals elaborating on these two justifications for open borders, and on how to have our cake and eat it too: to both adhere to libertarian principles and also be safe.

For my publications on this, see below.

Also see two letters criticizing my views on this matter. I suspect neither write has perused my scholarly publications on this matter.

Letter I:
From: P
Sent: Monday, March 04, 2019 2:57 PM

Cc: Walter Block

Subject: Open borders?

When Walter Block puts forth his argument for open borders, in the interest of transparency he ought to let his readers to know that he enjoys dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Canada, and therefore has a personal wormhole to escape any negative consequences resulting from permitting any and all entry into the U.S.

“One can’t have one’s cake and eat it too.”  The meaning of this is clear.  One can’t have both.  To say otherwise is an exercise in nonsense.  Why Walter Block tramples this perfectly clear figure-of-speech is a mystery.

Perhaps that’s part of why for me his argument for open borders falls flat.  I realize that Block says that only property that is not already privately owned would be available for use by immigrants.  In principal, few people calling themselves libertarians would oppose such an argument. But with all due respect, is that what we’re speaking about here, a Martian, or an African, or a Pakistani, descending into the middle of Alaska, or Wyoming in the Rockies, and starts to homestead virgin territory?  Certainly it is not.  Leaping from the example of one Pakistani family living on top of a mountain, to thousands upon thousands or even of millions of immigrants seeking and getting welfare benefits for the asking is an absurd comparison.

For another comparison, this, from Bionic Mosquito’s blog, by one of his commenters calling himself, “A Texas Libertarian,” “I think we all are utilitarians if you dig deep enough.  Would you advocate liberty purely based on the moral argument even if it’s real world effect could be reliably predicted to cause bad outcomes for most people?  As libertarians, we spend a good deal of our time learning, discussing, and arguing over why and how a stateless society will work.  If we weren’t utilitarians, we wouldn’t care if it would ‘work’ or not.”

This I think, is the position Professor Block puts himself in. He won’t consider the utilitarian position, i.e. what will be the actual outcome given the political reality in today’s world if open borders are sanctioned? Will it “work” or not?

Isn’t it paramount to consider not just the principle of open borders, but the reality of consequences for most people.

Kind regards,


From: M
Sent: Monday, March 04, 2019 11:32 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: immigrant vs baby

Dear Walter:

Suppose an immigrant has been a criminal all his life and is likely to continue being a criminal. Or suppose he’s an advocate of criminal acts, or even admits he may act criminally. Keeping him out is justifiable based on the probable consequences, whereas  the baby faces no such challenge.

Why ignore important and relevant facts? Why limit argument to appraisal of actions on their right and wrong merits according to a series of pre-set rules? Why ignore consequences?

Furthermore, how choose certain rules (in the deontological approach) unless one has some criteria to judge them? What might these criteria be? I’m sure at least some thinkers about ethics will justify the criteria by reference to what is good or not good or by consequences.

If the deonotological ethics depend on some morality, where does it come from? Why do moral codes exist and arise? Isn’t this because they codify certain behaviors that have consequences? There is no escape from bringing in consequences.

Your prediction of the baby’s behavior based on the parents is likely to be more noisy than a prediction of the 20-year old immigrant because you have more information about the immigrant’s actual behavior for 20 years. But you say that’s not the point anyway, because you are going deontological.

So, your other point: New babies are immigrants to the country. This is false. Most new babies are the offspring of people already in the country for some time. They will be raised in an American culture. There will be variation in the results because we have many sub-cultures, ethnicities, religions, groups, etc., but they’ll still be exposed to Americanization for 20 years.

The immigrant arrives having already been Mexicanized, or Europeanized, or Muslimized or whatever for 20 years. Calling the baby an immigrant ignores this fact. The baby is not an immigrant in the sense of starting out from the same point that the 20-year olf (sic) immigrant starts out from. M

My pubs on this:

Block, 1983A, 1983B, 1988, 1990, 1998, 2004, 2011A, 2011B, 2013, 2016A, 2016B, 2017; Block and Callahan, 2003; Deist, 2018; Gregory and Block, 2007;

Block, Walter E. 1983A. “How immigrants CREATE jobs,” North Shore News, p. A6, January 30;

Block, Walter E. 1983B. “Protect Canadian Jobs From Immigrants?” Dollars and Sense. February 7; reprinted in Block, Walter E. 2008. Labor Economics from a Free Market Perspective: Employing the Unemployable.  London, UK: World Scientific Publishing;;

Available for free here:;

Block, Walter E. 1988. Dollars and Sense: “Migration patterns tell real story.” January 12;

Block, Walter E. 1990.  “Immigration,” Fraser Forum, January, pp. 22-23.

Block, Walter E. 1998. “A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration,” Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, summer, pp. 167-186;

Block, Walter E. 2004. “The State Was a Mistake.” Book review of Hoppe, Han-Hermann, Democracy, The God that Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy and Natural Order, 2001May 25.

Block, Walter E. 2011A. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 593–623;

Block, Walter E. 2011B. “Rejoinder to Hoppe on Immigration,” Journal of Libertarian Studies Vol. 22: pp. 771–792;

Block, Walter E. 2013. “Rejoinder to Todea on the ‘Open’ Contract of Immigration.” The Scientific Journal of Humanistic Studies, Vol. 8, No. 5, March, pp. 52-55

Block, Walter E. 2015. “On immigration.” December 21;

Block, Walter E. 2016A. “Contra Hoppe and Brat on immigration.” Management Education Science Technology journal, Vol 4, No. 1, pp. 1-10;; (1333

Block, Walter E. 2016B. “A response to the libertarian critics of open-borders libertarianism,” Lincoln Memorial University Law Review; Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 142-165;;

Block, Walter E. 2017. “Immigration and Homesteading.” March. The Journal Jurisprudence. Vol. 35, pp. 9-42;

Block, Walter E. and Gene Callahan. 2003. “Is There a Right to Immigration? A Libertarian Perspective,” Human Rights Review. Vol. 5, No. 1, October-December, pp. 46-71;

Deist, Jeff. 2018. “Block on immigration.” September 4;

Gregory, Anthony and Walter E. Block. 2007. “On Immigration: Reply to Hoppe.” Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 21, No. 3, Fall, pp. 25-42;;;



1:38 am on March 8, 2019