The Logic of La-Raza Libertarians

Ilana Mercer, October 20, 2006

Last week, cable networks and mainstream press celebrated the birth of the 300-millionth American. Segments and stories abounded emphasizing the glories of high-population density and Tower-of-Babel diversity.


In search for irresistible copy, the New York Times located the newborn. Probabilities did not disappoint. The child was the progeny of what The Times dubbed “immigrants from Puebla, Mexico”—in all likelihood illegal. Still, the (subsidized, no doubt) hospital setting was too tame for the Times. So it announced that, while “hospital publicists and proud new parents were left to stake their claims” to the title, the honorific probably belonged to a child “smuggled before dawn across an unguarded section of the Southwestern border.”


And why not? Libertarian open-border evangelists like to stress that the philosophy of individual rights and capitalism implies that individuals have the right to come to the US to live and work. Conversely, it is the prerogative of property owners stateside to invite immigrants to live with—or work for—them.


In a society where property rights are sacrosanct and state intervention minimal, immigration would indeed be by invitation. In fairness, some visas—H-1B and L-1B, for example—are attempts at immigration by invitation. However, the number of visas allotted to invited, highly-skilled, self-supporting, wealth-generating immigrants forms a fraction of the immigration inflow.


It’s especially insane for libertarians to assert that the hordes streaming across the Southwestern border at a rate of one immigrant every 30 or so seconds are here with the consent of American private property owners, simply because many find employment once in the US.


If we lived in the old decentralized republic of absolute property rights, land owners in border communities would be policing and defending their properties. They’d have stopped the influx in its tracks before the nearest job centers were reached. In that republic of blessed memory, trespassers would never have made it past private land owners. Since back then self-defense was not merely nominal, most aliens traipsing and trashing land not theirs, as they now do with impunity, would’ve been repelled by land owners—by force. Consequently, repeat offenders would’ve been rare.


No, the state alone—hand-in-glove with its taxpayer-subsidized, special-interests—has consented to these arrivals.


If you really want to see an immigration liberationist rise on his hind legs, mention a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Hysterical yelps of “tear down this wall” will ensue. Irrational minds have transformed a defensive wall à la the Emperor Hadrian’s, intended to keep the “barbarians” out, into the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall, constructed to keep people in.


Utopian libertarians are especially fond of claiming the welfare state is the sole reason illegal immigrants cost much more ($26.3 billion) than they contribute ($16 billion). Were it not for its provisions, they say, these unskilled, uneducated, non-English speakers would become a boon—not a burden—to the communities they infiltrate. In its determinism, the thinking of the love-in-at-the-border libertarian is indistinguishable from that of the left-liberal. Both see the social environment as the single most important determinant of behavior.


However, what of this cohort’s cultivated militant distinctiveness? What about crime and disease? Will these dissipate with the unlikely dissolution of the welfare state? I suggest the hippies have confused the causal sequence. The point of departure is the quality of immigrants entering the US after the 1965 Immigration Act. For the kind of immigrant given preference under current policy, welfare is more of a magnet. Also ignored by La-Raza libertarians is the evidence of the rapid acculturation among post-1965 immigrants to U.S. largess: the longer these immigrants reside in the country, the likelier they are to receive welfare.


More material, levitating in la-la land is not going to change that the welfare state is accreting, not shrinking. Or that human flaws and frailties are not always the state’s fault.


Open-border fetishists reserve the gold standard non sequitur for belittling the burden of illegal immigration on the American taxpayer. Living at the public’s expense, they concede, does indeed violate the rights of taxpayers. But why single out non-nationals? Is it any less of a violation of the taxpayer’s rights for native-born individuals to suck at the public teat?


From the fact that you oppose taxpayer-funded welfare for nationals, it doesn’t follow that extending it to millions of unviable non-nationals is financially or morally negligible. (Or that it comports with the libertarian aim of curtailing government growth.) The argument is like declaring that because a bank has been robbed by one band of bandits, arresting the next is unnecessary because the damage has already been done.


How would immigration evangelists “reason” away the harm from violent crimes committed by non-nationals? Let’s see: “We don’t care if illegal immigrants commit more violent crimes than locals, because we believe violent offences, committed by nati
onals and non-nationals alike, are wrong and should be phased out.”


The cumulative costs of crime are a little harder to dismiss with such latrine logic.



©2006 By Ilana Mercer

October 20

CATEGORIES: Immigration, Libertarianism

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