Open-border libertarianism dangerous immigration policy

Libertarianism has a lot of good ideas to offer the GOP and the nation. Open borders is not one of them. Photo: Associated Press

NEW YORK, August 13, 2013 — Libertarians who want to fling open America’s borders are, as Governor Chris Christie said, dangerous. They want to turn an esoteric intellectual argument into a dangerous policy experiment. There is no reason for anyone on the right —and that includes libertarians — to ever take a position in favor of open borders. It is a policy not compatible with a modern, democratic society.

Libertarians who advocate for that position are fighting a battle that will inevitably lose them the war for smaller government.

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There are two fronts from which libertarians approach this issue: a philosophical ideal that human liberty does not allow for borders on travel; and a financial position that most people who immigrate want to work, which means a growing economy. 

Coming to policy from a philosophical position is an intellectual game, not defensible policy.  The idea of absolute freedom of travel is appealing to purist libertarians, much as distributism is an appealing economic policy to Orthodox Catholics. But policy cannot be made by the furthest opinions of a libertarian mind, just as laws not are not made by the orthodoxy of any religion. Religion accepts absolutes; politics demands compromise. To many, libertarianism is a quasi-religion.

On the issue of economics, open-border libertarians are just plain wrong.

If America were to open its borders, most immigrants who come might come for work opportunities, but they would not come alone. Millions of adult parents, children, and dependent family members would follow, straining America’s already depleted medical and education infrastructure.  

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Libertarians don’t believe the government should be providing assistance and welfare, but we live in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. There is a welfare state in America, and for the foreseeable future, it’s not going anywhere.

Most immigrants who come here for economic opportunities come from poor, third-world nations. They come with generally low skill sets and very little education. Those who come illegally can’t use the social safety net, at least not all of it, so they work hard and do not depend on government. If they came legally, though, that safety net would come into full play, and with it would come the work-killing incentives. It would take generations for many immigrants to claw their way to the middle class. Until that time, millions would be dependent on the government to sustain themselves and their families.

A large, foreign underclass creates culture conflict, economic instability, and produces class envy.  Such a situation in a democracy would only lead politicians and pundits to exacerbate social strife to benefit themselves at the expensive of the free market and limited government.

Most immigrants would be coming from countries and continents that have never been part of a first-world republic. They only understand central planning and a generous welfare state, which they would vote to put in place here. More third world immigrants means more government.

Libertarians come up usually with two general responses.

People leave their home countries because of the lack of opportunity due to the heavy hand of government, so they will support more freedom in their adopted country. The same way all the Northerners from Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts emigrated to New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia, turning them into freer states – oh, wait.

Culture is the most binding element in human conscious; in the collective it is almost impossible to cleanse. Just as New Yorkers who moved to North Carolina turned it into a more liberal swing state, so will the merging immigrants from the third world turn America into the same if we do not have control over our borders.

The second response libertarians make is that people should come here to work, but not to vote. 

Such was the plan in Germany when they took millions of people from the Middle East; two generations later they suffer with a mounting crisis. Those who came to work stayed and raised families but never integrated into German society. They now play a key role in German politics as politicians, using their cultural conflict for their own personal gain.

The idea that immigrant workers will not be given the right to vote, or pushed to have the ability to vote, is a pipe dream. Not in America today, where everyone that wants to be is a designated victimized group with an infinite list of demands and rights.

As long as there are politicians who can manipulate people into voting for them, the idea of a borderless nation where people can freely work but not vote is best left for fiction novels.

That’s why even Congressman Ron Paul told John Stossel that he was opposed to open borders and amnesty when he had the ability to vote on actual bills. 

The reason these ideas are dangerous is because liberals and Democrats sieze on them to build a bipartisan veneer, when in fact they have no intention to reduce limits on government. If libertarians win this battle, they will lose the war. Open-border libertarians are looking to reform the world, when they are in fact destroying it.

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Ryan James Girdusky

Ryan James Girdusky has had his work published in Human Events,, American Spectator,, The Christian Science Monitor and  He is a political consultant based out of his native New York City. He has been featured on The Dr. Gina Radio Show, The Mark Skoda Show and The Edward Woodson Radio Show.


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