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The ‘Illegal Immigration’ Issue Is Giving Me a Headache

May 1, 2010

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com / Link to this article at LewRockwell.com

That “illegal immigration” issue is back, and it’s giving me a headache. It is unfortunate that America has devolved since her Founding, one based on the ideas of private property and freedom of association and contract. In just over 200 years, the love of freedom has transformed into the love of the State (or “government”). And Americans have lost their sense of self-preservation, allowing those who do not value freedom to take over the country. It is no wonder that the people of Arizona can’t protect themselves from intruders and invaders. Of course, the immoral, illogical “War on Drugs” hasn’t helped. There are many differing views from libertarians in particular on this issue, and I am torn between the civil liberties and property rights aspects, which simultaneously conflict with and complement each other.

The Future of Freedom Foundation’s Jacob Hornberger expresses here and here what I think is a result of Americans’ dependence on the State to protect the borders, in which the State has become the actual violator:

What lots of Americans don’t realize is that the new Arizona immigration law simply extends to the entire state the requirement that darker-skinned, poorer-looking Americans along the border have had to live with for decades — carrying their papers, just like people in totalitarian countries have to do…

…Historically, one of the great features of American life has been the unrestricted right of people to travel, trade, and immigrate freely between the respective cities and states of our nation. Internal passport checks are a dark blot on this great tradition. Like the Soviet Union itself, they should be dismantled and tossed into the dustbin of history.

I do not disagree that people have a right of freedom of movement. That is why I oppose the idea of a “driver’s license,” especially distributed by the State (as opposed to owners of private or privatized roads). But freedom of movement does not include a right of movement on or through private property.

In a 2005 article for LRC, Stephan Kinsella gave some suggestions on the immigration debate, in the context of usage rules of public property:

We can allow that a road, for example, is actually, or legally, owned by the state, while also recognizing that the “real” owners are the taxpayers or previous expropriated owners of the land who are entitled to it. This poses no conceptual problem: there is no conflict between the proposition that the taxpayers have a moral or natural right to the land, i.e. they should have the (legal) right to control it; and the assertion that the state has the actual positive or legal right to control the land. The state is the legal owner; but this legal ownership is unjustified, because it amounts to continuing trespass by the state against property “really” owned (normatively or morally) by certain victims of the state (e.g., taxpayers or the resource’s previous owners)….

…. If the feds adopted a rule that only citizens and certain invited outsiders are permitted to use these resources, this would in effect radically restrict immigration…. So merely prohibiting non-citizens from using public property would be one means of establishing de facto immigration restrictions. It need not literally prohibit private property owners from having illegal immigrants on their property. It need only prevent them from using the roads or ports – which it owns.

And Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote for LRC about “free immigration and forced integration,” and a society that provides

…the freedom of many independent private property owners to admit or exclude others from their own property in accordance with their own unrestricted or restricted property titles. Admission to some territories might be easy, while to others it might be nearly impossible. In any case, however, admission to the property of the admitting person does not imply a “freedom to move around,” unless other property owners consent to such movements. There will be as much immigration or non-immigration, inclusivity or exclusivity, desegregation or segregation, non-discrimination or discrimination based on racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural or whatever other grounds as individual owners or associations of individual owners allow…

However, the problem we have now is a result of the American Founders having created the institution of compulsory government, with a monopoly of territorial protection and immigration administration. As Hoppe notes,

…the decision as to whether or not a person should be admitted no longer rests with private property owners or associations of such owners but with the government as the ultimate sovereign of all domestic residents and the ultimate super-owner of all their properties.

The State’s being an implied “owner” of all the territories has diminished private property rights, and the combination of the State’s monopoly of overseeing immigration and the State’s monopoly of territorial protection has turned immigration into invasion. As we have witnessed these last 20 years, the centralized protection monopolists grandiosely expand their power to foreign lands and abandon their responsibilities at home. But as I’ve noted in the past, people of a given territory have a God-given right to defend and protect their territory, and not be forced to be dependent on such a centralized authority/bureaucracy/police force for their protection, as well as for justice. In his article, Private Law Society, Hoppe notes,

…the government is the ultimate judge in every case of conflict, including conflicts involving itself. Consequently, instead of merely preventing and resolving conflict, a monopolist of ultimate decision-making will also provoke conflict in order to settle it to his own advantage. That is, if one can only appeal to government for justice, justice will be perverted in the favor of government, constitutions and supreme courts notwithstanding.

For example, leaving the immigration issue aside for a moment, in the context of the administration of justice, LRC contributor William Anderson has been blogging on the trial of a teacher accused of child molestation, in which Anderson describes the trial as laden with prosecutorial misconduct and a judge who continually overrules objections by the defense. It sounds like the teacher is being Nifonged, which is not atypical when an institution – the State – is given a monopoly of final judicial decision-making. In contrast, if the administration of justice, as well as territorial protection, were privatized and competing agencies allowed to operate, Hoppe notes,

Competition among insurers, police, and arbitrators for paying clients would bring about a tendency toward a continuous fall in the price of protection (per insured value), thus rendering protection more affordable…. in a system of freely competing protection agencies all arbitrariness of allocation (all over- and underproduction) would vanish. Protection would be accorded the relative importance that it has in the eyes of voluntarily paying consumers, and no person, group, or region would receive protection at the expense of any other one, but each would receive protection in accordance with its payments…

…In distinct contrast, as compulsory monopolists states do not indemnify victims, and because they can resort to taxation as a source of funding, they have little or no incentive to prevent crime or to recover loot and capture criminals…

… private law societies are characterized by an unrestricted right to self-defense and hence by widespread private gun and weapon ownership. This tendency is further strengthened by the important role of insurance companies in such societies. All states attempt to disarm their subject population…. If a freely financed insurance company were to demand as a prerequisite of protection that potential clients hand over all means of self-defense, it would immediately arouse the utmost suspicion as to their true motives, and they would quickly go bankrupt. In their own best interest, insurance companies would reward armed clients, in particular those able to certify some level of training in the handling of arms, charging them lower premiums reflecting the lower risk that they represent. Just as insurers charge less if home owners have an alarm system or a safe installed, so would a trained gun owner represent a lower insurance risk.

In the context of immigration, property, and border security, private property owners would exercise their right to defend and protect their lives and property, if not interfered with by the State. Would-be violent criminals from across the border could be warned (with signs, in Spanish) that their trespassing and other intrusions will be met with whatever weapons property owners have available. The would-be intruder from south-of-the-border would have a choice: “Hmmm, do I want to cross the border onto Gringo’s land and get my head blown off? Or should I choose to avoid getting my head blown off and not cross the border?”

The outsiders will be expected to take responsibility for the consequences of their invasive actions.

Obviously, the agents of the State’s government apparatus have proven themselves incapable of handling such protection tasks, and it is they who, when pressured, lose control and end up violating the rights of their own protection “clients.”

While some people might consider such a society’s exercise of self-protection a kind of “vigilantism,” the property owners who harm others by behaving over-zealously and irresponsibly can be exiled to an island along with other dangerous people.

Finally, the “War on Drugs,” 1920s Prohibition on steroids, is what propels the border states’ illegal immigration problem and violence. Drug prohibition causes a black market, drug cartels, traffickers, street pushers and addicts. Is it possible that the deaths, violence and destruction caused by the drug traffickers, street pushers and addicts may be more than the deaths or injuries caused by actual drug usage?

That our modern society hasn’t learned from 1920s Prohibition is giving me a headache. Do senators and congressmen actually believe that the State can save people from their own self-destructive behaviors? Or perhaps their fears of drug mobsters and the politicians’ own political parties losing votes in elections are the real motivations behind not ending the “War on Drugs.”

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