Ongoing Violations of the Rights of Immigrants

Arturo Hernandez Garcia was working peaceably in Denver putting in floors when he was arrested by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Garcia is married with two children—both U.S. citizens—and he has no criminal background. Yet he was forcibly taken from his job and his life and confined, and he now faces the possibility of being forcibly ejected from the country. Garcia is one of thousands of people treated in this manner so far this year.

America’s immigration “policy” in many cases is to send out heavily armed thugs with badges to snatch peaceable people from their homes and jobs and rip apart families. This policy is a moral outrage and a profound violation of people’s rights. Continue reading “Ongoing Violations of the Rights of Immigrants”

O’Keefe Sneaks Across U.S.–Mexican Border Dressed as Bin Laden

Image: Project Veritas
Image: Project Veritas
Sensationalist media personality James O’Keefe snuck across the U.S.–Mexican border—while dressed as Osama bin Laden—to illustrate how insecure the borders really are. See reports by the Daily Caller and the Daily Mail. Of course, if the United States would stop fostering a black market in drugs and stop violating the rights of peaceable people to immigrate, the job of securing the border would be radically easier, as I’ve argued.

To Secure the Borders, Liberalize Immigration

Image: David All
Image: David All

Michelle Malkin says, “I reject the premise of ‘secure the border first’ platitudes. It’s secure the border. Period.” But, practically, doing so is impossible without also liberalizing immigration policy.

Yesterday Malkin released an article about the horrific murder of an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent. “The two suspects are Mexican nationals from Matamoros,” in the U.S. illegally and “previously deported after committing other serious crimes,” Malkin writes. Undoubtedly this disturbing case illustrates the problem of insecure borders. The question is, how can the United States government actually secure the borders?

An apt analogy is the drug war. The U.S. government outlaws various drugs, but those laws do not actually stop Americans from buying those drugs. Instead, the laws foster violent black market at home and abroad (which is a major cause of the recent influx of illegal immigrants). Could the U.S. government absolutely stop all illegal drug use? Yes, it could—but at the cost of imposing a fascist police state. Similarly, the U.S. government could totally secure the borders while maintaining rights-violating immigration restrictions, but only by imposing a fascist police state, complete with routine government raids of American businesses and homes.

If we wish to have secure borders, not live in a fascist police state, and also respect the moral rights of peaceable people to immigrate, we have only one option: Liberalize immigration policies—establishing check points for peaceable people seeking to immigrate—and redirect all the manpower and resources now spent rounding up and harassing decent people to the task of securing the borders.

Death and Abuse at the Border

Image: National Park Service
Image: National Park Service
Bob Price wrote a disturbing report yesterday for Brietbart.com about how forty-four people have died and numerous women have been sexually assaulted while illegally crossing America’s border. I would point out that these horrific consequences are partly the result of America’s rights-violating policies restricting the immigration of rights-respecting people; see my previous articles.

Immigration Restrictions Arose with Progressive Social Engineering

Image: National Park Service
Image: National Park Service

Cato’s Alex Nowrasteh penned a new article for National Review, “The Conservative Case for Immigration Reform.” He offers a brief account of immigration laws in America:

The first naturalization law, passed in 1790, did not put any restrictions on immigration. It wasn’t until 1882 that Congress, in its first major legislative restriction, passed a blanket ban on Chinese immigrants. Over the next 40 years, Congress passed laws banning immigration of the Japanese and illiterates, and it imposed low quotas on immigration from European countries whose members were supposedly “unassimilable”—all at the insistence of nationalists, labor unions, progressives, and eugenicists. . . .

During the 1950s, the Bracero guest-worker visa program channeled migrants into a legal and regulated market, shrinking the illegal-immigrant population by 90 percent. . . .

The immigration restrictions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were a vast social-engineering experiment that departed from America’s traditional open immigration policy. In contrast, allowing immigration to mostly be guided by the market would be a rejection of the social-engineering impulse that arose out of the Progressive era.

Although I have not personally researched the history of America’s immigration laws, Nowrasteh’s account seems reliable. One modern guest-worker proposal is the “Red Card Solution,” promoted by Helen Krieble. Recently I’ve written a four-part series on immigration for The Objective Standard: see parts one, two, three, and four.

Colorado DMV Expects to Issue Thousands of Drivers Licenses to Illegal Immigrants

Image: National Park Service
Image: National Park Service

“Colorado is one of eight states that enacted laws in 2013 allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for [drivers] licenses,” Jennifer Oldham reports for Bloomberg, and the “DMV expects to process 9,551 applicants through September.” Hat tip to Melissa Clouthier. I’m on record as supporting open immigration for rights-respecting people who pass through appropriate check points; I have no developed opinion regarding the state programs in question. The obvious concern is that states may be issuing official government licenses to people whom the federal government has not cleared as posing no threat to others.

On Immigration, Too Many Conservatives Oppose Liberty

The following article originally was published May 14, 2010, by Grand Junction’s Free Press.

On immigration, too many conservatives oppose liberty

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

Remember the good old days when conservatives advocated liberty, free markets, and a business-friendly political environment? Now, at least when it comes to immigration, many conservatives instead advocate border socialism, economic protectionism, intrusive identification laws, and criminal penalties on employers for the “crime” of hiring willing workers.

Let us begin with the rights of property and free association, the bedrock of a free market economy. As a property owner, you have the right to invite your neighbor over for dinner. You also have the right to invite your neighbor to help you build a shed. These rights of property and association do not diminish if you offer to pay your neighbor, or if you offer to pay somebody from Florida, Canada, or Mexico.

But what about the Arizonans whose rights are violated when illegal immigrants sneak across their land? We agree that is a serious problem. However, it is immoral and impractical to attempt to protect the property of some by blatantly violating the rights of others. Moreover, the only reason immigrants sneak over the border (generally a dangerous and expensive proposition) is that immigration is largely illegal. With a robust guest worker program, immigrants looking for work would be more than happy to take the bus.

What about border security? With a robust guest worker program, U.S. officials could control the flow of migrants much more easily. Many fewer Mexicans would attempt to cross the border illegally, and U.S. law enforcement would have a much easier time catching them.

It would help if U.S. drug prohibition weren’t enriching murderous Mexican drug lords, ripping apart the Mexican legal system, and promoting the illegal drug trade into the U.S. It is these drug routes that threaten to allow Islamist terrorists to hitch a ride. The obvious answer, which many conservatives are too cowardly to mention, is to repeal drug prohibition and return to individual responsibility. Short of that, at least a guest worker program would allow U.S. law enforcement to focus on the delimited problem of drug trafficking.

But won’t legal immigrants and guest workers take American jobs? In a free society, a job belongs to whomever an employer chooses to hire, and to nobody else. And we are frankly tired of alleged conservatives treating jobs as though they were some sort of socialized property of the collective. It’s time for Republicans to stop channeling Karl Marx when it comes to immigration policy.

Ah, but we hear, some immigrants go on welfare and drain government budgets. Many immigrants pay enormous sums into U.S. welfare programs and never draw out a penny. We advocate a guest worker program that forbids migrants from signing up for U.S. welfare dollars.

Conservatives claim to endorse family values. Why, then, do so many conservatives tolerate or endorse immoral immigration laws that split up families over minor technical infractions?

Many conservatives rightly bristle at the thought of giving their name to the government for a gun purchase. Why, then, do many conservatives now want to force all employers to verify employees with the federal government and force all citizens to carry identification documents to get a job and avoid trouble with the police? It used to be that conservatives were dead set against any sort of “papers please” policy.

These onerous paperwork crackdowns on employers started with tax compliance. Conservatives should be fighting such controls on businesses, not trying to enact more. What do you think the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Sam Adams would have thought about asking the federal government’s permission to hire a willing worker? Now, shamefully, some alleged conservatives call for felony penalties on employers who fail to sufficiently kiss bureaucratic backside.

On a pragmatic note, Republicans are foolish to alienate Hispanic voters. Conservatives claim to support hard work, family values, and a strong sense of community harmony — precisely the values of many immigrants.

To put a human face on the issue, some years ago your senior author knew someone in eastern New Mexico who worked a “truck garden,” requiring back-breaking work to bring vegetables to market. He hired ten to fifteen illegal immigrants for the season, and said many of these workers had been with him for many years. They were hard working, dependable, and trustworthy. Once he ran help wanted advertisements in the local city and school newspapers. A single local high school student answered the advertisement. The student worked for a few short hours, then went home. Conservatives would throw that employer in prison and see his crops rot.

The choice is clear. Either you support liberty, free markets, the rights of property and association, and security against government intrusions, or you support restrictive immigration. But if you choose the latter, please do not call yourself a conservative. Use the correct term for your views on this issue and call yourself a socialist.

Linn Armstrong is a local political activist and firearms instructor with the Grand Valley Training Club. His son, Ari, edits FreeColorado.com from the Denver area.

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Comments

Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 2:06 PM
Instead of viewing immigrants for what they contribute, we view them for what they cost. We try to figure out how much in “free” government services they use, health care, education, welfare, etc. We aren’t moving towards less government, so divisions between neighbors will likely keep growing.

mtnrunner2 May 14, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Armstrongs, you’re absolutely right.

Just this AM I commented on a Tea Party site web that was flush with words like “freedom”, “rights”, and “constitution”, yet they were promoting the awful http://standwitharizona.org/ action.

On the premise that at least some of them were mistaken or ignorant, I left the link to the excellent Objective Standard article on immigration: http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2008-spring/immigration-individual-rights.asp.

Advocates of freedom need to realize they are not helping the cause by backing overly restrictive and protectionist federal laws.

Neil Parille May 16, 2010 at 4:34 AM

Ari,

While I agree with some of what you say (in particular the drug war), I don’t think the large number of immigrants in this country is a good idea.

I’m curious if you would place a limit on the number of guest workers? In addition, we would still have the same problem. These workers would come to the US and have children. What would we do when the duration of their visa is up and tell them to take their citizen children with them?

I understand conservatives opposing the high level of immigration we have. It certainly isn’t making the US more conservative. Areas with high immigrants such as LA are hotbeads of multiculturalism, leftism, and labor unionism.

Would you extend the guest worker program to people from Islamic nations? That would open the door to terrorists since it’s unlikely that most would-be terrorists would tell the border agents that they support terrorism.

Incidentally, the author of the above-refernced article is Craig Biddle. I asked him if believed Israel’s policies on immigration are immoral and he didn’t respond. (Israel would become a Moslem country if it followed Biddle’s advice.)

-Neil Parille

Ari May 16, 2010 at 8:42 AM
Neil,

It would be pleasant if you would respond to any of the arguments the article makes against your position. Nevertheless, I will briefly respond to your points.

1. By my reading of the 14th Amendment, it is true that anyone born here automatically becomes a citizen. I don’t see this as a problem. What percent of immigrants have babies here? Many males work here seasonably partly to support their families in Mexico. Why does this concern you? If we cut off immigration from welfare benefits, this would create zero problem. I would, however, be open to an amendment slightly altering the rules about citizenship.

2. Immigrants certainly are not the driving force of the left. That is, instead, homegrown ideologues.

3. So your strategy for preventing more “leftism” is to impose more socialist, collectivistic controls? You will not win the ideological battle by promoting collectivism. (Or, rather, you will win the ideological battle FOR the left.)

4. Your assumption that border checks would be limited to guards asking questions is asinine. Anybody with a suspicious background should be checked out, possibly delayed or denied entry, and possibly tracked more carefully if allowed through. But the fact is that most would-be terrorists hate America and want nothing to do with us. You want to prevent Catholic Mexicans from working in the U.S. in order to prevent Islamist terrorism from the Middle East?

5. I don’t know much about Israeli policy and therefore cannot say much about it. When my dad visited there he noticed that many Muslims in fact live in Israel. Obviously, Israel has to be especially careful about border crossings, given the number of Islamists who openly declare they want to destroy the Jews. Israel is very nearly at war with its neighbors. If the U.S. were at war with Canada or Mexico, obviously that would effect our immigration policies with respect to those regions for the duration of the conflict. But your argument seems to be that we should keep out obviously peaceful people because Israel’s neighbors are murderously hostile.

Your arguments are so laughably inept that I have to wonder whether you’re trying to divert attention away from your primary agenda with distractions.

Thanks, -Ari

mtnrunner2 May 16, 2010 at 9:16 AM
Neil,

Open immigration does not mean national suicide.

Anyone who is an *objective security risk* is a candidate to be barred entry to the country. Who that is remains to be determined based on the objective security requirements of a given nation, whether it’s Israel or the US.

However, common arguments for limiting immigration are often thinly disguised protectionism or racism and violate the rights of peaceful individuals. Or they are a fallback position made in response to the failures of bad foreign policy.

Ari May 17, 2010 at 1:14 PM
Notes on the comments:

1) If you submit a comment that is gratuitously insulting, then I will not waste my time reading it. Certainly I will not post it or bother responding to it.

2) If you submit a comment that significantly misrepresents my stated position, or that fails to respond to it, then I will not post your comment .

If you want to criticize my position, then do so using honest argument, not misrepresentation and personal attacks. Thanks!

Amnesty

The following article originally appeared in Grand Junction’s June 23 Free Press.

Government granted amnesty — and should do so again

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

Amnesty is offered to those who have killed and wounded thousands of Americans. These illegal individuals have shown no respect for the borders or laws of the United States. Many among Congress and the public think the president has greatly overstepped his authority. But there it is. Lincoln’s plan of reconstruction, the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, December 8, 1863.

President Andrew Johnson’s Amnesty Proclamation of May 29, 1865, was similar to Lincoln’s plan. Many historians have noted that the importance of these proclamations was twofold. They healed the wounds of the divided country by bringing full citizenship to those who would play a future role in the greatness of the country. And they restored justice. Johnson issued his proclamation “that peace, order, and freedom may be established.”

If our presidents could offer amnesty to treasonous individuals responsible for over a half million deaths, surely we can offer amnesty to our neighbors from the south guilty only of working hard and providing for their families.

Recently Jill — we’ll call her Jill to protect her privacy — was sitting in Senator Ken Salazar’s office in Grand Junction describing to the senator’s aide her husband’s immigration problem. As a young child his parents brought him to the U.S.

Jill relates that they have been married for five years and have two beautiful children. They have been trying to work through the immigration system to legalize her husband at the cost of several thousand dollars.

Jill’s husband had returned to Mexico to request permission to return to the U.S, a process he was told would take probably no more than three weeks. Jill vented her frustration with the immigration system to the senator’s aide because she had just been informed that her husband and father of her children would have stay in Mexico for three years before he could apply to return.

Jill told the aid, “My husband came to this country as a child, his Spanish is poor, and he cannot find a job in Mexico. I am going to lose my house and car and go on welfare. But worst of all, the children will not be able to see their father.”

We find it ironic that the “family values” crowd is most insistent on breaking up families in such situations.

Jill’s husband did break the law, though he was too young to control his path. Neal Boortz mentioned to your elder author that illegal aliens have broken the law and therefore have to suffer the consequences.

However, our nation has a long history of disobeying unjust laws. Would you have condemned the Boston Tea Party for destruction of property? Would you have arrested the signers of the Declaration of Independence? Would you have convicted your fellow citizens for helping to free slaves in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Act?

Two pillars of a free society are property rights and the right to contract. Business owners have the right to hire willing employees of their choice, whether they’re from Grand Junction, Mack, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, or Mexico City. (Honestly, a lot of people from Los Angeles are more alien than many from Mexico.)

We should be particularly aware of this issue, as agriculture and other industries in this valley and this nation depend on migrant workers from Mexico.

Yes, U.S. citizens properly have greater freedom of movement within the country than people from other countries do coming in. Immigration should be controlled so that we know who’s crossing to stop criminals and carriers of contagious diseases. But we should not stop people from freely contracting with U.S. citizens to rent housing, buy goods and services, and work for a living.

Some illegal immigrants get welfare benefits and “free” health care and education, you say. We agree that’s wrong. But is it less wrong for a local-born citizen to take our money by force? The problem of welfare can and should be solved without restricting immigration.

Thankfully, Colorado made a modest step in the right direction this year with Marsha Looper’s bill 1325, which points out, “Colorado’s agriculture industry employs an estimated nine thousand seasonal workers annually, and the agriculture industry faces critical shortages of seasonal workers.” The bill established a “seasonal worker pilot program.”

While the bill takes needed steps to ensure local fruit doesn’t rot on the ground, farmers shouldn’t have to beg the state legislature for permission to hire people. This is America, the land of immigrants and the land of individual rights. To work for a living and contract with others for business is among our most important rights.

Mexicans and, yes, even Canadians should be allowed to freely seek work here, and business owners should be allowed to freely hire them. Amnesty is not a dirty word to us; it is necessary “that peace, order, and freedom may be established.”

Doug, Doug, Doug

As a long-time advocate of open immigration, I’m as annoyed as anyone by Douglas Bruce’s comments about the “5,000 more illiterate peasants in the state of Colorado” should Marsha Looper’s guest-worker bill pass. While I have not read the details of the bill in question, I support the general idea. I first met Looper before she joined the legislature when she was working for property rights, and I respect her all the more for sponsoring such a bill.

However, The Denver Post is having a bit more fun with this than is necessary. Jessica Fender’s article, which also includes a link to the video recording of Bruce’s comments, carries the headline, “Bruce barred from speaking after ‘illiterate’ remark.” Fine. But, for a time on Monday night, the Post’s web page blared, “Bruce calls Mexicans ‘illiterate’.” That claim is not accurate.

It’s obviously not true that workers from Mexico are illiterate as a group, though I suppose a fraction of them are. I suspect that migrant workers are less-well educated than average citizens of both Mexico and the U.S. I’ve also met Mexicans — both in Mexico and in the U.S. — who are a lot smarter and better educated than either Bruce or me. Moreover, I suspect that a greater fraction of immigrants from Mexico are literate in two languages relative to the native U.S. population. However, while, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, 99 percent of the U.S. population is literate, only 91 percent of the Mexican population is so.

But Bruce’s main problem is not that he’s wrong in claiming that mostly-literate people are illiterate, but that suggesting that literacy is relevant to the issue. Even if it were the case that all 5,000 new immigrants would be illiterate, that would not justify a vote against the bill. U.S. employers have a right to hire willing workers, and people have a right to seek work, whether or not the employees are literate.

I knew as soon as Bruce kicked the photographer on his first day on the job that he had set himself up as a story. He now has a reputation that he’ll never be able to shake. And the Post is more than happy to report all of Bruce’s zaniness, because the Post has a long-standing antipathy to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which Bruce was instrumental in promoting. The Post loves the idea of making Bruce the poster-boy for TABOR. Which means that Bruce has done more than tarnish his own reputation; he has made it harder for advocates of restrained taxation to make their case over the noise.

The fact that various conservatives simultaneously claim to back TABOR and oppose immigration shows only that they don’t understand what economic liberty is all about. Not only do I welcome peaceable, productive Mexicans to the U.S., but I want them to bear the lowest tax burden possible.

Biddle Defends Open Immigration

Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard, has written a persuasive defense of open immigration. Biddle explains:

Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America — providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases. Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.

Biddle basis his central argument on the principle of individual rights. Consistent with their right to live, pursue their happiness, and act on their own judgment, people have a right to move to a new region, and the residents of that region have the right to voluntarily employ and otherwise associate with the immigrants. After explaining this central argument in detail and illustrating it with examples, Biddle then goes on to answer seven particular objections. He explains why each objection to open immigration either implies a violation of people’s rights or, when properly understood, actually supports the policy of open immigration.

I would add only two points to Biddle’s analysis.

First, in his discussion of jobs and wage rates (the third objection that he considers), Biddle rightly emphasizes the moral point that forbidding free association of employers and employees violates the rights of both. However, Biddle might have offered a brief economic analysis here to the effect that free markets, including free migration, ultimately enables a nation’s residents to create the most wealth. Economics shows, for instance, that a free economy can accommodate any number of workers, and that real wages depend foremost upon production and can expand even if monetary wages remain flat or go down. Liberty in employment is moral, and, because it is moral, it is practical; any rational producer in a region stands ultimately to benefit from open immigration in the context of free markets.

Second, in answering the objection about culture (the second objection), Biddle doesn’t directly counter one important variant of the objection. Biddle rightly rejects the racial argument out of hand, and he strongly counters objections about language and lifestyles. Yet some critics will invoke a fourth variant of the general objection.

The objection runs as follows: the United States is built on and sustained by a set of cultural traditions involving limited government and personal responsibility. These cultural traditions are what keep America strong (economically and otherwise), and letting too many people move in who lack these traditions threatens to undermine the American way of life. Limited immigration is fine (by this objection), but it must be restricted so that new immigrants absorb American traditions rather than impose the traditions of their homelands. Basically, the fear is that the government of the United States will start to look more and more like the government of Mexico, with increasing levels of welfare, unemployment, and political corruption. Various regions of Europe, to take another example, are struggling with Muslim immigrants who do not always assimilate to the culture of their new homes.

Biddle implicitly replies to this objection elsewhere in his essay.

One important point that Biddle raises against the objection is that immigrants are not, on the whole, interested in living under the political traditions of their homeland; that’s why they moved. Immigrants tend to be independent, hard-working, and industrious, and they tend to be at least as likely as native-born Americans to support the institutions of liberty. (Writing from personal experience, some of the truest Americans I’ve ever met are immigrants.)

Biddle also points out that restrictions on immigration, along with the welfare state, are the greatest barriers to attracting industrious immigrants. The restrictions keep out many of the best potential immigrants, while the welfare state attracts some of the least-industrious ones. The solution to this problem is not to restrict immigration, but to repeal the policies that have created the problem.

What about the problem of immigrants trying to import, say, sharia law? Biddle point out that objective, rights-protecting laws should be fully enforced by a government “with a monopoly on the use of physical force in a given geographic area,” which means that rights-violating policies and actions should be prohibited. Biddle also makes the more general point that free markets tend to encourage immigrants to participate in the broader economy and thus the broader culture. (In addition, Biddle notes, the issue of immigration is separable from the issue of citizenship.)

Biddle also suggests a central contradiction with the objection about cultural traditions: you can’t support the American traditions of free markets and industriousness by actively undermining those traditions by imposing rights-violating anti-immigration policies. The best way to promote good American institutions, both at home and abroad, is to fully achieve them at home. Immigration restrictions send the message, “America is so devoted to free markets that its policies prohibit free markets in labor.” In fact, immigration restrictions actively violate and tear down the best American traditions. You can’t support free markets and industriousness by prohibiting free markets and barring entry to industrious people.

I want to add a couple of points specific to the conservative motivation for this objection about culture.

Conservatives hold that beliefs and values gain force primarily when they are inculcated by society at large and passed down from parents to children within families. There is an element of truth to this; many people never develop the independence required to think through their ideas and reach their own conclusions. Instead, many people passively pick up the ideas expressed by those around them. However, individuals always remain free to question the ideas with which they are surrounded. As Biddle explains in his essay:

People, including immigrants and would-be immigrants, have free will; they choose to think or not to think, to act on reason or to act on feelings, to respect individual rights or to violate them. A person’s choice to respect or violate individual rights is not dictated by his national origin or his race or his language, but by his philosophy, which can be either rational or irrational, depending on whether or not he chooses to think.

The conservative objection about culture is actually a variant of collectivism, for it presumes that an individual’s ideas are determined by the surrounding society. In fact, individuals have the ability to think for themselves, and many immigrants do so.

By seeking to impose immigration restrictions, conservatives do not in fact promote the American traditions of free markets and personal responsibility. Such conservatives actually promote the traditions of statism and collectivism.

For many conservatives, the objection about culture assumes a more political form: Hispanic voters tend to vote for Democrats over Republicans. Yet if Republicans actually stood for free markets and industriousness, they would seek to repeal restrictions on immigration (as well as welfare support for immigrants), and thereby win the political support of many immigrants.

Biddle’s essay effectively answers every serious objection to open immigration, though Biddle addresses the objection about cultural traditions indirectly. Biddle’s essay serves as a blue-print in immigration policy for those who actually want to foster what is best about America.