The immigrant importation straw man of open borders libertarians

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open borders straw man

One of the more frustrating straw men of the libertarian open borders position is this: open borders libertarians, or people who argue that the state should not control who and what goes where, want to import socialists and others hellbent on destroying the American culture and economic system.  The claims of such horror seem a bit over the top and not very well reflective of history, but that is not why it ought to be immediately rejected.

If you can find a libertarian who advocates importing immigrants into the country, please show him or her to me.  But not a single open borders libertarian has ever made that argument.

Arguing that a position could produce negative unintended consequences is different but one still needs to be careful with his presentation.  Bionic Mosquito, while trying to show that Murray Rothbard held a closed borders position, said the following:

Rothbard explains when and why he began to rethink his views on immigration and open borders – he previously took the open borders position:

I began to rethink my views on immigration when, as the Soviet Union collapsed, it became clear that ethnic Russians had been encouraged to flood into Estonia and Latvia in order to destroy the cultures and languages of these peoples.

Rothbard recall’s Jean Raspail’s anti-immigration novel The Camp of the Saints (I offer some thoughts on this novel here).  Government encouraged and subsidized immigration is not libertarian.  Many in the libertarian “open borders” crowd ignore this form of government intervention.

Interestingly, even Bionic Mosquito seems a bit careless about his presentation of the open borders position.  Obviously, the government engaging in any activity is not libertarian.  To be ambiguous about distinguishing between how a government might act with open borders and the correct libertarian position that the state is incapable of solving problems, i.e. manage who and what goes where, is unfair.  If you’re concerned about a libertarian’s position on welfare or subsidized immigration, then by all means ask the question of him.  But do not conflate a position of no government action with one of government action.

I’m willing to give Bionic Mosquito the benefit of the doubt since there is some ambiguity in what he said.  But there are libertarians who literally do accuse open borders libertarians of actually wanting to import immigrants.

Two questions (at least) arise from this accusation.

First, given that the government subsidizes the production of certain goods, e.g. corn, is that justification for not eliminating price controls on corn?  Or put another way, is it a proper libertarian position to be against lifting price controls on corn because the government might start subsidizing its production afterwards?  The answer is clearly no.

The second question is if you argue that allowing people and goods to move free from government control means that you want socialists, terrorists, and other malfeasants to flood the country, must not it also mean that if you favor the abolition of government gun control that you want mass murder to occur?  No one to my knowledge has ever argued for gun rights in order to bring about death and destruction.  It is an absurd accusation for both guns rights and open borders advocates.

If you’ve never heard a single person make an argument, don’t present that argument as common to everyone with whom you disagree.  There is a lot to discuss and debate regarding the borders; don’t kill the conversation with cheap misrepresentations of the other side.
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