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Embracing Nonintervention and Open Immigration

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One of the libertarian positions that scare some Americans is open immigration. The thought that millions of people from around the world would be free to come to the United States to tour, work, invest, open businesses, or visit people frightens them to death.

Actually, however, it’s an irrational fear.

Today, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. As a practical matter, what difference does it make, since nobody knows who is legal and illegal?

I have never heard of a private American citizen asking a person here in the United States to provide proof that he is an American citizen or living here legally. I’m sure there are plenty of instances where Americans encounter people here who they suspect of being here illegally. But they never say to the person, “I suspect you are here illegally because you’re not speaking English or because you speak with an accent. Show me proof that you are here legally.”

Here in the Washington, D.C., area, one oftentimes encounters people speaking Russian, Spanish, and other foreign languages. No one knows whether they are here legally or not. No one cares. No one freaks out over the possibility that they are here illegally. No one demands proof of legal status.

The same applies to staff members at fast food restaurants and ethnic restaurants in the area. It is usually readily apparent that most of the staffers were not born and raised in the United States. No one demands to see documentation.

In fact, the only people who demand proof of legal status are government officials. No one else cares as they go about their daily lives.

And that’s precisely what the situation would be with open immigration. Every day, Americans might be encountering people who speak a foreign language or speak with an accent but it wouldn’t matter. Just as with today, they might be foreigners who became naturalized citizens or they just might be foreign citizens here touring, working, investing, visiting friends, or whatever. No one would freak out and demand proof of legal status, especially since open immigration means that everyone is legal.

What’s open immigration have to do with non-intervention?

Consider the situation in which we live: We have a federal government that has the unrestrained power to send military and CIA forces abroad to kill whomever they want, invade any country they want, effect regime change, police the world, establish military bases around the world, torture people, incarcerate people without trial, and spy on everyone around the world.

At the same time, we have a federal government that tightly controls the interactions that the American people have with people around the world, especially with sanctions, embargoes, and immigration controls. Americans are put into jail if they travel to Cuba and spend money there. Foreigners are not permitted to enter the United States without official permission, which is tightly controlled and regulated.

But keep something important in mind here: One of the principal justifications that U.S. officials use for isolating the private sector from the rest of the world with sanctions, embargoes, and immigration controls is to keep Americans safe from the terrorists or some other “national security” rationale.

Why is that important?

Because it’s the unrestrained power of the U.S. national-security state abroad that generates the anger and hatred that foreigners have for America, which ends up manifesting itself in the form of a threat of terrorist retaliation.

So, we live in a country that has unlimited government abroad and isolation of the American people from the rest of the world.

Here’s the libertarian idea: Do the opposite: Restrain the federal government abroad and liberate the American people to interact with the people of the world.

That would mean: No more military empire abroad, foreign wars, foreign intervention, foreign aid, invasions, occupations, kidnappings, torture, indefinite detention, Guantanamo, and the like. Bring all the troops home from overseas and discharge them. Abandon all the overseas military bases. No more meddling in the affairs of other countries. No more regime-change operations.

So, which is better: unrestrained government and an isolated private sector or limited government and a liberated private sector?

History has shown that our private sector is composed of the greatest diplomats for our country while the public sector is composed of the worst. The people of the world once loved private Americans—they loved our tourists, businessmen, cultural groups, and values. They hate our government officials, not only because of their arrogance, pomposity, and air of superiority but because of the massive death and destruction they have wreaked around the world without one ounce of regret or repentance. Not surprisingly, it’s the national-security state’s antics around the world that has caused much of the world to hate not only our government but also our country.

So, here is one of the big choices facing our nation:

Do we want to continue the militarist and imperialist way of life, one the involves empire, foreign intervention, death, destruction, taxes, debt, inflation, and economic chaos (from out of control federal spending) along with sanctions, embargoes, and immigration controls that isolate the American people from the rest of the world?

Or do we instead want to restore a limited-government, constitutional republic to our land and live in a society in which the American people are free, once again, to interact with the people of the world?

Does the libertarian idea of non-intervention and open immigration sound familiar? It should. It was one of the founding principles of the United States.

 

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.