Saturday, January 20, 2018

Government Regulators Getting Out of the Immigrants' Way Is Not a Handout

Stuart K. Hayashi





In attempt to manipulate people into conceding that there needs to be more governmental restrictions on immigration from poor countries, many “immigration skeptics” have frequently presented a particular false dichotomy to persons who are still undecided on where they stand on this issue. The false dilemma is as follows. The “immigration skeptics” proclaim that as the West maintains a welfare state, persons from poor countries will migrate to the West primarily to obtain welfare benefits. Therefore, they propound that if you support removals of governmental red tape on immigration into the West, you are inexorably a partisan of the welfare state who supports increases in government spending on welfare. Then they say that if you oppose increases in welfare spending, the only other options are to maintain the present red tape on immigration from poor countries or, better yet, demand additional red tape. This false dilemma presumes that a policy of open immigration in the United States is practically synonymous with government handouts to penurious immigrants at a net cost to native-born citizens.

Such a line of argumentation proves deceptive. First, if there was a complete halt to immigration from poor countries that spanned decades, that would not stop or reduce spending on welfare programs, nor would it remove the self-destruct mechanism that is built into the welfare state. Secondly, there are some aspects of immigration that, at least in the short term, make native-born voters more reluctant to continue voicing support for welfare spending. Third, liberalization of immigration means that the State is no longer authorized to interfere in immigration as much as it does. That is, liberalization of immigration simply translates to the State learning to leave immigrants alone. Leaving immigrants alone is not a government handout to them any more than it is a handout for the State to leave peaceful native-born citizens alone.



Demanding “a Right to My Life or to Any of Those That Make Up My Group, America”?
I was reminded of the false alternatives that the “immigration skeptics” present on the matter of welfare when, upon one of my regular visits to a particular philosophical news commentary website, I saw this in the comments:

I really don’t see what facts of reality give rise to the idea that one has a natural right to cross a foreign border. That’s about as correct as thinking he has a right to a roof over his head.

The woman who posted that message happens to conflate your right to immigrate with a demand on the government’s part that you be provided shelter at my expense. She then adds,

I hate to start from an abstraction here, but to short[-]cut, I think we all agree at least that a man has a natural right to his life. That is not a right to my life or to any of those that make up my group, America.

 There she contradicts herself — if she believed that a person has a right to his own life, then she would recognize that it follows that that person has a right to immigrate peaceably.

A right to one’s own life does not exist in a vacuum. Everyone on the planet acknowledging your right to live would not automatically guarantee that you go on living. For you to live, you must take actions to sustain that life. To live, you must eat. This means you must act to obtain food. To live, you must have a shelter that protects you from the elements. Hence, you must take action to acquire and maintain that shelter. To live, you must make judgments on what to do to sustain that life, and you must peaceably act on that judgment. Your society consistently recognizes your right to live only as far as that society adheres to your freedom of action. That encompasses the prerogative to act peaceably on your own judgment, regardless of whether everyone else disapproves of your actions or considers them unwise.

Corollaries arising from the right to live are the commensurate right to do business peaceably as you please, to marry a willing adult of your choice . . . and to migrate to places where you will find greater freedom and wealth.  To exercise the right to immigration is an implementation of the right to live.

And the degree to which a society is free is the degree to which that society recognizes that the default condition must always be the freedom of act peaceably, independent of the approval or disapproval of any third parties. Note that as the Declaration of Independence avows that “all men” — not all citizens, but all men — possess such rights by their very nature, a free republic accords this freedom of action to every peaceful adult human being, citizenship not being a prerequisite for this dignity to be recognized.

And it is the opposite of freedom if, prior to your being able to exercise any major life decisions, your decision must be reviewed and cleared by a governmental body consisting of your neighbors — a governmental body that can call the police on you if you still peaceably implement your plans in the absence of its approval. Even if that governmental body always approved your decisions, you would not be free. As Ayn Rand observes in her Textbook of Americanism, “If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society — you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not. Only a slave acts on permission.” It is not incumbent upon you to plead your case that those people provide you authorization to act on your judgment as if it is their place to grant or deny mercy to you, lest they sic government agents upon you.

Insofar as you are free, your freedom to act is the default. It is not something to be begged of, and then endowed by, third parties. Conversely, laws are ultimately enforced by the threat of violence. As violence on the part of the State can only be just when executed in retaliation against initiations of the use of violence, it is each and every ordinance and statute that must be called upon to justify itself. It is not the civilians — foreign-born or native-born — who must rightfully earn the approval of the State. On the contrary, it is the laws of the State that must earn acceptance from human beings, native-born and foreign-born alike, and a law on the books can only be just if it exercises force against clearly defined initiations of the use of force, not itself initiating the use of force against peaceful parties.

If someone like the commenter I quoted wants a particular law enforced to deter a specific action of yours — such as migrating — it is incumbent upon her to prove that your action directly results in your initiating the use of force upon a non-consenting party. And the woman I quoted neglects to do so. She just takes it for granted that you only deserve to be able to migrate — absent of government agents stopping you violently — if she approves first. Unable to demonstrate that immigration, per se, is an initiation of the use of force, the freedom to immigrate stands as a right, just as much as a right as is the right to start and run one’s own business peaceably.

Suppose Jodie invites Mexicans to lodge on her private plot, and Mexicans agree to this, all in the absence of those Mexicans first receiving permission slips from the federal government. After all, these Mexicans are starving and under threat from drug cartels — cartels empowered by the U.S. federal government’s Drug War. Mexicans who “just get in line and wait to do it legally” can expect to wait over six years. Six years is the average duration it takes for a Green Card holder to sponsor a child younger than eighteen, or a spouse, to immigrate to the USA from Mexico on a family reunification visa, and that is one of the shorter waiting periods. For a U.S. citizen to sponsor a Mexican-born sibling to come to the USA involves a span of 14 years. Aware that too many Mexicans run the risk of dying violently or from starvation if waiting out that period, Jodie invites potential lodgers to come to her plot of land immediately, absent any sort of visa.

This is from Stuart Anderson, “Family Immigration: The Long Wait to Immigrate,” National Foundation for American Policy Brief, (Arlington, VA: National Foundation for American Policy, May 2010), 1.


Now I imagine that I shout, “No! Antecedent to those Mexicans crossing the border and reaching Jodie’s land, I demand that those Mexicans prove to me that they have earned the privilege of migrating to the USA.” That proclamation on my part would presume that the federal government and I, as third parties, are right to overrule the agreement that Jodie and the lodgers have peacefully forged among themselves as consenting adults. If the Mexicans can come to the USA and lodge on Jodie’s land, receiving the authorization of Jodie and no third parties, that is open immigration. And let’s imagine that, like the woman I quoted at the beginning, I disparage the Mexicans’ migration as a government handout. Essentially, what this would entail is my saying it’s a government handout simply when the government elects not to dispatch its armed agents to manhandle Jodie’s lodgers. That is to look upon cases where the government leaves peaceful people alone and, through an Orwellian mindset, reclassify this peaceable arrangement as a government handout and some burden that Jodie and her lodgers have foisted upon unaffected third parties such as myself.

Here, the “immigration skeptics” retort that my interpretation is faulty, because I justify non-action against the immigrants on the understanding that the immigrants are peaceful. I argue that government action against an immigrant is justified when an immigrant initiates the use of violence. Thus, say the “immigration skeptics,” the State is correct to obstruct dark-skinned poor people from immigrating into the West after all, because immigration on the part of such dark-skinned poor people — by its very nature — is violent and does initiate the use of physical force.

The “immigration skeptics” say this happens two ways: first, the dark-skinned poor immigrants are prone to commit violent crimes, such as theft and rape; and, secondly, the dark-skinned poor immigrants usually go on welfare. And, as you know, I make the accusation that the State is initiating the use of force when it taxes you at gunpoint in order to pay for government social services — of which tax-funded entitlements qualify. Among those tax-funded entitlements are Medicare and Social Security, which shall be addressed later in this essay.

Such presumptions about dark-skinned immigrants from poor countries manifest themselves in a rather creepy response I received on Facebook.

On January 30, 2017, I posted on Facebook an essay from CNN titled “The Chances of a Refugee Killing You — And Other Surprising Immigration Stats.” It illustrates that the chances of being killed by a refugee — a refugee who left the nation of origin seeking not to be murdered himself — are infinitesimally small, and far lower than the chance of being killed in a traffic accident. A dear Objectivist friend reposted this on her own Facebook Wall. In response, someone whom I had previously respected had posted, “I don’t give a rip about any statistics. It only takes one and I don’t even want one. Every life matters.” That, of course, is self-contradictory — as my dear Objectivist friend observed right below that, immigrants from poor countries are human lives. If every human life matters, then it follows that the immigrants’ lives matter — and yet the lives of those refugees, seeking refuge from a situation where they otherwise would easily be murdered, are dismissed as nothing. The implication of what that anti-immigrationist said is that those dark-skinned immigrants from poor countries aren’t even human lives.

Then that woman I quoted at the very beginning of this essay, the one who says there is no right to immigrate, chimed in, “The lives of innocents around the world cannot be a basis for foreign policy decisions” — a red herring on her part, as restrictions on immigration are domestic policy — “The only proper principle here is self interest for American citizens.” Then the one who denied that the immigrants’ lives are human lives returned to the thread, saying “Well said, [Xxxxx]. Self-sacrifice is not the standard, self-interest is.”

Note that, for the second time, the woman I quoted at the start of the essay presumes that for the State to refrain from initiating the use of force against poor immigrants is a burden imposed upon native-born U.S. citizens — that for native-born U.S. citizens to act on their self-interest is somehow the same as condoning it when the State points its guns as people for no reason other than that they peaceably crossed the border absent of State permission.

I take it that some opponents of liberalizing immigration conceive that coming to the USA is a privilege and not a right. “Privilege,” in this context, does not have the negative connotation associated with the word when an anti-capitalist yells “Check your privilege.” No, in this context, “privilege” refers to a high honor, an honor which must be earned from other people, especially people in positions of authority. I agree with the first part of that but not the second.

I do agree that being in the USA is a privilege in that I am grateful to be in the USA, and lucky to have been born in it, as opposed to North Korea or Venezuela. But that second part — that being in the USA is a privilege which the foreign-born do not deserve until and unless a clique of right-wing authority figures awards it — is purely the pipedream of “immigration skeptics.”

They misconstrue immigration as if the ability to have one’s body occupy the United States is a  naturally scarce resource — such as platinum or diamonds — that the federal government ought to ration, giving the earlier-comers and the  earlier-comers’ descendants preference over late-comers as the federal government hands out the rations (though, apparently, not caring much about the earliest-comers:  the First Nations peoples).  In reality, if all of the Earth’s 7.5 billion people moved to Texas, the state’s population density would still be less than half the present density of the city  of Paris, France’s. When it comes to problems associated with overcrowding, such matters are best mitigated by the bottom-up mechanisms of a free market in housing and real estate, not the top-down fiat approach of government rationing employed in the allocation of immigration visas.

And yet too many “immigration skeptics”  misconceive the USA as just one big private club — just one big fraternity — which, for outsiders to join, requires that the outsiders ingratiate themselves to the senior club members. That is the premise behind the woman’s reference to “America” as “my group.”

The truth is that the United States is not just one big private club. It consists of many private organizations that exist on plots of land that are adjoining but which are separate units. And the boundaries separating one private plot from another — the borders on land that truly matter — likewise separate one set of rules from another. To the extent that the USA is a free society, those clubs do not all have the same rules except one — the initiation of the use of force is not to be tolerated, and the State shall be called to take action only when there is evidence of the imminent threat of force. To the extent that everyone is peaceful, different landholders and organizations can set different rules. This means that if this woman wants, she can set the rule that she will not allow foreign-born poor people onto her parcel unless they do the groveling she presumes is due her. But by that same token, that woman’s rules have no bearing on what rules I may set on my own private land.



Let’s imagine that I think U.S. immigration policy should be that anyone can come to the USA, absent of any federal body doing any screening, vetting, or pre-approval, the new arrivals into this country needing no justification other than that they want to be here. I would be accused of being a “globalist” who hates America’s traditions and is trying to destroy her borders and sovereignty.

. . . This means that I would be hating America’s traditions and trying to destroy her borders and sovereignty by advocating the same immigration policy that America had at her founding.😳

The freedom of entry is the default for a free country, and it was the default position for the United States from 1789, when George Washington became President, to 1875, ending with the Page Act, the first U.S. federal regulation on immigration. For the first eight decades of the USA’s existence, she had no governmental regulatory body to whom would-be migrants had to grovel. Immigrants endured no political barriers to entry on the U.S. side, the only challenge for them being the physical journey required to make it to these shores. The notion that immigrants reaching these shores is not rightful unless those immigrants obtained the incumbent residents’ trust is not a default, or a quality inherent to having a society, any more than having protective tariffs is a default or a quality inherent to having a society — and, starting from at least as early as the 1950s, Hong Kong has had zero protective tariffs.

 People who mouth the slogan that a country that refrains from having governmental controls on immigration has no borders and is not a country at all should notice that if this slogan were true, then the United States had no borders and was not a country at all in its first eight decades. Those eight decades were characterized by the United States tolerating the arrival of immigrants who had not been screened, vetted, or authorized by the USA’s longtime residents. Everyone minded his or her own business doing this, and it was the introduction of immigration controls in 1875 that was the imposition that trespassed on innocent people’s business. Yet the woman I quoted talks as if today’s impoverished immigrants victimize her by doing exactly what was done by those who arrived on these shoes in the republic’s first eighty years.

Part of this woman’s insistence that immigrants from poor countries are an imposition forced on the native-born has to do with the idea that poor immigrants generally come for welfare, but it is also based on the stereotype that they are violent. On the website where I saw the opening comment, she said in a post from 2015, “…I will say that I am from Minneapolis and I have seen first hand [sic; firsthand] the horrifying changes to that city as a result of mass third world, muslim [sic] immigration.” Similar comments from other opponents of immigration accuse Somali immigrants to the USA of being congenitally rowdy. It is assumed that upon coming to the United States, they concentrate in enclaves that become violent ghettos.

That immigrants from poor countries can start to form ghettos where, initially, their poverty increases the frequency of violent crime, is something to address in greater detail in a future essay. For now I should mention that if all immigration into the USA ceased, the USA would still have ghettos where the rate of violent crime is greater than average. The problems that ghettos face relate not so much to immigration as they do poverty. Citizens can address such poverty peaceably, not through resorting to the interventions of the regulatory-entitlement state, but instead through repealing various specific government interventions that contribute to the most adverse conditions in the slums. That is what is to be detailed in a future essay. Nor should one assume that if a section of a city is a slum, that it will always remain so. In 1950, Hong Kong was a slum, and its residents dwelt in the sort of penury that would lead many a Donald Trump fan to label Hong Kong a “shit hole.” That same piece of real estate has become one of the wealthiest places on Earth, with a per-capita income higher than that of mainland China and the United Kingdom. Charles Kenny in Foreign Policy magazine: “As Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser puts it, slums don’t make people poor — they attract poor people who want to be rich. So let’s help them help themselves.”

But let it suffice at this juncture to note that, on average, illegal immigrants alone — this is excluding legal immigrants from rich, white-majority countries — are statistically less prone to commit violent crimes than are native-born U.S. citizens.

Anti-immigrationists with larger public profiles than the woman I quoted at the beginning also spout the unfounded notion that if you want the State to butt out of blocking “economic migrants,” then it follows you want this same State to intrude on everyone’s economic affairs by paying welfare to immigrants.

One caller to Stefan Molyneux’s podcast flatters him by regurgitating, “I agree: immigration is basically a government program.” Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., cofounder with Murray N. Rothbard of the Murray Rothbard Institute — uh; “Ludwig von Mises [sic]” Institute — goes farther, entitling one of his anti-immigration screeds, “Open Borders Are an Assault on Private Property.”

All of the “immigration skeptics” I have quoted here are people who try to frame the removal of government-imposed hindrances as some sort of government handout to the immigrants, handed out at a disadvantage to native-born citizens. These “immigration skeptics” present themselves as being knowledgeable about the principles of capitalism versus socialism, private property versus public property, and the peacefulness of the market versus the threats of violence that are inherent to government action. And yet these “immigration skeptics” conveniently elide the natures of these respective issues. They overlook:


  1. The welfare state is always, always, always action on the part of the State. It is the introduction of the State, and its violence, into private affairs.
  2. The opening of immigration is a removal of State involvement, and its violence, from peaceful private affairs.


Again, government regulations are ultimately enforced at gunpoint. That includes regulations on immigration. When a Mexican tries to sneak across the border into the United States — treading on land that is not private property — border enforcement against that Mexican involves armed men apprehending him. When an immigrant is to be deported, federal agents capture her. When they cannot deport her instantly, they temporarily throw her into a detention center attended by armed guards. When the day of deportation arrives, armed men escort her across the border. In each of these instances, if the immigrant resists further, the use of force by the government agents shall escalate, with the final punishment for the immigrant being death.

Many parts of the border are not private property, but are not exactly “public property” in the way that a top-secret military base is “public property.” The justification for keeping civilians off of a top-secret military base is that maintaining secrecy is a genuine aspect of national security. Much of the boundary separating Texas from Mexico is private land. And the U.S.-Mexican border goes straight through the town of Nogales — its northern side is in Arizona, whereas its southern side is in Sonora, Mexico. But most of the border adjoining California, Arizona, and New Mexico is federal wilderness land not really being used by private parties. As a private party is not really getting much use of this wilderness land, it is, for practical purposes, quite close to being treated as land that is res nullius or terra nullius, meaning unclaimed wilderness land not being put to much other use. As “economic migrants” do not pose an actual military threat to the country, and as they usually cross over areas of the national border that are wilderness land not being put to much use, it is invalid to proclaim that the act of trespassing is inherent to federally unauthorized border crossings.

The freedom to do anything that is peaceful has another name: free enterprise. And that is a more exact translation of the expression laissez faire. Laissez-nous faire does not exactly mean “leave us alone,” but is closer to “let us do.” “Let us do” as in “Let us enterprise.” To let us do what we must, it is merely the State and any party wishing to use force to obstruct us that must leave us alone. In this context, the State that must leave nonviolent immigrants alone. The complete motto of laissez faire is more fitting still: Laissez faire, laissez passer, which translates to “Let us do, let us pass.” Let the immigrants do, let the immigrants pass . . . the border.

 Open immigration is not the State forcing native-born citizens to purchase plane tickets for immigrants; open immigration does not force native-born citizens to do anything. Open immigration amounts to government regulators getting out of the immigrants’ way.

By contrast, to demand that the State crack down on immigrants from poor countries, qua immigrant, is to demand that the State initiate the use of force upon people on account of their having been born on, and growing up on, the wrong side of the tracks.  It is to initiate the use of force upon a group of people whom Ayn Rand particularly admired: “the ambitious poor.”

From 2010 to 2016 — under the watch of the same Barack Obama who is inaccurately remember as being lenient toward undocumented immigrants — the U.S. Border patrol shot dead Sergio Hernandez Guereca and thirty-two other would-be immigrants. This matter came to the attention of National Public Radio through James Tomsheck, who was the chief of internal affairs at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) until the Obama administration fired him in 2014. The administration claimed the termination was on account of Tomsheck neglecting to investigate those killings. Tomsheck informed NPR that the reverse was the case: the administration fired him because he did investigate those killings up until 2014 and ascertained that least seven of them were under suspicious circumstances.

In the very act of migrating to the USA, immigrants pay their own way. Either the immigrant’s trip is self-funded, or the immigrant was able to fund it on account of receiving funding from consenting donors. This applies to migrant farm workers smuggled across the U.S.-Mexican border — and, since the 1990s, this self-funding has escalated in price. To appease right-wingers fretting about undocumented immigrants, the Clinton administration greatly ramped up border enforcement, first in 1994 with Operation Gatekeeper, and then again 1996 when Congressional Republicans joined President Clinton in pushing IIRIRA (the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act) in 1996. Those who sought to migrate from Mexico to the USA responded by upgrading the sophistication of their own methods, increasingly resorting to paying smugglers, “coyotes” (see Edward Alden, The Closing of the American Border, {New York: Harper Perennial, [2008], 2009 trade paperback}, 72). Around the year 2000, the coyotes charged an average $3,000 per head. By 2017, prices soared to around $8,000.

Were it true that impoverished immigrants from poor countries are too lazy to accumulate money through consensual means, they would not be able to scrimp together $3,000 to pay a smuggler. Ah, retort the “immigration skeptics,” that is merely a onetime investment: once those aliens reach the United States, they can go on the tax-funded gravy train and be set for life, quickly recouping the $3,000 and then making an immense net profit soon thereafter. I shall address that scurrilous accusation by this essay’s end.

For the moment, consider one migrant, Alfredo, who illegally crossed a part of the border that is no one’s private property. He then lodges on my land at my consent. Then he works on my farm. Observe that in this entire scenario, there was no governmental involvement — aside from possible efforts by the federal government to thwart Alfredo’s peaceable plans. Not once in this illegal migration was a government handout involved.

But suppose that someone snitched on Alfredo and me, and then the federal government raided my land and apprehended Alfredo. That is the point where a party imposed itself on another, where the government began to intrude. Moreover, that governmental intrusion is tax-funded — an addition to the tax burden that would not have been added had there not been this entire tax-funded bureaucracy built upon (a) imposing a multi-decadal approval process on prospective long-term migrants and (b) taking violent police actions on nonviolent immigrants who try to bypass that cumbersome process through sneaking in. Hence, the tax-funded apprehension and deportation of Alfredo is really a tax-funded government handout to the few native-born citizens who merely presume badness on the part of undocumented Mexican-born migrant farm workers.

Imagine that you are out in the community, and you are surrounded by people. And maybe, just because they think you’re sort of shifty-looking, they distrust you. But they refrain from beating you up; they leave you be. And you lodge on the land of a landholder who consents to it. Do you think that if people refrain from initiating the use of violence upon you, that this is some generous handout on their part? If, peaceably going about your affairs, you expect that people refrain from beating you up — if you expect that not as some onerous favor, but as common decency — is that some spoiled sense of entitlement on your part, an expectation that those other people sacrifice their well-being to yours? If you’re peaceably going about your life, and people decide not to stick their guns in your face and force you to be where you don’t want to be, is their choice to abstain from such violence a burden that your presence and existence shoves upon them?

The answer is no, and the same logic applies to the immigrant. That is all that open immigration amounts to being — for the government to opt out of sending armed agents to impede and apprehend foreign-born people attempting a peaceable migration into the United States. If it is common decency, and not a government handout, for the State to refrain from sending armed men after a nonviolent native-born person, then neither is it a government handout for the State to refrain from sending armed men after a nonviolent immigrant, active visa-holding or otherwise. And this inaction — this nonviolence — on the part of the State is something that the woman I quoted at this essay’s start insists on equivocating with a government handout, a sacrificial offering from native-born citizens, and a burden for anyone who does not and cannot exercise violence on the immigrant. But when government agents do nothing more than refrain from detaining and manhandling a peaceful person at gunpoint — foreign-born or otherwise — that inaction is not a handout, a gift, a sacrifice, or a burden.



    Can’t Have Both Immigration Freedom and a Welfare State? Then Keep Immigration Freedom
    Here, the “immigration skeptics” retort that while immigration was a laissez-faire matter in the nineteenth century, the welfare state has become so pervasive in the USA, Anglophone countries, and Western Europe, that it is entirely reasonable to assume that just about any dark-skinned immigrant from a poor country will become a net drain on government coffers. Hence, say the “immigration skeptics,” we in the West are at the point where it is rational to equate immigration deregulation with net increases in the tax burden. Besides, some “immigration skeptics” add, even if Alfredo in our scenario did not apply for any official government assistance programs, Alfredo still benefited indirectly from tax payments from native-born citizens, as he used roads and other tax-funded forms of infrastructure. But an “immigration skeptic” who said this would contradict himself if he also made the point that immigration was okay during the nineteenth century. At that time, immigrants were already using forms of tax-funded infrastructure, such as the Union Pacific Railroad.

    The assumption that immigration and tax funding presently go hand-in-hand is inaccurate on multiple levels. And it blunders in its effort to advance the case that in the presence of the welfare state, the solution is for the government to maintain or add onto present restrictions on immigration.

    It is not true that immigrants from poor countries are a net drain on government coffers. It is not true for either legal or illegal immigrants from the poor countries. I will get to that at the end. But even if they were a net drain on government coffers, keeping or adding to the present restrictions on immigration would not be a scrupulous response to the matter.

    First, if immigration ceased completely, that would not remove the built-in unsustainability of the welfare state. The welfare state would still motivate more native-born citizens to be on the receiving end on the tax-funded benefits and not on the contributing end. This is especially worrisome in cases where the number of native-born retirees receiving Medicare and Social Security exceeds the number of native-born workers depositing money into the system.

    That is one reason why, in the 1990s, Western European welfare states relaxed their restrictions against immigration — they correctly anticipated that it would be through taxing immigrants that they would make up for these Social Security systems’ budget shortfalls. But were it the case that immigrants were speeding up the depletion of welfare coffers, ending immigration would not stop the emptying of the coffers but merely postpone it. The single most effective lesson that teaches a junkie the pathological nature of his addiction is his being allowed to hit rock bottom and face the harsh reality of his situation. Were immigrants a net drain on the welfare state, they would not be the cause or even contributor to the welfare state’s ills — they would merely be speeding up the process so that the wider society would have to face sooner, rather than later, the welfare state’s unsustainability. To attempt to limit the present number of welfare recipients does not remedy the system but merely prolongs the dysfunction of it, akin to giving the addict his next “fix” so that he can go on evading the need to confront the nature of his affliction.

    To say that one combats welfare by deterring foreign-born people from accessing it, then, is a non-sequitur at best. Insofar as blocking immigrants’ access to welfare delays the eventual emptying of the welfare-state coffers, the welfare state is preserved.  Absent of additional foreign-born people receiving welfare, you will continue to be taxed to pay into the welfare coffers all the same.  “Immigration skeptics” who use the welfare argument, then, fight against liberalization on at least two fronts — they fight against laissez faire on the matter of migration, and they fight against laissez faire even when it comes to welfare, for, according to their very own argument, their success in blocking immigration is what extends the duration wherein the welfare state maintains its pretense of long-term solvency. If “immigration skeptics” were correct that immigrants accessing welfare would cause the welfare state to collapse sooner than it otherwise would, then, by their very logic of their argument, the “immigration skeptics” inadvertently admit to being the welfare state’s apologists, not its opponents.

    This brings to mind another reason why it is disingenuous for advocates of governmental restrictions on immigration to posture as supporters of liberalization and deregulation in other aspects of life. If one presumes that immigrants from poor countries generally add onto the tax burden, and that this is justification enough for governmental restrictions on immigration from poor countries, then one also ought to favor governmental efforts to police your health. There is a movement among busybodies such as Michael Bloomberg to dictate over what you can and cannot peaceably consume, such as sugar. To this, many right-wingers properly respond to the health police, “This is none of your business!” To that, the health police snap back: Everything else being equal, someone who is obese or unhealthy is a greater burden on taxpayers. So it IS my business.  If you want to stop increases in taxpayer spending on health care, we have to prevent people from making unhealthy choices from the outset.

    I shall quote the health police themselves.  The New York Times quotes Dr. Douglas Bettcher of the World Health Organization saying, “If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can...cut health care costs.” Likewise, Daniel Honan writes in The Big Think that 1,840 more U.S. dollars are spent per year on the medical costs of an overweight person than a non-overweight person, resulting in “$190 billion in annual medical costs due to obesity.” He concludes that for the State to neglect to police everyone’s health is to “let the health care system absorb all of the costs.”

    The proper rejoinder from right-wingers is: if you consider it unfair that healthy people should pay taxes to finance the health care services of persons who made less healthful decisions, then the solution is for each household to be left paying for its own health care.

    And, to that, the health police can easily reply: But such privatization of payment for health-care services is a political non-starter. Tax funding for health care isn’t going away, and so the one method for lightening the tax burden is for the State to police people’s health.

    The health police’s rationalization is remarkably similar to that of their faux opponent, self-proclaimed anarchist N. Stephan Kinsella of the Mises Institute. Kinsella starts his own presentation of this rationalization by reminding us that in a purely laissez-faire society, private parties would own the roads and set the rules for them — what the speed limits would be and such. But then, Kinsella adds, as long as the government owns the roads, we should accept that the government has to set rules on traffic for everyone’s safety. That is true. But Kinsella disingenuously continues that applying this principle to the U.S. treasury means that as long as the government has control over our money — the ability to confiscate and redistribute our fortunes — and as long as some immigrants receive tax funding, it follows that, for the purpose of maintaining a limit on the tax burden, it is proper for the State to maintain restrictions on immigration.

    In our mixed economy, most aspects of our lives involve some pertinent party receiving tax funding. Tax funding goes to some farms, some banks, some computer companies, some practitioners in the fine arts, and all of our automakers. There is tax funding in health care; tax money even goes to too many private schools.

    “Reducing the tax burden” is cited for governmental micromanagement over someone’s private choices that affect his health. Since there are farms that receive taxpayer funding, “reducing the tax burden” can be cited to place a cap on the number of farms that can open each year; it can be cited to justify additional forms of micromanagement over how farmers conduct their business.

    Once the anti-immigrationists’ rationalization is adopted as valid — once it is conceded that some members of a group receiving taxpayer funding is sufficient justification for the government to impose controls on members of that group in general — one then cedes to the government a substantial gain in control over all aspects of life. Supposedly anarchist N. Stephan Kinsella of the supposedly anarchist Mises Institute offers . . . a totalitarian rationalization.

    And still right-wing commentators who pretend to oppose the welfare state — such as Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux — propound to their audiences, You can either have open immigration or the welfare state, but in the long term you cannot have both. The best response is, “Then it’s open immigration that must be prioritized and preserved.” But notice that when a supposed opponent of big government tells us that we can either have open immigration and the welfare state but not both, the implication is always that it is the prospect of liberalized immigration policy that we ought to forsake.  The implication is always that maintaining a welfare state — one explicitly hostile to laissez faire — is a good of greater worth than is immigration freedom.

    If such bozos genuinely wanted to roll back the welfare state and Nanny State, they would call for cuts in welfare across the board, especially for native-born citizens. By saying that it is open immigration that must be sacrificed in this either-or choice, they inadvertently admit that they would rather have a society with welfare and less immigration than have a society that has more immigration and no welfare. Hence, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux are doubly opposed to laissez faire — they are explicitly unfriendly toward immigration freedom and they are implicitly accepting toward the welfare state.

    And herein we find the fatuousness in their favorite retort, But we won’t stop having the welfare state. Rolling back the welfare state is a political non-starter. Therefore the best we can do is have the government impose restrictions on immigration. That excuse for immigration restriction exhibits a fatal miscalculation.

    To those who protest “But we won’t stop having a welfare state!”, one can just as easily retort, “But we won’t stop having immigration from poor countries.” Whenever some countries are freer than others, people from the less-free countries will migrate to the freer countries. And if the present red tape — and future additional immigration restrictions — obstruct them from migrating legally, they will do it illegally.

    Those who shout that the welfare state is unstoppable, and therefore it is immigration that must be fought, falsely presume that immigration is somehow easier to stop than the welfare state is. They have no basis for that. Those who claim to understand free-market economics should be cognizant that this is the same principle that applies to instances where the government either imposes stringent restrictions on prostitution and recreational drug usage or outlaws them completely.

    Given that our ferociously militarized federal prohibition on specific recreational drugs, with an enforcement budget of billions of dollars, has proven unsuccessful in stopping the flow of these illicit substances, it is doubtful that aggressive and militarized crackdowns on “illegal Third-World immigration” would yield impressive results. Much more feasible than stopping “Third-World immigration” itself would be to have laws preventing such immigrants already in the USA from qualifying for welfare — but such laws are already on the books and, if they weren’t, such laws could swiftly be passed in the absence of any restrictions on immigration itself.



    What About Refugee Resettlement Programs?
    Some will chafe at my pointing out that open immigration is an enterprise that is consensually funded, not tax-funded, because wealthy countries do have tax-funded refugee resettlement programs. Taxes are spent on housing these refugees. “Immigration skeptics” cited the existence of these refugee resettlement programs in their efforts to conflate liberalization of immigration with expanding the welfare state. Too many people assume that tax money being spent on room and board for refugees is inherent to refugees from poor kleptocracies entering Western countries at all.

    Hence, I have seen numerous “immigration skeptics” on Twitter accuse Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling, a self-made billionairess, of hypocrisy. J. K. Rowling frequently writes on Twitter of her desire that refugees and asylum seekers enter the United Kingdom. In response, “immigration skeptics” dare her to house such refugees in her own mansion. When they see that J. K. has not responded to them, they declare that this is because she has no answer to them and that they have won.

    “Progressives talk about saving refugees,” tweets the very confused ideological journalist Ian Miles Cheong, “but no one wants to house them.” Wrong; I can name multimillionaires and billionaires who have taken this upon themselves.

    In fact, billionaires in the United States, such as George Soros, have expressed a willingness to put up their own money for refugee resettlement. And, as the Niskanen Center points out, it is government regulations that obstruct philanthropists from devising their own consensually funded refugee resettlement programs in the USA.

    One relatively rich country that allows for consensually funded refugee resettlement programs is Canada, and this has shown remarkable success. “Jim Estill put up $1.5 million to bring 58 families to Canada. He found them homes, gave them jobs and even bought one man a dollar store.” In that process, he saved the lives of two hundred refugees.

    The Niskanen Center and the aforementioned billionaires do not recommend that a consensually funded refugee resettlement program replace tax-funded efforts completely. But that consensually funded efforts have been so successful evinces that it is entirely plausible that wealthy countries would still be able to accept refugees in the absence of any tax funding for their resettlement. This gives the lie to the vociferation that a rich country’s acceptance of refugees is something that must be associated with tax funding and the regulatory-entitlement state.

    If they were honest about their main objection to refugee acceptance being that it involved taxes going to fund refugee resettlement programs, then “immigration skeptics” should applaud when billionaire philanthropists privately sponsor refugees. Those “immigration skeptics” would cite this consensually funded philanthropy as a potential eventual replacement of tax-funded resettlement programs. And yet when Breitbart News has found examples of entrepreneurs spending their own money to benefit such refugees, Breitbart News has instead tried to shame them. Starbucks announced it planned to hire 10,000 Muslim refugees, and Breitbart News responded by shrieking that this was horrendous discrimination, the politically-correct oppression of the native-born white men whom Starbucks would gloss over as it gave preference to impoverished dark-skinned Muslims. Likewise, as Hamid Ulukaya considered hiring Syrian refugees to work for his company, Chobani Yogurt, Lee Stranahan of Breitbart News denounced him as a robber baron trying to exploit their “cheap labor” while driving down the wages of native-born white men.

    If the big concern about refugees coming into the USA genuinely was the worry that they might have to rely on native-born taxpayers for financial assistance, then Starbucks and Chobani Yogurt hiring these refugees should have been a source of relief. That Breitbart News instead chose to demonize rich people who spent their own money on helping refugees — who actually helped the refugees support themselves, rather than rely on the State to provide for them — indicates that the worry that the refugees would impose a financial burden was never Breitbart News’s actual objection, and that when Breitbart News did previously raise that objection, it was a thin cover for what was really going on. Whatever rationalizations are provided, Breitbart News didn’t object to the possibility that the refugees might not be able to support themselves — the hostility was toward the refugees as such.

    And it is important to remember that beneficiaries of the refugee and asylee programs are a tiny minority among foreign-born persons who enter the USA from poor countries. In 2015, the USA accepted 1 million permanent migrants and, among them, fewer than 70,000 were part of the refugee program. That is, fewer than 8 percent of the immigrants that came in that year were from the refugee program. By contrast, 150,000 Mexicans — more than twice the number of the refugee resettlement program’s beneficiaries —  illegally entered the USA in 2010.

    Most immigrants from poor countries don’t benefit from the tax-funded refugee resettlement programs, and fund their own settlement into the USA. To this point, the “immigration skeptics” scoff, proclaiming that there are plenty of other freebies available to them. I will get to that shortly.

    But here I should make an additional point. Longtime readers know that I do not morally approve of compulsory taxation. An ideal constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State would seek alternative methods of funding itself. But I must say that as long as compulsory taxation exists, and as long as there are parties lobbying for more aggressive crackdowns on undocumented immigrants from poor countries, tax funding for the resettlement of refugees is among the several uses of tax money for which I reserve the least resentment. A far more egregious, wasteful, and hateful use of tax money happens to be the apprehension and deportation of migrants who entered the USA from its southern border.

    When an impoverished refugee from a kleptocracy stays in the USA, rather than be deported or denied entry, that is a life saved. And, as I have pointed out, we already have case studies evincing that this can be funded through completely voluntary means, with the tax-funded programs eventually supplanted by the consensually funded ones. By contrast, many poor people have died violently as a consequence of U.S. tax federal tax money being spent to have those poor people deported to their kleptocratic nations of origin. As Steven Sacco reminds us,

    One study found that between January 2014 and September 2015 eighty-three deportees who were sent back to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were murdered after their return. They were people fleeing the killers who eventually took their lives. People like José Marvin Martínez, who fled violence in Honduras and made it to the U.S. when he was 16, but was deported and four months after his forcible return was shot to death. Or Juan Francisco Diaz, also deported back to Honduras, where he too was murdered a few months later. Or Giovanni Miranda, who, after spending most of his life in the U.S., was deported to El Salvador to be murdered in front of his wife and son in June 2015. Or Edgar Chocoy, 16, who ran away from a gang to the U.S. only to be murdered by that same gang seventeen days after he was deported back to Guatemala in 2004. Or an unnamed teenager who was shot to death hours after being deported back to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Moises, 19, was murdered after he was deported to El Salvador. And there are too many more names we’ll never know. 
    What’s more, the number of deportees delivered directly to their killers does not include those who survive attempted murder or other violence because of their deportation — a number no one knows. Isais Sosa, who was 19 when the Los Angeles Times covered his story in 2014, survived being shot by a gang days after his deportation. The 19 year old daughter of Dora Lina Meza fled to the U.S. from the same gang that, after she was deported back home, raped her at gun point. After Juan Ines Alanis was deported he was kidnapped and held for ransom while his fingers were smashed with a hammer.

    It is mendacious for “immigration skeptics” to tout themselves as free-marketers calling for net reductions in tax funding, for they would have it that more tax funding go to the government agencies tasked with deporting immigrants already in the USA and denying entry to those aspiring to get in. And as long as the government is going to extort money from me anyway, I would rather a tax dollar of mine go to a refugee resettlement program, which saves lives, than go to the agencies assigned to entry-denial and deportation, both of which contribute to killing people.



    Undocumented Immigrants and Native-Born Citizens: Who Pays Taxes to Support Whom? 
    Here, the “immigration skeptics” protest that I am unfair to say that their wish to expand the government’s power to deport and deny entry will result in net increases, not net reductions, in government spending. Perhaps their requests do require a temporary increase in government outlays to immigration-control agencies, they say, but once the USA has finally rid itself of those millions of welfare-inhaling immigrants, the resulting cost savings will allow for massive reductions in spending and direct taxation. This claim exposes a tremendous ignorance on the part of “immigration skeptics” about what are the USA’s biggest tax-funded entitlement programs, about which groups of people fund those programs, and about which groups of people are the recipients.

    The federal government program most commonly associated with the word “welfare” is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), formerly Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC). Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for this. Only legal immigrants are able to collect TANF and, since 1996, the rule has been that such legal immigrants could only apply for TANF after already having spent five years in the United States. It is not the case that once an undocumented immigrant, already having spent over $3,000 on being smuggled, enters the USA, she can immediately recoup her investment by collecting TANF. For the next five years, she cannot take a dime from this federal program.

    The two biggest entitlement programs in the USA, by far — bigger than anything on the federal, state, or municipal level — are Medicare and Social Security. With outlays of $800 billion per year, they are the only domestic programs that rival the military budget in size. The only immigrants who can collect Medicare and Social Security are Green Card holders (long-term permanent residents) and naturalized U.S. citizens; undocumented immigrants are ineligible. And yet, to find work, undocumented immigrants often resort to using fake Social Security numbers and forged Social Security cards. As a result, among all undocumented immigrants in the United States, more than half find portions of their income deducted from their pay checks as taxes to pay into the Medicare and Social Security — money they will never get back from the Social Security Administration. And the vast majority of retirees who receive these Medicare and Social Security payments are native-born. Together, both legal and illegal immigrants make a net contribution of $85 billion to government coffers annually.

    Contrary to the lies that we have been fed, it is not primarily native-born U.S. citizens paying taxes to support the lifestyles of illegal aliens. It is exactly the reverse. On a net balance, it is undocumented immigrants who pay taxes that go to native-born U.S. citizens through the U.S. government’s two biggest entitlement programs.

    This is Social Security money, taken from undocumented immigrants, that goes to many elderly citizens who are shrieking all over Twitter and Facebook about how undocumented immigrants leech off of them through welfare. This is Social Security money that will likely one day be collected by the same woman I quoted at the start of this essay, the woman who insists that immigrants from poor “Third World” countries are the burden imposed on her. She might say that in her youth she contributed to the system, and therefore her receiving Social Security checks would amount to her getting back the money she already put in. In truth, any money she might have put into the system has already been spent. If they are not finally deported, and if the Social Security system has still managed to avoid its ultimate depletion, the very same immigrants she loathes will be contributing to the federal payments to her.

    As I said earlier, many Western European governments are aware their Social Security systems would experience shortfalls if not for the presence of new immigrants who would pay into the system. That is why, back in the 1990s, so many Western European governments became less stringent about keeping these immigrants out. That — and not Stefan Molyneux’s psychobabble about a globalist cabal trying to force non-Western culture on Europeans — is the main reason for the half-hearted partial rollback of immigration restrictions within Western Europe.

    Far from being net drains on the system, immigrants from poor countries are the Hank Reardens supporting the system and stubbornly refusing to “shrug,” preventing it from collapse. And as you know by now, I am not enthused about the inevitable, built-in crisis of the welfare state being delayed in this manner, when it would be less disastrous for us if everyone got a taste of its weaknesses sooner. When I point out that it is actually the immigrants from the poor countries that are saving the welfare state from its own self-bankruptcy, that is not my defense of them. That it is undocumented immigrants who are bailing out the very welfare state that they are falsely accused of bankrupting, is my sole grievance about them.



    Influxes of Immigrants Temporarily Discourage Support for the Welfare State — Though It’s Not Healthy to Rely on This Phenomenon to Fight the Welfare State
    Not reinforcing popular support in it, the (still-too-meager) liberalizations in immigration have actually discouraged the public from approving the welfare state — although, as I shall explain, this phenomenon is not a reliable method for combating the welfare state.

    One form of tax-funded wealth redistribution is the increasingly popular proposal of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) — richer people are taxed and then, once all the revenue is collected, the government periodically cuts a check in the same amount to every citizen regardless of that person’s income. Many libertarians from the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation refuse to acknowledge that the UBI is a form of welfare; instead bizarrely hailing it as a potential “replacement” for the welfare state. This attempt to sell UBI as a foil to the welfare state is bewildering. As UBI involves compulsory taxation of the rich and redistributes income for the ostensive purpose of helping people pay for their amenities and meet their living expenses, I consider the UBI an implementation of the welfare state and shall continue to categorize it as such in this essay.

    Switzerland’s immigration policy is very far from laissez faire. Similar to the USA, it issues work visas. But although Switzerland’s immigration policy is more restrictive than it ought to be, it is not as restrictive as many “immigration skeptics” would prefer.

    In June of 2016, Switzerland held a referendum on whether to adopt a Universal Basic Income. Right-wing opponents of UBI intoned ominously that if UBI was adopted, people would attempt to immigrate to Switzerland primarily to take advantage of the UBI payments — that is, they invoked the right-wing cliché about how a society can have either immigration or the welfare state but that, in the final analysis, it cannot have both. The Swiss could have replied that, as a remedy, they would adopt UBI and then tighten the controls on immigration still further. Instead, 78 percent of the people voted down UBI without explicit plans for additional immigration restriction.

    That is, these Swiss voters did the exact opposite of what Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux imply to be the solution. Whereas Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux say one must prioritize either immigration freedom or the welfare state — with Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux counting on immigration freedom to be cast aside as the lesser priority — the Swiss decided that in lieu of expanding welfare and cutting back on immigration, Switzerland could do without another welfare measure.

    Social scientists increasingly find that loosening of immigration restrictions actually increases native-born citizens’ opposition to the welfare state, but not for the best of reasons — definitely not because the native-born citizens have woken up to the principle that compulsory taxation is morally problematic by its very nature and ought to be minimized. Rather, the social scientists have made the following observation: people in the West are generally approving of State-imposed wealth redistribution when their tax money is redistributed to people quite similar to them: people of the same ethnicity and who speak the same language. However, they become more reluctant to condone State-imposed wealth redistribution when their taxes are redistributed to people who are dissimilar from them: those of different ethnicities, different religions, and different languages.

    Molly Worthen, assistant professor of religious history at the University of North Carolina, observes that it is not a random coincidence that the period in U.S. history when native-born citizens were most sympathetic to the welfare state — the duration from 1933 to 1965 — was also the period in U.S. history when immigration controls were at their tightest and at their most explicitly and deliberately “whites-only.” Nor is it an accident of history that as welfare became more accessible to nonwhites since 1965, arguments against the welfare-state-in-general gained traction among the general public, with politicians delivering such arguments winning elections more soundly than they had between 1933 and 1965.

    Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy thus writes that this xenophobia can actually be leveraged to stir up opposition to the welfare state — one can remind the xenophobic racists that when welfare is available to all “races,” such xenophobic racists must make the calculation of whether their approval of welfare money going to their own “race” is a priority that outweighs their resentment over that welfare money also going to many people of other “races.”

    There are numerous problems, though, with the expectation that such xenophobia and racism can be harnessed to encourage a revolt against the welfare state. Our cause —fighting for laissez faire in migration and domestic dealings alike — is a just one, and it is doubtful that a just cause can win out if its strategy relies on appealing to the most disgusting aspects of human psychology, of which racism and xenophobia definitely qualify. If we become cynics and decide that our best strategy in persuading people to vote against welfare-state measures is that we show them that welfare-state measures will result in more tax money going to “races” they hate, then we can hardly blame people in general for buying into the popular left-wing proclamation that because a significant percentage of welfare recipients are nonwhite, then to oppose the welfare state is inherently the same as being prejudiced against nonwhites.

    Moreover, it seems that people rejecting the welfare state out of their fear of other “races” is, at its potential best, a short-term measure. Of all the states in the Union, Hawaii is both the most ethnically diverse and the state whose state agencies pay out the largest welfare benefits. As I wrote in another blog post, while increases in ethnic diversity might initially foment mutual distrust within a neighborhood, over time the younger generation accustoms itself to the ethnic diversity, and mutual trust is restored. This evinces that as people overcome their ethnic prejudices and grow more accepting of other “races,” they likewise become more accepting of the idea of their tax money being used as welfare going to other “races.”

    Hence, in the long term there is but one practicable strategy for convincing people of the wrongness of the welfare state, and it is also the ethical strategy — informing them that because the initiation of the use of force is wrong, it follows that compulsory taxation and wealth redistribution are wrong on principle, with consensual charity and other forms of free enterprise being the most humane and effective methods for addressing society’s problems. I oppose the compulsory taxation that funds the welfare state for the same reason that I oppose immigration restriction — both are examples of the government initiating the use of force upon nonviolent parties. To call oneself of free-market capitalist who favors governmental restrictions on “Third-World economic migrants” is therefore a contradiction in terms.



    Conclusion
    Thus we find that the immigration skeptic I quoted at the beginning is correct that a foreign-born person’s right to his own life “is not a right to my life or to any of those that make up my group, America.” But the prejudices buried in that statement flub in their effort to discredit the natural right to immigrate.

    To advocate the liberalization of immigration is not to imply that the immigrant has a right to the life of this woman or any other native-born U.S. citizen. That the liberalization of immigration is some imposition upon her is just her presumption. On the contrary: for her to presume that a Somali immigrant is morally obligated to beg for her permission prior to coming onto my land in the USA at my consent — on pain of federal agents going after that Somali immigrant — is for her to encroach on the Somali immigrant’s right to live. Somalis lodging on my land at my invitation is not an imposition upon this woman, nor a sacrifice of her rights, unless it is an imposition and sacrifice for me to request of her solemnly that she learn to mind her own business.

    Let us have openness to free and peaceful immigration: armed federal agents need not do anything more strenuous than get out of the immigrants’ way.



    On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, I added the point aboutterra nullius and res nullius. On February 21, 2018, I added the points about the 33 border slayings, the border land of California and Arizona and New Mexico mostly being unused wilderness, and Operation Gatekeeper in 1994 and IIRIRA in 1996.