I just have to shake my head. A lot of “pro-liberty” types, particularly among the “Big-L Libertarians” object to the idea of a barrier at the border and about border security in general.
Look, I get it. In an ideal world we’d have unlimited freedom of movement. Individuals might be able to determine who could, or could not, enter their personal property but beyond that there would be no restrictions on where a person can go if they choose to do so. The problem is that we don’t live in that ideal world, and probably never will.
This ideal world of everybody living in voluntary coexistence, with no threats or other problems arising that cannot be handily dealt with as individuals or as groups of volunteers, where all funding is by voluntary contributions and/or exchanges? It’s no more achievable than the socialist fantasy of a carefully planned economy where each individual is subordinated to the greater good leading to greater prosperity. Mind you, that it’s not achievable in totality does not mean we can’t work in that direction. Unlike socialism, increased freedom and reduced forced (usually government but not always) intervention in people’s lives leads to greater prosperity so even moving a little in that direction is generally a good thing.
But not all moves “in that direction” are equally good.
One of the big problems those of us who favor increased individual liberty and reduced government interference in people’s lives is selling that idea to the masses of people who are frightened of the responsibility that comes with that. Fear of failure (economically or otherwise) leaving one destitute drives a lot of the calls for a “safety net”, by which they mean resources taken by force from the productive to give to those who can’t or won’t produce. People worry about the worst that can happen: What if I lose my job to foreign competition? What if robots make my job obsolete? What if we run out of something I want? What if? What if? What if?
“Government needs to do something about it!”
Given how much trouble we have convincing people who grew up here that liberty is a good thing is the cause of liberty really furthered by importing, wholesale, people to whom the very concept is a totally alien thought? Now, that doesn’t mean all immigrants are like that. Far from it. There are always a few cantankerous ones who will rebel against even early conditioning that “the government should…”, “the government must…” and “the government will…” is just the way of the world. It’s those people we want coming here, people to whom liberty is more than just a word in the dictionary somewhere between “late” and “loser”. We can handle a few who are “the government should…” types, but too many of those, tipping the culture war even further in that direction, will ensure that we lose freedom here. And if we lose freedom here…
And it’s only a minor help to ensure that these new immigrants, immigrants that don’t believe in the ideal of liberty, are excluded from voting. Whether they vote or not, they become part of the cultural stewpot and politics is downstream of culture.
So, yes, I favor border security, not because I oppose liberty but because I so ardently support it. We need one place in the world where liberty is the watchword. We who favor it are already enough of a minority. That doesn’t mean it’s an unwinnable fight. As Sam Adams said “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” However, the more anti-liberty individuals one brings in, the harder that fight becomes.
You can say that it’s not these people’s fault and you’d be right. They come from places where all their environment and upbringing tells them that the supremacy of government is just the way of the world. Even when they revolt it’s not to replace tyranny with liberty. It’s to replace someone else’s autocratic government with their own. It’s hard, amazingly hard, to throw off early conditioning like that.
It might be a different thing if it weren’t for the simple truth that supporters of autocratic government totally dominate both education and entertainment in the US. So, when folk come from autocratic regimes, they get here and are not taught the value and virtue of liberty. Instead, they are told that they’re “oppressed.” They’re told that only more government can save them. They are told that “liberty” is their very enemy.
This is why immigration must be controlled. Ideally we would have people come here who favor liberty and want to participate in the freedom of being Americans. The very first step would be to actually obey our laws on immigration. The bar on legal immigration is high, to be sure, but as one immigrant friend of mine put it, “the people we want will crawl across broken glass to get here.” Mind you, I do agree that legal immigration is too hard and the waits are often too long, but that’s a reason for reforming legal immigration, not just giving up on immigration enforcement entirely.
Allowing a blank check to anyone who walks across an invisible line on the ground? That’s a sure way to tip the balance toward those who favor autocracy to liberty.