Issue: Refugees & Immigration
The Independent Thinker--Critical Thinking, Activism, Dissent, Metanoia

"Asylum-seekers in the USA, many of whom are still severely traumatized by the events which caused them to flee their homes, are increasingly being treated like criminal offenders. They are detained indefinitely; confined with criminal prisoners; stripped and searched; shackled and chained; physically and verbally abused; and denied access to families, lawyers and organizations which could help them." (from Refugee Issues).

from Liberator Online, Vol.4, no.8

Immigration remains one of the hottest issues in American politics. Should libertarians endorse free immigration and open borders? What are the costs and benefits -- and what moral and humanitarian issues are involved? In this issue, Dr. Mary Ruwart looks at that issue again. And see our Product Review at the end of this issue for big savings on a book and tape combination that makes the best case we've ever seen for a policy of free immigration.

Editor's Web Site Choice: Immigration Lawyers on the Web

Immigration Lawyers on the Web (ILW) was created in late 1995 to become one of the Internet's main sources for immigration lawyers and information. This site ( has links to many immigration resources.

One of the most interesting parts for libertarians is the 'Advocacy' section. This section has several articles discussing open immigration. It also has links to advocacy organizations dealing with immigration issues.

Another interesting section is the 'News' section. One article tells how secret evidence can be used against immigrants. The author of this article concludes: "The use of secret evidence has no place in a democracy, least of all in America, as it flies against the face of every notion of fundamental fairness and due process."

Short Answers to the Tough Questions:
by Dr. Mary Ruwart

Two Questions on Immigration: Open Borders Now or Later?


"In a previous answer on the question of immigration you defended open borders by saying, in essence: immigrants pay taxes and are less prone to go on welfare. Isn't that kind of a cop-out? Aren't libertarians against taxes and welfare? As I see it, first we must rid the country of oppressive taxes and welfare. Then and only then do you open the gates of the U.S. -- and then the folks that come here will indeed be people that want to work and get ahead on their own abilities."

My short answer:

"Even in today's welfare society, immigrants DO want to work and get ahead on their own. That was the point of my earlier response -- we don't have to wait until we get rid of taxes and welfare to open our borders.

"Of course, getting rid of welfare and taxes at any time would be wonderful..."


"I agree with you on all libertarian positions except the idea of opening our borders. Your arguments for open borders are very persuasive, but isn't it contingent on creating a free society first, *then* opening our borders to others? Therefore, opening borders should not be one of our first priorities, right? Let's open our borders when we have a truly free society, but until then, it's best to keep foreigners out."

My short answer:

"Even without a free society, opening our borders is consistent with libertarian philosophy. For example, suppose that I were to invite a Mexican family into my home to live and work with me. The family goes back to Mexico when their employment ends, or they find other employment. Would you feel right about stopping them--at gunpoint, if necessary? Probably not.

"The immigrants we fear are ones that enter the country to partake of a welfare system to which they don't contribute. However, studies indicate that immigrants pay more in taxes than they take in services, because most are excited by how much money they can make working for what seems like slave wages to us (see Joel Millman's book "The Other Americans"). In addition, the trauma associated with immigration to a different country tends to select those with some ambition.

"Rather than keeping our borders closed, libertarian economics professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe has suggested [an interim proposal]: we could simply require immigrants to have an invitation from a citizen willing to provide for them or help them find employment (see "The Journal of Libertarian Studies," Vol. 13, #2, pp. 221-233 for a more detailed discussion). If the hosts tire of this arrangement, the immigrants must find other sponsors or return to their native country.

"Since all property would be private in a libertarian society, anyone entering the country could only do so if invited. Thus, the program described above better approximates a free society than current immigration restrictions. In addition, it could be implemented with relative ease today, even without any other libertarian reforms.

"How to open borders while still burdened with a welfare state is a hot discussion among libertarians. Please feel free to join in!"

Related Links

Refugee Issues from Amnesty International
Refugee Related Links

Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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