Immigration: A libertarian perspective
February 1, 2018
Immigration has recently become a highly contested issue in American politics. In recent weeks, the government has become increasingly gridlocked as a result of the struggle between Republican and Democratic officials to implement their own respective immigration policies. The two major points of contention that have been plaguing Congress are border security and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Such heated debate concerning these issues raises serious questions as to what the right course of action on immigration is. As a libertarian, I tend to place political emphasis on economic liberty and individual freedoms. Therefore, when it comes to immigration, to me the most reasonable course of action would be to leave it as unrestricted as possible in order to not only increase the amount of human capital and available labor but also to give people the opportunity to exercise their freedom to travel as they please. However, I do believe that certain measures are necessary in order to ensure that our national security is not compromised and that the safety of our citizens is not put in jeopardy.
From an economic standpoint, it would be wise to have minimally restricted immigration to promote economic freedom and growth. Immigration significantly increases a country’s labor pool, which results in an increase in capital. In economic models, an increase in capital results in a subsequent increase in the overall quality of a country’s economy. Therefore, it would make sense to allow for immigration into our country in order to increase the availability of able workers which would increase overall productivity. Granted, such an increase in available labor would initially create more employment competition, which could prove to be problematic for US citizens who are already unemployed. However, with the increase in productivity and economic growth that results from the boost in labor, businesses will have the opportunity to utilize their increased profits to invest in more jobs in order to maximize their productivity and profits even more, thus alleviating the initial competitive employment issue for unemployed American citizens. Another issue that immigration opponents put forth is that immigrants come to the United States in order to “leech off” of the welfare system. This causes a considerable increase in government spending, which is problematic considering the $20 trillion+ debt that the government currently holds. The solution to this is quite simple: abolish the welfare state. The US government spends more on welfare programs then on any other major federal expenditure. Such a massive spending cut would no doubt benefit the economy. Firstly, this would enable the government to cut taxation dramatically, which would undoubtedly incentivize businesses to make more investments in employment and productivity, thus improving the economy. Secondly, this would make the federal government’s budget more manageable. This means the government would not have to borrow and print so much money, which would reduce those pesky inflation rates. Therefore, it is evident that abolishing or even reducing welfare expenditures would lessen or perhaps even eradicate any additional economic strains that immigration puts on the US via welfare exploitation. With such economic benefits in mind, it has become clear how beneficial immigration actually is to the country. Therefore, minimizing its restriction would be the best course of action from an economic perspective.
From an individual standpoint, loosening immigration restrictions would also be a favorable policy objective. Individuals should have the freedom to enter this country if they choose to do so. The concept of being able to do whatever you desire as long as you don’t infringe upon the rights of others is a staple of libertarian philosophy. However, such a concept does not only apply to American citizens. It applies to all of us as human beings. Therefore, foreigners should enjoy the same individual freedoms that we do as long as they don’t pose a threat to our rights. While I do not consider being in the United States as a right, I believe that all people should have access to the privilege of immigrating to the United States as long as they do not threaten the freedoms of others already present. The United States of America is a land of abundant economic opportunity and personal liberty, and all people should have the freedom to enjoy it and benefit from it. Therefore, there should be very limited restrictions on immigration in order to allow for people from all walks of life to exercise the same individual freedoms that we take for granted.
Despite the benefits to the economy and individual liberty that come with minimally restricted immigration, there are still substantial risks to national security. Consequently, there must be security measures put in place to ensure the safety of our citizens. However, this does not necessarily mean that we have to unconditionally ban all immigration from certain areas. Granted, there are certain countries such as Syria, Libya, and Somalia whose political instability has facilitated the creation of cesspools of radical Islamic terrorism. However, this does not necessitate a complete immigration ban on these countries and other countries in similar situations. Although there may be a plethora of individuals in said countries who may attempt to immigrate to the US in order to harm our citizens, there are also innocent victims who simply want to escape the harsh conditions in their homelands. Therefore, instead of a universal ban, the best course of action would be to conduct background checks and institute extreme vetting measures in order to ensure that who we allow to immigrate does not have any affiliation with extremist groups that intend to do harm to the United States and its citizens. Granted, this would be relatively simple given the fact that these countries do not share a border with the US. Therefore, this raises the question as to how to properly secure our borders since illegal immigration makes it essentially impossible to know what kinds of people are coming into the country. Recently, a lot of debate has stemmed from the idea of establishing a wall on the US-Mexico border. Granted, a wall may sound like a sure-fire way to eradicate illegal immigration, but in reality a wall could easily be compromised if it is not properly maintained and monitored. Therefore, a wall would only be effective if it is coupled with an extensive and technologically advanced surveillance network that would be utilized to prevent any breaches by way of ladders or perhaps even subterranean passageways. Although it would be quite costly, such a network would be rather effective in curbing overland illegal immigration and reducing the risk of people who pose serious national security threats from stealthily entering the country. Therefore, this along with the aforementioned security measures regarding non-adjacent countries should be implemented in order to ensure that immigration to the United States does not pose any credible threats to the security of its citizens.
In summation, it has become increasingly evident that immigration to the United States is quite beneficial to our country regarding economics and individual liberty. Therefore, there should be a minimal amount of regulations and restrictions on coming to the US. However, there obviously should be security measures in place to ensure our safety. Essentially, what it all boils down to is the necessity to identify a balance between liberty and security. This is another staple principle in libertarian ideology. We must be able to have personal freedom while at the same time have some level of security. However, liberty should never be sacrificed for the purpose of improving security. We should not infringe upon innocent people’s freedom to enter this country for the sake of national security. As the founding father Benjamin Franklin noted, “Any society that will give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”