The first 100 days of the Trump administration are upon us, with all of the hype and freighted expectations usual for the first period of a new presidency, even when accomplishing long-term goals or structural changes is completely unrealistic in such a short time.
Overall, the administration so far has done well. Though there is much yet to be achieved, and in some areas campaign promises have not been met, a significant amount has been done, or at least started down the right path. Viewed against the backdrop of the Obama administration’s eight-year history of deliberately ruinous immigration policies, this is impressive. What a difference 100 days can make.
We believe in private property rights. I do not have the right to wander into your house, or into your gated community, or into Disneyworld, or onto your private beach, or onto Jay-Z’s private island. I can move onto any property I myself own or whose owner wishes to have me. I cannot simply go wherever I like.
Now if all the parcels of land in the whole world were privately owned, the solution to the so-called immigration problem would be evident. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that there would be no immigration problem in the first place. Everyone moving somewhere new would have to have the consent of the owner of that place.
When the state and its so-called public property enter the picture, though, things become murky. Consider, for instance, the large number of ethnic Russians whom Stalin settled in Estonia. This was not done so that Baltic people could enjoy the fruits of diversity. It never is. It was done in an attempt to destroy an existing culture, and in the process to make a people more docile and less likely to cause problems for the Soviet empire.
This overview provides no grade or score for the administration’s performance. Instead, we consider developments in the following areas:
- Illegal immigration, border control, and crime;
- Legal immigration and foreign workers;
- National security and vetting; and
- The rule of law.
Illegal Immigration, Border Control, and Crime
The administration kicked off with a bang, issuing no fewer than three presidential executive orders (EOs) within weeks of inauguration, serially addressing border control (including construction of the border wall), interior enforcement, and transnational border- and immigration-related crime, including drug and people smuggling. Among other things, the EOs directed the expeditious hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, hundreds of new air-and-marine officers for Customs and Border Patrol, and 10,000 new interior immigration enforcement agents.
The EOs in turn were followed quickly by policy memoranda from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also issued directives and made public pronouncements making clear that the Department of Justice (DOJ) under his leadership was committed to vigorous prosecution of immigration offenses, including alien smuggling and transporting, illegal entry and reentry after deportation, and drug and weapons crimes, plus an emphasis on targeting and dismantling cross-border carters and transnational gangs.
As many media outlets have noted, illegal border crossings are markedly down since President Trump took office. That is a good sign, and indicates that aliens are taking the rhetoric of the president and his staff seriously. Some have claimed that this signals that a border wall isn’t really needed. But we have seen such dips before — for instance, after passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 — and whether the slowdown becomes institutionalized will depend in no small measure on the willingness and ability of the administration to put action to its words. Smuggling organizations and the illegal aliens themselves will at some point begin testing our border enforcement resolve and whether illegal crossers will be detained upon being apprehended or allowed to settle in the United States, as was the norm during the Obama presidency.
The Wall. To this end, it is important that the border barrier proceed expeditiously, so that it becomes one of several layered defenses that render it unnecessary to choose between detaining or releasing tidal waves of humans attempting to cross. While there appears to be some willingness on the part of Congress to consider technology and additional resources, it has balked about funding the wall itself, and Democratic legislators have threatened a shutdown of the government rather than pass a budget that contains funding for the wall. It seems likely (as of this writing) that Republicans will cave on the issue of funding the wall for the moment. We are concerned about throwing good money after bad on other forms of layered border security, though. While the fledging drone program at Customs and Border Protection (CBP), parent agency to the Border Patrol, sounds cutting edge — and may be an excellent pork project for certain senators and representatives, as well as the drone manufacturing industry — there is little evidence that it has worked effectively or cost efficiently.
As to funding the wall itself, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has introduced legislation that would permit DOJ and DHS to divert funds seized from drug cartels such as that run by El Chapo (Shorty) Guzman before his arrest and extradition to face U.S. charges, in order to fund the wall. This merits serious consideration.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) has also introduced legislation that would authorize levy of a 2 percent tax on wire transfer remittances sent to certain countries that are the sources of illegal border crossers, with the proceeds to be used to fund the wall. We are generally in favor of such a tax, which was in fact first proposed by one of our fellows several years ago —although if the legislation were amended to permit across-the board taxation of remittances, it would increase revenues and perhaps even permit additional funding to be used for hiring of the enhanced border and interior enforcement agent corps.
The most important improvements in immigration security have been the reversal of the Obama administration’s version of “catch and release” at the border and ending the disastrous prioritization scheme that resulted in tens of thousands of deportable aliens (including many criminals and egregious immigration scofflaws) escaping removal each year.
Catch and Release. The most noticeable change was putting a stop to the practice of releasing arriving non-Mexican illegal border crossers with a notice to appear for an immigration court hearing years in the future, which was usually ignored. Now most new arrivals are either turned back right away or held in custody, and if they ask for asylum, their claims are reviewed promptly by a group of asylum officers and immigration judges that were recently deployed to the border areas. Several temporary holding facilities were set up, and a plan to house up to 12,500 people was adopted. Plans were made to conduct deportation proceedings by videoconference. In addition, the administration issued new guidance to asylum officers directing that cases must now be adjudicated according to the law, rather than according to a relaxed standard or review that leaned heavily in favor of approval. As it turned out, the deployment of asylum officers and judges and the new detention space was not needed as much as expected, because following the implementation of the new policies, the number of new illegal arrivals declined dramatically, bringing border apprehensions to a 17-year low.
No Exemptions. Within the country, ICE officers and agents have been directed to exercise their authority under a new enforcement prioritization scheme that does not exempt most illegal aliens from enforcement, as was the case under Obama policies. As has always been the case, the majority of ICE deportation cases are still criminal aliens who come to ICE’s attention after an arrest on state or local charges, or after incarceration. The big difference is that now ICE officers can act on any deportable alien as soon as they are encountered, and detain the aliens if appropriate, so that the person is actually removed, held accountable for any local crimes, and does not have the opportunity to flee from deportation. ICE has increased its detention capacity by 1,100 beds, and made plans to acquire 21,000 additional beds if funding is made available. Equally important, ICE officers are no longer told that they must look the other way at deportable aliens who have committed ID theft, been charged with minor crimes, have family members here, or have advocacy groups orchestrating a campaign for leniency on their behalf. Criminals are still the priority, but anyone here illegally is potentially subject to deportation.
287(g). The Trump administration has resurrected a popular and successful enforcement partnership program to enable local law enforcement agencies to supplement ICE and the Border Patrol efforts in their local areas, known as the 287(g) program. ICE fast-tracked the approval of eight new jurisdictions to participate (which had been stalled by the Obama administration) and already has identified 50 more local law enforcement agencies that want to participate.
VOICE. During the election cycle, candidate Trump made clear his strong disapproval of sanctuary states, counties, and cities that have resulted in the murder or injury of so many because they release alien criminals to the street instead of into the hands of federal ICE agents. At many campaign stops, the surviving family members of some of the victims of these crimes.
As evidence of his continuing concern, the president ordered creation of a new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE). The office has been launched and will be a welcome relief from the old ICE ombudsman’s office, which functioned as a one-stop shop for the private immigration bar to obtain relief (from detention, deportation, whatever) when they could not achieve it through the due process system.
E-Verify. Worksite enforcement has not received the same attention so far as criminal-alien issues, but the president’s FY 2018 budget blueprint does request $15 million to begin implementation of nationwide E-Verify. The online system allowing employers to check the work authorization of new hires was used for about half of all hires last year, but is still voluntary. Making it universal for all new hires nationwide would require separate legislation from Congress.
In a fully private-property society, people would have to be invited onto whatever property they traveled through or settled on. If every piece of land in a country were owned by some person, group, or corporation, this would mean that no person could enter unless invited to enter and allowed to rent or purchase property. A totally privatized country would be as closed as the particular property owners desire. It seems clear, then, that the regime of open borders that exists de facto in the U.S. and Western Europe really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not genuinely reflect the wishes of the proprietors.
In the current situation, on the other hand, immigrants have access to public roads, public transportation, public buildings, and so on. Combine this with the state’s other curtailments of private property rights, and the result is artificial demographic shifts that would not occur in a free market. Property owners are forced to associate and do business with individuals they might otherwise avoid.
Commercial property owners such as stores, hotels, and restaurants are no longer free to exclude or restrict access as they see fit. Employers can no longer hire or fire who they wish. In the housing market, landlords are no longer free to exclude unwanted tenants. Furthermore, restrictive covenants are compelled to accept members and actions in violation of their very own rules and regulations.
By admitting someone onto its territory, the state also permits this person to proceed on public roads and lands to every domestic resident’s doorsteps, to make use of all public facilities and services, such as hospitals and schools, and to access every commercial establishment, employment, and residential housing, protected by a multitude of nondiscrimination laws.
It is rather unfashionable to express concern for the rights of property owners, but whether the principle is popular or not, a transaction between two people should not occur unless both of those people want it to. This is the very core of libertarian principle.
In order to make sense of all this and reach the appropriate libertarian conclusion, we have to look more closely at what public property really is and who, if anyone, can be said to be its true owner. There are two positions we must reject: that public property is owned by the government, or that public property is unowned, and is therefore comparable to land in the state of nature, before individual property titles to particular parcels of land have been established.
Legal Immigration and Foreign Workers
The administration’s actions and approach to amending the current approach to legal immigration, both temporary and permanent, are promising, but mixed. For instance, there have been a number of high-profile appointments made of individuals whose expansive views on the hiring of “temporary” foreign workers by certain industries are well known.
Although the president has issued an EO dealing with the importance of ensuring full employment for American workers, the signal sent by these appointments is in conflict with the emphasis on buying and hiring American. Which direction will prevail in the Trump White House remains to be seen.
Guestworkers. The new administration has so far made few solid accomplishments in these fields, but it has made a number of promising statements, notably as related to the H-1B program (for college grads to work in the U.S.). These are complex programs that have been shaped, for years to meet the needs of employers, who, in turn, have shouldered aside US workers from good jobs they are qualified to do.
The administration has signaled it will roll back two of its predecessor’s more egregious decisions: 1) the granting of work permits to the spouses of H-1B workers (who are supposed to be here only on a temporary status); and 2) the extension of OPT (Optional Practical Training) status to some alien college grads working in high tech industries, enabling them to stay to work for as long as 24 months after graduation.
Further, eliminating the purchased, speedier processing for those employers seeking quick decisions on their H-1B applications, a standard feature of previous H-1B programs, was useful both as a symbol of fairness (you should not be able to buy your way to the front of the line), and as a symbol that the administration was not going to leave the H-1B program in its current shape.
H-1B. Much needs to be done to cut back the H-1B program to its original design – to allow employers to hire skilled individuals from abroad to fill certain types of positions – and address one common current abuse, which is to replace American workers with lower-paid guest workers. It was too much to expect that reform could be installed before the annual submission of H-1B applications, during the first week in April, but now there is opportunity to rethink the types of workers that can be imported, the wages paid in those jobs, the number of admissions a year, and the length of the visas. Currently an H-1B gets a three-year job, and then, almost automatically, a three-year-extension, and an infinite time beyond that if his employer had filed for a green card for that worker.
OPT. While H-1B is a rather widely-discussed program, its hidden handmaiden, the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is rarely mentioned. It allows most alien college grads up to a year of legal employment beyond the degree (earned in the US) and, beyond that, another additional 19 months for those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The program is often used to bridge the gap between the alien’s college years and an H-1B appointment.
What is scandalous is that U.S. employers are given a bonus for hiring an OPT, rather than an American with the same skills for the same salary. What OPT does is, in effect, touch the alien grads with a magic wand and convert them to students again, so that neither they nor their employers have to pay the usual payroll taxes. This can be as much as a $10,000 bonus to the employer for hiring a former foreign student rather than a citizen. While the Trump administration has often mentioned H-1B as a program needing change, we have seen no similar mentions of OPT.
Permanent Immigration. As to changing the permanent legal immigration system to mitigate, if not eliminate, the present extended-family oriented chain migration system (which works contrary to the national interest): that is a legislative chestnut that must be dealt with by Congress. One sign that some in Congress are willing to address this issue is the introduction of the RAISE Act by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue. The White House not yet endorsed the bill, but the senators met with President Trump, who is said to have welcomed the bill as moving toward his goal of a merit-based legal immigration system.
Until Congress enacts changes, the administration will be reduced to nibbling around the edges of that system until the statutory basis behind it is changed, although much could, and should, be done to minimize the rampant fraud now existing throughout the immigration benefits adjudication regimen.
To that end, one area in which the administration has extensive power that it has not yet wielded is in wise and targeted use of the bloated slush fund known as the Examinations Fee Account, which presently holds well over $1 billion in reserve. Much of that money could be used to substantially increase the presence of USCIS fraud detection officers at key field locations, and to support beefed-up post-audits of high-fraud prone applications and petitions.
The administration has taken steps to tackle the rampant fraud in the legal immigration system by detailing fraud officers to the border facilities and increasing the number of fraud officers who work on asylum cases. In addition, ICE has been directed to resurrect the important Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces throughout the country, which work cooperatively to target document fraud rings, immigration fraud schemes, and identity theft problems, all of which are part of the criminal infrastructure that supports illegal immigration and exploitation of our legal immigration system. Further, ICE has been directed to bring more immigration fraud and human smuggling cases to prosecutors.
National Security and Vetting
Consistent with his campaign promise to ensure “extreme vetting” of visa applicants and refugees wishing to come to the United States, along with the several other immigration-related EOs President Trump issued one titled, “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States”. Both the first and second iterations of this EO ran into a buzz saw of lawsuits, several of which were filed by various states.
Various courts issued restraining orders enjoining the executive branch from implementing key provisions, such as a time-out on admitting nationals from certain states identified as high-risk, despite the law and prior court precedents being clearly on the side of the president’s authority in the matter.
Issuance of the EO was criticized as having been poorly planned and announced, and ill-executed by the various immigration agencies. But in truth even a flawless roll-out would not have stopped the inevitable lawsuits strategically planted by opponents in the most liberal courts they could find in the United States, where they were most sure to meet with sympathetic sitting judges both in the district and appellate courts. This was proven when, after the initial EO was withdrawn, recalibrated, and reissued, the successor once again dead-headed at the Ninth Circuit.
Fighting these lawsuits has now gained in importance, because they are a clear affront to the lawful powers of the president (as opposed to Barack Obama’s illicit use of executive action), and must be battled all the way through the circuit courts to the Supreme Court in order to address the obstacles that have arisen.
But looked at objectively, the so-called “travel ban” EO was never intended as anything more than a place-holder to give the administration breathing room to consider what needed to be done to shore up its hemorrhaging vetting system for immigrants and refugees (and asylees, too, for that matter), because it has become abundantly clear in recent years that there is no category of visa recipient or entrant that isn’t subject to fraud and, more significantly, a risk to public safety and national security. We have seen jihadists enter as fiancees, refugees, students, and family members. We have seen permanent residents and naturalized citizens charged for material support of terrorism. In fact, since the 9/11 attack, 72 individuals from the seven countries subject to the travel restrictions have been convicted of terror or terror-related crimes, and currently there are more than 1,000 open terror investigations involving foreign nationals, according to the Justice Department.
But there is another area in which simple fraud detection efforts won’t work, and that has to do with admission of persons with ideological, religious, or cultural views that are antithetical to our constitutional system and values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. This is what “extreme vetting” was originally intended to address.
While the administration has not yet publicized a plan for such “ideological exclusion”, the first iteration of the terrorist entry EO (but not the second one) specifically referred to the need to keep out those who hate America, even if they are not themselves terrorists. The relevant passage read: “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.”
While the lawsuits work their laborious way through the judicial system, we hope and expect that DOJ, DHS, and the State Department are busy working on reforms to the visa and benefits applications process.
The Rule of Law
DACA. One of candidate Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to roll back the unconstitutional and extra-statutory programs granting a renewable two-year amnesty to so-called “Dreamers” — illegal aliens who came before age 16. Far from simply providing “protection from deportation”, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status enables an illegal alien to get a work permit, a Social Security number, a state driver’s license, and access to certain welfare programs.
It appears to have been easier for the candidate than for the elected president to take the matter head-on. So far, nothing has been done to dismantle the program. In fact, USCIS continues not only to renew the status of DACA recipients, but is continuing to approve new applications, actually expanding the number of people covered by this amnesty and giving it the de facto imprimatur of the current president.
Sanctuary. The principle of defunding sanctuaries was also embedded in the president’s EOs, and was quickly followed up by announcements from AG Sessions that DOJ would be doing exactly that. The DOJ had already put 10 of the most egregious sanctuaries on notice of possible debarment and clawback of prior grants, and gave several sanctuary jurisdictions until June 30 to comply with federal law (specifically 8 U.S.C. 1373). One of these jurisdictions (Miami-Dade County, Florida) has already reversed its policy.
An April court ruling widely described as halting those efforts at defunding did no such thing and, in fact, specifically acknowledged that the DOJ grants in question could be withheld.
Another part of the administration’s struggle to get sanctuary cities to comply with the law is a weekly report listing instances of criminal aliens released by sanctuary cities. This was temporarily suspended due to problems with data collection, but is expected to be restarted, and may well prove a potent tool in building political support for confronting cities, counties, and states that take immigration-enforcement decisions into their own hands by deciding if and when they will cooperate with ICE.
Certainly we cannot say public property is owned by the government, since government may not legitimately own anything. Government acquires its property by force, usually via the intermediary of taxation. A libertarian cannot accept that kind of property acquisition as morally legitimate, since it involves the initiation of force,the extraction of tax dollars, on innocent people. Hence government’s pretended property titles are illegitimate.
But neither can we say that public property is unowned. Property in the possession of a thief is not unowned, even if at the moment it does not happen to be held by the rightful owner. The same goes for so-called public property. It was purchased and developed by means of money seized from the taxpayers. They are the true owners.
This, incidentally, was the correct way to approach de-socialization in the former communist regimes of eastern Europe. All those industries were the property of the people who had been looted to build them, and those people should have received shares in proportion to their contribution, to the extent it could have been determined.
In anarchy, with all property privately owned, immigration would be up to each individual property owner to decide. Right now, on the other hand, immigration decisions are made by a central authority, with the wishes of property owners completely disregarded. The correct way to proceed, therefore, is to decentralize decision-making on immigration to the lowest possible level, so that we approach ever more closely the proper libertarian position, in which individual property owners consent to the various movements of peoples.
Free immigration would appear to be in a different category from other policy decisions, in that its consequences permanently and radically alter the very composition of the democratic political body that makes those decisions. In fact, the liberal order, where and to the degree that it exists, is the product of a highly complex cultural development. One wonders, for instance, what would become of the liberal society of Switzerland under a regime of open borders.
Switzerland is in fact an interesting example. Before the European Union got involved, the immigration policy of Switzerland approached the kind of system we are describing here. In Switzerland, localities decided on immigration, and immigrants or their employers had to pay to admit a prospective migrant. In this way, residents could better ensure that their communities would be populated by people who would add value and who would not stick them with the bill for a laundry list of benefits.
Obviously, in a pure open borders system, the Western welfare states would simply be overrun by foreigners seeking tax dollars. As libertarians, we should of course celebrate the demise of the welfare state. But to expect a sudden devotion to laissez faire to be the likely outcome of a collapse in the welfare state is to indulge in naïveté of an especially preposterous kind.
Can we conclude that an immigrant should be considered invited by the mere fact that he has been hired by an employer? No, because the employer does not assume the full cost associated with his new employee. The employer partially externalizes the costs of that employee on the taxpaying public.
Equipped with a work permit, the immigrant is allowed to make free use of every public facility: roads, parks, hospitals, schools, and no landlord, businessman, or private associate is permitted to discriminate against him as regards housing, employment, accommodation, and association. That is, the immigrant comes invited with a substantial fringe benefits package paid for not (or only partially) by the immigrant employer, but by other domestic proprietors as taxpayers who had no say in the invitation whatsoever.
These migrations, in short, are not market outcomes. They would not occur on a free market. What we are witnessing are examples of subsidized movement. Libertarians defending these mass migrations as if they were market phenomena are only helping to discredit and undermine the true free market.
Moreover, the free immigration position is not analogous to free trade, as some libertarians have erroneously claimed. In the case of goods being traded from one place to another, there is always and necessarily a willing recipient. The same is not true for free immigration.
To be sure, it is fashionable in Occident to laugh at words of caution about mass immigration. Why, people made predictions about previous waves of immigration, we’re told, and we all know those didn’t come true. Now for one thing, those waves were all followed by swift and substantial immigration reductions, during which time society adapted to these pre-welfare state population movements. There is virtually no prospect of any such reductions today. For another, it is a fallacy to claim that because some people incorrectly predicted a particular outcome at a particular time, therefore that outcome is impossible, and anyone issuing words of caution about it is a contemptible fool.
The fact is, politically enforced multiculturalism has an exceptionally poor track record. The twentieth century affords failure after predictable failure. Whether it’s Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, or Pakistan and Bangladesh, or Malaysia and Singapore, or the countless places with ethnic and religious divides that have not yet been resolved to this day, the evidence suggests something rather different from the tale of universal brotherhood that is such a staple of leftist folklore.
No doubt some of the new arrivals will be perfectly decent people, despite the US government’s lack of interest in encouraging immigration among the skilled and capable. But some will not. The three great crime waves in US history – which began in 1850, 1900, and 1960 — coincided with periods of mass immigration.
Crime isn’t the only reason people may legitimately wish to resist mass immigration. If four million Americans showed up in Singapore, that country’s culture and society would be changed forever. And no, it is not true that libertarianism would in that case require the people of Singapore to shrug their shoulders and say it was nice having our society while it lasted but all good things must come to an end. No one in Singapore would want that outcome, and in a free society, they would actively prevent it.
In other words, it’s bad enough we have to be looted, spied on, and kicked around by the state. Should we also have to pay for the privilege of cultural destructionism, an outcome the vast majority of the state’s taxpaying subjects do not want and would actively prevent if they lived in a free society and were allowed to do so?
The very cultures that the incoming migrants are said to enrich us with could not have developed had they been constantly bombarded with waves of immigration by peoples of radically different cultures. So the multicultural argument doesn’t even make sense.
It is impossible to believe that the USA or Europe will be a freer place after several more decades of uninterrupted mass immigration. Given the immigration patterns that the US and EU governments encourage, the long-term result will be to make the constituencies for continued government growth so large as to be practically unstoppable. Open-borders libertarians active at that time will scratch their heads and claim not to understand why their promotion of free markets is having so little success. Everybody else will know the answer.
- Borders satisfy innately human desires for order and separation. Borders arise and exist naturally, without being created or enforced by political entities (although they were generally less rigidly defined and more porous prior to the era of modern governments).
- Nation is not state. Nations can and do emerge naturally, while states tend to be late-arriving artifices that do injury to earlier, more natural borders.
- In-group preferences are strong. Provided groups coexist without coercion or violence, libertarianism has nothing particular to say about such preferences.
- Humans are not all good and well-intentioned, nor are they fungible. People with money, intelligence, or in-demand skills are better immigrants than people without these attributes. Poor and criminal immigrants impose huge costs. Any worldview that denies this, or downplays this, fails to comport with reality. Libertarianism, rooted in natural law, should by definition accord better with reality than worldviews requiring positive law. Why do we lose sight of this?
- Humans naturally want to live in safe areas, i.e., in “good neighborhoods” on a macro scale. And they want to know their neighbors are not a threat. In other words, there is a market for security beyond one’s own property — not everyone can own and control vast areas of property like Ted Turner. This is why gated communities exist. Simply stating that “nobody has a right to control any property they don’t own” does not address reality.
- Almost all instances of rapid mass migration do not occur as natural marketplace phenomena. Instead, they usually occur due to wars, famine, and other state-created disasters. So it does not follow that resistance to mass migration is anti-market.
- Every human has a natural right to control his body and movement. No human should be falsely imprisoned, enslaved, or held in a place against his will. But the right to leave a physical place is different than the right to enter one. Entry should be denied or permitted by the rightful owner of the property in question. But when vast areas of land are controlled (and/or ostensibly owned) by government, the question becomes much more complex — and the only way to make it less complex is to privatize such land. Unless and until this happens, it is facile for libertarians simply to insist that everyone has a right to go wherever they wish.
- The concept of open borders is mostly a big-government construct. Without state-provided incentives (food, housing, clothing, schooling, mobile phones, etc.), and frequent NGO funding for actual travel, immigration naturally would be far more restricted.
- A libertarian society has no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees, and trespassers.
Libertarianism is not a suicide pact. It does not require us to ignore history, tradition, culture, family, and self-preservation. It does not require us to live as deracinated, hyper-individualized people who identify with nothing larger than ourselves and have no sense of home.
The administration’s efforts at implementing its immigration agenda has been, and will continue to be, met at every step with determined resistance, not least by using “lawfare” through the federal court system. It is the equivalent of trench warfare, and the Trump White House will be obliged to show equal determination, and a long-term strategic and tactical commitment to defending itself against the lawsuits with sufficient and well-prepared legal resources in order to prevail. It might also steal a chapter from that playbook, and strategically initiate some of its own in judicial districts and circuits which are likely to support key initiatives, and which will drain the coffers, time, and energy of open borders advocacy groups in defending against the lawsuits, in the same way that they are attempting to do against the government and its resources.
Further gains may well depend on whether congressional Republicans get on board with the administration’s immigration priorities and begin promoting a vigorous agenda to get long overdue legislation passed. A public that “hired” Donald Trump as president will have little tolerance for inactivity from our lawmakers if the result is that critical reforms don’t take place. A key take-away lesson from the Obama presidency is that, if we value checks and balances in government, not everything in government can, or should, be done by executive order.