Published in the July 2001
Libertarian Party News


Keep 'Em Out? Kick 'Em Out!

by Barry Loberfeld

Being a long-time defender of "open borders," I have a question I've been fairly dying to ask those on the opposite side of the divide: Do the reasons that grant government the power to identify and repel foreign "undesirables," also grant it the power to identify and expel domestic ones?
Simply put:

If you are anti-immigration,
are you also pro-expatriation?

Consider the possibilities. Neo-con ex-Governor Pete Wilson (R-CA) wanted to ward off immigrants because he feared that they'd go on welfare and other relief programs. But what about our own welfare queens? If the point is to keep all moochers out of the country, where is the logic in letting any stay inside? If the problem with "people on welfare" is the people and not the welfare, wouldn't it then make sense just to exile everybody, native as well as alien, who receives welfare -- up to and including subsidized CEOs? Wouldn't that solve any problem with the number of recipients?

Paleo-con magazine National Review opposes further immigration because it's convinced that contemporary immigrants almost inevitably become Democratic voters. Ergo, if the objectionable element is a demographic group that preponderantly supports the Democrats, wouldn't right reason enjoin Buckley & Co. to propose the expulsion of blacks and Jews? (I have to be careful here: One man's reductio ad absurdum could become one madman's ide fixe.)

Faux-con editor Michael Lind (Harper's) wishes to block the entry of foreign unskilled laborers in order to maintain low-end wage rates. If that's the game, then why not force the exit of some American unskilled laborers in order to jack up wages even higher for the lucky few left?

Mr. Lind doth protest much in his attempt to distinguish his anti-immigrationism from those of other known conservatives -- and we can understand why. Recon theologian (and false Y2K prophet) Gary North gives his blessing to the faithful "work[ing] politically to cut off [non-Christian] immigration as part of their goal of establishing a Trinitarian confession for the nation." Will he presently conclude that that goal correspondingly requires the "politically"-effected exodus of the non-Christians here (and the First Amendment along with them)? That possibility should be of no small concern to Judeo-con columnist Don Feder (Boston Herald), who himself has the chutzpah to insist that today's non-European immigrants will never assimilate into mainstream culture, not like such earlier immigrants as... the Ashkenazic Jews (his forebears). If he would bar those peoples who he arbitrarily predicts will never assimilate, would he boot those who have thoroughly demonstrated their inability/unwillingness to ever do so, such as... the ultra-Orthodox Hasidim? Mr. Feder fears something else from immigrants -- secession: What if "50 million Mexicans chose to move to California and Texas [and] these new Americans (then constituting a majority in the states where they settle) wanted to secede and unite the territory with Mexico[?]" I don't know: What if all them good ol' boys still wavin' the Stars and Bars ever grew into a majority that then wanted to secede and resurrect the Confederacy? If prevention of secession is grounds for holding Paco South of the Border, is it also grounds for shipping Bubba there? Anglo-con writer Peter Brimelow, the immigrant author of the anti-immigrant Alien Nation, warns that the danger posed by "immigrants" is that they "break down white America's sense of identity." Oh. Well, if we shouldn't allow non-whites in for fear of weakening white racial solidarity, should we throw them out in the hopes of strengthening it? But surely the Oscar in this category goes to anarcho-con economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, another anti-immigration immigrant. Now follow the reasoning here. Whenever the government grants immigrants access to compulsory public institutions (e.g., the schools), it violates the freedom of association of natives who don't want to integrate with foreigners. Therefore, as long as public education (like public assistance) remains an absolute, the freedom-loving anti-statist can, in good conscience, support the State's restricting of free immigration. The question almost irresistibly asks itself: If the government must keep out people you don't want your children sitting next to in class -- say, Zulus or Koreans -- must it similarly kick out other people you also don't want them sitting next to -- say, Navajos or Lakotas?

It would be comforting to think that such delirium is confined to the fever swamps of the American Right. Alas. Many in the civil rights community -- Coretta Scott King and the Black Leadership Forum, for example -- accuse immigrant browns of taking work away from resident blacks. Fine, so the U.S. won't admit anyone who could compete in the job market. Better yet, it will banish everyone who isn't of African descent, leaving more than enough jobs open for everyone who is. There you have it: Ethnic cleansing in the name of racial equality. But outdoing even that is the view held by such environmentalists as perennial doomster Paul Ehrlich and a significant faction within the Sierra Club. For them, the movement of population from the less-developed nations to industrial America means only more people consuming more resources and creating more pollution. But would just closing America's borders forestall global ecological disaster? Wouldn't the green thing to do be to have the U.S. and all the other industrial nations drive the entirety of their populations into the jungles, deserts and tundras of the world? Fancy that: Khmer Rouge primitivism on an international scale. Maybe Pol Pot can now truly rest in peace, knowing that there're still those who share his vision.

Support for mass expatriation is the perversely perfect flip side of the opposition to mass immigration. If we ever really took seriously the ideas justifying that opposition, not only would we not have anybody coming to America, we wouldn't have anybody left in America. Yes, we are very much a "nation of immigrants" -- our real "sense of identity" -- which is exactly why ending immigration would be nothing less than a collective act of self-negation.

Content copyright 2002
Barry Loberfeld

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