Point-Counterpoint: Libertarians on Arizona's Immigration Bill


Two headlines for ya:

* A Libertarian Defense of the AZ Immigration Bill

* Immigration: Anarchy Worked

Reason on immigration here.

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  1. Immigration: Anarchy Worked

    “There’s no difference in principle between a “national border” and the turf claim of a street gang.

    None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.”

    I see. So the border between Poland and the USSR in 1939 is exactly the same as that between Canada and the U.S. Brilliant! I don’t understand why anarchists don’t enjoy more credibility.

    1. Strawman much? So unless all national governments are equally bad, then they can’t reasonably be compared to street gangs?

  2. Doesn’t Ron “Robust Christian nation” Paul want to keep the tacos out?

    1. Hear that?
      It’s the sound of a troll going hungry.

  3. The problem is that there are competing visions in the American tradition of what sort of national association we are.

    Since there is no ethnic component to “Americanness”, it should in theory be open to anyone who is willing to pay taxes to contribute towards our national defense and to the administration of our laws.

    I think that if you see legitimate state power as delegated from individuals and accretive [in other words, if you think that each of us possesses the moral right to defend our natural rights and those of others, and that a legitimate state comes into existence when we mutually delegate that right to an association] then there should be no bar to adding additional persons under the administration of our state.

    You have to believe in some sort of “emergent property” called sovereignty that “is” the nation and that exists above and apart from the individual act of delegation, in order to argue that access to it can be restricted.

    But since both of these concepts have a place in our legal and intellectual history, you end up with a muddle.

    1. if you think that each of us possesses the moral right to defend our natural rights and those of others, and that a legitimate state comes into existence when we mutually delegate that right to an association] then there should be no bar to adding additional persons under the administration of our state.

      If that is the case, are we not also obligated to defend the natural rights of others even though they have yet to cross the magical border?

      You have to believe in some sort of “emergent property” called sovereignty that “is” the nation and that exists above and apart from the individual act of delegation, in order to argue that access to it can be restricted.

      If you do not believe in “emergent property” why is the defense of natural rights limited to it? Are you arguing that we should defend the natural rights of individuals outside this “emergent property”? If not, why not? What makes the border (which supposedly shouldn’t exist) magical?

  4. If any Respectable Libertarian’s position even slightly resembled the second of those two, there’d be a lot less “WTF?!” going on.

    But the Respectable Libertarian big-business-big-state “reform” position is actually fascist, and the Respectable Libertarian opposition to the AZ law is the same put-on OMFG NAZI shit that actual fascists say about everything libertarians are for.

    Don’t pretend you’re with us no-borders guys. You’re the far, far opposite, and the AZ law is more libertarian than the labor-swap indenture system you want.


    1. The libertarian is a rare and solitary animal. While frequently threatened by political animals of all stripes, the libertarian is unique in that its chief predator is other libertarians.

  5. Was it just me or was neither of those articles particularily convincing of thier points… or even good for that matter?

    1. I don’t even understand what the first article was yammering on about. the author doesn’t like the bill, or its provisions, and also think it decreases liberty. He then says somethings about Reagan era libertarians, deficit spending, future generations,tea parties etc, etc. Does some hand waving and, voila he supports the bill.

      If anyone can read that article and get something substantial from it I would appreciate any insights.

      Now to the second article.

      1. Haha – I like your summary of the first article. Spot-on.

    2. Second article is worse than the first. He starts out with a premise that is at best misguided and wrong, and at worst dishonest hyperbole. Trying to build on this shaky foundation the author digs himself deeper.

      Consider how he argues that westward expansion and industrialization could not have occurred without unfettered immigration, I would argue the opposite. For a nation to allow unchecked immigration you would need territorial expansion and an increasing employment base.

  6. The core problem with Arizona’s law isn’t that it requires state agents to take on customarily federal roles or that it makes people carry ID or even that it opens the door to racial profiling.

    The core problem is that the federal immigration laws that it explicitly promotes abrogate individual rights!

    Note that the fugitive slave laws also required state agents to take on customarily federal roles, made people carry ID, and opened the door to racial profiling. But that’s not what was wrong with them either.

  7. Mr. Givens makes an excellent point in his piece (the Libertarian defense of the AZ bill) with this-

    The truly bizarre thing about American politics today is that we have a federal government that wants to encroach into all aspects of our lives, and yet consistently fails to live up to its few genuinely constitutional responsibilities. The progressive elites want to use government to dictate everything from the food we eat to the light bulbs we use in our homes to our thermostat levels to the healthcare we receive. And yet ? when it comes to healthcare ? the recent bill failed to regulate interstate commerce by mandating that states allow interstate purchase of insurance policies. The commerce clause is one of the most frequently abused parts of the Constitution, and yet this would have been one of the rare legitimate applications of that clause. So why was it left out?

    Libertarians will have a better chance of influencing politicians and elections if they start with the basics- ie. forcing the government to do what the constitution says it should do- because there is a huge untapped source of voter anger at the failure of big government.

    The tea parties have been successful in bringing people together from uncommon backgrounds because they all have a common goal: limiting the federal government. Forcing the government to do more of what is supposed to and less of what it’s not is winning political theme at this time.

    1. “limiting the federal government”
      “forcing the government to do more”

      I feel cognitive dissonance reading your post and those of other “limited government” advocates supporting a massive immigration enforcement bureaucracy. I suppose it is also libertarian to support the draft because the Federal Government has to raise armies?

      1. supporting a massive immigration enforcement bureaucracy.

        I’m not advocating that the government create a massive immigration enforcement bureaucracy. I’m advocating that the one we already have do its freaking job. If they need more resources, take them from other unconstitutional bureaucracies. I’m saying it needs to do a better job of what is supposed to (like immigration enforcement) and less of what it’s not (like restricting state to state healthcare insurance).

        I’m a “wider gates, taller fences” person when it comes to immigration, and the feds would need less resources to fight illegal immigrants if we let in more people legally.

    2. I would agree with you in general. The thing is though, when a government program fails, its failure is usually ascribed to underfunding and an agency’s scope being constitutionally limited. This leads to ever increasing authority, funding, and autonomy for executive agencies.

      The real culprit behind government inefficiencies, is the fact that huge bureaucracies with perverse incentive structures trend to suboptimal (understatement) performance.

      Asking the government to increase its focus on any area will just be met with more lawyers, guns, and money for the beast. And, more debt and less liberty for the populace.

      1. Asking the government to increase its focus on any area will just be met with more lawyers, guns, and money for the beast. And, more debt and less liberty for the populace.

        It’s hard to argue with that, and I don’t necessarily disagree. But as I stated above in my response to Hobo, if we had wider gates and taller fences we wouldn’t need the feds to be that much more efficient, because allowing more people in to the country legally means there are less illegal ones.

        But as you say, I still remain wary when anyone proposes that they can make government more efficient.

    3. Although as I explain below, the US Constitution says Congress may control immigration, it doesn’t say it must. It’s optional. But you can say that because Congress does have such controls in effect, the Constitution says the executive branch must carry them into effect, i.e. enforce them.

  8. If I operate a motor vehicle, I am required by law to show my driver’s license to any law enforcement official who legally contacts me.

    If I use my credit/debit card at a business, the cashier is generally required to ask for my ID, and if I fail to present it, is empowered to decline use thereof.

    If I want to purchase alcohol or tobacco, I must show my ID.

    A person who wishes to purchase and consume alcohol in a public place in the State of New Mexico must have their ID on them at all times, regardless of their apparent age.

    If I wish to exit or enter the United States national borders, I must be in possession of a valid passport.

    We citizens have been dealing with personal identification civil liberty curtailment for years. Interesting no one complained until this law came into effect.

    1. There is no law that says that I must drive a car.

      There is no law that says that if I am riding as a passenger in a car or on a bus that I must possess my ID at all times.

      There is no law that requires me to present my ID when buying smokes.

      There is no law that says I need to provide my ID when entering a bar to buy drinks.

      There is no law that requires the department store to verify my ID when I use my Creditcard.

      There is no law that says that I must enter/exit the US.

      Those are all voluntary actions that may result in the need to produce my ID, however I can choose to avoid those things too. This AZ law however makes it so that any citizen may forfiet thier rights for a period of time based simply on an officer who claims ‘reasonable suspicion’ (for which I have yet to see a good outline of what that will look like in practice for identifying legal-vs-illegal aliens). You are presumed guilty and left to prove your innocence based on the officers whim.

      The example I used on an earlier post, if you are stopped in a traffic stop and the officer decides that because you are listing to a radio program in a language other than English that he therefore he ‘reasonable suspects’ your passenger may not be native to this country so he requests ID – which your passenger is unable to produce something (maybe his lic is expired? – or is a WA State ID which does not meet the criteria outlined by the AZ law as WA does not require proof residency or citizenship to get an ID) that satisfies the cop – YOU as the driver have given him probably cause for committing a crime. They can and in Maricopa County likely WILL arrest you and have your car towed/impounded. After they verify you, sure you will be on your way, but also be stuck with a HUGE tow/impound bill for what?

    2. But you don’t have to show an ID just because you exist. Also, the above examples are race-blind where this law has significant potential for abuse by leaving it up to the discretion of police and then enabling citizens to sue police if they do not believe the law is enforced to the fullest extent.

  9. As far as the US Constitutional issue, 1.9.1 nails it down firmly. “Importation” referred to property, i.e. slaves, therefore “migration” could only mean (consistently with its ordinary usage as an intransitive verb, not its recent extension in computer jargon to transitivity) self-movement, and if the power was said not to be there for the initial 20 yrs., that must mean it exists from 1808 on, else it’d be useless verbiage. I don’t see how anyone has a case that Congress doesn’t have the power to restrict entry for the purpose of settlement, i.e. immigration.

  10. On reflection, I think the best conclusion is that the States and the feds both have the power to limit immigration.

    (1) Article 1 Section 8 empowers Congress to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, but there is no enumerated power to regulate immigration.

    (2) Article 1, Section 9 states:

    The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, . . .

    (3) Amendment 10 says powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the States or to the people.

    Article 1, Section 9, concedes that authority over immigration belonged to the States when the Constitution was adopted. After 1808, Congress may (also) limit the “migration” of persons.

    Note that neither this clause nor Article 1 Section 10 (on powers prohibited to the States) says that the States are prohibited from regulating immigration, only that Congress has no power to do so before 1808.

    The construction of Article 1 Section 10 essentially says that, after 1808, Congress can override a state’s decision to admit immigrants. It does not say Congress can require a state to admit immigrants.

  11. That’s why this libertarian supports Arizona’s bill. I’m not happy with it as an ending point, but I view it as a valuable transition stage

    … to a police state.


  12. ITT: “There is no law that says I need to provide my ID when entering a bar to buy drinks.”

    1. Huh? Am I missing something? Is there a law that REQUIRES bars to check IDs? And requires me in return to provide it?

      If a private business makes showing an ID a requirement to enter thier establishment because they believe it is a good business practice that is thier right to do so – or thier right NOT to do so. I have no obligation to show my ID to them any more than they have to allow me to enter thier private business and purchase thier goods/services. It is a voluntary exchange.

      That is much different than allowing (requiring under threat of lawsuit?) parking-officer do-little to demand proof of citizenship based soley on a hunch (reasonable suspicion of immigration status is what exactly? Terry stops do not address how to determine citizenship). Officer Do-little basically declares you guilty until you prove your innocence to his satisfaction. He can search you, detain you, and even temporarily seize your property based only on his hunch.

      The two are not comparable.

  13. ITT: “Is there a law that REQUIRES bars to check IDs?”

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