Let the Refugees In

We shouldn't fear extending our hand to those who flee oppression. A world of zero risk is not an option, but the risk here is not significant.


DFID—UK Department for International Development/Flickr

Hysteria over the Islamic State is now focused on the refugees seeking to escape the violence in Syria and Iraq. Predictably, the Republican-controlled House yesterday voted to increase background checks on potential refugees, a demand for omniscience that would amount to exclusion. The bill faces trouble in the Senate, however, and President Obama, who wants to admit 10,000 refugees over the next year, has threatened to veto it.

The Washington Post reports:

The Republican bill would require the FBI director to certify the background investigation for each Syrian or Iraqi refugee admitted to the U.S., and Homeland Security and intelligence officials would have to certify that they are not security threats.

The Obama administration said Wednesday that the bill would "introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world."

As expected, attention in Washington is fixed on managing the blowback from long-standing U.S. militarism in the Middle East—and its rippling consequences—rather than addressing the root causes of anti-western terrorism: imperialism. The problem is that the plan for managing blowback will likely create new blowback.

Powerless refugees make easy scapegoats, and those who would condemn people to the living hell the U.S. government did so much to create deserve only scorn, doubly so because presidential ambitions are in play. The shameful history of fearing refugees and turning them away from our shores has been conveniently forgotten by opportunists looking to score cheap points by alarming the public.

Also as we've come to expect, the fear-mongers (who also tend also to be war-mongers) grossly exaggerate the danger in admitting refugees. No, engaging in humanitarianism need not entail unreasonable risks. Writing in The Atlantic, Russell Berman notes:

In the 14 years since September 11, 2001, the United States has resettled 784,000 refugees from around the world,according to data from the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank. And within that population, three people have been arrested for activities related to terrorism. None of them were close to executing an attack inside the U.S., and two of the men were caught trying to leave the country to join terrorist groups overseas….

This time it's different, we're told, with nightmare scenarios of terrorist infiltration in abundant supply. But, Berman writes: As U.S. officials and refugee advocates point out, that has never happened in modern history.

Not when the U.S. took in tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s. Not when 125,000 Cuban "Marielitos" arrived by boat in 1980. And not in the desperate aftermath of more recent wars in Bosnia, Somalia, or Rwanda.

In fact terrorist infiltration is far from likely because:

Refugee applicants are subject to the highest level of security checks of any type of traveler to the U.S. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees initially chooses which refugees to refer to the U.S. after doing its own check. U.S. officials then conduct multiple in-person interviews [while refugees remain in distant UN camps] and verify a refugee's story with intelligence agencies and by running background checks through several government databases, including DHS and the National Counterterrorism Center. As a result of that extensive process, only around 2,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since its civil war broke out in 2011—a much lower number than many previous refugee crises.

Berman adds, "A refugee applying for resettlement in the U.S., by contrast, must endure a screening process that takes as long as two years before stepping foot on American soil." (Emphasis added.)

Libertarians are properly skeptical of claims about government competence, despite the successful record Berman cites. However, one can explain the record without suddenly believing the government got something right. Considering that refugee applicants must undergo this high degree of scrutiny, the refugee program is unlikely to be the preferred route into the United States for would-be infiltrators; they would probably calculate they're more likely to get caught applying for refugee status than by trying to accomplish their objectives in some other way.

"If ISIS wanted to attack the United States," the Niskanen Center notes, "it need only dispatch one of the many foreign fighters who have come from the U.S. or the E.U. to do so"—or, as David Friedman reminds us, it could send some tourists. Actually, it would need only to mobilize so-called radicalized American citizens over the social networks. ISIS "would not need to attempt a two to three-year mission with a very low probability of success."

Thus the government most likely succeeds in weeding out terrorists because they don't present themselves to the authorities in the first place.

Of course the government's role in scrutinizing refugees makes (most?) libertarians uncomfortable. (For one thing, it's tax-financed, though it need not be.) But that's the way it's going to be for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, we can take up the question of how a completely libertarian—by that I mean stateless—society would handle this matter. Would that society be vulnerable to people who mean it harm? I doubt it. Freed people are innovative, flexible, and entrepreneurial. We can be confident that a free society would devise methods of joint suretyship by which strangers could be vouched for, giving others confidence in dealing with them safely. In fact such mechanisms were devised long ago and would quickly be updated to be fully consistent with individual rights if the state were to leave the field.

The alternative to welcoming refugees is to leave them in the clutches of the Islamic State or in refugee camps where many would be vulnerable to the lure of "radicalization." Confinement has that effect. Admission to the United States would reduce terrorism. (Adopting a noninterventionist foreign policy would be an indispensable complementary step.)

Let us never fear to extend our hand to those who flee oppression. A world of zero risk is not an option, but the risk here is not significant.

This piece originally appeared at Richman's "Free Association" blog. 

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  1. “In the 14 years since September 11, 2001, the United States has resettled 784,000 refugees from around the world,according to data from the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank. And within that population, three people have been arrested for activities related to terrorism. None of them were close to executing an attack inside the U.S., and two of the men were caught trying to leave the country to join terrorist groups overseas.”

    Boston ? What about Boston? That doesn’t count because those refugees were simply unsatisfied with their welfare benefits. Their attack had nothing to do with Islam. I suggest we increase the benefits level of ALL refugees ( to be fair to the others) and that would solve this problem going forward. FORWARD !..

    Next Question .

    You over there wearing a flag lapel pin.. You say you have a problem with borrowing more money to bring more 3rd world Muslims into our communities ? YES

    You racist Islamophobe !!

    1. “You over there wearing a flag lapel pin.. You say you have a problem with borrowing more money to bring more 3rd world Muslims into our communities ? YES

      You racist Islamophobe !!”

      Our flag lapel pin wearer may or may not be an Islamophobe, but he would certainly do well to get into another line of business. Those LENDING money to bring in more scum into our communities are doing very well and we don’t hear any whining from them.

    2. They were asylum seekers, not refugees. If you don’t know the difference between the two, stop bringing it up until you do a Google search.

      1. No one gives a shit about their legal status, they give a shit about the number of Islamists among them.

      2. Whenever someone wants to play ever-more-rarified word definition games, you can be sure it’s because they can’t win on the plain facts.

        1. Amen! The Boston bombers were “vetted” and even with repeated warnings from Russia, of all places, they were admitted. Welfare? Give me a fuckin’ break! Has there ever been a non-Muslim who blew something up because their welfare check was lacking?

          1. Are you saying they get more than enough from welfare? That sucks, I don’t get welfare.

            1. When I read these kinds of ignorant articles here at Reason I question whether or not Reason is an arm of the socialist party.

        2. “Whenever someone wants to play ever-more-rarified word definition games, you can be sure it’s because they can’t win on the plain facts.”

          Um, no. It’s in fact the exact opposite. People use muddy definitions to hide muddy logic and muddy thinking. The more precise and clear someone is willing to be with their definitions, the more we can tell what they are trying to say.

      3. bas,

        Thanks for the legal and diplomatic niceties, bro. Here’s one for ya-word gets around, and bodies who aint citizens (once, in a long ago weirdly non PC land called “illegal aliens”) are crossing the border and looking for border control to start their processing. A judge has stopped ICE from detaining the ladies and kids, which was a deterrent idea to spread the word that you get detained. Now they briefly detain them for “x” days and transport them to a city where they can start applying for some “stay here” status. Now Syrians are showing up, because some said “WTF? Borrow some shekels from uncle Joe, and fly Ryan Air cheap to Mexico city, and hump across like I see on the Internet. Apparently Obama loves us!” So good news, bass, as long as we got Obama, you’ll have all the illegal aliens you want, and you can annotate their specific legal and diplomatic status at your leisure.

    3. Real question for me is: we had a longstanding policy of only bringing in a few refugees each year, and mostly paying countries to encamp them as close to thier home countries as possible. Now that the mass migration has swamped Europe from the eastern to western med, and overland via Turkey, and Europe has said “c’mon in (at least the biggest, most influential countries)” the UN has called all developed countries to take “their share” of the hundreds of thousands Europe has accepted by its own decision.

      Now Pres Obama says “heck, why don’t we just do that! Gosh, its just who we are! Sure, Europe, and UN! We got your back! We’ll start with 10,000 and ramp up to roughly 60,000 in upcoming years.” Uh, no. That who you say we are, and many media talkers and most Dems agree with you. And of course, most Libertarians will, too. We should remember that until we kill the welfare safety net, we should not have large scale unplanned immigration by refugees or anyone else. If anyone is moved by any emotional plea, dig deep and write a check, or if really moved, join and organization and raise the money. Just don’t use Libertarianism, of all things, to enact the enforcement of gov tax agents to force me to pay yet more welfare to more refugees. You pay for whoever you want; forcing me to isn’t compassion, its a politely worded form of theft, would be Robin Hood.

      1. “…we should not have large scale unplanned immigration by refugees or anyone else….”

        I’d say we need a 5-year plan, right, comrade?

        1. Sevo,

          No, comrade, a simple long term: Don’t let anyone in we don’t track, and with current IT simple tourist visits with visa’s should be a low labor intensive issue). Immigration could be sharply curtailed as for roughly 20-40 years before WW II. A strict E verify enforcement would allow even low skill unemployed get an intro into the labor pool.

          No, a 5 year plan, Comrade, is for both the left and big gov right. And since both of them want a bigger pool of cheap labor, both will keep anyone coming in on their own dime,or on taxpayers dimes to fly them in from the EU, Turkey or Jordan (Thanks, Barry!). The only plan should be cut it low until we get representatives who will present the real picture to the public, and we vote on reality, and not media spin and emotion about “who we are.” Ag workers who want to come across to Cali from Mexico can be tracked like the tourists, with biometric data and a card issued in less than one hour of processing. That kind of tech ability, to interview, digitally photo and get digital hand and finger tips and make a card with that data on it is years old and very “off the shelf.” No tattoos, no yellow armbands needed.

    4. This libertarian/socialist ideology of wanting to let anyone and everyone into our country is lunacy. We need to prioritize:

      First we straighten out the disaster called the Veterans Administration.

      Next we straighten out the biggest fuck-up our country has ever committed, slavery. Somehow, someway we HAVE to get blacks on the right track.

      Thirdly, we protect our borders and honor our laws. Illegal immigrants, get your law breaking, fucking asses back where they came from!

      Then and only then will we discuss allowing immigration for refugees and anyone else.The GOP has proven itself to be inept at handling illegal immigration. Trump is the only candidate with the balls and management skills to get this done.

  2. The risk of a terrorist getting in by hiding amoung the refugees is not the only concern here.

    This is a bad, bad idea.

    I can’t say it any better than it has already been said by others.

    There is a difference between people who come to America because of America and people who come to America because of Syria. The first like what they see here and want to build an American life. Good. We need more like this.

    The second group want to reclaim their life in Syria. That won’t work. They will quickly sift to the bottom of the economic ladder and fall into a life of dependency, crime, and some will become radicalized. Bringing them here is not in their best interest or in ours.

    1. The problem is this idea, apparently now as pervasive among libertarians as it is among liberals and conservatives, that the US government has a mission to help the world, rather than a narrowly defined responsibility to protect the rights of its own people. Our government is NOT morally obliged to help the world’s needy. If we let foreigners into our country, it can only be because our citizens desire them. There is no other legitimate reason.

      1. Well said. I wouldn’t word it as the desire of the citizenry but rather the best interest of our nation/people. It is important to distinguish between the nation of our people and the fedgov.

        But we all know the fedgov acts in its own best interest without giving a single fuck about the interest of the people.

        1. I’m not sure I understand the distinction between “citizenry” and “nation”. What do you mean? Also, what other means of expressing the wishes of the nation do you propose, other than the federal government?

          1. Should the FedGov cease to exist tomorrow the body of the people here would continue to exist with the culture, our values and ethics, the principles we live by essentially unchanged. This is what I consider to be ‘America’.

            The FedGov is intended to be the arm of our society that expresses the wishes of the citizenry and executes those wishes, but it is not. It has grown detached from the citizenry and its desires and interests. It acts in its own interest. It exists for its own sake. It has become a separate entity.

            I would suggest scaling the FedGov back to its constitutionally authorized role (Stop laughing!).

            1. I see what you’re saying. But would you agree that abolishing the federal government entirely would no more serve the American people’s interests than letting it continue to expand as it is now? If the American people exists as an entity in the real world, with a definite culture and a definite set of values, then this people needs a government to express its common will.

              1. Uh, the “common will” is up for debate, which is often a moronic exercise as we see if we follow debates. When it isn’t, great, we can end up with a nationally elected guy who got 34% of those who voted (definitely not 100% of registered voters ever show up). That was Clinton on his first term, who beat Bush the First because Perot (“Trump the First”) took roughly 19% of the vote, most of which would have probably gone to Bush One, and we never, ever would have had Slick Willy, Hillary, Monica, the Rich pardon, etc.

                Our imperfect arrangement is a republic,not a perfect representation of “the peoples will.” It’s a compromise between what was once a pretty out of touch elite elected Pres and Senate, and a locally democratic “peoples will” House. We have a mass vote that sways with one guy saying “It’ll be a beautiful wall” and another guy saying “I feel your pain.” That tells me that the original design limiting direct democracy was a good thing.

      2. “rather than a narrowly defined responsibility to protect the rights of its own people. ”

        …to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,…

    2. People can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that most of the Middle East’s problems are self-inflicted. We don’t need to import their problems.

  3. In my opinion the most important reason to let them in is so that they can see how freedom and democracy work and eventually export it back to their home countries. I also don’t think that well vetted refugees from Syria are any greater risk than from other countries. It’s becoming a witch hunt using similar scare tactics as the drug war – which has been thoroughly discredited. Yes drugs are dangerous but the the hysterical panic and propaganda only worsened the problem. Also if I were vetting them I would ask what they think about freedom of speech and blasphemy. If people are allowed to speak freely they are less prone to violence. In France there are constant libel and hate crime prosecutions against all religious groups (muslim, jews, and christians) – this is part of the problem over there. It’s based on the fallacy that Hitler ‘incited’ people to hate – that is a huge misunderstanding of what happened in Germany.

    1. “In my opinion the most important reason to let them in is so that they can see how freedom and democracy work and eventually export it back to their home countries.”

      As vain an effort as nation building over there.

      You can’t save people from themselves. They have to want it enough already to seek it out.

      1. I agree they have to want it. And for those that want it, I say let’s help. Not vain at all. In fact, I think modern Europe is better because so many Europeans came here and saw how it works and took lessons home with them. Same for Asia. The same can happen for the middle east. The problem is that we tend to undermine them when they actually try to support freedom and democracy. For example, Saudi Arabia is prosecuting free speech bloggers. Well that’s their only hope and we don’t do enough to expose those abuses.

        1. Europe has been trying to show them how freedom and democracy work for a while now. And they’ve rejected it outright.

          1. Europe does not understand freedom. They are suffocating under a web of libel, blasphemy and ‘hate speech’ laws that pit religions against each other. And it’s getting worse after the Paris attacks. The funny thing is that the American forefathers solved the problem a few hundred years ago. Maybe Europe thinks they are too smart. That’s often the problem.

            1. You have that perfectly backwards.

              The blasphemy and hate speech laws are a RESULT of unassimilated muslim immigrants.

              And progressives in this country are trying to bring those laws here along with the refugees.

              1. LOL nope. You have it exactly backwards. It’s like the drug war – you criminalize drugs and then drug users become criminals. Then sit back and watch violence skyrocket. Same for speech: criminalize it and then extremist thinkers become outlaws. From there it’s only a step or two from jihad and terrorism. But I think it’s so funny you will push so hard against this perfectly obvious fact. Are you crazy or stupid? No, I don’t think so. I don’t know what motivates you to persist in this obvious fallacy but I plan to find out:

      2. dajjal,

        You want them to come here, as long as some want to? So that we can teach them “our values?” I got news for you-there are many, many millions of poor who would LOVE to join our welfare state. And once just one gets in,all his or her sick and disabled relatives get here. But will you take care of the bill? You might say yes, but we both know that our roughly $20,000,000,000,000.00 nat. debt will simply be made worse by adding to the big balloon in our budget, entitlement spending.

        And why do our taxpayers have to insert them (by large percentages, probably) into our massive welfare state? Listen, if you want to help them, write a check to help them where they have camps now-they can use the help there, and its cheaper then moving them here, and there’s more likelihood of them going home afterwards. If you want to convince them that America, home of Trump, massive generation of online porn and gambling, and now “slut walks” and child clothing that emulates teen clothing that emulated prostitute clothing on TV is better than their religiously dictated views, good luck.

        They already understand marketing, banking, making deals. Lets try to teach our own kids our values, instead of importing more expensive poor people. Do we have to keep that up until you get distracted and want to save some duck, or fish species?

    2. “In my opinion the most important reason to let them in is so that they can see how freedom and democracy work…”

      Except that notions like freedom of speech/blasphemy, equality before the law, rights of women and especially church/state separation are sources that enrage the Islamic world and serve as “provocation” for attack.

  4. OK how about this. Let the refugees come, but deny them any benefits. Why isn’t Sheldon promoting this eminently libertarian solution? Or is it possible that he and many other libertarians are just progressives in disguise?

    1. Can’t do it, the treaties we signed say that once refugees are accepted in the US they get full benifits. Only be getting rid of benifits for US citizens would it be possible to get rid of benifits for refugees and that is an even bigger fight then the refugee one

      We can refuse to accept those who have refugees status in foreign countries since bringing them into the US is voluntary. The US tells the UN how many the US will accept

      1. Interesting, I had no idea we were bound by treaty. I already know that states can’t deny even illegal aliens taxpayer-funded benefits because of the ruling against Proposition 187. There are so many problems with our current system that makes immigration problematic from a libertarian perspective.

  5. Who is this Sheldon Richman moron?

    How about we end all welfare then worry about “letting them in”?

    Why isn’t Sheldon Richman telling Israel to let them into Jerusalem?

    1. You obviously are not familiar with Sheldon. If their was a boat of Israeli refugee children waiting to be let in to the US, Sheldon would personally build and launch the torpedoes to sink it.

      1. You forgot to add that Sheldon would then write an article blaming the Israeli refugees for the sinking of their boat.

    2. He might have a point about them not being big security threats, but he’s wrong about the idea that they have a right to enter our country. Foreigners should come to the US because we want them to come, not because they want to come. I think a citizen should have a right to sponsor a foreigner and allow him entry (assuming the foreigner poses no security risks to other citizens). But the citizen should not be obligated to support foreigners, which is what happens when they get public benefits.

    3. Sorry but calling someone ‘moron’ because you disagree with them is bullying and will not be tolerated. You can try ‘idiot’ or ‘dumbass’ and see if that works out any better for you.

      To address your points: it is not clear if you are referring to all refugees or just the ones from Syria. Please pick one or the other (or both) and maybe someone can patiently answer your question.

      If Sheldon Richman is American then that’s who he can speak for. If he is Israeli, then I’d agree with your sentiment.

      1. “…will not be tolerated.”

        So speech you disagree with will not be tolerated. I see.


        1. Calling someone stupid or insane (or any of their varieties) while attempting to engage in a discussion with them is blatant bullying and will not be tolerated. Ridicule and snickering are perfectly acceptable, as are satire and blasphemy. Please, continue with the demonstration of how to use your right to free speech responsibly:

          1. You’d have to be either stupid or insane to think that you have any degree of control over what people post in an unmoderated comment section on the internet. What are you gonna do, backtrace it and call the cyber police?

            1. Hell. Fire.

              That is some funny shit. Really, that has me laughing.

              What the hell is that silly girl blubbering about? I can’t understand her.

              1. tl;dr version, she posted some YouTube videos that caught the attention of 4chan and merciless trolling ensued. Long version here.

                1. First I have seen of this. That is even funnier.

                  What idiots. Completely irrational people with low IQs.

                  I suppose I shouldn’t laugh, but I can’t help it.

            2. Everyone has some influence. Just because you don’ have hard control over the physical actions of anyone does not mean you have no right to attempt to influence another person’s actions, speech, or behavior. You’d almost think no one has a right to disagree with anyone.

            3. Not stupid or insane. Perhaps a bit heretical.

          2. Feeling triggered? You need a safe space?

            We call each other idiots and morons here all the time. It comes with the territory. If you think it shouldn’t be tolerated, go tell mommy and daddy on us and see how well that works out.

          3. The U.S. District Attorney in New York already knows who I am. Give him my regards. Richman’s a moron.

          4. dajjal.

            You picked the wrong board to threaten a persons right to Free Speech on.

            There is no “Edit Button”

            There is very little “Moderation”

            You can speak freely here. Enjoy it. You are responsible for your own speech here. Not many boards can say that.

          5. Since when has being ‘responsible’ been a prerequisite for free speech?

      2. Sorry but calling someone ‘moron’ because you disagree with them is bullying and will not be tolerated

        Really? What are you going to do? Throw a hissy fit?

        1. Yes ?

        2. Even now he is crouched in a safe space, appalled at your lack of PC awareness.

  6. ‘Will not be tolerated’ sounds like bullying to me.

    Look around and see if you can find some self awareness.

    Make a counter argument if you disagree but stick your intolerance up your ass. Sideways.

    1. Ah, so you are the king of this hill. Good to know. 🙂

      1. He’s not the one issuing proclamations regarding what will and will not be tolerated, Your Majesty.

    2. What if the intolerance was a cube? would it matter if he/she/heshe stuck it up there sideways, how would they know which side is the sideways side?

  7. Open borders in a welfare state spells disaster. No other way to put it, and I don’t understand why the so-called libertarians of Reason refuse to acknowledge reality.

    And as for these particular immigrants — the fact of the matter is that even if none of them were terrorists, Muslim refugee populations have shown absolutely no interest in assimilation or integration into western societies. Whether it’s Dearborn or Molenbeek or Rotherham.

    Rather than embrace western culture after escaping the alleged hell of their homeland, they immediately go about recreating that which they left. Which leads one to the conclusion that they’re not actually here to escape, but rather to take advantage of western largesse. And it’s not simply new arrivals either; this is generational.

    This is of course enabled by the welfare state and the countercultural compassion of liberals (and apparently libertarians), who are hardwired to see no evil when it comes to immigration, particularly of the Islamic sort. I understand the liberal fetish for open borders, as it will grow the welfare state and associated voters beyond critical mass. But it’s puzzling when such idiocy comes from alleged libertarians.

    The welfare states of the west have been experimenting with open borders for the better part of thirty years, and has brought nothing but financial ruin, ethnic ghettoes, speech limitations, and social justice mobs — even minus the terrorism. It just doesn’t work. Stop pretending otherwise.

    1. A) Human nature makes it very difficult for anyone to apply their principles uniformly across the board. Thus we will have many who are ostensible libertarians; those who are libertarian on many issues but finding one or two pet issues where they fail. I would say that we would be very hard pressed to find any pure libertarians…well except for shreek who scores a 197% on the purity test. The rest of us, unfortunately, are flawed human beings.

      B) The majority of those claiming to be libertarian simply don’t know what the word means or they are progressives who are aware of the stink that label carries and are just trying to gain some credibility by using it.

      If at some time in the future Israel is overrun by the bloodthirsty savages that surround them and we have hordes of refugees from there we will see many of those playing the sad violin for the Syrians foaming at the mouth to keep the Jews out with Richman leading the pack. I am confident that would be the case.

      1. Suth,

        That tragic day wont end with any refugees. Thanks to Obama, the Dems, and most of the media, the Iranians have a glide path to what the religious fascists who run that country want-an Israel killer. Isreal has long been noted by several Islamic dictatorships as a “one bomb” country. Once hit by the more than one bomb the post Obama agreement Iranians will be able to build, the attacks by missiles and artillery will precede infantry, mechanized infantry and tank attacks by Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iranian forces that even now (thanks again, Barry!) are stationed in Iraq. Unless a Repub unlike Rand is in office, only we might save them. If we didn’t, there would be zero survivors. A regularly large number of any Islamic country in the Near East agrees that Hitlers only mistake was that he didn’t finish the job. So no, Suth, your case wont be a problem for anyone.

    2. I think the problem is that the left-libertarians see freedom of movement as a good in itself, independent of other factors, whereas right-libertarians like myself recognize that the benefits of freedom of movement are conditional on freedom in other areas. If immigrants pay for themselves, as they would in a truly libertarian society, then freedom of movement would by definition benefit both immigrants and natives, since the only immigrants would be the ones who paid the natives for their upkeep, adding wealth to the economy. But if immigrants do not pay for themselves, as happens in the welfare state, then freedom of movement is a drain on the natives. The left-libertarians aren’t thinking about how the world actually works, though; they’re stuck in their utopian vision where all movement and exchange is voluntary.

      That is my charitable interpretation anyhow. A less charitable interpretation would be that “libertarians” like Sheldon are really just left-wing anarchists who want to see our civilization, including our respect for private property, destroyed by mass immigration.

  8. Richman thinks teh j00s are a menacing nuclear threat to the peaceful Iranians and their ambitions to create a clean power grid, so…

  9. If you want to know why Democrats are so eager to let in more Syrian refugees and Republicans oppose it, just look at the voting patterns:

    Of the nearly 1,000 Muslim registered voters planning to vote, half said they support the Democratic Party, and 15 percent said they back the Republican Party.

    Democrats see refugees as a future source of votes and as a new “marginalized and oppressed” minority that they can exploit for political purposes.

    1. “Democrats see refugees as a future source of votes and as a new “marginalized and oppressed” minority that they can exploit for political purposes.”

      We need a party dedicated to pandering to and milking votes out of dispossessed white people.

    2. That must mean there’s not enough mexicans coming across.

  10. So let me see if I understand this….

    A detailed, careful, two-year-long refugee vetting process that thus far has granted refugee status to about 400 Syrians per year is somehow going to be ramped up to allow — how many Sheldon? — 10,000 per year, 25 times as many as currently? And anyone who questions whether this can be accomplished is a Nativist fearmonger? No rational person can even question whether this is practical, or fear that shortcuts will be taken just so Obama can boast about having met his target?

    Ah, but there is nothing to worry about, because up until now, no refugee has ever committed a terrorist act! That’s reassuring. Seems to me that until a little over a week ago, there was not a single incident of which I am aware that gunmen inspired by ISIS shot people dead at a Heavy Metal concert. And as of September 10, 2001, there had not been a single American skyscraper destroyed by terrorists commandeering airliners and crashing them into buildings. And prior to a few years ago there had not been a single instance of a pressure cooker bomb being detonated at a urban marathon. What’s that old line about past performance not being a guarantee of future results?

    And do I really need to explain the difference between the Vietnamese escaping after the fall of Saigon and today’s Syria?

    1. By your logic we should not allow tourists from Paris or Brussels – they are far more likely to commit a terrorist act than a well vetted refugee from Syria who professes love for freedom and democracy.

      1. The real lesson is that our government should discriminate shamelessly against any Muslim visitors, regardless of whether they are tourists, economic migrants, asylum seekers or refugees. Due process doesn’t apply to immigration control and the federal government ought to be ruthlessly biased.

        1. “discriminate shamelessly” “Due process doesn’t apply” “ruthlessly biased”

          Well now you sound like you’d be a great head Caliph. I’d vote for you. Do we get votes? Sorry I don’t know how that works exactly.

          1. I would be a great Caliph if I supported similar measures against people within our borders. Unfortunately, I believe in minimizing government intrusion within our borders, while maximizing vigilance towards outsiders.

            1. I bet you like to torture puppies and don’t even recycle every day.

      2. Image of well vetted refugees from Syria who professes love for freedom and democracy:…..f-thought/

        Nice try Tulpa.

        1. Sarcasm is cool. I don’t know what “Tulpa” is but as far as I can tell it’s not a synonym for crazy or stupid so I guess that’s ok too. Your comment will be tolerated.

      3. If they have “Abdul” or “Mohammad” in their name, maybe.

      4. No, it’s just that they speak funny.

      5. dajjal,

        By that logic, Obama and his pal Jeh who run our protection policy are idiots who cant see this, or smart but don’t really care enough to even make up a lie about it. It has been noted in TV talk about this a few time, and no-one points this out. Which do you think, daj, are they morons or indifferent to their responsibility?

        And this danger that has been noted by you and others doesn’t support the idea of adding yet more problems of either a security or expense manner. Refugees are cheaper to allow for in camps near their origin countries, and we should be promoting that. This would also focus Obama and the PC Euro leaders to actually use their militaries to reset the country, hard as that job obviously will be.

        Fortunately, we have two Islamic countries nearby that have in the last year made it clear they are willing to help; Jordan and Egypt. Jordan with a very well trained but small military, and Egypt with a huge and so-so trained military could add a huge benefit of local language and religion (for most) issue to make it all much more possible. But oh, I forgot-Obama only leads from behind, unless its an attack on Repubs. Maybe we could trick

    2. The same government who couldn’t even launch the Obozocare website says they are going to throughly vet anything makes me laugh.

      1. It’s going to SAVE us billions! And fifty thousand unassimilated middle eastern refugees will make us MORE safe! The GAO says so!

  11. It’s totally Libertarian for the state to import masses of people and hook them up on welfare.

    1. They love freedom and democracy!

      1. Which is why the countries they come from have always been so free and democratic.

    2. As long as the state chooses who to accept based on a plan formulated by Top.Men. ,and subsidizes their importation and living expenses for a few years or more it is totally cosmotarian. We can’t have people just showing up on their own dime, asking politely if they can stay awhile, and supporting themselves while they figure out where they want to end up or if they want to stay here. That would be anarchy.

  12. Move the Syrians to Israel, its right next door.

    Or to the Gulf states who have been funding the fighting in Syria and have all those empty apartment buildings from the housing bubble.

    1. I’m told that China has entire cities that are empty.

      1. If a city is defined as a large human settlement, then does china really have empty cities?

        1. pro,

          China has a large famously large population, and before it’s economy went into strange-ville (down, up, down, now up, kinda, with most pundits saying stay out, and as always, for every country (even Greece, some) some saying “invest now, so as to buy low.” While they were booming, before the current bust, they made many huge international (buying lots of commodities in poor countries) and national – several still empty cities, apparently based on the idea that the mass of poor Chinese that live in urban tenements and rural huts will make it big and want the high life.

          Bad guess, billions of investment now occupied by a few immigrants to these cities and many caretakers just so that they dont start looking like the “after humanity” show that ran on basic cable a few months ago. So, yeah, they got lots of these. Sure, the Chinese can take them.

          Just look up on the net how wonderfully they treat their Muslim asian step-people they absorbed after WW II. Or maybe they could integrate them with the grateful Nepalese, who are still falling over themselves in gratitude for freeing them from that nasty, mean Dali Lama. And so grateful to that China has moved in a layer of Han Chinese managers to “improve” Nepal. Happy days for Nepal! A novel taste of more of the outside world!

  13. Richman is the greatest troll. All the Neolibertarians are raging like mad in the comments section.

    1. You mean paleolibertarians? Old-school libertarians like Ron Paul were never anti-immigration in principle, but they recognized that if immigration meant expanding the welfare rolls or endangering the security of our citizens, it was anti-libertarian. This idea that immigration is always good, independent of context, is a relatively new meme in the libertarian movement.

      1. ” This idea that immigration is always good, independent of context, is a relatively new meme in the libertarian movement.”

        It is oversimplification to the point of idiocy.

      2. Libertarianism is a movement? Seriously?

        1. Why? How would you describe it instead?

        2. Why? How would you describe it instead?

          1. It’s a philosophy based upon the principle of self ownership.

            I hope that answers your questions, and misconceptions.

            1. Yeah I know what libertarianism means as a philosophy. But are people seriously denying that libertarianism also exists as a movement? Are they saying there is no community of people who identify with this philosophy and try to promote it? If that were true, it would be a pretty useless philosophy, wouldn’t it?

              Anyway, my point is that many organizations that promote libertarianism, like the Libertarian Party, seem to have adopted a certain version of the philosophy in which open borders are seen as intrinsically good, regardless of other factors, like the presence of the welfare state.

      3. Neo, Paleo, can’t keep track.

        Immigration has been established by economists to have a more positive impact than immigration restriction – the latter which is fundamentally protectionist in it’s attempt. Economist Michael Clemens (2011) estimates of increases of global production by 50-150% in his papers:…..ep.25.3.83

        The common consensus from economists is that open borders are beneficial to the economy, and in the long run, will make everyone richer. We have no reason to believe that immigrants suppress wages or harm us, any more than some guy from Alabama moving to California hurts us. Thousands of people migrated from the midwest to the west coast in the 1930s looking for work, did immigration harm them then? Definitely not.

        Also, if I recall, the prevailing opinion during the 1960s and 1970s was free immigration. The paleolib crowd only became influential during the libertarian fusion with the New Right in the 80s.

        1. CatoTheYounger

          This is the exact, rational, reasoned argument, that convinced me of the virtue of an Open Borders policy. I thank you for bringing it up. Before this I was ignorant as Donald Trump. My only issue with the Syrian policy is it’s a European style of immigration with the same economic protectionism. I want the “Old School” American immigration that does work.

        2. CTY,
          You keep bringing sense to the argument, but the whining cowards seem to hold the high ground.

        3. He’s essentially a progressive immigration activist.

        4. No one is arguing that, under free market conditions, immigration would not be a boon. But we don’t live in a libertarian society with a true free market. Poor immigrants to the West cost the taxpayer billions of dollars.


          In the 1960s, the welfare state was just getting started in the US and people were generally clueless about what the impact of increased immigration and welfare would be. Now we know.

          Immigration is actively harmful so long as the welfare state exists. It leads to expansion, not contraction of the welfare rolls. Therefore the welfare state must be dismantled first, before immigration can be loosened.

          1. Also, libertarians and Austrian economists traditionally opposed protectionism because it is bad for the citizens being “protected”, not because it is bad for foreigners. The open borders crowd base all their arguments on the welfare of foreigners, even though their welfare is not the concern of our government. So if we are going to allow increased immigration, it has to be because it will benefit our current citizens. If it benefits the immigrants only, then you have not made your case for open borders.

        5. And do all of those opinions factor in the presence and amount of welfare involved, and bringing illiterate/near illiterate indigents here in massive numbers, far beyond our already depressed job market’s absorption rate?

  14. While I’m personally not that concerned with the proposed acceptance of Syrian refugees, I do believe the country is politically divided over the issue. If the main goal is a safe haven, food and water, and shelter, then I believe the administration should seek other alternatives to accommodate the refugees. Personally, I think both political parties will use the division to raise money instead of building a consensus beyond the just accept them or reject them proposition. Secondly, I wonder why the response of other middle eastern countries has been less than underwhelming (except Turkey and Jordan). Why isn’t this reported more vigorously?

  15. If you really want to come here to murder Americans, why not just get a visa? It’s almost certain to get you into the country and it’s a lot easier than living in a shitty refugee camp.

    1. This is true, but it’s really handy to have a shitty refugee camp, or in future to have a ghetto community of unassimilated foreigners, where one can blend in.

  16. Fuck ’em. I’m all for accepting refugees and asylum-seekers when they can pay their own way or are fully “sponsored” by Americans willing to take responsibility for them, including deportation fare if they lose the sponsorship or become public charges.

  17. Commercial flight has existed for 100 years. In that time, exactly one plot was executed to fly planes into buildings.

    The argument that the refugee policy is sound because the refugee policy has never been exploited is absurd.

    1. It’s also incorrect. Two Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Kentucky were Iraq refugees.…..d=35252500

    2. It’s also incorrect. Two Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Kentucky were Iraq refugees.…..d=35252500

      1. so squirrels, we meet again

  18. @sheldon richman

    If Isis does use refugee status to enter the US and do some evil shi+ , you should resign your position.

    Restricting or cutting off immigration from the middle east is a rational response to a real threat. This isn’t an irrational fear of Islam(islamaphobia), but a recognition of some basic war dynamics and the fundamental incompatibility of Islam and western values.

    Are we at war, or not? If we are, then we have to close the borders to people from the war zone. How many times has the US gov said the whole world is a battlefield? That’s ridiculous IMO, but how many times have that been said? The battlefield is clearly the entire middle east, and we can’t have a bunch of people from that region coming here since we’ve been blowing that place to a literal hell for 20 years.

    Think McFly! Think!

    1. If the refugees plant ISIS insurgents, it will all be Israel’s fault. Don’y you understand how Sheldon works?

  19. @Richman,

    I am convinced that you post this garbage with the intent to make people angry and view it so you can positively boost the bottom line at reason. And we all know money makes the world go round… And reason wouldn’t make any money off of you if you didn’t produce the page views.

    While I do like many of the articles from reason, I cannot stand your condescending attitude and writing style.

    For this reason, I will no longer be reading any article posted by you on I don’t like giving you the page view for the the easy advertisement money.

  20. And in 20 years when their children are being radicalized by Saudi-financed mullahs, what then? That’s where we get our “home-grown” jihadists these days. And meanwhile, how many Rotherhams will we be creating? I think bringing in lots of Sunni Muslim “refugees” is fine — provided they’re settled solely in the neighborhoods of those (like you) who support bringing them in. I hope the women in your life all like covering up even in summer.

  21. The DESPICABLE writer said :
    Sheldon Richman
    February 19 ?
    Maybe it’s refreshing to hear those who aspire to build a state labeled “terrorists.” It’s progress.

    In his FUGGED up mind, it’s PROGRESS when TERRORISTS establish a STATE, so BRING IN THE TERRORISTS so they can do here what they’re doing in Iraq and Syria – SCUM!

  22. Your FATHER was RIGHT, your Grandfather and you are/were IDIOTS!

  23. Certainly a liberal article promoting the immigration of the worst type of humanity into the US. Not all these Syrians are Muslims or muslim terrorists. But considering that just being muslim means you like terrorism, you like slavery, you will not listen to laws that are not muslim, and any lie about your religion or intentions is OK by Islam, should make these useless people persona non grata in any free country. The Syrian president is trying to kill them for a reason, which I haven’t seen or investigated yet. I suspect it is being radical muslim, not for being good citizens of Syria.

    1. Mm,

      Not being good citizens to a dictator means in this case, a choice between attacking ISIS rebels or non ISIS rebels. Assad decides that his best non good citizens to attack are the non ISIS rebels, who he has been strafing, sniping, mortaring and dropping barrel bombs on. Some of whom are the 5 that were left a week or two ago from a clump we spent a pile of money to train. We’ve dropped that plan-now we just give weapons to non-ISIS groups the CIA recommends.

      By doing that, Assad, Putin (using ground attack jets), and Iran (using Irans own spec-ops troops and many proxy Hezbollah troops from Lebanon) keep ISIS strong in Syria, but not strong enough to defeat him-not as long as Russia and Iran support him. And as he attacks one group, we and our gang (Barry says we got 64 countries in our gang! Gosh! So there, Putin!) are more focused on ISIS. So no, Mn, Syria isn’t a reasonable dictator punishing bad citizens. He’s like his dad, a dictator willing to slaughter rebels along with whoever is around the rebels he aims at. And between them, he and Putin seem able to play Barry like a harmonica.

  24. Apparently Reason is so down with refugees that they’re taking in refugees from Kos.

  25. Those who insist that urging any sort of caution on refugees is succumbing to “fear” should have no problem with the government treating them as de facto citizens. The refugees who want to be released into the general population upon arrival should be granted their wish. All refugees should be able to drive, purchase guns for self defense, or walk out of refugee camps or apply to any school without the government tailing them anywhere. They should be able to attend mosques ran by radical imams – right?

    Obviously the left won’t like any of this. Their courage is derived from the assumption that the government will stash them at a makeshift community (at least temporarily) and that the refugees will go through further screening as they integrate themselves into societies. And for all their praise of the educated status of the refugees, they’re convinced that most of the refugees will be locked into poorer ethnic enclaves.

    And if thousands of refugees actually started to take middle class jobs in states with high Muslim population (they won’t voluntarily go to places like Wyoming), they’ll be among the first to complain. Private businesses might hire more guest workers under the “pretext” of hiring skilled individuals from nations stricken with poverty and strife and the left won’t have any meaningful counterarguments.

  26. The most humane response to the refugee crisis would be to resettle the refugees elsewhere in the Middle East. The data I have seen suggests that resettling a refugee in the Middle East costs a tenth of what it does to establish that same refugee in the United States. If we simply help the refugees move outside the war zone and settle in a neighboring country, we could either provide much better support for the same number of refugees, or help ten times as many. This plan has the added benefit of leaving the refugees within their own cultural milieu, where they speak the language, eat the same food, and are already adapted to the climate.

    1. Martian,

      You nailed it. But you left out of a very well stated analysis the PC bubble/worldview that the EU & UN leadership and Obama swim around it. Angela Merkel says let all poor people who are willing to walk to Germany be welcome, and then tells the EU to share the burden. The PC UN then tells all advanced “rich” countries to also share the burden. Obama says “Yes! It’s who we are!”

      Sadly, Martian, none of the Repub candidates are noting your option, and are instead only playing the “hidden radical Islamist inside of the innocent migrant” card.” Please, call someone you know who knows someone who knows Trump, Rand, or one of the others, and read your post to them. If they say that, and then add “and there’s also that maybe terrorist thing, too. Mainly its much better to do it over there, than here.” So yeah, please make that call.

  27. It’s nice that Sheldon has no fear of Islamic migrants coming our way.Too bad we can’t p;lace him in the locale when their terrorist act begins.Everyone knows thatit’s impossible to identify terorists amongt the migrants crowds. Several intelligence souces froma variety of countries (including ours) has said what Sheldon refuses to believe – that ISIS terrorists can easilt come intothis country with Syrian migranst. There is no earthly reason for this country to receive these people in the first place. It is our doings that they have beed forced to flee from ISIS. Sheldon is an increbly naiive person who is obviously not qualified to even have an opinion on this matter. Only clueless Reason gives air time to incompetents like him.

    1. Require Richman to reside in the Detroit area, say Hamtramck, for the rest of his miserable life. Michigan alone has received over 600,000 “refugees” from Mexico, the Middle East, and other parts unknown. Can we say “no mas, we’ve done our part” already? My guess is the shit stain that is Richman will live out his life comfortably well clear of any “refugee” group. And no, dipping gruel once a year at the soup kitchen doesn’t count.

      How about mandating EVERY neighborhood, from Dearborn to Chevy Chase and Carmel must assume, feed, shelter and police it’s own personal ghetto? No more refugees until Beverly Hills builds and fills a tenement.

  28. It isn’t the security issue that bugs me really. Yes after hearing the FBI basically admit that due to the state of the Syrian government they really can’t vet these people I was a little concerned. However my issue and something the boils my Libertarian blood is this is once again a case of My Good Old Uncle Sam forcing me to do something that if asked I most likely would have done. They are going to force settle these refugees in communities and then force the local and state governments to support them. Take education for example they will drop say 30-40 families into a community and then tell the local school district “Hey by the way make sure these kids get their English as a Second language training or we will fine you.” I without a vote will be forced to pay for that. Most likely it will be at the cost of other programs. I wanna know how many refugees will be placed in Dick Durbin’s or San Fran Nan’s neighborhood?

  29. So you fucking pay for them, Sheldon.

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  31. I wouldn’t mind letting the ISIS-infiltrated Syrians into the country, as long as they all congregate in Sheldon’s neighborhood. Aren’t too many fools dumber than Sheldon. Over the wekend, yet another goct security official decalred it totaly impossible to vet the migrants. MAybe they should ask Sheldon how that would be done.
    I’m sure a bright guy like SHeldon knows all about identifying phony migrants.

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