Are Hispanic Immigrants America's Best Defense Against Tyranny?

They may be friends of the welfare state but they are enemies of the police state just as Madison intended.


One reason Republicans, the self-proclaimed guardians of limited government, typically cite for not wanting more

Hispanics Love America
Ray_from_LA / / CC BY

Hispanics in the U.S. is their affinity for big government. But conservatives need to look in the mirror: Given the rise of Donald Trump, the greatest danger of big government would not be the Democratic welfare state, but the Republican police state. And Hispanics might be the group best positioned to deny him his vision.

It is true that Hispanics are no great friends of limited government. Polls show that 34 percent more Hispanics support a "big government that provides more services" than the general public. This has prompted The Manhattan Institute's Heather MacDonald to all but call Hispanics the enemies of economic freedom who would lead to the demise of limited government. (Other conservative restrictionists likewise worry that immigrants from non-Western countries or non-liberal democracies will erode the national consensus against a meddlesome government.)

But pointing fingers at the ideological impurity of immigrants betrays a stunning lack of appreciation for the architecture of American pluralism erected by James Madison. For starters, Hispanics are hardly the only ones susceptible to the allure of big government handouts. Using government to extract special favors is a natural human tendency against which Americans, despite nearly 250 years of a constitutionally constrained government, haven't been immunized.

Family value conservatives want special tax breaks for nuclear families. Millennials want government censorship of speech to create "safe spaces." Corporations want subsides to pad their bottom lines. The GOP's white working class base, even more than the Democratic union vote, wants restrictions on trade to protect their jobs. (Over 10 percent more Republicans than Democrats said this summer that free trade has hurt the country. Nor was this a temporary surge of anti-Obama animus. More Republicans have been showing antipathy to trade than Democrats for the last 15 years.)

But Madison foresaw the eternal demands for such government interventionism. Indeed, in his Federalist 10 he noted that so long as the "reason of man [remains] fallible and he is at liberty to exercise it," powerful factions will try to secure their interests by using the strong arm of government. However, the solution wasn't, in his view, to "give every citizen the same opinion" (presumably either through the ideological indoctrination of native-born Americans or an ideological litmus test for foreign-born Americans). It was the opposite: Expand the republic's size and population in order to "multiply the factions."

"Freedom arises from the multiplicity of sects which pervades America," he remarked elsewhere.

This great diversity wouldn't be able to stop every advance of government every time. Federal spending, after all, has increased from about 2 percent of the GDP in Madison's time to 20 percent now. But it would make it harder for demagogues to command a permanent majority for enduring mischief.

This is exactly the role that Hispanics, along with other immigrants, might play against Trump.

In a few short months, Trump has vastly grown America's appetite for draconian government. He has proposed rounding up millions of undocumented Latinos and evicting them en masse. He is determined to close mosques. He wants to massively expand surveillance of Americans and has even flirted with issuing identification cards to Muslims, a blanket ban on Muslims entering the country, and "taking out" not just terrorists but their families as well. "Trump's proposals have gone from overt prejudice to things literally taken out of late Weimar history," as The Week columnist Ryan Cooper has noted.

Regardless of who eventually becomes the GOP nominee, he or she will have a very hard time yanking all the red meat that Trump has dangled before the Republican base. Ben Carson, another presidential candidate not distinguished by his sobriety on policy issues, has endorsed Trump's call for monitoring mosques and churches. He is having second thoughts about Trump's suggestion to create a special national registry for Muslims, but thinks that one for all immigrants would be a swell idea. Other Republican candidates might hate Trump's guts, but that doesn't mean that they can ignore his poisonous prescriptions. There is no doubt that his presence has forced them to harden their stance against immigrants, "welfare-mooching" Hispanics, Syrian refugees, and Muslims. If Republicans take control of the White House while holding on to both houses of Congress in this sulfurous climate, an ugly government crackdown can hardly be ruled out, especially should there be another terrorist attack on American soil.

But Latinos are well positioned to thwart the Republican bid for the presidency and save America from itself. They came out in droves in swing states and defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 after his tough talk against them. Republicans will need Latinos even more badly in the 2016 election, since Latinos will constitute an even larger share of the voting-age public. (Some credible estimates suggest that Republicans will need 42 to 47 percent of the Latino vote, in contrast to George Bush's 40 percent, to win the White House). But it is hard to see any scenario, even one where Marco Rubio is the nominee, in which they can pull that kind of Latino support after their far nastier tone in this primary.

The reason that FDR got away with his mass internment of Japanese Americans in World War II was that the foreign born made up less than 7 percent of the population then. Now they are close to 13 percent. This makes them a more formidable electoral force against government excesses, just as Madison had envisioned.

Madison was much too realistic to simply rely on an ideological commitment to limited government to limit government. He put his faith in pluralism and a diverse electorate to check the tyranny of the majority. To the extent that a strong immigrant presence adds factions against such tyranny, it strengthens—not weakens—his scheme, restrictionist fear-mongering notwithstanding.

This column originally appeared in The Week.

NEXT: Trump Calls for Complete End to Muslim Immigration [UPDATED]

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  1. Weirdly, some people aren't any more sprung for the idea of a Clinton Democratic presidency than a Trump Republican presidency. That Hispanics, whom the author acknowledges largely support a more expansive government, will self-interestedly hand the election to the Democratic candidate isn't all that reassuring to someone who isn't a Democrat. If we are to suspend disbelief that Shikha is anything other than a team shill, it would probably be best to her partisan cheerleading from The Week separate from her ostensibly libertarian work at Reason.

    1. Yeah, I was going to comment much the same. You know, people can see both Trump and Clinton as tyrants.

  2. The welfare stare and the police state are two necessary sides of the same damn coin. Dalmia's idiocy, along with Chapman's and Richman's, are prime examples of why Reason aren't reaching their donation goals.

    1. I was pretty much going to say the same thing. Welfare-Warfare are connected at the hip and always have been. Blood and soil, baby, blood and soil..

      1. A police state is much worse than a welfare state. It's not even up for discussion. Welfare doesn't bash anyone's head in.

        1. They welfare state needs the police state to exist (and vice versa). It's not a question of "either/or" but a question of "yes/no".

        2. welfare states require the police state to keep everyone in line

        3. Welfare doesn't bash anyone's head in.

          Here is a man who has never fallen behind in his taxes.

          1. "Here is a man who has never fallen behind in his taxes."

            Yeah, I was expecting comments like these. See my comment below. Both welfare and the police state require coercive theft of property to finance. However, at that point, welfare is done fucking your shit up. The police state is just getting started. Welfare is like getting beat up once, while the police state is like getting beat up repeatedly, with weapons bought using your stolen money.

            1. The welfare state is built on thievery, but the police state is built on slavery. They're both bad, but I would agree the police state is worse, up to a certain point. Obviously, if you go full communist, there isn't any difference at all...

  3. They may be friends of the welfare state

    But don't you write at least an article a week claiming that this isn't true?

  4. An expanding welfare state negates liberty as much (if not more so) than an expansive police state. The former incurs an incalculable loss of economic opportunity that affects everyone whether they know it or not.

    1. Exactly, and in some ways it's worse. As you rightly point out, a police state's easy to spot. With a welfare state, the loss of liberty is often hard to spot and many people are unable to recognize it. When the welfare state necessarily progresses to the police state, though, people catch on but then, of course, it's too late.

    2. Exactly. And keep in mind that a welfare state demands a police state, and not necessarily vice versa. With a welfare state, a police state will still be needed to fill the coffers. It's easy for the Left to forget that Eric Garner's death is the result of their tax shakedown schemes.

      1. ...a welfare state demands a police state...

        Precisely. Thinking you can have one without the other is an astounding level of derp.

    3. I'm not getting the crux of that argument, either, that supporting one wing of big govt is somehow better than supporting the other.

      1. Don't strain your brain trying to figure it out. It's Shikhatown. She's probably just getting "ready for Hillary."

    4. "An expanding welfare state negates liberty as much (if not more so) than an expansive police state. The former incurs an incalculable loss of economic opportunity that affects everyone whether they know it or not."

      I strongly disagree. A police state is worse because it destroys peoples' earning potential and actually forces people onto welfare. There are a lot of black Americans in this country who are effectively unemployable because of victimless crimes that have been deemed by the state to be felonies on the order of aggravated assault. People aren't beaten to death or shot by welfare payments and those are greater infringements on liberty than the progressive income tax.

      1. Try not paying your taxes for a few years or deciding on your own initiative that you deserve to be in a lower tax bracket, then get back to us. The agents of the state won't be carrying supersoakers when they knock down your door and arrest you.

        1. This is a feature of funding either program: police state or welfare. However, the police state then sea those stolen funds for further violations of rights. Thus, welfare hurts you once, while the police state hurts you twice.

          1. *then uses

      2. A police state is worse because it destroys peoples' earning potential and actually forces people onto welfare. There are a lot of black Americans in this country who are effectively unemployable because of victimless crimes that have been deemed by the state to be felonies on the order of aggravated assault.

        This is absolutely true of course. And I'd say police states are ultimately incompatible with free-market societies because of things like this, etc.

        But, ceteris paribus, if one had to choose between two mutually exclusive hypothetical conditions?political freedom from a police state vs. economic freedom from a welfare state?then I'd tend to argue that one's liberty will be better guaranteed over the longer term by the latter.

        Consider that in a society with high economic freedom, barriers to entry for employment wouldn't so high and having a felony drug record wouldn't matter so much. And that you'd see more entrepreneurialism and investment in lower-income areas. Eventually the people living there would have money, power, and influence of their own. And the police would likely treat them a lot better as a result.

      3. And the welfare state destroys earning potential for generations.

        Note that there isn't even a real definition of a police state in the article other than the usual open borders argument, which is the typical Shikha disingenuity. Left unsaid is the Democratic police state that will accompany their welfare state. No you may not smoke or eat ehat you want. No you are not free to speak your mind. No you may not rape Mother Gaia, i.e. drive a car. And so on.

    5. The former incurs an incalculable loss of economic opportunity that affects everyone whether they know it or not.

      I agree, but remember we're dealing with seen vs. unseen effects here. The police state is seen, while the lost economic opportunity tends to be largely unseen. Unfortunately a lot of people vote based on what is seen.

      The bigger problem with this article is that Shikha seems to be incorrectly assuming that the Democraps don't support both a police state and a welfare state. They want both (as do the Republicunts). The only difference is at the margins and which "others" are going to end up under their bootheels.

  5. Whatever the merits of a loose immigration policy may be, saying that an immigrant group's politics are contrary to American tradition but other groups that cannot be prevented from participating in US politics also suck is not really an argument for letting the first group do so. In fact it may strengthen the argument to not let them in.

  6. The bottom line is what constitutes liberty in America differs from the rest of the world. While universally people desire to be free the irony is no nation in the history of the world actually put it pen to paper. It's not surprising for such people the default position is 'big government'. It's all they know. They don't have notions of liberty found in the United States nor do they have a legacy of literature pointing to it. Europe had it but has long abandoned it so that torch passed off to America remains firmly in its hands - precarious it may be at the moment. Europe has 'redefined' liberty as being 'free' from having to pay for things thus (perhaps unwittingly) creating a gigantic supra-national welfare apparatus.

    Nor do they seem to be aware of it because whenever I see pop stars say things like 'Paris is free' (liberte) as Bono did, it makes me wonder how anyone could think France is free when our conception (classical liberal) of freedom is considered.

    1. Bono means that France doesn't worship the Pope as much as Ireland.

  7. "Freedom arises from the multiplicity of sects which pervades America," [Madison] remarked elsewhere.

    I doubt very much that, thinking upon the multiplicity of sects of make up America, he would have given much credence to those sects that are comprised almost entirely of people who mooch off the welfare state.

    1. The Balkans, Lebanon and Caucasus are well known for having a multiplicity of sects in their population, yet somehow they are not well know for freedom and peace.

      1. India is also a place which has multiplicity of sects in their population created the Cast system to keep those sects undercontrol

  8. But Latinos are well positioned to thwart the Republican bid for the presidency and save America from itself. They came out in droves in swing states and defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 after his tough talk against them.

    remind me how well defeating Romney turned out, and how voting Dem saves America from itself. Could this be much more Team-based?

    1. Yeah, I used to think the accusations of Shikha being a COZMO/ TEAM BLUE shill were a little harsh, given that she mostly just an open borders fanatic. But after reading that sentence, I really don't see how anyone could conclude anything other than "TEAM BLUE shill."

  9. So, how long until the usual suspects show up to chide the "yokels" who doubt the wisdom that is Shikha for their wrongthink?

  10. Dalmia never disappoints. As if you can be a friend of the welfare state but an enemy of the police state. How can you have a "big government that provides more services" without a lot of men with guns to take peoples' money away from them?

    1. By allowing the central bank to flood the economy with funny money.

  11. He has proposed rounding up millions of undocumented Latinos and evicting them en masse.

    Also called "enforcing existing law."

    But Latinos are well positioned to thwart the Republican bid for the presidency and save America from itself. They came out in droves in swing states and defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 after his tough talk against them.

    Wow, that worked out great. So electing Hillary (or Sanders!) will save America? Hahahahaha.

    Tell me another one, Dalmia. Your crazy stories are always entertaining.

  12. After admitting they lean towards wefare big goverment (and most importantly very little assimilation - it seems every month another of my cable channels switches to Spanish only - I went to Rottom Tomatoes to review some movies and the first five reviews (top of the list) were all in Spanish) etc. etc. was there any REASON to continue on with this drivel that referenced James (limited Government) Madison?

    1. I went to Rottom Tomatoes to review some movies and the first five reviews (top of the list) were all in Spanish)

      I wouldn't read too much into that. The internet is aka "the World Wide Web" afterall, and movie studios release movies all over the world including Spanish speaking nations like Mexico.

      That said, Dalmia's an idiot when it comes to her open borders fanaticism.

  13. I am a white natural born citizen and was raised in the South. I have an immigration plan ( Ha Ha doesn't everyone). Open our borders with Mexico after they seal their southern border. Open our borders with Canada. Stop all immigration from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Deport all Wahabi muslins and put a wreaking ball to their Mosques. Stop ALL trade with any country that sponser terrorism. Get the hell out of NATO as long as Turkey is in it. Kick the United Nations off US soil. Form an alliance with Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Mexico and Australia. And for goodness sake stop sticking our nose in everyone's business. PS I would rather pay $10.00 a gal for gas than buy a drop of all from the middleeast. Just my 2 cents

    1. I would rather pay $10.00 a gal for gas than buy a drop of all from the middleeast

      It doesn't matter where you buy your oil. It's a world economy for that product. If you bought all your oil from the US (now an oil exporter), it wouldn't affect any middle eastern countries in the slightest - other countries would buy it instead.

  14. The only part Trump has right about immigration is we should have our military round up all gang members and deport them to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

    1. Imagine that... America with no cops.

  15. But Latinos are well positioned to thwart the Republican bid for the presidency and save America from itself.

    Given the Democrap option will be either Shrillary - possibly the most openly corrupt politician to ever seek the presidency, - or Bernie Sanders* - an actual no-shit socialist - I don't think there's anything that can "save America from itself." No matter who wins, we lose, liberty loses, and the small government experiment will be over and declared a "failure" by progtard historians. Stick a fork in it, it's over.

    *I saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker the other day (on a Subaru Outback, natch). I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

    1. I always point at stupid politician bumper stickers and say, "Well there's your problem!"

  16. "They may be friends of the welfare state but they are enemies of the police state just as Madison intended."

    So the taxes to support that welfare will be collected by nice people with wiffle-bats?
    Sorry, you can't have one without the other.

    1. The Grinch beat me by nearly 3 hours - late to the party again.

    2. Right. People who are friends of the Welfare state will be enemies of the people who collect the money to fund that Welfare state.

  17. Hispanics will assimilate like other immigrant populations before them. No worries. The US isn't going to be Europe, especially if we cut back on welfare as a lifestyle.

  18. Just checking in. Yup. Reason Mag is just as sterile and irrelevant as I remember.

    Let's tally it up: a few Republicans want to disrespect a poem that someone pasted to Lady Liberty 20 years after she was commissioned and the Democrats want to take away our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 14th amendment rights so that can keep tabs on the terrorists that this poem requires them to admit.

    So that's about a wash right?

    Granted there is nothing in the constitution or our tradition that requires us to admit immigrants but somehow not admitting and legalizing 1) an unknown number of terrorists mixed in with refugees and 2) 20 million illegals and relatives selected based on their willing to break the law and distinguished by their preference for free-shit over free-dom is an act of unspeakable tyranny.

    This reminds me of the OSS manual for sabotage in countries occupied by the Nazis: Demand perfection for relatively unimportant items. If I wanted to push the US further down the road of authoritarianism, I'd do exactly what the open borders crowd is doing and insist that the highest libertarian priority is allowing anti-libertarians voter into the country based on my superior and high-minded standards of freedom.

  19. The Latinos could have voted for libertarian or independents when Obama admitted to torturing people. Or when they found out what the NSA did and saw firsthand the refugee crisis created by Obama's foreign policy. But they didn't. Enemies of the police state?

    For libertarians advocates of open borders, Latinos could be considered as "enemies of my enemies are my friends". But that would be like saying OWS stands with libertarians because they sort of pay lip service to big government. At the end, their objective is the polar opposite of what libertarians want. Their opposition to Trump's bad immigration policy merely happen to overlap with their hostility to the GOP brand and the concept of limited government.

    And Latinos are a little more than "friends of the welfare state". Enough of them are European style nationalists and stealth socialists. And loyal democrat partisans. If the nation is hit big time by ISIS and Clinton "evolves" on certain civil liberties issues, 70% of them will vote for her, just as most conservatives will vote for Trump to keep her out. It's all a game.

    1. Re: XM,

      But they didn't.

      What did you expect Latinos to do when the Republi-rats continuously spewed the lie that immigrants "Take 'Em Er Jebz!"?

      Enough of them are European style nationalists and stealth socialists.

      I don't know what you mean with 'Enough of them' but most just want to work and be left alone. The Demo-rats pay lip service to amnesty and immigration, we know that, but the Republi-rat base thinks we're vermin.

  20. Hispanics tend to vote democratic and, with their assistance, we may as well kiss the second amendment goodbye as well as numerous other freedoms!

  21. 50 million illegal aliens here and they didnt come to assimilate...........


  22. It's a nice idea, but really, how is this supposed to work? Does anybody really think that merely voting is going to get rid of the Donald Trumps and the Hillary Clintons? It's the electoral process that gives us these cranks that far too many people take seriously.

  23. "Are Hispanic Immigrants America's Best Defense Against Tyranny?"


    White voters vote for republicans and libertarians 20 points over democrats in national elections. It is only through the influx of Latino immigrants that the democratic party has reminded relevant over the past 20 years.

    Moreover the libertarian argument for mass immigration is specious at best, and worse than that a mistake. When libertarians (and I am a libertarian) argue for the free movement of people what they are really arguing for is for the free movement of people to the United States. When the U.S. gives up it's greatest negotiating chip Unilaterally, immigration and naturalization to the united states, then it is almost impossible for the U.S. to negotiate reciprocal rights for it's citizens to foreign nations.

    I spend a week or two in Cabo every winter. I would seriously consider dual citizenship and like to buy a peiece of property there so I can get rid of the timeshare. This could be accomplished easily with immigration reforms made in Mexico, because the U.S. holds all the cards with some 12 million illegals remitting tens billions and billions a year to the mexican economy.

    But all we hear from Libertarians and Democrats is the necessity of immigration reform that in practice will give other nations citizens rights while we here in America gain nothing but a labor market bursting to the seems with the attendant wage collapse.

  24. People who view themselves primarily as members of a group rather than as individuals who just happen to be members of a group will tend to vote for collectivists of one sort or another. Try this test on people you know. Ask them if they are xxxx persons or persons who happens to be xxxx. Whether xxxx means "black" or "Latino" or "deaf" or "Jewish" those who identify themselves primarily as members of a group will tend to vote Democrat. Those who describe themselves primarily as people who happen to be xxxx will be more diverse in their voting.

    Relying on group identification for votes is a bad path for individualists.

  25. Neither extreme, a welfare state or a police state is acceptable and we should be looking to ensuring that neither one can be advanced further by our Federal government. When the source of power is held by a centralized government who also is the source of our currency democracy results only in allowing the people to choose an individual who ultimately becomes irrelevant if not bound by the constraints of the political party which they belong.

  26. Ah yes, Shikha "the browning of America" Dalmia never disappoints. I for one can't wait to live in our new Hispanic libertarian paradise.

    1. Um... you should try living in a tax-happy, fascist-regulatory banana republic for a while. If nothing else you will at least understand why those people face gunshots, rattlesnakes, bandits, exposure, arrest and imprisonment to escape from what Johnson and Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush have done to their countries. Were it not for the mass exportation of republican prohibitionist fascism we would be crossing the border in the other direction.

  27. dalmia is an idiot....the powerful factions that plutocrat madison wrote about were the factions of the MAJORITY...madison was rich and did not want the majority uniting and using the power of the gov't to take his money and the money of his fellow founding plutocrats. So he designed a fed govt with less democracy by enlarging the size of electoral districts to make it hard for the faction of the majority to unite.

    Which is why we need to close the border and drive out the nonwhite invaders and punish their elite collaborators.

    Now go get yer f***** shine box.

    1. unperson, your first statement insults idiots.
      For an interesting take on electoral districts, read about the amendment, first proposed to be number one, in the Bill of Rights.

      1. thanks for that link--interesting....

      2. I read the purported amendment, but the website reeks of whack-job wishful thinking, and offers no cogent argument for what they propose being true. If there is such an Amendment, maybe its proponents can convince Jon Roland at Constitution that this really happened. As presented, the thing looks like an Aliens Are Among Us site.

  28. yes latin america is a bastion of freedom and liberty

  29. LOOK GUYS, it is reason's token minority claiming "more socialist hispanics are good for you !!" article number 352

  30. I see many genius thoughts codified in the few lines of the constitution. Social/electorate-check by uncontrolled immigration is (still) not one of them.

  31. Note to foreign readers: Family Value Conservatives is code for the Ku Klux wing of the Prohibition Party, now dominating the Republican Party. Their major concern is to strip women of individual rights at the moment of biological insemination and have men with guns force them to reproduce against their will, and also to shoot and jail teenagers.

  32. Given the fact that so many Hispanics evidently tolerate living in police states all over South and Central America, I don't think they are determined-enough enemies of the police state...

    Of course, given the crazy growth of civil asset forfeiture and various other gov't abuses of power, we here in the USA aren't determined-enough enemies of the police state either.

  33. Immigrants not just hispanics tend to love welfare state as long as they have perception that they are benefiting from it..and many dont realize that they are effectively slowed down from moving up the ladder . White Americans probably vote republican as they see democrats pandering immigrants . but even if ted cruz becomes the president, the welfare state will only expand

  34. Funny how you seemed to miss the most relevant quote from Madison on immigration.

    From the notes on the constitutional convention:

    "Mr. MADISON seconded the motion. He wished to maintain the character of liberality which had been professed in all the Constitutions & publications of America. He wished to invite foreigners of merit & republican principles among us."

    See the "republican principles" part, and your own reference that Hispanics want a hugely expanded federal government in much greater percentages than the rest of the population? That would be "not republican principles".

    It's really appalling that a supposed Libertarian publication is busy propagandizing for big government lovers.

    Anything for Open Borders and to avoid being called a racist by your totalitarian Progressive buddies.

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