Terrorism

Trump Is Wrong About Terrorism and Immigration

The costs of a moratorium would far outweigh any conceivable security benefit.

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Donald Trump predictably blames "our extremely open immigration system" for Saturday's bomb attacks in New Jersey and New York City. His critique overlooks the details of this particular case as well as the general rarity of terrorism by immigrants.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the 28-year-old man police arrested on Monday in connection with the bombings, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan at the age of 7. He seems to have been radicalized within the last few years, a period when he spent nearly a year in Pakistan and became noticeably more religious and taciturn.

It is hard to imagine how the "extreme vetting" Trump advocates for immigrants from "any nation that has been compromised by terrorism" could have kept Rahami out of the country. What questions could have been posed to his parents that would have predicted his violent turn two decades later?

Trump faults his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for supporting the admission of Syrian refugees, who he says pose an unacceptable risk of terrorism. But according to a recent study by Cato Institute immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh, "the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year."

Trump has recommended "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on"—a plan that his own running mate called "offensive and unconstitutional." More recently Trump has said the moratorium should apply to all visitors from countries "compromised by terrorism," a category that arguably includes most of the world.

Some pundits favor a cleaner approach. "Confronted with the threat of Islamic terrorism," Nowrasteh notes, "well-known conservatives like Larry Kudlow, David Bossie, and Ann Coulter have called for a complete moratorium on immigration."

A broad moratorium would have the advantage of preventing all terrorist attacks by newly admitted immigrants. But it would also exclude more than 1 million innocent people each year it was in effect, at a huge economic cost. Nowrasteh cites estimates ranging from $35 billion to $229 billion a year.

Nowrasteh reports that tourists accounted for 94 percent of deaths caused by foreign-born terrorists in the United States from 1975 through 2015. Including tourists in the moratorium would raise the annual cost by another $194 billion or so.

Given the rarity of deaths caused by terrorism, Nowrasteh shows, such costs cannot possibly be justified. Based on a value of $15 million per life, he puts "the combined human, property, business, and economic costs" of attacks by foreign-born terrorists during the 41-year period covered by his study at $5.3 billion annually, which is "far less than the minimum estimated yearly benefit of $229.1 billion from immigration and tourism."

Even that calculation overestimates the potential security benefit of cutting off immigration, since it is dominated by the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, an anomalous event that is unlikely to be replicated. The 9/11 attacks (which were perpetrated not by naturalized citizens or by refugees but by visitors with tourist or student visas) account for 99 percent of the 3,024 deaths caused by foreign-born terrorists from 1975 through 2015.

Excluding 9/11, the overwhelming majority of terrorist murders in the United States—more than 90 percent—have been committed by native-born Americans. Except for 2001, the risk of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist has been minuscule and flat for more than four decades.

That risk is extremely low even if you include 9/11: about 1 in 3.6 million per year. You are more than 200 times as likely to die in a traffic accident, 20 times as likely to be killed by falling down stairs, and four times as likely to drown in a bathtub.

Any politician who wants to impose large costs in response to such a tiny risk has a lot of explaining to do.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. “What questions could have been posed to his parents that would have predicted his violent turn two decades later?”

    1. Are you from Afghanistan?

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    2. 2. Are you a Muslim?

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    4. 2. Have you recently spent nearly a year in Pakistan?
      3. When you came back were you noticeably more religious and taciturn?
      4. Do you ever fantasize about killing a lot of infidels?
      5. Suppose I ripped up this copy of the Koran in front of you — would you believe you were justified in cutting off my head?

  2. Do any libertarians actually work here anymore?
    –> “General rarity of terrorism by immigrants” –> But not general frequency of immigrants in terrorism
    –> “1 million immigrants = $229 Billion economic benefit per year” –> $229K per immigrant. Hmm…. No, immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc, do not add $229K/person to our economy. They’d be lucky to be net positive.
    –> “impose large costs in response to such a tiny risk” -> It’s actually no costs (ie. “no immigrants from a handful of 3rd world countries”) vs huge risks to life and liberty – both general and in terms of civil rights encroachments like TSA, DHS, gun control, etc.

    1. But…..but……..open borders!!!!!!! NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!

    2. “Do any libertarians actually work here anymore?”

      It’s pushing a narrative and picking the facts to support it. A good article could have been written here and Trump’s approach probably won’t work. But this article doesn’t make a very compelling case.

    3. Do any libertarians actually work here anymore?

      John Stossel, Judge Andrew Napolitano, David Harsanyi……. I think that’s pretty much the entire list left.

    4. Exactly – the only way you can claim “costs” by excluding 3rd world immigrants and refugees is to gin up some completely arbitrary and bogus numbers. I wish I could expect better from a libertarian publication.

    5. The open borders types are libertarian. The problem is that libertarianism is an imperfect ideology like all the rest. The NAP says that when a group of people move in next door and 99% are known homicidal lunatics, tough shit for you, because they aren’t on your property and haven’t attacked you (yet) and regardless, taking pre-emptive action to expel them would be violating the rights of the other 1%.

      1. That is, libertarianism is pretty workable for intracommunity relations, but Hobbes often dominates intercommunity relations. And in avoiding collectivism, libertarians often blind themselves to the very existence of communities, and just see a collection of individuals. One might as well argue there is no libertarian, but a collection of cells related by DNA.

      2. A true open borders supporter needs to be an anarchist, because you can’t have completely open borders and a nation-state.

      3. If someone is a “known homicidal maniac,” then it wouldn’t take much vetting to weed them out, now would it?

      4. The NAP is like the Federation’s Prime Directive: A bunch of unrealistic unworkable unenforceable stupid assklown bullshit, but, it sounds good as a dramatic device.

    6. “impose large costs in response to such a tiny risk”

      I smell ‘not giving is taking’ here. Is this the same cost that government entities incur by not collecting extra tax money?

      What a load of horseshit.

      1. It really is fucking ridiculous, especially since libertarians are supposed to be economically literate, and this is nominally a libertarian publication.

    7. Good question. But if you want to bring in millions of mostly illiterate and uneducated Muslims from anywhere, you might not be a libertarian. Or not a particularly bright or well informed libertarian. The concept of “libertarian” is a joke in Islam. Sharia is incompatable with liberty and the experiment has been run several times in Europe and its been a dismal failure. Muslims don’t immigrate to assimilate, but to spread Islam. Wish it weren’t so, but it is. Don’t shoot the messengers. We are the people who want womens rights, gay rights and liberty in perpetuity. We won’t strike moral poses now to just give away the freedoms for future generations.

    8. The idea that immigrants from any collection of countries — let alone from officially Islamic countries — amounts to $229 billion per year is beyond a joke. It’s insulting to even suggest it. The rest of the figures in the article are just as ludicrous.

    9. Yeah, what is this garbage they speak? Who doubts that the net benefit of immigrants from Islamic countries is extremely negative? Indonesia might provide net positive benefit, but besides them, who else?

  3. while some of the muslim terrorists were born here, they have parents who immigrated…thus restricting immigration of muslims will prevent future terrorists from being born in America

    Jacob, how many muslims should we allow in ? 150,000 or 500,000 or 7,500,000 ? 15,000,000
    If you answer less than 15,000,000 you are being a restrictionist

    1. The west has what appears to be a unique problem with Muslims, in that not only are they not assimilating into their new western countries, but in fact REVERSE assimilation appears to be taking place, where the first generation of kids born in the new country is actually more embittered, hostile, alienated, fanatic, and radicalized than the parents who immigrated there in the first place. Which of course is precisely the opposite of how this is supposed to work and almost always works with every other culture in the world.

      1. Their parents made the decision to come to the West, their kids did not and when they look for an identity some look back to their home country, religion, culture.

        Even for the parents during the big immigration flood of the late 19th and early 20th century many of the immigrants went home or stayed in their own little neighborhoods so the myth that everyone converted is wrong. And that was at a time when there was deliberate forceful policy to make people Americanize. Now we have a policy of multiculturalism and bringing in many people from far more different cultures then previously

        1. Of course in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants who wouldn’t or couldn’t assimilate were not supported by a vast welfare state and SJW enabling. Which is why something like two thirds of them ended up returning to their country of origin.

      2. I blame liberals and our school system because the second generation is taught how bad America is by Americans while their parents no the truth that their native country is a cesspool of violence and intolerance, but since when do kids listen to their parents.

      3. The problem is unique to muslims but not new. Go back and read the stuff the barbary pirates said. It reads exactly like the screeds of imams today.

    2. I just want more control over the number of children we allow born each year. They get 13 years of guaranteed welfare, don’t add anything to the economy, they grow up to vote for more government, some I assume are good people.

      1. Yes, and some of them–admittedly a very small number–go radical and kill innocent people.

        If these immigrants are a net drag on our economy and a potential danger then we shouldn’t let them in. It’s pretty simple. Open Borders? may be beneficial in many ways, but in this group it is not.

        Progressives like to say: “if it saves just one life….” I wouldn’t go that far but they like their immigrants because they cannot win elections without them and some dead people–which is another reason to limit immigration, at least until the voter fraud problem is fixed.

    3. We’re not letting you into the country because a kid you haven’t had yet with a spouse you haven’t met yet has a miniscule chance of growing up to become a terrorist a couple decades from now, assuming that the current geopolitical situation doesn’t change over that time period.

      Seems legit.

      1. There is a big disagreeance about the “miniscule” part in what you wrote, LynchPin. Funny how you just try to slip that by us. And of course the geopolitical situation will change a lot over the next few decades, and the last thing real Americans want is it to change further in the direction of totalitarian Sharia Law policies.

    4. How many native-born Americans will grow up to be murderers?

      1. How you deal with current citizens is vastly different than how you handle non-citizens. We can not deport citizens so it would stand to reason to not introduce more issues by installing new citizens where you have control over the issue.

  4. What if the government stopped bombing Muslim countries and stopped actively bringing in refugees from said countries? I bet that would save a lot of money and make the whole world safer. In the meantime who honestly thinks America will not go downhill if the Muslim population keeps increasing?

    1. I think whether America goes downhill or not has almost no relation to the size of the Muslim population.

      1. So there is no difference between a majority Muslim country and one which is not?

        1. America isn’t even anywhere close to becoming a majority Muslim country and there is not plausible scenario under which it would become one.

      2. As demonstrated by the effect of the large Muslim populations in Germany, France, England, Sweden, etc. Nope, no new problems there.

        1. Those countries have been going downhill for a while and will continue to do so at almost the exact same rate for almost the exact same reasons even if they magically never had one Muslim immigrant in their entire history.

          Guys, seriously, these attacks themselves are, in the aggregate, not that consequential. The political influence of Muslim immigrants is not, in the aggregate, that consequential. On an individual basis, sure, it’s maximally consequential for the victims, but then you have to stop talking about countries going downhill or national interests, since those inherently smooth over individual effects (to the extent they can be defined in the first place). If Sharia law is preferred by a community of immigrants then sure, it’s consequential within that enclave. But if it doesn’t conflict with existing civil law and the participation is voluntary, then I don’t have a problem with as a dispassionate libertarian observer. If it conflicts with civil law or participation is involuntary, then by all means bring the hammer down. But we have mechanisms in place for dealing with that.

          The response of the population or the political system can be consequential, but that rests with us, as individuals and groups of individuals.

          1. I am sure the thousands of victims of Muslim terror attacks and their families are comforted to know that you do not consider their deaths consequential.

            Those countries have been going downhill for a while and will continue to do so at almost the exact same rate for almost the exact same reasons even if they magically never had one Muslim immigrant in their entire history.

            Assertion without evidence. Are you really trying to claim there have been no significant negative effects in those countries having to do with the Muslim population? Really?

            1. I am sure the thousands of victims of Muslim terror attacks and their families are comforted to know that you do not consider their deaths consequential.

              I explicitly stated that it was maximally consequential to the individual victims.

              Are you really trying to claim there have been no significant negative effects in those countries having to do with the Muslim population?

              No, which is why I added the modifier “almost”. But Western Europe’s woes are largely tied to its political and economic institutions and to the disincentives they create for increasing material prosperity and intellectual dynamism, as well as larger cultural forces that are abandoning the lessons of the enlightenment. The impact of Muslim immigrants in those areas is very small. The largest impacts are caused by people’s reactions to Muslim immigrants more than the actions of those immigrants themselves.

              Of course this is largely speculation and assertion since we can’t run a controlled experiment with two different historical paths for the world at large. The exact same point can be made about your assertions regarding the negative impacts of Muslim immigration. I think my assertions are grounded in better logic and better supported by what data is available.

              1. larger cultural forces that are abandoning the lessons of the enlightenment. The impact of Muslim immigrants in those areas is very small.

                Another speculation as to the impact of Muslims. To be fair, it could be that facilitating the large influx of Muslims is a symptom rather than a cause of the abandonment of enlightenment principles. Either way, the effect is not positive.

                Of course this is largely speculation and assertion since we can’t run a controlled experiment with two different historical paths for the world at large. The exact same point can be made about your assertions regarding the negative impacts of Muslim immigration. I think my assertions are grounded in better logic and better supported by what data is available.

                Fair enough, although Muslim populations have demonstrably increased terrorist attacks. It basically comes down to cost v. benefit. The cost of not excluding is more terrorist attacks, deaths, maimings, etc. The benefits of not excluding are nil, as we lose nothing by excluding Muslims while allowing others to immigrate.

                1. It basically comes down to cost v. benefit. The cost of not excluding is more terrorist attacks, deaths, maimings, etc. The benefits of not excluding are nil, as we lose nothing by excluding Muslims while allowing others to immigrate.

                  If you are making a utilitarian argument (and I guess you are). But I don’t think you can say that we lose nothing my excluding Muslims. As long as we are talking about hypothetical, low probability events, it makes sense to consider the hypothetical, low probability Muslim that might invent a cure for some form of cancer or make a breakthrough in fusion power or something else if they had access to the educational opportunities in the west.

                  1. As long as we are talking about hypothetical, low probability events, it makes sense to consider the hypothetical, low probability Muslim that might invent a cure for some form of cancer or make a breakthrough in fusion power

                    Which of these “low probability events” has happened so far, and at what frequency per year?

                    a) Muslim cures major disease
                    b) Muslim causes paradigmatic shift in engineering principles
                    c) Muslim successfully undertakes terror attack

                    You quantify low probability events by multiplying probability by whatever the cost/benefit would be. Based on my highly uneducated accounting of where Muslim thought is on such things, I highly doubt that P(Muslim cures major disease) is anywhere near high enough to outweigh the damage caused by P(Muslim successfully undertakes terror attack), but if it is we can certainly limit the latter without damage to the former by not importing any uneducated/unskilled Muslims to our country.

        2. The EU stipulates rather large benefits and payments especially to “refugees” if they make it across the border. Much worse than even our relatively easy to game welfare system.

          There should only be two issues with anyone applying to immigrate … do they have any communicable and chronic diseases and do they have a criminal history, and two issues once they’re in … can they support themselves and are they law abiding, either one of which should be grounds for deportation.

        1. But, think of the enormous cost if those people weren’t here! Literally hundreds of billions!!11!!!!

    2. considering Russia wasn’t bombing them and China isn’t but both those countries have problems with muslims as well and how do you explain the Muslim terrorism occuring in Africa which has never bombed them. bombing may be a part issue but in reality its a radical muslim problem.

  5. A traffic ACCIDENT is an accident.

    Stairs and bathtubs are not actively trying to kill you.

    There is agency involved in terrorist murder–stop acting as if it’s sheer chance. Someone plans, acts, and kills.

    And we know what a huge part of the planning starts with. The Quran. We can do something about these deaths. We can’t stop accidents.

    1. Stairs and bathtubs are not actively trying to kill you.

      Sure, because we allow them to live here. If there was a country full of stairs and bathtubs and we didn’t allow them to emigrate freely their feelings would be so hurt they would have no choice but to lash out.

  6. “He seems to have been radicalized within the last few years, a period when he spent nearly a year in Pakistan and became noticeably more religious and taciturn.”

    You have to love how journalists always use the passive voice when discussing radicalization. The question is radicalized by whom? Why don’t we hold them responsible for their beliefs, instead of denying agency and implying that they were simply brainwashed? In any event, that he immigrated to the U.S. at age 7 and then “became radicalized” should indicate that we should be extremely cautious when someone says that refugee children do not pose a threat, since they will inevitably grow up to be adults with their own beliefs about the world.

    “But it would also exclude more than 1 million innocent people each year it was in effect, at a huge economic cost. Nowrasteh cites estimates ranging from $35 billion to $229 billion a year.”

    There is absolutely no way these figures are anywhere near accurate. Borjas estimates the immigration surplus per year is about $50 billion for ALL immigrants.

    “The 9/11 attacks…account for 99 percent of the 3,024 deaths caused by foreign-born terrorists from 1975 through 2015.”

    But this is extremely dishonest. What about the attacks that were prevented? You need to factor those into the risk calculation.

    1. How many of those attacks supposedly prevented were instigated by the investigators themselves? Quite a few. How many of those attacks would have succeeded? How many people would have actually been harmed?

      The 1 million innocent people *is* all immigrants and $50 billion is more than the lowest $35 billion cited, so what’s the problem?

      A child becomes radicalized as an adult. We should have been able to predict that and therefore his parents should never have been admitted. Right. Makes lots of sense. Since anyone’s child can become a criminal, we shouldn’t allow anyone to have any children. Makes just as much sense.

  7. The Obama administration has been so opaque regarding terrorist attacks AND immigration that I don’t see how any conclusions can be drawn about either from the available data. At a minimum, enforcing existing immigration laws should cause sufficient pain to spur a drive to seriously revise them; the Democrat model of selective enforcement does nobody much good and a lot of general harm.

    Reason’s attachment to open borders has not, thus far, convinced me.

    1. Because it isnt rational.

      1. Oh, I can understand the attraction in an ideal world. Alas, the world is far from ideal, and we share a 2k mile border with a country that has not been decently governed in recorded history.

  8. I like the green skittles.

  9. It is hard to imagine how the “extreme vetting” Trump advocates for immigrants from “any nation that has been compromised by terrorism” could have kept Rahami out of the country.

    “Spent nearly a year in Pakistan” seems to be a pretty reliable predictor. Boom – imagined.

    1. It wouldn’t have kept him from coming here at age 7.

      To assess if it’s a reliable predictor, you’d have to look a larger sample of people, or even Muslim men, who spent a year in Pakistan. Maybe it is reliable, I don’t know. My guess is that it’s still not, at least not for my understanding of the word “reliable”.

      1. It wouldn’t have kept him from coming here at age 7.

        He wasn’t a terror threat at age 7.

        Anyway, I’m just spitballing. Not meant as a serious “solution”.

        1. That’s my point, though. By the time he traveled to and back from Pakistan he was already a citizen. Is Trump advocating vetting citizens and potentially denying them reentry?

          1. I think the point is that if his family had been denied entry in the first place, he wouldn’t have been here to set off bombs.

            1. That wasn’t the point, because his trip to Pakistan was directly referenced.

              And on what basis would you have denied them entry? You’re entitled to your opinion but if it’s based on collectivism or future-crime then I reject it.

              1. Based on the fact that immigrants from Muslim countries are far more likely to engage in terrorist attacks than others. This is not “future-crime” because no one is looking to level punishment on them, just deciding to not let them set up shop here. You can reject reality if you want, it’s your call.

                1. 10s, maybe 100s of Muslim immigrants have committed terrorist attacks in the US. Out of a population of 3 million. Far more likely than other populations? I guess. Still a tiny minority of the overall population of Muslims. This is like studies that say “eating [insert food here] increases your risk of cancer 100 times!”, but your risk of cancer is still miniscule. It’s an example or risk perception being totally out of line with reality. Maybe that gives you an evolutionary advantage over me. If so this should sort itself out over a few million years or so.

                  And sorry, but when you deny someone something that you would have otherwise granted them based on what they or their children might hypothetically do based solely on their country of origin and/or religion, I call that punishment.

                  1. And sorry, but when you deny someone something that you would have otherwise granted them based on what they or their children might hypothetically do based solely on their country of origin and/or religion, I call that punishment.

                    So, not giving is taking? Are you a libertarian?

                    Now that you have admitted there is in fact an increased risk of terrorist attacks with more Muslims, the point becomes a risk/reward analysis. Maybe you are willing to suffer the consequences of increased risk by bringing in more Muslims, but you do not have the right to impose that risk on everyone else. And I fail to see what the reward is.

                    1. So, not giving is taking?

                      No, but not giving when you otherwise would have is punishment.

                      Now that you have admitted there is in fact an increased risk of terrorist attacks with more Muslims

                      I’ve never denied it. The risk remains so small that it doesn’t influence my opinion on this issue.

                      you do not have the right to impose that risk on everyone else

                      Correct, and you don’t have a right to impose your preferences on me. I’m not talking about imposing anything unilaterally. I’m explaining what I think a sensible and moral approach to immigration, and in particular immigration by Muslims, ought to be. I suppose I’m imposing when I vote for someone that shares my preferences (to the extent such a person can be found), but then we all do that.

                2. The perpetrators of mass terrorist incidents have been far more likely to be long standing, multi-generational American citizens than recent immigrants. Does “Oklahoma City” ring any bells?

                  1. Does the fact that you had to reach back that far to find anything comparable to the multiple high-casualty attacks by Muslims since then mean anything to you? Terrorist attacks and mass-killings are far more common from the Muslim population than the general population, the government security agencies admit that the “refugees” can’t be effectively vetted, even Angela Merkel has admitted that the “refugees” are being used to infiltrate terrorists, yet you want to bring more of them here? What the hell is wrong with you?

  10. I’m tired of Reason’s BS. F*** your site.

    What’s the cost of 90% of Muslims being on welfare? (Also 70% of Hispanics on it).

    What’s the cost of 1/3 of them being illiterate *in their own language*, much less ours?

    The St Cloud a-hole’s parents have been here for 15 years, cant speak English.

    Who are you to downplay the cost of a single American life?

    If his parents were never allowed in, there would have been no bombing. It’s that simple.

    Give me one reason we should have a single person from the Middle East?

    1. Give me one reason we should have a single person from the Middle East?

      Because we judge people as individuals, because collectivism is evil.

      1. Why do you hate insurance companies and actuaries?

        1. I don’t, because participation is voluntary.

          1. And allowing immigration is voluntary, so it makes sense to use statistics and trends to maximize benefit and minimize risks.

      2. “Because we judge people as individuals, because collectivism is evil.”

        How do we judge individuals we’ve never seen and have no reliable information about?

    2. Who are you to downplay the cost of a single American life?

      Good point. We should definitely ban AR-15s.

      1. Immigration is not a constitutional right.

        1. Human rights don’t come from the Constitution.

          1. You don’t have a human right to immigrate to any country you please.

          2. Human rights don’t come from LynchPin1477 either.

            1. No, they are constructs within a philosophical framework with a long and proud history. And, generally speaking, freedom of movement (within the limits of others property rights) has been regarded as a human right, though I admit application of that ideal is messy and controversial when talking about things like governments and nations.

              My own approach is to draw an imperfect but useful analogy between borders controlled by a government and a property owned by a corporation. Generally speaking, shareholders vote to set policy and delegate some responsibilities to a governing body. The analogy with governments is that voters influence laws regarding border control and delegate some responsibilities to legislators and the executive.

              I’m *not* arguing for completely open borders within this framework. I’m arguing for what the laws and policies ought to be based on practical and moral libertarian considerations, and considering where reality might force some level of compromise. For a summary see my comments at 10:48 AM.

    3. Does St. Jude’s ring a bell? How about Apple? Two just off the top of my head.

      1. Right, because the likelihood of one of these “refugees” creating the next Apple is so high as to outweigh the risk of bringing over 100,000 or more of his compatriots who are actively hostile to America and to western values and culture. Logic much?

  11. any nation that has been compromised by terrorism

    Would that include the US? Seriously…we’ve had several home grown terror attacks now.

    1. Did the majority of those attacks have anything in common? Like carried by someone of a specific religion, and being 1st or 2nd generation immigrants from places where that religion is preeminent?

      1. Yes. Would you like to deport/constantly surveil/lock up all 1st or 2nd generation Muslims in the US regardless of citizenship status?

        1. Nope, that would be unconstitutional. I just want to avoid adding to the problem by bringing in more.

  12. according to a recent study by Cato Institute immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh, “the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year.”

    The old “refugee is a word which means exactly and only what I say it does” trick.

    1. Two from Chechnya in the Boston attacks, this guy, the guy in Minnesota. So it seems to me that 1 in 400M/year is too high.

      1. Do “Muslims” instead of just “refugees” and the chances go higher.

  13. Trump has proposed enforcing the existing “public charge” law on immigrants. That would’ve removed the Tsarnev and Rahami families long before their terrorist spawn reached maturity.

    1. This is actually not a bad proposal from almost any angle.

      Take migrants off the welfare rolls. Surely that’s a libertarian thing.

      Remove migrants who are at higher risk of non-assimilation and radicalization.

      To oppose this, you pretty much have to say that getting welfare is a human right.

      1. Back when I paid attention to such things, I noticed that almost every terrorist who killed a bunch of people after years of planning was on welfare. It was something like 90% I think.

        It’s not the act of charity that is destructive. It’s the guarantee that no amount of bad behavior of sloth will cause the charity to be cut off.

        1. Also destructive is that it is not seen as charity but rather as an entitlement.

      2. To oppose this, you pretty much have to say that getting welfare is a human right.

        And that’s precisely what most of current Reason’s so-called “libertarians” like Nick Gillespie believe, though it’s rare that they just directly come out and say so.

  14. Good reading on who wins and who loses with low-skilled mass immigration. Once you consider that many low-skilled immigrants also consume public benefits, the net benefits to the economy approach zero.


    Economist George Borjas: Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers

    Quote:
    … it’s not too farfetched to conclude that immigration has barely affected the total wealth of natives at all. Instead, it has changed how the pie is split, with the losers ? the workers who compete with immigrants, many of those being low-skilled Americans ? sending a roughly $500 billion check annually to the winners. Those winners are primarily their employers. And the immigrants themselves come out ahead, too. Put bluntly, immigration turns out to be just another income redistribution program.

    Once we understand immigration this way, it’s clear why the issue splits Americans ?why many low-skilled native workers are taking one side, and why immigrants and businesses are taking another.

    1. Bah, Reason’s superior commenting system strikes again. Here’s the link:

      http://www.politico.com/magazi…..obs-214216

    2. This is a terrible article. Ignoring the technical disputes that I have with his accounting, his solutions to the problem (and I actually don’t dispute his assessment from a macro perspective) would exacerbate everything that’s wrong with the current system. To wit:

      A policy that keeps [low-skilled natives] in mind might tax the agricultural and service companies that benefit so much from low-skilled immigrants, and use the money to compensate low-skilled Americans for their losses and to help them transition to new jobs and occupations. Similarly, Bill Gates claims that Microsoft creates four new jobs for every H-1B visa granted; if true, firms like Microsoft should be willing to pay many thousands of dollars for each of those coveted visas.

      So his answer to what he reads as a wealth distribution problem is to impose additional costs for firms to extricate themselves from the artificial scarcity created by Federal immigration policy, create a new federal program to further redistribute wealth, and add even more wrinkles to the tax code to benefit favored groups. Pass.

  15. If we are going to make a utilitarian argument here, fine. Just exactly what are the benefits of allowing Muslims into the country versus say Latin Americans or Chinese or African animists or Christians? What do Muslims bring to the country that those groups don’t?

    We are not talking about ending all immigration. We are talking about ending Muslim immigration. There are plenty of non Muslims who want to come here. So if we don’t let Muslims in, we can let more non Muslims in. So what benefit do we get by letting Muslims into the country? I don’t really see any. And I see a whole lot of downside.

    I don’t see Mexicans demanding religious law in this country or shooting up gay bars. I don’t see Chinese or Indian Hindus doing that either. Moreover, I can think of any number of wildly talented and productive immigrants who have come here from East Asia, Europe and Latin America. Exactly how many Nobel Prizes are Muslim immigrants winning? How many Neils Bohrs or Albert Einsteins are going to come from Syria?

    1. Open Border folks won’t be happy until the US population is over a billion and the welfare rolls are fat ‘n’ happy.

      example

      But how can open borders be optimal from a utilitarian-universalist perspective when my “billion immigrants” scenario is so dystopian? Simple: it isn’t dystopian, except from a certain historically myopic and rather unimaginative American/Western perspective that takes “democracy” as the magic word distinguishing everything good from everything bad, without thinking deeply about what the word means. My “billion immigrants” scenario does not involve widespread deprivation of real human goods like food, art, material comforts, family life, freedom of conscience and worship, health, education, truth, adventure, etc. On the contrary, it would seem to involve greater enjoyment of those things by almost everyone, native-born and foreign-born alike

      1. Basically, they think that it is the people who live here’s duty to sacrifice their standard and quality of life so that people who don’t live here can do better. That is really all there is to it.

        1. Nope. We *don’t* believe that people who live here have a duty to sacrifice their quality of life and living standards to benefit *other* people who live here.

          If I want to hire a programmer from Pakistan because he costs less, and you prevent me and force me to hire one from Boston, my standard of living just took a hit.

          1. And if the price of you doing that is the rest of us being at risk of being killed after your guy busts a nut and becomes a fanatic, well that is just too bad for us. And if the number of people who show up fundamentally transform our culture and society into something else, well that is also too bad because no one has a vote on that.

            We are operating from fundamentally incompatible assumptions. So, we really can’t debate this issue. We can just shout our respective assumptions and talk past each other.

            1. And if the price of you doing that is the rest of us being at risk of being killed after your guy busts a nut and becomes a fanatic

              That’s also true of any kids I have too. I presume you don’t have a problem with me reproducing? 😉

              And if the number of people who show up fundamentally transform our culture and society into something else, well that is also too bad because no one has a vote on that.

              You have just as much of a vote on culture as everyone else. We, and that means me and you, all construct culture by our daily actions. And if the culture is going in directions you or I don’t like because all those other people are doing stupid stuff it is too bad. Unless, of course, you agree with old Comstock about the need to have right minded folks keep culture static.

              We are operating from fundamentally incompatible assumptions.

              I dont’ think that’s the case. I think you are allowing your emotions and fear to cloud your reason. I think if you really sat down and considered why you have a different reaction to the prospect of countrymen whom you think are a cancer on society such as a gangbanger from LA adding to their number differently than to the prospect of an immigrant from an awful shithole like Pakistan, you would recognize that the two are not to different in the danger they pose to you.

              1. I am operating from the assumption that nations have sovereignty such that they don’t owe admission to foreigners in any way. I view it as a strictly practical question not a moral one. You are operating from the assumption that nations have no right to deny anyone entry. You can’t reconcile those. I am not emotional about this at all. And I am not even anti immigration. I am just pro sovereignty. You in contrast reject sovereignty in a way that I do not.

                1. I am just pro sovereignty. You in contrast reject sovereignty in a way that I do not.

                  True.

                  I would like to call your attention to my response to another comment of yours below.

                  I don’t think you and I disagree practically on what would be ‘reasonable’ reforms of immigration law in the U.S. Sure, my end goal differs from yours; my end goal is an anarchy with no government – which I think is only possible if expanding prosperity cause people to be less fearful and demand less government protection (and while I am dreaming I also want a pony).

                  One of many necessary preconditions to make freedom of movement a reality is to change cultural attitudes towards immigrants, and the current attitude is increasingly shaped by fear; a fear that the state is foisting a lawless mass upon us – in effect assisting in an invasion.

                  Changing to a simple, fair, framework of laws that are widely accepted would go a long way to assuaging that fear.

                  There’s a bunch of other stuff too – simple stuff like reducing economic regulation, dismantling the welfare state too. Trivial. 😉

              2. Because disenfranchising a citizens is a very different prospect than not accepting a new entrant.

          2. But you aren’t taking responsibility for all the externalities caused by your hiring decision. If you were obligated to cover the expected welfare/unemployment costs caused by increasing the worker to job ratio in some economically rational manner (no idea what that would be) and you were liable for any harm caused by the person who came over at your request (and thus presumably carried some insurance, with higher rates if the person is from a lunacy-prone area) you might not find it so advantageous in the first place.

          3. “If I want to hire a programmer from Pakistan because he costs less, and you prevent me and force me to hire one from Boston, my standard of living just took a hit.”

            The deteriorating quality of life problem isn’t caused by the few Pakistani orphans that Tarran brings in to work in his SQL mines. It’s because of the huge number of the welfare costs associated with millions of people who can’t fully support themselves and their families.

            I know, I know, someone always tells me that millions of born-here citizens suck at the welfare teat. But that’s a piss poor argument for importing more welfare cases.

      2. My “billion immigrants” scenario does not involve widespread deprivation of real human goods like food, art, material comforts, family life, freedom of conscience and worship, health, education, truth, adventure, etc.

        Why wouldn’t converting the US to a third world country lead to exactly those deprivations?

        1. Because the US is full of intangible capital that third world countries lack. Assuming (unrealistically) that there would be no material change to laws, regulations, and governing institutions, those immigrants would be able to live significantly improved lives and would be able to procure those real human goods far more easily than they do back home.

          Those individuals and their descendants might degrade those institutions over time, but their importation absolutely would not turn the US into a third world country overnight.

          1. Ah, magic. Got it.

  16. Text of Trump’s immigration speech:
    http://dailycaller.com/2016/08…..mmigration

    Take a few minutes to read it directly without having Reason and the media spin it for you.

    Excerpts:

    The time has come for a new immigration commission to develop a new set of reforms to our legal immigration system in order to achieve the following goals:

    To keep immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms.
    To select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in U.S. society, and their ability to be financially self-sufficient. We need a system that serves our needs ? remember, it’s America First.
    To choose immigrants based on merit, skill and proficiency.
    And to establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.
    We want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally and properly-vetted, and in a manner that serves the national interest.

    1. Can I read it with an Austrian accent?

      1. If you are an open borders absolutist, sure you don’t like it. But absent being that, what is so unreasonable about what Trump is saying there? If you are not going to have pure open borders, and we clearly are not no matter who is President, why not have a rational system that seeks to let in immigrants who bring the most value to the country?

        1. Being an open borders absolutist, I don’t like that stuff, but it doesn’t get my panties in a bunch.

          People accept immigrants with open arms when they expect the immigrants will be a boon, and attempt to reject or drive them out when they fear that the immigrants will make the current residents’ lives worse.

          In other words people want some degree of security,

          And a legal framework they think is reasonable for controlling immigration will reduce their anxiety about immigration. And the less anxious they are, the more open they will be for liberalizing the framework.

        2. Chill out, I was joking.

    2. The problem I have is with the assertion that immigration has to work for America or the “national interest”. The concept of the national interest is difficult to impossible to define, and something libertarians are typically skeptical of because of its inherently collectivist nature.

      I’m not a radical open borders sort of guy. I am completely fine with turning away immigrants that have demonstrably broken the law or, in an era of terrorism, pose a credible threat of having been radicalized. I’m also fine with turning away people who pose a threat to public health. And given the realities of the welfare state, I think it’s reasonable to require immigrants to have a sponsor or to show a plan for how they will support themselves.

      What I’m not fine with is assigning guilt or suspicion to an individual solely because of where they come from or what religion they are, or with trying to assign worth or value to an individual based on some preconceived notions of what they’re future economic contributions might be, or with the idea that someone who was born here has more of a right to a job than someone who is willing to move here and work harder.

      1. We reject governments trying to plan for the future of and manage the economy or the personal lives of citizens for reasons both practical and moral. Why should we embrace the idea of government trying to plan for the future and manage American culture and society, which is at least as complex (if not more so) and impossible to predict and control as the economy?

      2. What I’m not fine with is assigning guilt or suspicion to an individual solely because of where they come from

        Except we and every other country on earth does exactly that with visa requirements. I don’t need a visa to visit Germany but I sure needed one to visit China.

        This idea that we can’t discriminate by country is simply wishful thinking. We already do.

        1. The visa process is screwed up and painful, but it at least vets people as individuals. I can get a visa to travel to China with time and cost and vice versa (work visas, are harder, unfortunately). I have to jump through hoops based on collectivist notions but I can at least overcome them as an individual once I get the right boxes checked off.

          1. I don’t think shouting “collectivist!” is a serious answer to these issues. I don’t have the answer, either, but at least I try to look at things with an eye to human nature. And unfortunately humans ARE collectivist when it comes to things like nations, borders, and such.

          2. Once i have the ability to opt out of the welfare state in your open borders utopia you’ll have the moral authority to sneer “collectivist” at me. Until then you don’t, unless you’d care to pay my taxes every year.

            1. If you look upthread you’ll see that I don’t have an open borders utopia in mind.

    3. sounds a lot like the Canadian immigration system

  17. This article has a lot of weak sauce and obvious flaws:

    “Donald Trump … critique overlooks the details of this particular case as well as the general rarity of terrorism by immigrants. … Ahmad Khan Rahami ..who immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan at the age of 7.”

    It seems the core of Donald Trump’s argument is correct. Immigrants and the children of immigrants from Muslim countries are much more likely to commit terrorist acts than any other group. When you side step that point, you are presenting a misleading rebuttal.

    ” Including tourists in the moratorium would raise the annual cost by another $194 billion or so.”
    That’s the cost for a moratorium on all tourism, ie stopping all tourist travel to the US. Trump (nor anyone else) is suggesting such a blanket ban on all tourist travel to the US. So once again, this is a highly misleading comment.

    “… an anomalous event that is unlikely to be replicated.

    That just seems like faith based wishful thinking. I think at best you could conclude that it will be harder for terrorists in the future to use large commercial planes as cheap weapons. It’s virtually certain that some other large foreign terror attack will occur in the future.

    1. Unless you are going to have totally open borders, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon, someone isn’t going to get in. So the question is, who should not get in. Given the fact that there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who want to come here and are not Muslims and thus are virtually no danger of becoming a terrorist, why should any of those people be told they can’t come so that some Muslim, who has some non zero chance of becoming a terrorist, can? That is really the question.

    2. This article has a lot of weak sauce and obvious flaws:

      Well, you just have to start with the point of the article, which is: Trump is wrong. That’s it, all the other stuff is just fluff.

      1. I might buy into the ‘Trump is wrong’ premise. But when you throw a lot of misleading data and logical flaws into trying to prove it, it pushes me towards the ‘Trump might have a point’ side of the argument.

  18. *backs up with outstretched arms and frames issues with hands*

    We are importing a population of people that we know with certainty contains more than a non-significant number of people who want to and will slaughter Americans by the score if they get the chance.

    Yep. That is nuts.

    1. It really is nuts. And I don’t think the population of this country is collectively insane such that it is suicidal. If Muslim terrorism continues, and I see no reason to think it won’t, the voters in this country will demand that Muslims no longer be allowed to immigrate. I wonder how much credibility and political capital reason and open borders libertarians are willing to spend so that Muslims have the chance to come to America and murder the infidel.

    2. Right now we’re like an African country in 1950 openly trying to import as many American white Southern democrats as possible. Except worse, because any KKK-sympathizing immigrants would at least be constrained by self-preservation until they got substantial numbers; they were hate-based political terrorists, not a hate-based apocalyptic death cult.

      1. The problem is that so many people left and right have bought into multiculturalism and as a result cannot believe that there could be a culture that is totally alien to ours such that it is totally incompatible with a free society. They honestly think that if we just ask nicely enough, that Muslims will suddenly decide to be reasonable and that the solution to radicalism is to tempt people with free porn and cable television.

        1. There are plenty of Muslims who are entirely reasonable. There are any number of dissident strains of Islam, just as with Christianity, in spite of the constant threat of violence (which also existed with dissident factions of Christianity). We don’t have to necessarily have a blanket no. If the people feel that the government is nationalistic enough to put the security of its citizens above the interests of foreigners, they’ll tolerate allowing people who have been thoroughly vetted, in small numbers.

          The problem is that the elites don’t really believe there is a difference between Islam and Islamism, as much as they may claim otherwise. There was never any shame in the idea of beating Nazism or Communism, or that Nazi or Communist countries could and should be liberalized. But somehow, while beating German nationalism was never seen as a threat to eliminate Germans, beating genocidal Muslim supremacists is equivalent to destroying Islam.

          1. There are any number of dissident strains of Islam, just as with Christianity, in spite of the constant threat of violence (which also existed with dissident factions of Christianity).

            Islam teaches its adherents to kill or subjugate non-believers while Christianity teaches believers to love their enemies. That’s a significant difference.

  19. Here’s some extreme vetting for you:

    Prospective immigrants must demonstrate active employment within the USA, a firm offer, documented professional experience in areas of high employability, or personal wealth at a level suitable for independence.

    This is the criteria most of the western world uses to approve immigration. Try to immigrate from the US to Australia and you’ll be hit with those types of criteria.

    This is what almost everyone accepted as normal just 10 years ago, prior to the bizarre push for completely open borders to all. It is such a departure from the norm that it is difficult to understand the reasoning.

    1. Such a policy would certainly have kept out such ne’er-do-wells as Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises and co-founder of Intel Andy Grove.

      1. LvM wasn’t experienced in areas of high employability?

        1. Dude, someone gave a bunch of money to NYU to hire him.

          I should point out that in the age of Uber, everyone is employable. You just have to pass a driving test.

          1. “Dude, someone gave a bunch of money to NYU to hire him.”

            That is a good point (doesn’t negate his qualifications and experience as though) by the same logic a lot of Frankfurt Schoolers and Marxists would have been kept out of the country.

      2. Actually, no, it wouldn’t have impacted Rand or Mises at all. Read before you spout.

        Grove would likely have been kept out, but frankly people like him are so anomalous that it is just stupid to use them as examples.

        1. If you are making a utilitarian argument then you have to take the outliers into account, as they have an outsized impact.

    2. Prospective immigrants must demonstrate active employment within the USA, a firm offer, documented professional experience in areas of high employability, or personal wealth at a level suitable for independence.

      It’s not my ideal but I could live with that. I do think it’s important to accommodate low-skilled workers somehow. That can be difficult but it doesn’t seem insurmountable (sponsors, participation in some sort of clearing house, etc.).

  20. Doesn’t this:

    “More recently Trump has said the moratorium should apply to all visitors from countries “compromised by terrorism,” a category that arguably includes most of the world.”

    Answer this:

    “It is hard to imagine how the “extreme vetting” Trump advocates for immigrants from “any nation that has been compromised by terrorism” could have kept Rahami out of the country. What questions could have been posed to his parents that would have predicted his violent turn two decades later?”

    1. We have limited immigration, don’t we? The slot they filled could have been filled by christian or zoroastrian women who have since been enslaved or slaughtered.

      I just don’t get the moslem fetish.

      1. “I just don’t get the moslem fetish.”

        From Reason, or in general? It makes sense why leftists would pretend to not see the problem, they see them as shock troops to finally beat down the remains of Christian domination in the US, at least nationally (they won’t be able to ride the tiger for very long though).

        Reason is more of a puzzle, probably just have something of a contact high.

  21. What questions could have been posed to his parents that would have predicted his violent turn two decades later?

    Perhaps whether or not the immigrant in question practices Islam (particularly Salafist Islam) would have narrowed the odds some?

    “the combined human, property, business, and economic costs” of attacks by foreign-born terrorists during the 41-year period covered by his study at $5.3 billion annually, which is “far less than the minimum estimated yearly benefit of $229.1 billion from immigration and tourism.”

    Completely fraudulent. Japanese tourists aren’t blowing themselves up in Manhattan, and virtually none of that billion $$$ of upside is being made by Afghan immigrants or tourists. Plus, the costs have to include the security measures taken ever since international terrorism became a pending concern. And of course non-monetary costs (such as erosion of civil liberties and, you know, human lives having been taken) are not being considered.

    the potential security benefit of cutting off immigration

    Jesus Christ. Literally no one is talking about becoming Tokugawa Japan; the security-related question is what Islamic/Middle Eastern immigration is bringing to the table right about now. Why don’t we talk about how much upside there is to importing Syrian refugees and stop talking about how nice Korean immigrants can be? Because no one’s complaining about them.

  22. Bulls*** ! We are not vetting these combat age “immigrants” as to the immigration laws. Read the Constitution for the requirements to immigrate. We are bringing in a huge percentage of people who will not fulfill those requirements oF allegiance to this country, but only want to establish a Caliphate here and throughout the world. These are NOT immigrants in the sense of our ancestors who desired the freedoms of our country and pledged loyalty “so help me God’.. There is an immigration process which does not include dumping foreign nationals who will never assimilate into our Republic.

  23. I don’t know, I think Jacob might underestimating the unique dangers of terrorism. An act of terrorism isn’t like a bear attack or random acts of robbery, which is either totally unforeseeable or negligible in terms of impact.

    A terrorist could be anything between a deranged lone wolf or a highly trained agent who knows how to use bombs, chemical weapons, etc. These people could shoot 12 people in a conventional shooting or erase 100 plus lives in a more coordinated attack. Worse case scenario – a sequel to 9/11, which may only require a handful of radicals. The most recent terrorist attack were carried out by government / security personnel.

    I don’t want arbitrary blockade on immigration any more than I want libs to restrict 2A rights to prevent handful of mass shootings. But 2A is a constitutional right, whereas immigration isn’t. No refugee has a civil right to be a part of this nation. If country is his regularly by these radicalized immigrants, Americans will be open to SOME restrictions on immigration from regions hostile the nation. By now the FBI is undoubtedly taking even closer looks at reported American Muslims who spend a long time in the middle east.

  24. And people (other libertarians) wonder why Libertarians don’t do will in national elections.

  25. How about we just exclude all the fraudulent H3b visa holders and put America’s educated accountants and software engineers back to work? They are just a lower cost substitute for Americans that America has efucated (at gerat expense) and promised a reward for their productivity. No. Not Libertarian enough. I thought so. I am NOT voting Johnson.

  26. Sorry, Jacob but the National Academy of Sciences says that uncontrolled immigration DEPRESSES the wages of Americans and COSTS America over $289 BILLION in expenditures. That is a huge NET LOSS however you count. Reality is not necessarily Libertarian.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com…..ljUW89In0=

    1. “Reality is not necessarily Libertarian.”
      Depends on what the meaning of the word “Libertarian” is. If “Libertarian” means what Reason Magazine says it means, then, I have no use for “Libertarianism,” because it is suicidal and stupid. If I had known that “Libertarianism” would be represented by the views of people like William Weld and this magazine, I would never ever EVER supported any Libertarian back in 1972 when the party was first invented. Who knew?

  27. Ten Arabic Words: Bracken’s Challenge to National Security Professionals | Gates of Vienna

    If you are a politically-correct bliss-ninny with a coexist bumper sticker slapped on the back of your Subaru, and you don’t have the slightest clue what the following ten words mean, then this essay is not meant for you. You are excused.

    dawah, dhimmi, hijra, jizya, kafir, shaheed, shariah, takfir, taqiyya, ummah

    http://gatesofvienna.net/2016/…..essionals/

  28. So your advice is to continue to admit all of the insufficiently vetted refugees and just “accept the consequences”?
    Funny, that’s what has gotten us into our present situation.

  29. To paraphrase Ted Cruz, if there were “Editors” flowing across the border driving down the price of your labor I bet you would be singing a little bit different tune. If you were a carpenter in Florida however and you watched your wages stagnate solely because the labor market was flooded with cheap, mostly illegal labor, all the while Jeb Bush’s developer buddies were reaping a windfall, (because there was not a commensurate rise in the volume of developable property to hold the price of housing down) you would have an entirely different perspective.

    When we get libertarian policies enacted across the board on all the other issues that plague us, then we can have a discussion about borders and whether or not it is sane to flood the country with uneducated cheap labor. Until then, you are putting the cart before the horse.

    At least the democrats have a somewhat rational reason for wanting to open the borders. They know that by and large they will get the votes because the vast majority of the emigres are already coming from countries where they think it is the duty of the government to take care of people. You Large L libertarians are just utopian.

    That is why, as much as I would like to vote for Gary Johnson, I cannot. You want to do the last things first. If you would advocate for the first things first and the last things last, you would get a lot farther with your theory.

    Until then, We are F@#$ing Screwed.

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