Like Fugitive Slave Laws, Deportation Is a Moral Loser

The resistance to Trump's war on immigration looks remarkably similar to the abolitionist movement


Donald Trump has launched a war on undocumented aliens on every front in the few short weeks he's been in office. He is doubling down on his deportation efforts. And he's backing these efforts by waging a rhetorical war , announcing a whole new government program called VOICE

No Deportation
Brooks Photography via / CC BY

— Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement – dedicated solely to demonizing these folks as "bad hombres" regardless of the actual reality.

But as Trump cranks up the deportation machinery, a resistance movement is also rising to challenge and subvert him. Indeed, for every 287(g) city that signs up to assist the feds in their deportation efforts, new sanctuary cities and civic groups are emerging to stop them, setting the stage for a moral showdown not unlike the one that the country saw in the run up to the Civil War, I note in my column at The Week.

Despite the obvious differences between slavery and immigration, fugitive slaves of yore and illegal immigrants of today have this in common:

"The same "rule of law" argument that was made to forcibly return fugitive slaves to bondage in the 19th century is now being made to forcibly return undocumented workers to their home countries, resulting in an escalating — and, paradoxically, ever more lawless — use of state violence."

That's the dynamic we witnessed then. And that's the dynamic we are witnessing now. Will it turn out differently this time?

Go here to view the piece.

NEXT: Leaks Aside, the Trump Administration Still Wants to Snoop on You

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Oh boy.

    1. What? Shikha is like a voice of sanity amongst Trumps Nazi Russian spies that are currently murdering our undocumented aliens in the streets who just want to pick the apples that Americans won’t. There is no reason to doubt the altruistic motives of those who just want a better life for themselves because immigrants never do anything wrong and they literally built everything that was ever made in this country themselves.

      She never uses hyperbole, which is probably the most refreshing part.

      1. Is your tongue still implanted in your cheek?

  2. Just when I didn’t think it could get any worse, . . .

    1. i can’t even read her trash anymore. It is too painful. I still check comments for interesting points that make me thing.

      1. Yeah. It’s hard on one’s sanity.

      2. Before I had even finished reading the title of the post I thought “Shikha”.

  3. “Despite the obvious differences between slavery and immigration…”

    Even though the two have nothing to do with each other, I’m going to plow forward with this asinine comparison anyway.

    1. Totes different, like blowing up a bus full of toddlers vs. driving a bus full of toddlers off a cliff. See? No moral equivalence

      1. “Making people work for you and controlling their entire lives as property, including effectively being able to maim or kill them as desired”, same as “making people who have no right to be in a country go back to to their state of origin”.

        Yeah, that is pretty similar.

        (If we lived in a world where US citizenship was trivially removed as a control tactic, I could see some vague similarity.

        But the US doesn’t and isn’t going to work like that.)

        1. not right now….i wouldnt say never but you are totally right. These ridiculous comparisons hurt their efforts by making their “cause” look even more retarded.

    2. Bingo!

      Hey, Reason editors! A huge number of voters think illegal immigrants are a big problem, and the political elites have muddled matters so badly that none of the “You’re wrong, here’s why” arguments being made are getting any traction. Is enforcing the actual immigration laws going to cause problem? Almost certainly. And that’s a good thing. Before we open the borders, the laws need to change so that we don’t have a large population living in our society that has reason (or, rather, more reason, to hide stuff) and thus is a subculture in which dangerous things can easily hide. Also, Mexico desperately DESPERATELY needs to be changing. This has been true for as long as I can recall, and it IS happening, but it is happening slowly. Cutting of some (all isn’t in the cards) of the money being sent home by illegals with hasten that change.

      Now, what we really should be doing, given how long Mexico has been a festering sore, is invading and governing Mexico. But THAT isn’t in the cards either.

      1. Anarchists may honestly hold that there shouldn’t be any immigration policy, but honest small state libertarians can and will disagree about how expansive our immigration policy should be.

        For one thing, if you think it’s ever justifiable to expel people from the country, you need to concede that there needs to be a mechanism to keep them out once they’ve been expelled.

        For another thing, the Constitution holds that setting naturalization policy is an enumerated power of Congress. It’s listed there with the power to declare war. We’re not talking about a Constitutional problem here . . .

        It’s like the difference between opposing a particular war and opposing any war. I think our immigration policy should be as expansive as possible, and I think that we should generally only engage in wars of self-defense.

        Arguing that we should never deport people because it uses state violence is like arguing that we should never go to war for the same reason. I don’t think a libertarians needs to go there.

        1. I like plebtiful, legal immigration, too.

          Likewise, I think the “pure open borders, period” thing Reason seems to be pushing lately unsupportable, practically, and not remotely required from Libertarian first principles.

          (Re. The “rule of law” argument in the parent post … yeah, you can use it to support unjust laws.

          But it works better to try and just argue for the law’s injustice, doesn’t it?

          That one’s a lot harder to sell in this context, is, I guess, the problem.

          Then again, I like enforcing the laws we have, rather than doing capricious enforcement sometimes, which is prone to abuse.

          If it’s a bad law, enforcing it should build support for removing it, in the civil disobedience tradition.

          Haphazard or arbitrarily deferred enforcement leads to the State having an arbitrary sword over the heads of lots of people that it can decide to use on them for … other reasons.)

      2. There are three things the US could do, unilaterally, that would clean up the majority of the problems with illegal immigration.

        1. End the War on Drugs. This is a major destabilizer of Mexico – not just the government but also of private attempts to make things better. A good chunk of Mexico’s modern problems stem from America’s pushing of policies that enable the very people we’re supposed to hate.

        2. Scale back welfare. Beyond ‘they turk ur jerbs!’ (which aren’t ‘yours’ to start with), the biggest bone of contention with immigrants in general (legal or otherwise) is the idea that immigrants (especially illegal ones) are a net drain on taxpayers. They aren’t, but the welfare net needs to be trimmed anyway and if its smaller then there’s just that much less illegals can scam.

        3. Stop with the ‘path to citizenship’ bullshit. Simply open up the border to anyone who wants to work. Give them a temporary work permit, require them to leave to renew it, and barring health or criminal (and getting rid of the WoD would stop a lot of otherwise harmless people from being denied entry – leading them to try to do so illegally) let them renew without problem.

        We can do all that on our own – no hoping Mexico gets its act together needed. And once done, the need for sanctuary cities goes away. The problems specific to illegal immigration go away.

        As for invading Mexico and running it – that’s not worked out so well pretty much anywhere else we’ve done that.

        1. We haven’t done it in the 19th Century way since the Philippines, which worked OK, if not wonderfully. It is now fashionable to depict our rule there as an unnecessary brutality, but the core issue was that SOMEBODY was going to have a coaling station there, amd the other likely candidates (Germany and Japan) would have been worse. Leaving themislands to the Philippinos was simply not going to happen.

          19th century colonialism gets a lot of high minded criticism, and the only polity that did it in a way that was broadly beneficial to the colonized was the British Empire. But the history of post-colonial governments strongly suggests that Victorian British Paternalism wasn’t all that bad.

          We don’t have the right mindset to do what should be done in Mexico (or Iraq or Afghanistan). Sadly, neither does anyone else. And the tragedy is that the Middle East terrorists are likely to create a situation in which we try. It won’t be good.

          1. Basing this solely on my experience with call centers around the globe, I gather that we left the Filipinos with a far better mindset vis a vis their relationship with bureaucracy than the British did with their colonized. It may not have been all sunshine and roses, but at least we didn’t break the little people of their right to think for themselves when placed in a larger organization.

        2. Small problem. If you “require them to renew it” and they opt to not do so, penalizing them is, apparently, akin to punishing escaped slaves.

          One side doesn’t want the problem solved. Shitka likes having cheap domestic help, after all.

          Funny, she compares this to the fugitive slave law — yet the biggest opponents love the slave labor. She ENJOYS that the illegals have to take far below market-wages with no opportunity to really combat unfair treatment.

          THAT is “fairness”.

    3. Did you read the whole piece? She isn’t saying that slavery and immigration are similar. She is saying the behavior of those opposed to the two are similar.

      1. If you (and she) mean that the anti-anti-illegal imigration protesters are as irresponsible as John Brown, I’d say there’s an argument for that.

        1. Try reading my comment again. It had nothing do with how I feel about the protestors.

      2. Yes. The supporters of illegal immigration want to have their slave labor.

      3. Yes. The supporters of illegal immigration want to have their slave labor.

  4. I wasn’t a big fan of open borders, but now I realize I’m as immoral as a slaveowner. Where do I go for penance?

    1. Yeah, Reason, this argument is fantastically offensive. You don’t change people’s minds by insulting them this badly. They tend to rear back and tell you to go f*ck yourself. Which, come to think on it, is hat the American voters just did to the political establishment.

      1. Fuck off, slaver.

        1. I’m a salver; I carry food around!

          Or I apply ointments?

          Anyway, fuck off, namecaller without an argument.

          1. That’s all he does here. He’s seems very much like a troll, but he’s even lower than that.

            1. A goblin? An ass goblin even?

        2. So, you favor the long held policy of “this is illegal, but we will only enforce the law when it pleases us to”?

          I’d,say YOU are the slaver. You clearly like themstatus quo were we have a sizable population that lives on our whim.

  5. I think the bigger push is just to try to tie them together emotionally and manufacture parallels that the media will laud, facts are irrelevant.

    “Government force is legitimate when proportional to the legal transgression at hand.”

    Good luck proving proportionality, may as well just cite God.

  6. “Honest condemnation of the Fugitive Slave Law must also condemn the slaves for leaving their plantations. What’s the point except upsetting the delicate balance of the Compromise of 1850”

    -Shikha, 1863

    1. *sustained applause*

    2. *sustained applause*

  7. Shikha “Honest condemnation of #Berkley violence must also condemn those who invited him.What’s point except baiting n inciting in Trump’s America?” Dalmia

  8. Synthesizing a holocaust analogy into this would really do it wonders.

    1. The SS Einstazgruppen wore uniforms and carried guns. The US Border Patrol wears uniforms and carries guns.


  9. Some people would find the comparison between illegal immigrants and slavery highly offensive.

    Treating the enforcement of immigration laws like the enforcement of the runaway slave act is probably offensive.

    Treating the moral cause of immigration defiance like the moral cause of abolition is probably offensive, too.

    “The same “rule of law” argument that was made to forcibly return fugitive slaves to bondage in the 19th century is now being made to forcibly return undocumented workers to their home countries, resulting in an escalating ? and, paradoxically, ever more lawless ? use of state violence.”

    If Robby were working for any other magazine, he might cite this piece in defense of free speech–after making huge apologies for Dalmia’s offensive message.

    I don’t keep up with the things Milo says, but I remember Dalmia going after him for the terrible things he says. I wonder, has he ever said anything so offensive as comparing being an illegal immigrant to slavery?

    1. Why does Reason just provide a platform for reposts from The Week, anyway?

    2. Ken, you’re normally a voice of sanity here. But I don’t know how you read that article and came to the conclusion that she was comparing being an illegal immigrant to slavery. She flat out states that “I’m not trying to compare slavery itself to illegal immigration” and then does nothing to contradict that. Her main point was that the anti-deportation crowd will act similarly to the anti-Fugitive Slave Act crowd, with similar results. And while her opinion that the deportation of illegals is morally reprehensible is at odds with many at Reason (including me) she nowhere equates that immorality with slavery.

      1. Is this Shikha’s sockpuppet account?

        Sure, Shikha didn’t say illegal immigrants were slaves, she just said opposing illegal immigration was the same as opposing abolition of slavery.

        Kinda like saying the Republican Party doesn’t support racism; it’s just their supporters are a bunch of racists.

        1. Do you have logic and reading comprehension challenges? Why would Shika’s sockpuppet account say it’s at odds with Shika’s opinion on the morality of deportation? More importantly, cite anything from the article where she said that opposing illegal immigration was the same as opposing abolition of slavery.

  10. Something..something…false equivalency.

    1. “Like Fugitive Slave Laws, Deportation Is a Moral Loser”

      “The resistance to Trump’s war on immigration looks remarkably similar to the abolitionist movement”

      She’s comparing the morality of the two causes, too.

      Although the holocaust was by far the worst thing the Nazis did, it wasn’t the only rotten thing they did. The Nazis used the Reichstag fire to justify a permanent suspension of civil rights, for instance. If some president were to use a similar tragedy to justify going after the Bill of Rights, comparing him or her to Hitler or the Nazis might be perfectly appropriate.

      It’s probably okay to compare book burners to Nazis–even if the book burners aren’t also engaging in genocide. Just don’t compare book burning to genocide.

      In other words, the appropriateness of a comparison like that is a question of the aptness of the comparison.

      How apt is the comparison of the moral cause of immigration violation to the moral cause of abolition? How apt is the comparison between sending some immigrant back to their homeland and sending some runaway slave back to the deep South?

      Not very apt if you ask me.

      I wonder if Dalmia would compare Bill Clinton returning Elian Gonzlaes back to Cuba with enforcement of the Runaway Slave Act. That seems like more of an apt comparison to me than the comparison between slavery and living in Mexico–and yet it’s still insufficient to justify the comparison.

      1. No one should take anything that Reason writes seriously after this unbelievably ridiculous article

        1. I don’t think Dalmia’s writing should necessarily reflect on everyone who writes for Reason.

          Some Reason writers opposed the Iraq War. Some of them supported it. Each writer speaks of themselves.

          I wouldn’t want marginal libertarians to think Dalmia speaks for libertarians everywhere. She’s just speaking for herself as far as I’m concerned. Just like I am.

          There are writers here who I think probably can speak for libertarianism as much as anybody can–with Sullum and Doherty probably heading the list.

          1. That seems reasonable. Although I’m utterly confounded as to why they keep publishing Shikha. Ken, do you have any insight into that?

        2. Reason is one of the main things I use to smack around my Libertarian friends. These people are the alleged top minds in the movement and they are, to be generous, fucking retarded.

  11. You know who else is a moral loser?

    1. Your mom?

      1. Hitler’s mom?

      2. Stifler’s mom?

  12. I’m just going to drop this right here and casually walk away.

    1. That’s ’cause I traveled to Toronto a couple of weeks ago. It’ll pick back up again.

    2. That’s a pretty drastic falloff.

    3. I bet that really hurt their feelings.

    4. I’m sure that trend will turn around once people start warming up to Robby.

      1. Robby’s not the problem. The shift Reason has taken towards trying to recruit disaffected progressives is the problem.

        1. Robby is part of that.

          Read his articles sometimes with a critical eye.

          It’s hard to tell whether he’s against Title IX or he wants Title IX implemented more consistently.

          It’s hard to tell whether he’s pro-free speech or if he just wants the rules applied consistently.

          He rarely defends free speech without apologizing for what people have said.

          I’m not going to bother digging up examples, just keep your eyes peeled going forward. Some of his pieces on free speech could run at Salon just as easily as Reason. And the readers at Salon would read those pieces and think he was on their side.

          1. Ken,
            Robby is a symptom…he has a narrative to drive. They pay him to write the way Reason wants him to. They encourage it and condone it. If he was doing something wrong and it wasn’t helping Reason’s bottom line he’d be gone in a heartbeat, to be sure.

            1. I think legitimately libertarian journalists are hard to find.

              Yeah, they want to appeal to millennials, and I’d bet Robby is a part of that.

              But a legitimately libertarian free speech advocate who can’t stop anguishing over speech that hurts people’s feelings?

              He’s trying to be a libertarian free speech advocate–real hard.

              I don’t have to try.


              1. You used to find them in the comment section here. A few are still around. Suicidal Tendencies? Not a punk fan but bravo sir.

              2. Stossel is consistently good. Does he not write that many columns, or does Reason just not publish much of his work?

          2. Them coming out in FAVOR of public accomodation law to demand support for gay marriage was the last straw. They aren’t for liberty. They love the jackboot of authority.

    5. Btw, doing some random sampling ’round the political and news web.

      Reason isn’t the only thing taking a dive.

      1. Reason Magazine: We’re just as loved as DailyKos!

        1. I thought you were leaving.

      2. There’s some draw down after the election for political sites everywhere.

        The Reason metric takes a steep dive in February.

        1. Some more than others. This is generally true. But many non-mainstream outlets are on the rise or have merely plateaued since the election. Fun fact: Breitbart has a higher ranking than Foxnews (35 v 49 respectively) and most other mainstream outlets, left or right.

          1. My favorite thing right now is you all think Alexa is reliable.

          2. Breitbart is just because they got a lot of publicity because of Bannon.

        2. Nothing to be, uh, glib about…

    6. Most political sites look like that. Lots of traffic on the run up to the election. Drop off every since.

      1. *ever


        1. Those are some right powerful squirrels there son!

      2. If that’s the reason why their numbers are down, then why is the website that all the former Reason commenters flocked to receiving 2,3, and sometimes 4 times as many comments as Reason?

        1. Shit, and if you look at the graph. They hit a low point in November, followed by a slow increase followed by a massive drop in February.

          1. Why are you still here, increasing Reason’s comment count?

            1. Why are you still here, decreasing intelligent discourse?

            2. Don’t worry, fuckface, this place will be all yours in a month or so.

              1. I won’t be stuck here with Hail Rataxes. Hail Rataxes will be stuck here with ME.

        2. Actually I’m looking at a few now and most political sites have a steady decline after peaking last April. Reason at least has the bump around November.

      3. the election was in July?

        1. Eh, ok. Actually after looking through the stats of a bunch of political sites, left and right, it looks like they all peaked in the summer and have steadily declined since then. Reason at least has a winter bump.

    7. looks like Atlas is shrugging…

    8. casually walk away

      I thought you already did that. If you had any class and integrity you’d stay away instead of coming back to troll and gloat. And if you think a site’s quality is determined by its number of vacuous and repetitive comments, you’re more shallow than a mud puddle.

  13. alt-text:

    Vive Le Resistance 🙂

    The first thought that popped into my mind upon reading this was that it is intended to associate anti-Trump protesters with the French Resistance of WWII.

    I laughed at myself, because such a comparison would be puerile on the authors part.

    1. Look, all rightthinkers know that Trump is a Russian-controlled P?tain running America for his KKK overlords who took over!

      The #Resistance are brave freedom fighters, risking summary execution to save us all from the evils.

      And if you don’t agree you’re Hitler, Hitler.

  14. Like the Gag Rule, using violence to silence speech one disagrees with is a moral loser.

  15. Shikha has proclaimed herself the Susan B. Anthony of the anti-Trump movement. You shall overcome, Shikha.

  16. Ha ha! O wow!

    Ok, I’m against rounding people up and deporting them. That’s bad.

    But comparing it to slavery is just…wow.

    And Reason posted it!

  17. Like Fugitive Slave Laws, Deportation Is a Moral Loser

    Speaking of moral losers.

    shikha sood dalmia?@shikhadalmia Feb 3
    When facts are always “alternative,” brute force is all that’s left in settling with intellectual opponents!

    Honest condemnation of #Berkley violence must also condemn those who invited him.What’s point except baiting n inciting in Trump’s America?

    1. Civil liberties, what even are those?

      How does free speech even work?

  18. Like Fugitive Slave Laws, Deportation Is a Moral Loser

    Speaking of moral losers.

    shikha sood dalmia?@shikhadalmia Feb 3
    When facts are always “alternative,” brute force is all that’s left in settling with intellectual opponents!

    Honest condemnation of #Berkley violence must also condemn those who invited him.What’s point except baiting n inciting in Trump’s America?

  19. Despite the obvious difference between requiring air travelers to pay for their tickets and slavery, fugitive slaves of yore and airplane stowaways have this in common.

    If you admit upfront that the two things you are comparing are obviously different, you are making a false analogy.

  20. Hey Dalmia, ever notice how your perspective is always an extremely childish worldview where you’re the morally virtuous hero in a hyperbolic narrative where anyone who disagrees with you is basically pure evil? Even when you’re doing things like trying to justify violence against people saying things you disagree with? I wonder if this is more reflective of reality, or your own moral bankruptcy and degenerate, immature personality?

    1. To be fair, the world would be a better place if every politician, pundit, and professional advocate took such a hard, honest look at their own beliefs.

      1. Indeed it would Citizen X, it unfortunately requires a self-awareness that the majority of humans lack.

    2. The projection, it burns.

      1. The troll, too stupid to use words correctly.

  21. Like Fugitive Slave Laws, Deportation Is a Moral Loser

    Fucking christ…These are not even remotely the same thing.

    “The same “rule of law” argument that was made to forcibly return fugitive slaves

    …doesn’t apply to slavery because slavery was already unconstitutional because slavery is a violation of individual rights and the gov’t was institutes to protect individual rights.

    Sorry not sorry Dalmia, policing the border is not unconstitutional.

  22. Does dalmia think all deportations are moral losers? Like even of criminals?

    1. I’m sure if Melanie Trumo were deported that Dalmia would approve.

    1. If you see her you should run anyways, just to be on the safe side.

  23. I actually don’t care about illegal aliens but reading this makes me want them all deported. Do we call that the progtard effect?

  24. Dalmia is no authority on morality so I reject these ridiculous false equivalence assertions.

    1. She is largely a silly bitch.

  25. “go here to view this piece”?

    Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

  26. What a ridiculous comparison. So illegal immigrants are coming from nations that are large plantations where they were enslaved?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.