Dave Smith vs. Chris Freiman: What's the Ideal Immigration Policy?

Podcast host Dave Smith and philosopher Chris Freiman debate open borders on the latest episode of Just Asking Questions.


Immigration ranks as the second-most important issue among registered U.S. voters and the top issue for Republican voters, according to a Marist Poll/PBS NewsHour/NPR poll released last month. Perhaps that's because of the 3.2 million border encounters documented by Border Patrol in 2023—a new record high that's so far being outpaced this year.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who continues to erect razor wire fencing at the border despite a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting Texas from stopping federal agents from cutting through the barriers, has likely also heightened the salience of the issue for Republican voters. Even politicians in blue cities like New York are calling the influx a problem, with Mayor Eric Adams saying that the arrival of 110,000 asylum seekers over a year and a half would "destroy New York City" as shelters become overwhelmed. 

What do libertarians, traditionally in favor of permissive immigration laws, have to say about this? The truth is, there's a divide. Today's episode of Just Asking Questions features two thinkers on either side of that divide laying out what they each believe is the ideal immigration policy.

Libertarian podcaster and comedian Dave Smith said on the Liberty Lockdown show last month that "all of our troops should come home and be stationed around our borders." He continued saying that "if you believe in open borders right now, under current circumstances, you're an insane person, and you're as bad as a communist."

That sparked a social media firestorm, which included exchanges between Smith and today's other guest, Chris Freiman, a professor at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University and author of several notable papers about the ethics of immigration. 

Watch the full conversation on Reason's YouTube channel or on the Just Asking Questions podcast feed on Apple, Spotify, or your preferred podcatcher.

Sources referenced in this conversation:

  1. NPR/PBS NewsHouse/Marist Poll, Feb. 1, 2024 
  2. Nationwide Encounters | U.S. Customs and Border Protection (
  3. Gallup: Nearly 900 Million Worldwide Wanted to Migrate in 2021
  4. The Fiscal Impact of Immigration in the United States, by Alex Nowrasteh, Sarah Eckhardt, and Michael Howard, April 2023
  5. U.S. Naturalizations: 2022 Annual Flow Report (
  6. State Dept: Total immigrant visas issued, 2014-2022
  7. Alex Nowrasteh's thread on X: "Immigration reduced the growth of the federal government…"
  8. September Startling Stats (