Nationalists, not Immigrants, are the Real Threat to Liberal Democratic Institutions

It is often argued that we need to restrict immigration in order to protect democratic institutions. But ethno-nationalist immigration restrictionists are a much bigger threat to those institutions than immigrants.


One of the most common justifications for immigration restrictions is the claim that letting in too many of the wrong type of immigrants would undermine liberal democratic institutions. In the worst-case scenario, their flawed culture, values, or political ideologies could "kill the goose that lays the golden eggs" that attracted immigrants in the first place, and turn the receiving nation into a cesspool of despotism. Such concerns should be taken seriously, and I devote a large part of Chapter 6 of my  book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom to addressing them. Alex Nowrasteh and Benjamin Powell's just-published Wretched Refuse? The Political Economy of Immigration and Institutions undertakes the same task in much greater depth, and is likely to become the most authoritative treatment of the subject.

But, as Nowrasteh points out in a recent blog post, the focus on immigrants as a threat to American institutions leads many to overlook the much greater danger posed by nativist nationalists  - the people most hostile to immigration. Recent events highlight the severity of that threat:

Benjamin Powell and I wrote our book Wretched Refuse? The Political Economy of Immigration and Institutions to address the argument that liberalized immigration will undermine the very American institutions that created economic prosperity that attracted immigrants here in the first place. Immigrants generally come from countries with political, cultural, and economic institutions that are less conducive to economic growth than those in the developed world. The fear is that they'd bring those anti‐​growth institutions with them. Thus, as their argument goes,… immigrants could actually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

As we assiduously document, immigrants do not bring those institutions with them and there is even evidence that immigrants improve institutions after they immigrate.

It's ironic that the immigration restrictionists most worried about immigrants degrading American institutions are attacking those very institutions at every level. After President Trump lost his reelection bid, the most nativistic members of his party have embarked on a quest to reverse the election. A dozen Republican Senators, mostly those supportive of cutting legal immigration, plan to object to the certification of Biden's win over Trump. Over 100 representatives could join in too. President Trump cut legal immigration more than any other president and he recently threatened Georgia election officials.

Immigration restrictionists have also attacked the institution of private property. The Trump administration has seized or is trying to seize 5,275 acres of privately owned land to build a border wall, most of it in Texas. Trump even diverted Congressionally appropriated funds from the military to build the border wall….

Many in Trump's orbit are also conspiracy theorists or work with them at every opportunity. Making up stories to tarnish your opponents and believing in nutty conspiracy theories both break down trust in institutions, which is exactly what some nativists claim immigration does to the United States.

Alex's post was published on January 5, the day before the attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. But the events of that awful day further demonstrate his point. While we do not have detailed demographic data on them, it is highly likely that the rioters were overwhelmingly native-born whites - and (much more importantly) strong supporters of Trump's nationalist, anti-immigration agenda.

Political scientists and survey researchers find that white ethnic nationalism and hostility to immigration are among the strongest predictors of support for Trump and his agenda. Those who fear that immigrants are a menace to American culture and institutions also tend to be most likely to tolerate and make excuse for Trump's authoritarian tendencies.

Some of the awful events of the last few weeks are the result of Trump's distinctive personality and behavior, and of idiosyncratic characteristics of the American political system. But many are common characteristics of ethno-nationalist anti-immigration movements around the world. Over the last century, it has been extremely common for nationalist movements hostile to immigrants and ethnic minorities to subvert democratic institutions, often eventually installing brutal dictatorships.

The Nazis are, of course, the most notorious example. But the same was true of other early-20th century fascist movements in Italy, Spain, and elsewhere. More recently, nationalist movements have destroyed or severely undermined democracy in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Brazil, the Philippines, India, and elsewhere. In each of these cases, authoritarian nationalists claimed to represent the true will of the people - defined as those of the majority ethnicity, religion, or culture.

Such claims also naturally lead to the idea the election victories by the opposition must be illegitimate, because only the nationalists represent "real" Americans, Hungarians, Russians, Poles, or Indians (defined, again, as members of the majority ethnic or culture group, free of "foreign" influence). Nationalist movements also commonly promote conspiracy theories. If they alone represent the will of the people, any political setbacks must be due to the machinations of  shadowy, nefarious forces, such as foreigners, "globalist" elites, international bankers, Jews, and so on.

Trump's conspiracy-mongering about the 2020 election, complete with claims that the vote was falsified by illegal immigrant voters, foreign agents, and others, is of a piece with similar conspiracy-mongering by Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, and other nationalist leaders in Europe and elsewhere.

The US is not as far-gone as Russia, Hungary and other nations that have succumbed to authoritarian nationalism, and our democratic institutions are (so far) stronger than theirs. But we would be foolish to ignore the parallels between these movements and Trumpism, and even more foolish to ignore the risks of letting such movements grow. Trump and his allies themselves recognize the similarities, and have embraced Orban, Putin, and other similar leaders and movements (including ethno-nationalists in Western Europe), as ideological soulmates.

By contrast with the long record of nationalists subverting democracy, there are no modern instances of a democracy collapsing or even significantly degenerating because of the political influence of immigrants with illiberal ideologies. In their book, Nowrasteh and Powell document how liberal democracies such as the US and Israel have coped well with large-scale immigration from repressive, undemocratic societies. That is partly because most immigrants from such nations don't actually support the ideologies of the regimes they are fleeing (that is a key reason why many fled in the first place), and partly because liberal societies have strong capacity to absorb and assimilate people.

A more sophisticated variant of the claim that immigrants are a threat to democratic institutions is the idea that the problem is not the immigrants themselves, but rather the political backlash they generate. Excessive immigration, it is said, bolsters the political fortunes of authoritarian nationalists (including Trump!), who in turn undermine democratic institutions when they come to power. Thus, we must restrict immigration to protect ourselves against native nationalists.

One flaw in this argument is that survey data consistently shows that most people in both the US and Europe consistently overestimate the true amount of immigration, and those most opposed to immigration overestimate the most. Given such widespread ignorance, we cannot assume that, say, a 10% reduction in immigration will lead to a parallel reduction in ethno-nationalist sentiment. Indeed, most nationalist voters might not even notice the difference.

It is also worth noting that hostility to immigration among natives often tends to be greatest in parts of the US and other countries that have the fewest immigrants. Indeed, it is striking that anti-immigrant nationalist movements came to power in Hungary and Poland, countries with very few immigrants (no more than 4.6% of the population at any time in the last 30 years, in the case of Hungary; no more than 3% in the case of Poland, and much lower in the last 20 years). This too weakens claims that we can reduce support for illiberal nationalist movements simply by cutting back on immigration at the margin.

Efficacy aside, the idea that we must restrict immigration in order to protect against native-born nationalists is morally perverse. It suggests we severely restrict the liberty and opportunity of innocent people in order to protect against wrongdoing by others. The innocent people in question include natives, as well as potential immigrants, since immigration restrictions also impose severe burdens on many of the former.

The backlash-prevention rationale for immigration restrictions is similar to nineteenth-century claims that we must allow southern whites to impose racial segregation on blacks in order to prevent the former from continuing to engage in violence and otherwise pose an ongoing threat to the Union. And, indeed, immigration restrictions have many similarities to domestic racial segregation, as both impose severe constraints on liberty and opportunity based on arbitrary circumstances of birth, and often based on the desire to maintain the dominance of a given racial or ethnic group.

If we must restrict liberty in order to protect ourselves against illiberal nationalists, the most appropriate people to target should be the nationalists themselves. But I hasten to add that I do not believe the US and other Western nations should actually go down this path, so long as there is any other plausible alternative. There should be a strong presumption against any constraints on civil liberties - even including those of people who have little respect for liberal values, themselves.

We cannot completely rule out the possibility that there are cases where illiberal immigrants pose a threat to democratic institutions. In my book, I describe potential extreme situations where that could be a real threat. But, in the vast majority of cases, the far greater menace to democracy is that posed by nativist nationalism.





NEXT: NY Times: "On his first day in office alone, Mr. Biden intends a flurry of executive orders that will be partly substantive and partly symbolic"

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  1. You’re just now discovering that the right doesn’t really believe in democratic institutions?

    1. I'm starting to think the people who chanted "Stop the count!" in places where their cult leader was ahead in the vote tally and "Count the Votes!" in places where their cult leader was behind in the tally might not actually be all that principled.

      Especially when those same people claim to oppose the Civil Rights Act on the grounds that it violates the principles of property rights and free association, but then cry about their rights being violated when one of their cult gets their twitter account suspended.

    2. As opposed to left. Who doesn’t believe in democratic institutions. Remember the folks who spent the summer burning down the country? Pick your poison.

      I know my saying this angers you as a partisan, but as a centrist I’ve observed for most of my life that the left is a greater threat to my liberty than the right.

      1. The Floyd protests were mostly protests, and were mostly about pressuring democratic institutions to make legal policy,

        The insurrection at the capitol was alongside protests, and was mostly about trying to kill politicians because they wouldn't overturn an election.

        Not that the summer was a great triumph in American democracy, but the narrative of American cities under siege and burning this summer is vastly overstated. Similarly, most of the violent yahoos were arrested and are being prosecuted. If anything, the police were overzealous in the way they dealt with the protests, arresting randos without probably cause in a number of jurisdictions.

        1. No intent to compare. Different but both awful. I don’t believe that the majority of the crowd in either case intended to or did participate in the bad stuff. Just anger going out of control.

          And shame on the race baiters on the left and the Republicans on the right that fed the anger for their own selfish purposes.

          I was mainly objecting to the overly broad statement that the right “doesn’t believe in democratic institutions”. Everybody? Really? As has been pointed out the institutional right isn’t doing anything now that the left hasn’t done the last several elections. Or Stacy Abrams for christsake. Nobody can lose gracefully anymore.

          1. It’s not a matter of losing gracefully. If all Trump had done were lock himself in his bedroom and pout, that would be one thing. But he incited an insurrection designed to intimidate people doing their jobs and certifying a democratic election. Stacy Abrams has done nothing remotely comparable. This was an attack on democratic governance itself.

      2. The summer riots were inexcusable but they were also not the same as what happened at the Capitol. The summer riots were an attempt to change policy. The Capitol was an attempt to overturn democratic elections themselves.

        1. The capital was just an attempt to get an investigation into the election irregularities. Policy

          1. Rejecting the outcome of the election based on bullshit is bad enough, but also they were out for blood.

            As more charges and reporting comes out it becomes more and more clear. Maybe not all, but much more than enough.

            "“You could hear the mob going through her office, breaking down the door, yelling, ‘Where are you, Nancy?’ ” said Henry Connelly, Pelosi’s head of communications. “There was a lot of screaming.”
            Not trying to get an investigation.

              1. Then, from the north, a column of uniformed, agile younger men walked briskly, single-file, toward the inaugural stand. They came within two feet of me. Their camouflage uniforms were clean, neat, and with a pattern I couldn’t identify.

                Some had helmets and GoPro cameras. Some uniforms bore subdued insignia, including the Punisher skull. These were the disciplined, uniformed column of attackers. I had seen them in groups of two or three among the marchers on Connecticut Avenue from the Ellipse.

                Now there were a good three dozen of them, moving in a single, snakelike formation. They were organized. They were disciplined. They were prepared.

                Seems legit.

        2. At least you admitted they were riots, (By the way, they're still going on in places, the media just stopped reporting on them.) but you're right, they were NOT the same.

          The 'summer' riots were enormously larger than what happened in the Capitol, including areas of cities being occupied for weeks on end like some bizarre Mad Max recreation. Riots would occur every night, people would show up for them, and the media would tell us everybody who wasn't actively throwing Molotov cocktails at a given instant was 'peaceful', even though they'd shown up to attend a riot.

          The number of genuinely violent people in DC might have been counted on your fingers, the event was TINY by comparison. Most of the people who illegally entered the building were acting more like tourists than rioters.

          Yes, there were a hard core of violent people, who'd come to DC planning to be violent, and we need to identify all their confederates and prosecute the bunch to the fullest extent of the law.

          But, yeah, nothing like the 'summer' riots, the riots were far worse.

          1. Everyone admits there were riots. You're the one insisting there were no protests that were not riots.

            some bizarre Mad Max recreation
            This is not reality. There's long-form reporting out now you can read rather than making up your own stuff. But I guess that just shows the media coverup, eh.

            But the most important reason why no one is buying this weak defense is that *attacking the national capitol to halt the democratic transfer of power is not what the Floyd unrest was about*

            1. "You’re the one insisting there were no protests that were not riots."

              Where did I say that? You're just making that up to divert from what I did say.

              During the day there were frequently protests, as evening fell, the protesters who didn't want to be part of a riot would flee, and the riots began. Billions in property damage. Arson of occupied buildings. Blinding people with high power lasers. Looting.

              Don't deny the reality of the riots, and their terrifying magnitude, just because some other people happened to be protesting in the same city.

              And don't you dare pretend the 'autonomous zones' were fiction. Don't go there.

              1. You've said people calling them protests were lying because they were cover and coordinating with the rioters.

                Their terrifying magnitude? Don't be melodramatic. As I said, there's long-form reporting out now about the you don't need to rely on your imagination.

                No the autonomous zone wasn't fiction. And it was dumb. But it also wasn't mad max.

          2. The number of genuinely violent people in DC might have been counted on your fingers, the event was TINY by comparison

            You run out of fingers on one hand just counting the people who died. You obviously know you are lying. You keep it up anyway. I have tried to treat you with respect. You deserve none. You are incomprehensible, Brett.

            1. "You run out of fingers on one hand just counting the people who died."

              I'm not careless with table saws, Stephen, so, no. Five people died, and three of them were rioters. One of whom had a heart attack, another had a stroke, and a third was trampled to death, very tragic, and I hope they identify and prosecute those involved in THAT death.

              A quarter million protesters showed up in DC. If five percent of them had attacked the Capitol, they could have torn it down by hand. You've seen the photos and video, at no time was the Capitol building even crowded!

              So the rioter to protester ratio in DC was maybe 1-100. And that's including rioters who were acting as tourists, taking selfies with the capitol police. Pick any random night in Portland and the rioter to protester ratio was higher!

              Then you had a relatively tiny group that had planned in advance to be violent, and came prepared. Planted bombs, had guns staged outside DC, and so forth. They may even have arranged for the larger group of idiots to enter. Certainly the BLM guy, Sullivan, was encouraging criminal acts, charge HIM with incitement.

              All last summer we were lectured about how just standing next to somebody throwing a Molotov cocktail didn't make you a rioter. That didn't last long, now, did it?

              1. A quarter million protesters showed up in DC.

                Citation needed.

      3. The Boogaloo Boys and Three Percenters aren't left wing.

        1. They're not on Trump's payroll, either, the way the Plumbers were on Nixon's.

          Drop this nonsense about Trump inciting a riot, or go after everybody who is similarly guilty. Make up your minds, pick one standard for everybody.

          1. Nobody is similarly guilty when compared to Trump.

  2. Can Ilya Somin start his own blog somewhere else please? I like what Eugene Volokh and most of the others have to say, but Somin's stuff is nauseating to read and see in my RSS feeds.

    Consider this a plea from a longtime VC reader.

    1. Go read some responses to my comments in any given Josh Blackman post, and realize it could be worse.

    2. Need a safe space?

      If Blackman's nonsensical defense of an incitement of a riot by an office holder as a first amendment issue is any indication of his typical writing, then I'd say the comments below his articles are warranted.

    3. Ilya has just convinced me that he wishes to subvert this country, at the risk of a shooting 2nd Civil War.

      I thought I would never say this, but why this country permits such a man to remain an officer of the court (i.e. lawyer) let alone a law professor is beyond me.

      The only threat to this nation is that we (like the Romans) might not be as aware to the threat of subversive invaders as we ought to be. Ilya says that we are a greater threat because we aren't willing to prostitute ourselves to him.

      I ask again: Ilya, can I crash on your sofa and watch your TV?

      1. “ I thought I would never say this, but why this country permits such a man to remain an officer of the court (i.e. lawyer) let alone a law professor is beyond me.”

        It’s a fair question. I had thought that most bar organizations were moving toward “Disagrees with Dr. Ed 2” being a disbarrable offense.

        1. Actually, these days it's more like "Disagrees with Ilya Somin" being a disbarrable offense.

      2. Can Donald Trump demand that you provide hime a platform for his lies?

        1. The previous post was aimed at Mr Ed, not any sane particpant in the VC comments.

    4. I disagree with 75% of Ilya’s posts, but go somewhere else if you want an echo chamber.

    5. Volokh is risking his good legal reputation fronting for Somin's political and social opinion pieces. Maybe the Bulwark could use Somin's insights

    6. Ilya ought at least come up with better arguments.

      She's a girl, she's your friend, so... she must be your girrrlll friend! Ilya employs the same logical form as this silly taunt from grade school.

      Are persons of color who oppose open borders also white nationalists? Can there be no other explanation?

      1. I'm pretty sure you didn't read his post, because that's a strawman he does not argue.

        1. That's only because the post doesn't really make an argument, it just recites one of Somin's three favorite kinds of invective.

          Those being, in essence, "we should be happy that voters are proudly ignorant", "immigrants are the same as illegal immigrants, and anyone opposed to illegal immigration is a bigot who is opposed to immigration", and "Orange Man Bad".

          1. So a bunch more strawmen Somin didn't say, and a declaration there was no thesis, but you're super angry anyhow.

            1. There was a thesis, it just presupposed several fictions that were necessary for the argument. Fallacies are solidly in the "doesn't really make an argument" camp for me.

              1. Lay out the fictions then. What do you take issue with?

          2. Starting with "we should be happy that voters are proudly ignorant", that is pretty much the opposite of Somin's repetitious arguments. Rather he argues that since voters are overwhelmingly ignorant, caused in large part by the ballooned over-regulatory state, he thinks a solution is to encourage more people to vote with their feet, since voting in that way requires skin in the game and will therefore decrease ignorance in decision-making. That argument also supports federalism (a frequent pet of Somin's) since foot-voters need somewhere to move to. Maybe you can link to one of his posts where he celebrates ignorance rather than lamenting it, and using ignorance pejoratively to promote alternatives to ignorant voting.

            Re: "immigrants are the same as illegal immigrants" the response, if you have one, is to demonstrate that they aren't the same. But even that does not get to the heart of the matter. The issue isn't whether illegal immigrants and immigrants are identical--they probably aren't. It's whether illegal immigrants and natives are identical, and they probably aren't, either. Somin's argument is that illegal immigrants commit less crimes than natives. Your non-sequitur response to that argument is "but you're just talking about legal immigrants!" Which isn't true, either. See here: "But as conservative commentator Linda Chavez points out, immigrants – both legal and illegal – have far lower crime rates than native-born Americans do." The refusal to recognize that illegal immigrants, predictably, commit less violent crime than natives, doesn't make you racist, but it does make you wrong.

            Re: "Orange Man Bad", that's just an epistemic closure device created by people who you agree with politically to stifle discussion of the President's behavior. All criticisms are TDS or "Orange Man Bad" or some shit, conveniently relieving you and people you agree with politically of any obligation to defend the President's behavior. It's just a lame attempt to change the subject, totally unnecessary as well, since if you were right, it would be easy enough to demonstrate. It's a bad argument and you're a coward and a loser for making it.

        2. This post avoids arguing that strawman only because it does not really make an argument. It just recites one of Somin's three favorite bogus claims: People opposed to illegal immigration oppose all immigration because of bigotry. (The other two are that we should be happy that voters are proudly ignorant, and Orange Man Bad.)

  3. It would be interesting to see a study in the shift of politics in the states as a study case. The number of people fleeing CA, IL, and other states with net loses in population to places like Texas, is certain to shift the politics of the states being moved into.

    1. Yes, but as far as anyone can tell it's only benefiting democracy there.

      1. Moving away from the consequences of your vote, so you can be free from your own iatrogenic problems, and then starting the same process all over again in your new place may "benefit democracy", but it is clearly idiotic and not benefitting freedom.

        1. Those consequences bring skyrocketing home values. If you want them to stop coming to your state, stop selling your houses for peanuts.

    2. If it's "certain" why would you need a study? Anyway, why isn't it just as likely that the people fleeing California are doing so because of the politics there, and aren't going to bring their politics with them? And if they are bringing their politics with them, wouldn't that make the places they leave shift in the opposite direction?

      Like you, I share interest in seeing studies, rather than relying on pop psychology.

  4. Nativist positions (such as Trump’s) tend not to be based on real-world facts.

    1. The most extreme nativist positions come from 2nd generation immigrants. Their attitude is that they worked hard and played by the rules, and don't want their jobs stolen by others who didn't.

      1. Bullshit. The most extreme nativist nonsense comes from right wingnut white nationalist gormless gobshites such as at least five members of the Trump clan.

        1. Who, to be fair to Dr. Ed, are in fact all second generation immigrants. (Except Tiffany, I think.)

          1. Late reply, but life happens.

            Donald is included among the five I was thinking about. Tiffany and Barron, as far as I know, haven't contributed to the ignominious behavior of the family.

    2. The only thing worse than nationalists, who’s sin is to love their country too much, is internationalists who if they don’t have an active contempt for their country have no more than a passing affection.

      1. Ilya reads "The Man Without a Country", and is utterly baffled.

      2. Nationalists don't love their country. 99% of the time it's really just their own skin color they're in love with.

    3. It is a real world fact that Trump putting the brakes on illegal immigration enabled the largest real wage growth for low wage workers in 40 years and the lowest Black unemployment rates ever.
      "From 2017 to 2018, relatively fast growth continued at the top (2.7 percent at the 95th percentile), but the 20th and 30th percentiles saw the strongest growth at 4.8 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Median wages grew 1.6 percent over the year."

      1. Nope.

        It's a real world fact that correlation is not very much not causation.

        1. You are right - not very much not causation - meaning probably 80 to 90% causation. BTW, Kazinski's argument is a thousand times better than Ilya's outrageous unfounded assertions.

          1. Your bare assertion also does not establish causation. Even your made up numbers don't do so.

      2. Black unemployment improved faster under Obama's last 3 years than at any point under Trump.

  5. Shorter: Who cares about what anyone else might do when the bogeyman is lurking out there ready to do sooooooo much worse? Forget about what you see and focus on the bogeyman!

    1. What is Somin trying to distract from?

      This is rich, of course, because the argument your mockery creates is the exact argument of just about every Trump supporter on this blog, with Democrats as the boogeyman.

      No matter what Trump does, Dems are sooooo much worse.

      If your response is 'but it's not a fallacy when I do it because Dems really are soooo much worse' that should maybe tell you something about where your ideology comes from.

      1. Trump doesn’t do anything except talk and carry out the Presidential duties. You guys make up the rest.

        1. Example — this is not made up:

          "U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday received Morocco’s highest award for his work in advancing a normalization deal between Israel and Morocco..."

          "The United States in the last five months helped broker deals between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. The agreements are aimed at normalizing relations and opening economic ties."

          Notice how that is not like your melodramatic he's secretly totally the bogeyman stories.

      2. Maybe Somin is trying to distract from the fact that Democrats want to dissolve America.

        To borrow Somin's form of argument, anarchists showed us last summer and fall that they do not respect property rights or civil order. They are the ones "most hostile to" these building blocks of a liberal society. (Handwaving omittted.) Pol Pot is one of the most extreme examples, but we should not forget that the Soviet and Chinese Communist revolutions were also viciously oppressive. Therefore, because these irredeemable anarchists are so incoherent and immoral, the object of those violent protests should be disregarded.

        The backlash-prevention rationale for property restrictions is similar to twentieth-century claims that we must allow the proletariat to confiscate property from kulaks in order to prevent the former from conducting an overly violent revolution.

        Yadda yadda, I expect you get the point by now. The whole rant above is aimed at straw men.

        1. Except for the facts

          "‘Boogaloo Boi’ charged in fire of Minneapolis police precinct during George Floyd protest... Ivan Harrison Hunter, a Texas rightwing extremist, bragged about helping to set the fire then was seen shooting 13 rounds at the building"

          "Alleged 'Boogaloo' extremist charged in killing of federal officer during George Floyd protest... Steven Carrillo and his alleged accomplice "came to Oakland to kill cops," said John Bennett, special agent in charge of the San Francisco division of the FBI."

          "Three Nevada men with ties to a loose movement of right-wing extremists advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities say was a conspiracy to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.

          Federal prosecutors say the three white men with U.S. military experience are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests to reopen businesses closed because of the coronavirus."

  6. Who knew that a majority of the population of the U.S., who support more restrictive immigration, were more of a problem than random foreigners who've self-selected to come here.

    I guess if you don't like the electorate you have, you just import a new electorate.

    1. Who knew that a majority of the population of the U.S., who believe immigration is a positive for the country, who support a pathway to citizenship for people here illegally, and who oppose pretty much everything Trump did on immigration (the wall, the separation policy, the wait-in-Mexico policy, etc.), were more of a problem than random right-wingers who’ve self-selected to speak for the country.

      I guess if you don’t like the electorate you have, you just import a new electorate.

      I guess if you don’t like the electorate you have, you just reject election results.

      1. If you don't like the electorate you have, you make it harder for those you disagree with -- or who look like they won't like your policies, who you are too lazy, stupid, or bigoted to try to convince to embrace your policies -- to participate in democracy. Baby, that shit don't fly no more.

      2. "...a pathway to citizenship for people here illegally..."
        Why not call it what it really is: amnesty?

  7. I work with a lot of people from India - all motivated, college educated, and English speaking immigrants. The number of those with the same qualifications in India exceed the total population of France. If only one-third were interested in coming to the US, that would be around 25 million - and there are an additional billion less educated in India. Add the uneducated from Latin America, Asia, and Africa and we could increase the population of our nativist, horrible country by 300 million in five years.
    The only control on immigration is the law and practical limits of travel.

    1. Yes, if you make up numbers out of your own speculative nothing things to look dire.

      I'm not an open borders person, but this is a bad argument.

      1. there have been a number of polls that support this position, that if able tens to hundreds of millions of people would immediately immigrate to the US

        1. Then you bring the numbers, you don't just do this gut guestimate nonsense.

          1. It's been posted several times before, but here you go.

            The US is the top choice for immediate migration for 158 million people.

            If other countries didn't open their borders, it would likely be a very high second choice, and get another couple hundred million people.


            1. Expect them to keep asking for citations like that over and over and over, no matter how many times anyone posts them.

              You have to prove what you say with facts. They get to conveniently forget facts they don’t like and make up stories about the bogeyman. And then support the bogeyman narrative with innuendo, like if that [person in half-fabricated melodramatic story] isn’t the bogeyman, then what's your explanation? Or this bad thing happened somewhere, therefore everyone with different opinions than us is guilty because nothing bad would ever happen if everyone was exactly like us. Let’s censor everyone different than us.

              1. Not what I said, Ben. I said "Then you bring the numbers, you don’t just do this gut guestimate nonsense."
                AL did better than JohannesDinkle, though not numbers that come anywhere near proving how many people would actually move here.

                If you need to make up nonsense to complain about, maybe your original complaint was nonsense after all.

                1. And yet, not made up. Go ahead and forget tomorrow and ask for the same citation again though.

                  1. Yeah, take the rage-blinders off for a sec and hear what I'm saying.

                    -JohannesDinkle just posted speculative nonsense. I called him on that

                    -AL responded by, after some prompting, doing better, posting legit facts but they were not relevant to JohannesDinkle's thesis.

                    -You declare that my noting how arguments are bad is just proof I'm arguing in bad faith. Because you're not even into theses, just bitterness. Albeit of the venting sort that I think means you can function better in society than some here.

                    1. Yeah, I got wise to the left. There’s a lot of that now.

                    2. Being wise to the left or whatever doesn't absolve you of the need to make an argument.

                    3. There was never a need to begin with.

  8. Set the strawman up, knock it down, and claim victory.

    The problem with the wrong kind of immigrants is that they lack the skills necessary to succeed in America, and thus are more likely to turn to criminal enterprise.

    The right kind of immigrant has the skills, and is highly unlikely to turn to crime.

    We need to be making the choice, not some smuggler.

    1. Then you would support allowing far more legal immigrants? That would allow Border Patrol to focus on the smugglers

      1. MollyGodiva : Then you would support allowing far more legal immigrants?

        Not if he follows Trump, he won't. Despite all the rhetoric about
        "obeying the law", Trump attacked legal immigration just as much as illegal.

        1. They deported now elderly Vietnamese refugees from the war who have not gotten citizenship for whatever reason. Why? Vietnamese tend to vote GOP, are not statistically more likely to be criminals, and have been here for decades.

          The only explanation I can come up with is pure xenophobia/nativism.

          1. They deported now elderly Vietnamese refugees from the war who have not gotten citizenship for whatever reason.


            1. Maybe try a Google search before yakking, dwshelf?

              "The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War"


              1. Typical twist.

                The US was in a place where it wasn't possible to forcibly return criminals.

                That changed.

                No decent human beings were forcibly returned, none were ever threatened.

                1. Are you going to tell me there are 9000 dangerous vietnamese criminals currently roaming the USA? Or is it possible that some of these people were charged with DUI or some of the other 3 felonies per day we typically commit?

                  Trump's new policy made all vietnamese immigrants who arrived before 95 and were not citizens eligible for deportation. Why?

                  1. "Since 1998, final removal orders have been issued for more than 9,000 Vietnamese nationals."

                    Is that where you're getting the 9,000 number? The Atlantic's source for that shows that the rate of removal orders of Vietnamese nationals peaked under Clinton, and again under Obama, with only 872 of those orders issued in FY17 through FY20.

                    1. only 872 of those orders issued in FY17 through FY20.

                      And zero of those orders involved war era refugees whose crime was neglecting to become a citizen.

                  2. Trump’s new policy made all vietnamese immigrants who arrived before 95 and were not citizens eligible for deportation. Why?

                    Because there exist circumstances for which removal would be appropriate.

                    1. That's some very hard question begging.

                    2. Sarcastro, we have a program which allows people refuge here even if they don't qualify to be immigrants, so long as return to their home country would be unreasonable dangerous. That immunity from deportation ends with the danger.

                    3. Brett, technically Trump could do this. But practically, it's was a new Trump policy whose only effect is cruelty.

      2. Then you would support allowing far more legal immigrants?

        Yes, if they personally have the qualities which make them likely to succeed, and passed a serious vetting procedure.

        No, if the vetting procedure is chosen with the intent to modify the makeup of America.

        1. Which it never has been.

            1. Can't prove a negative, nor telepathy. Maybe the burden should be on the people claiming "the vetting procedure is chosen with the intent to modify the makeup of America."

              1. Never on your side. We can be sure of that.

                1. You want to bring some evidence, or just gonna whine about made up crap?

                  1. I like pointing out made up crap.

                    1. This is getting very meta, but I have issue with the unsupported statement 'the vetting procedure is chosen with the intent to modify the makeup of America.'

                      I'm not postulating any facts other than that the above needs support.

                      What is your issue?

                    2. I have issue with the unsupported statement ‘the vetting procedure is chosen with the intent to modify the makeup of America.’

                      When vetting is completed independent of merit, we're left to wonder just what is the intent. You supply your opinion, I'll supply mine.

                    3. Read something then. Lots of writing about the intent behind our immigration policy. Some by Somin here, who is no friend of the Dems.

      3. I do. Any adult who can support themselves (no public assistance for five years), isn't a criminal, has the equivalent of a high school education, can speak English at an 8th grade level, and isn't already here illegally is welcome. As are their spouse and children who aren't criminals. Anyone who is here illegally needs to go back to their home country and apply from there. No amnesty of any sort for anyone who isn't here legally.

  9. Just like you, to suggest that most of the traitors who invaded the Capitol last week were white. Yeah, sure, the videos and photographs shows all those white faces, and almost no brown, black, or yellow (to use a gross shorthand for simplicity's sake) faces. And sure, all the arrests have been white people. But who are you gonna, or your lying eyes?

    1. Remember when the Pro-Democracy invaded the Parliament of Hong Kong? This is the same thing.

      1. No it’s not. The Hong Kong demonstrators were trying to get democratic elections; the ones here were trying to overturn one.

        1. Incorrect. They were asking for an investigation into the voting irregularities.

          1. There were no irregularities. There was only a spoiled brat president refusing to accept results he didn’t like and then stirring up a bunch of gullible people like yourself. Trumps conduct would be unacceptable in a four year old.

            1. There were plenty of irregularities. An investigation would've answered these peoples questions.

              Denying the irregularities is like denying racism.

              1. Right, that’s why all those Republican judges threw out all those Trump lawsuits.

                1. "Throwing out a lawsuit" doesn't mean there weren't any irregularities. You know this.

                  1. It means a judge determined there wasn’t even enough to justify going forward

                    1. Not necessarily, that depends on the exact reason an individual case was dismissed.

                      That would be true for a case dismissed due to failure to state a claim or for lack of evidence.

                      It would not be true of cases dismissed on lack of standing or laches.

              2. "Irregularities" do not mean "fraud." And "irregularities" (which are rarely absent from elections) do not mean that that the election should be thrown out, certification delayed or "rerun." They do not mean that officials in one's own party are "traitors" or have been paid off by the other side, or that the election was "stolen."
                You know this.
                And, as I recall, the slogan was not "investigate now!"--it was "stop the steal."

                Next, Barr's DOJ, put on alert before the election, said "no there, there." Trump's own election security folks said it was the most secure election in history. Just about every outlet that peddled conspiracy theories, from Fox News to American Thinker retracted the Dominion story--the Kraken centerpiece. Trump's handpicked U.S. attorneys in every district had the power to investigate every allegation.
                GOP secretaries of state, election officials, AG's and prosecutors had the power to investigate the purported "widespread" fraud, and found nothing. Trump-appointed and GOP-appointed judges tossed out lawsuits, and the Supreme Court said go fish. Mike Pence, Brian Kemp, Raffensperger, and hundreds, if not thousands of election workers, many of them republicans, would need to have been in on or supportive of the facially ludicrous conspiracy--supported by affidavits solely from past fraudsters, wacky partisans and convicts.

                The $1 million bounty for proof of election fraud has so far produced nothing--despite the supposed conspiracy of at least scores of the supposed unscrupulous election workers and bribe-takers. Honor among thieves?

                But sure, there is nothing wrong with investigating. Law enforcement, reporters (e.g. the confirmation that Gore lost in Florida) should go ahead on anything that resembles "evidence"--but so far there is nothing. Millions have already been contributed to the "investigations" by Powell, Wood and Giuliani who are likely on their way to censure or disbarment, and ruinous defamation liability. So, by all means, if you think it warranted, send them more money for the snark hunt--unless you already spent it all to prove that 9/11 was an inside job (The melting point of steel! You can't deny the melting point of steel! That would be like denying gravity.)

                But the fact is, that even substantial irregularities are not a cause to delay certification, much less overturn an election. Have you litigated election challenges? I have. The very first hurdle is to show that enough votes are in play to make a difference. That is a tall order, especially in this case, as it needs to be shown in multiple states to make any difference in the election. Trump had the full power and machinery of the federal government to investigate; Barr was motivated to investigate; every Trump-appointed US Attorney had a motive to investigate; Georgia and Arizona GOP officials had the motive to investigate. Every indicator and heuristic says there is nothing of substance. Maybe a few more Trump voters who absentee-voted in the name of their dead parents will be caught, so I endorse a thorough investigation by law enforcement at all levels of government. But it is certainly not a big enough deal to go out and rally about, since there is not a scintilla of evidence that any irregularity changed the outcome of the election.

    2. Forgot the Black guy who was invited on CNN? The BLM activist? He was arrested this last week. Also, the Horn-guy a cliomate0change warrior ; not a Trump supporter. Or, maybe you mean the Liberal Democrat Buzzfeed guy arrested? How many Trump supporters arrested again? So far we have agent provocateurs arrested aplenty. The Dems own this Reichstag Fire like the good Hitler youth they are.

      1. Haha, love how many times he's been brought up.

        Not BLM, not a leftist, long history of agitation without any real political cause.

        1. Wow, that take is... Delusional hardly even begins to describe it. The only part that was accurate was "long history of agitation".

          1. Did you read the link? I guess not.

            1. I didn't just read that link. It's the WaPo, they were a good paper at one time, but the narrative is strong there.

              1. If you have countervailing information, bring it.

          1. That's a legit concern. I'd recommend incongnito mode for that.

            Some nut graphs:

            Sullivan, one of four sons of Jack and Lisa Sullivan, grew up in Stafford, Va., about 45 miles from Washington. A friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Sullivan’s personal history, said the boys were adopted and raised in the Mormon faith and had an isolated, conservative upbringing. His brother James is a conservative activist. His parents, who now live in Utah, did not return calls Friday seeking comment.
            Activists in Utah have spent months condemning Sullivan, who has at turns identified himself as a racial justice protester and leftist documentarian, and they have warned others to be leery of his motives and any events he sponsored.
            He held rallies featuring Black organizers. But attendees said one demonstration also featured members of the Proud Boys, an all-male extremist group with ties to white nationalism. The Proud Boys who attended, organizers said, told the crowd they wished to make peace with Black activists.
            Sullivan’s reputation as an agitator and bad actor has followed him into other protest circles. In encrypted chats among left-leaning activists, organizers routinely flag posts by Sullivan to new members, saying, “Don’t trust that guy” and, pointing to his past ties with the Proud Boys, “He’s a double agent.”

            He's not MAGA, he's more rebelling against whatever you got. Too violent for BLM, I hope he gets some time in jail to cool off and consider his choices.

  10. As a biomedical scientist, I work with a lot of immigrants. When they tell me about all the things wrong with the US, I hand them a $1 Pocket US Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and ask them to cross out or change the parts they think didn’t make the US the country they wanted to come to from their native country. We end up have good discussions. I’ve made a few lifelong friends.

    1. "What an interesting document! Which country is this the constitution of, I haven't been there."

    2. I work with a guy from Kenya. I ask him to run for president since our experience w/ Kenyan presidents has been pretty good.

      He thinks American politics is a hoot.....

  11. Que the comments that will wail against this post, say how wrong it is, and yet also demonstrate that the post is spot on.

    1. Knew you would get on your knees for this Molly.

      1. A newcomer to the Dr. Ed caucus.

    2. I always view this debate thru historical eyes. Trump looks to me like those huckster demagogues of the Know Nothing Party in the early-1860s. They too rose to power convincing people all their problems were caused by some Other. The "threat" then was Catholics, Italians and Irish, but the rhetoric was remarkable similar. These outsiders were vermin who'd never become true Americans. They had nothing to offer this country. They were a danger to our way of life.

      It's a tune played again & again thru our history. Look back, and it's always proved wrong over time.

      1. You haven't seen true Know Nothing ideology yet -- but I fear you soon will....

        1. Nostradamus Ed strikes again!!

        2. I want our Pro-Democracy Movement to bring it to the correct people, the people who own the media and the Democrat Party, the tech billionaires. Make them live like Saddam Hussein, not sleeping in the same apartment two nights in a row, cooking rice in his underwear.

          1. Right-wing porn fantasies are both hilarious and pathetic

  12. "We cannot completely rule out the possibility that there are cases where illiberal immigrants pose a threat to democratic institutions. In my book, I describe potential extreme situations where that could be a real threat."

    But you have to buy the book to find out.

    (#13 will surprise you!)

  13. By contrast with the long record of nationalists subverting democracy, there are no modern instances of a democracy collapsing or even significantly degenerating because of the political influence of immigrants with illiberal ideologies.

    There are also no modern instances of a democracy with open borders.

    1. The right would do away with democracy

  14. My Physical Therapist said, “You have Ilya Somin Scroll Finger Tendinitis", common amongst readers of Volokh Conspiracy, who must scroll through pages and pages of his vacuous postings.

  15. White South Africans, 4 million, should be invited to the US, to California, specifically. California is similar to South Africa. A fast track to citizenship would be good.

  16. African immigrants are thriving, and top performers. They outperformed whites in the 2010 Census. They are more likely to be Trump supporters. They rebut all claims of inherent racism, because they have darker skins than all our homegrown cutups.

    There are no successful nations governed by people like them. None of them would have risked so much to get to a place governed by people like them.

  17. Democrat constituencies thrived from Trump's choking immigration. Tech billionaires were on the verge of a wage explosion from the labor shortage caused by immigration restriction. That is why they had to take out Trump with their media, and their Democrat Governor shutdown cratering the economy. The lowest paid 10% of workers had just received a 9% raise according to the Labor Department at the start of 2020.

  18. Would you prefer to live in a Muslim country?

    Just asking.

    1. What does that have to do with this post?

      1. If we end up with majority Muslims, then we will end up living in a Muslim country.

        1. One set of invisible friends looks like another to me.

        2. "If we end up with majority Muslims, then we will end up living in a Muslim country."

          Uh, where do you . . .

          I don't even . . .

          That's not . . .

          *gives up*

  19. For every Ayn Rand, there are ten million immigrants and their descendants like Ilya Somin and his supporters who should never have been allowed in this hemisphere.

    1. Yeah, imagine how bad those immigrants are. I bet some of them end up living off of Social Security, the moochers.

  20. Forced transgender bathrooms, ultraleft megacorps, BLM riots for months.

    Conclusion: Its the Nationalists taking over!

  21. Its true people! Nationalists are the reason we got The New Deal, threats of court packing, and the federal government ballooned from a constitutionally limited government to a ballooned monstrosity!

    Wait, what? None of those things is mentioned in this post? I'm confused. I thought we were talking about materialized undermining of the constitution.

    1. At this point I'm not really sure how useful reasoned debate is. These people are pretty much on another planet relative to what is actually going on. Leftists quite literally control every major institution in the West and we're still whining about white supremacists under our bed. Guess the right has to start adapting their tactics and simply find a way to immerse kids from birth in omnipresent propaganda as well.

  22. 'Liberal Democratic institutions"

    Left-wing, maybe.

    Democratic, sure. If you were even half a libertarian, you'd remember the libertarian definition of 'democracy ': Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

    And you're siding with the wolves.

    1. The mnemonic definition of libertarian in the 80s early 90s was 'socially liberal fiscally conservative'. I think most establishment 'libertarians' including here on VC and in the Libertarian Party got hung up on that definition as social liberals switched to authoritarianism once they gained power. And they forgot that the whole point of libertarianism allegedly is liberty and are now socially left just because or they're stuck in the past.

      1. AmosArch — I get that libertarians promote a notion of liberty founded on personal rights, and construe it so broadly that it all but annihilates majoritarianism. I wish libertarians would likewise get that the founding principle of liberty espoused in historical American constitutionalism is not that. It is self-government on majoritarian principles.

        Thus, two different notions of liberty, and they are in tension. It is puzzling how libertarians can so blithely continue without the least acknowledgement of that tension. It is even more puzzling how often libertarians attempt to obfuscate the problem, by tacitly or explicitly promoting a tendentious interpretation that theirs was the nation's founding premise all along.

        1. Sure, neither libertarianism nor leftism are a good fit to the original founding principles of this country. It was founded well over 200 years ago in a rather different society, after all.

          The main difference is that leftism is a worse fit, because it is a fundamentally totalitarian ideology, and so doesn't actually have any room for self-government. With leftism, if the people vote for what the left wants, all well and good. If they don't?

          They get what the left wants anyway.

          You can see that pretty clearly now, as the left is rising into ascendence in the US. The ACLU deprioritizing freedom of speech. Rampant censorship. People who don't hew to the 'correct' views being fired or cut off from basic financial services? What you're looking at now is the roll out of a Chinese style 'social credit' system, implemented in a private sector the left managed to subvert.

          That's what the left does in power. What would libertarians do in power? Ruthlessly leave you alone.

          1. Brett, I suggest you get on social media and start making a few inquiries about just anything at all . . . maybe Zoroastrianism. Watch what happens to the information that begins to show up on your computer. It's that process—algorithms force-feeding you what they think you want—that has led you to conclude you know leftists are totalitarians.

            Maybe not, "Zoroastrianism." Maybe, "Powell Memo." Or try both! I wonder what would happen to your brain if you spent a few days Googling, "Zoroastrianism," and "Powell Memo," stuff.

            I have no idea what would come your way, let alone what you would end up believing you could, "see that pretty clearly now." Online media algorithms are bad for you.

        2. "I wish libertarians would likewise get that the founding principle of liberty espoused in historical American constitutionalism is not that. It is self-government on majoritarian principles."

          I would suggest you read the constitution more carefully.

          While I won't suggest it embodies libertarian principles, there is are a lot of aspects to the raw constitution (excluding the BOR) that are explicitly anti-majoritarian.

          1. It's set up to, among other things, disallow vox populi vox dei, by gating new powers behind a supermajority requirement.

            You need buy in from most to change the fundamental rules of government, before allowing simple majorities to contol something.

            This hopefully drags an anchor on the path to eventual loss of freedom due to a charismatic demagogue.

            1. Both sides keep this in mind the next time some politician sheds crocodile tears over the constitution thwaring the Will of the (Simple) Majority.

              Which they conveniently neglect to mention was placed there by a supermajority.

            2. It’s set up to, among other things, disallow vox populi vox dei, by gating new powers behind a supermajority requirement.

              Krayt, nice little self-contradiction there. Your problem is with the antecedent of, "It's." Do you mean the constitution? If so, how do you explain, "disallow vox populi vox dei,?" The first 3 words in the constitution, the ones writ extra large, announce that it is a decree of the sovereign People—the only candidate in sight for the role of, "vox populi," right? How does the sovereign People's decree constrain the People themselves? What power could enforce that constraint?

              The answer is that the super-majority requirement is a constraint on government, not on the sovereign. And the sovereign enforces the constraint on government with sovereign power.

          2. Matthew, what's wrong with some anti-majoritarian stuff in a majoritarian constitution, if that's what makes it work? Do you suppose that means when the founders said, "liberty," they did not mean self-government on majoritarian principles? Take that as your premise, and try to make sense of Federalist 10 with it.

    2. The solution to that problem is a Bill of Rights and strong judiciary that keeps sheep off the menu. It is not to give the sheep a veto over anything at all that the wolves wish to do.

      That said, the broader question is why should I pay attention to a theory that starts off insulting me by comparing me to either a sheep or a wolf?

      1. "The solution to that problem is a Bill of Rights and strong judiciary that keeps sheep off the menu."

        That would require fining a way to get SCOTUS to kill the political question doctrine.

    3. Sounds like Brett is back on a republic not a democracy nonsense again.

      Immigrants are not wolves.

      1. You just don't want to engage with the meaning of that slogan.

        Democracy is not "self" government. It is, at best, each other government.

        Three people walk into a restaurant. Bob wants a burger, Jane and Harry want to eat salad.

        Freedom is that Bob gets a burger, Jane and Harry salad. Democracy is that they all eat salad.

        The checks arrive. Freedom is they get separate checks. Democracy is that Jane and Harry stick Bob with the bill.

        Bob is the sheep. Jane and Harry are the wolves. Democracy put Bob on the menu.

        Democracy is defensible when you have decisions where, unavoidably, everybody has to go the same way. Are we going to drive on the left side of the road or the right? Doesn't really matter which, but it's really important that we all drive on the same side.

        Fine, we vote on it. Democracy is the best solution here. "The worst system of government, except for all the others."

        But democracy is not, and never has been, a positive good. It is just the least awful decision making process in cases where freedom is already off the table. Its use should be restricted to such cases, you shouldn't celebrate extending democracy to topics where people can feasibly make their own choices.

        Libertarians understand that, and actively look for ways freedom can be put back on the table. When does Ilya do that anymore, when it's something he cares about?

        He stopped being a libertarian a long while back, he's just a leftist these days.

        1. Brett, democracy is Greek for republic, and republic is Latin for democracy. Whether we are a republic or a democracy depends on which language you are invoking.

          Res means thing. Publica means people. So republic is the people’s thing.

          Demos means people. Kratica means governance. So democracy is the people’s governance.

          1. If you go far enough back, all words just mean, "Ug! This is a rock!"

            Who gives a fig whether "democracy" just meant "republic" ages ago in a different language? It means voting on stuff today, and it's meant that for centuries. The etymology is entirely beside the point.

            1. If that’s true then why is it so important to you that the United States not be a democracy? You’re the one who keeps bringing that tired argument up

              1. Did I not just explain that at 8:50? Because voting is just a way of choosing who gets to do the oppressing, it isn't an alternative to oppression. It should actually be avoided where people making their own choices is a feasible option.

                1. That you disagree with the majority does not make it oppressive.

                  1. Use of force and coercion makes it oppressive.

                  2. If it affects me directly, then you’re damn right it’s oppressive. If I’m paying much higher taxes because the current president thinks it’s a good idea to let 11 million poor, unskilled immigrants have citizenship (and therefore have access to welfare programs), then I’m the sheep, and they’re the wolves.

                    1. I Callahan,

                      A bigger issue is that a subset of the people in your community will never be able to build a future for themselves. Because they dropped out of school or made some other mistakes and they can never be excellent.

                      Employers will instead hire a cheaper Mexican or Central American who had the initiative to travel thousands of miles to get here. That guy won’t miss work or cause trouble for the boss.

                      So, in addition to the illegal underclass they cultivate directly, your town will have a natively-born underclass of people who are stuck there with no hope, no day job, no future. Will that be good for you or your town? No. Would it be better if employers faced a labor shortage and had to give hard-to-employ Americans a shot? Better for everyone except executives and foreigners.

                      Don't expect wealthy law professors living behind gates to care about hard-to-employ Americans though.

                    2. If it affects me directly, then you’re damn right it’s oppressive

                      So...both of you think the value of lower immigration rates is more important than democracy?

                    3. My point exactly in saying that Ilya sides with the wolves.

                      It would be one thing if he supported open borders on the condition that no immigrant would ever be eligible for welfare or other tax paid services. But no, they get to walk in and obligate us.

                    4. God, no, Sarcastro. It isn't democracy that's flooding this country with illegal immigrants, it's democracy's failure.

                      Why else do you suppose they've been leaving the door open to illegal immigrants, instead of repealing the laws that make them illegal? Because open borders isn't popular.

                      Biden didn't run on repealing our immigration laws. But he's going to make them meaningless by refusing to enforce them.

                    5. We are not a direct democracy Brett. What you see is not a failure, it is intended and necessary.

                    6. Don’t expect wealthy law professors living behind gates to care about hard-to-employ Americans though.

                      Half the time Trumpkins are telling us that they're the Real Americans Who Do All the Work and Build All the Stuff and Grow All the Food; the other half they're telling us they're complete losers who can't compete for jobs with uneducated foreigners.

                    7. David N,

                      The hard-to-employ guy is probably not a Trump voter. He may have a felony conviction in his past and not be able to vote at all.

                      Trump's economic policies gave him a chance to get back to something more like a normal life, finally. Then Covid came along. Now Biden will give his chance to a Mexican or Central American and he'll be unemployed for the rest of his life.

                      He's an American though, so maybe you don't care.

            2. Who gives a fig whether “democracy” just meant “republic” ages ago in a different language?

              People trying to muddy the waters.

              Or narcissists who want to point out they know a thing you don’t know.


          You are not the libertarian pope, you don't get to excommunicate people you disagree with.

          Especially because it's clear on this site that you hew to the GOP base far more than any small government ideals.

          1. And getting smaller all the time at least in part because of the immigration Ilya is so enthusiastic about.

            When the LP began back in the 1970s, the US electorate was sufficiently small l libertarian that pushing the US further in a libertarian direction might have been a feasible project. Subsequent events, the left-wing takeover of the schools, and mass immigration from far less libertarian societies, have changed the US to the point where we're going to be lucky if being a libertarian doesn't end up being a ticket to a reeducation camp.

            If the libertarian movement is going to die, let it at least die honorably, and not become just another skin suit for the left.

            1. Brett, I’m sorry you have to share the country with people you disagree with but there is no right to have your policy preferences cast in constitutional concrete. Even white Americans aren’t libertarian anymore; they like social security and Medicaid.

              Anti democratic institutions like the electoral college have given your side a far longer run than it should have had. Trump reminds me of the line from Evita: “that’s quite an exit. That’s how to go when they’re ringing your curtain down.”

              1. You keep setting up that straw man about not wanting to share a country with certain people. That’s such a chickenshit cop out.

                Would you please address his points?

                1. As I understand his point he shouldn’t have to pay higher taxes and have fewer choices to benefit other people some of whom weren’t born here.

                  The answer to that is that freedom is an important value but it’s not the only value. Living together in community means that sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, and some problems are best solved by having everyone participate. Libertarianism is basically a religion for petulant teenagers who think everything is about them.

                  There is a presumption in favor of freedom buts it’s not absolute. Welcome to reality.

  23. Somin's immigration file should be reviewed for falsehood. Then, he should be deported back to Russia.

  24. Nothing says "libertarian" like parroting every argument the far-left makes about Trump and his supporters. It is obvious the most sacred "institution" Somin cares about is being rid of Trump.

    FBI lies to get a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign? "Eh", says the libertarian, Trump entitled to due process in an impeachment trial? "Ridiculous", says the libertarian. Trump entitled to First Amendment defense? Hogwash. Does the Senate have jurisdiction to try a man who will be a private citizen? Let's read the Constitutional text in the most expansive way possible to find jurisdiction.

    Just another man broken by Trump-hatred who would cut down every law in the United States to get at his Devil.

    1. F.D. Wolf — Separation of powers is inconsistent with judicial supremacy—a point your hazy focus on the Trump impeachment seems to have missed.

      All the powers exercised by government, including the judicial power, are delegated and constrained by the sovereign People. Their power is unlike the constrained power of government. The People's power is absolute, unappealable, final, and exercised at pleasure. The People constrain government. Government does not constrain them.

      Impeachments and trials for impeachment are among the powers the People respectively delegated to the House and Senate, as sole powers. That means that no other part of government gets a say, nor even influence. The People themselves do get a say, and more than a say. They control the exercise of those impeachment powers through politics.

      Apparently, you want those sole powers constrained, but the People do not. The People want a means to get rid of a President directly, without interference, using purely political means. By study of the impeachment structure they erected, we may surmise that the People want all presidents to be continuously in awe of the People's power, and to feel that power as an ever-present constraint from which a president might not escape.

      In short, the impeachment power is an ultimate check imposed by sovereign power. You cannot legitimately entangle the sovereign will in constraints the sovereign itself decreed for a different purpose—to constrain government. Notions of that sort get American constitutionalism backward. The government, including the judiciary, may not constrain the sovereign.

      That principle, by the way, is the principle which erects the laws, and keeps them standing—not a principle which tears them down. Absent some power greater than government to apply constraint, the notion of limited government becomes a vain and empty wish.

      1. I raised plenty of concerns of the unseemly joy with which politicians seached through everyone's papers without needing a warrant, because it was impeachment. It may not have applied, but it was transparently an effort to hurt a political opponent because of his politics by looking for anything.

        This was amply demonstrated by the tax returns issue. Everyone knows its purpose was to leak something embarrassing. And they went for it at the state level as well, the more with their hands on it the better. And, shocker, some was leaked before the election, right on schedule.

        What puts acid in my stomach are not the idiotic events recently by a handful of clowns, but this kind of stuff. It represents a deep failing by politicians who should know better.

  25. If you're worried about ethno-nationalists, I get that. I just wonder how you get useful institutionalism without nationalistic ideals to define the institutions.

  26. I have consistently disagreed with Professor Somin on the constitutional issues, and in my view, as in the Supreme Court’s, the political branches have broad authority to exclude aliens from thevUmited States, and the constitution no more prohibits exclusion than it prohibits abortion.

    That said, although I’m more moderate than Professor Somin is, Professor Somin may well be right in his policy (as distinct from constitutional) view that our immigration policy has gotten too draconian and a more liberal policy would be better both morally and for the country’s pragmatic interests.

    1. I would note that in my view, the political branches absolutely can take moral views and considerations into account in legislation. Just because the constitution permits something doesn’t mean it’s right (or wise or politic). That said, liberal and libertarian conceptions of morality on issues like immigration are entitled to the same, and only the same consideration as conservative conceptions of morality on issues like abortion. Conservative Justices are no more entitled to declare liberal conceptions of morality irrational or unconstitutional simply because they disagree with them than liberal justices are to do the same with conservative conceptions of morality.

      1. Democrat constituencies have busted records of prosperity from Trump slowing immigration. Immigrants suppress wages from laborer to professional, for the enrichment of the tech billionaire employers. We were on the verge of a wage explosion from a labor shortage. The tech billionaires used the media and the Democrat Governor shutdowns to destroy the achievements of Trump.

        I would never consider an attack on the Congress. However, all tech billionaires should be living like Saddam Hussein, never sleeping in the same apartment 2 nights in a row, cooking rice in his underwear.

        1. cooking rice in his underwear.

          Wouldn't it be easier to use a pot?

    2. I think our nominal immigration policy, as expressed in the laws on the books, may be too draconian. At least, it's certainly not ideal.

      The problem is that our nominal immigration policy looks nothing like our actual immigration policy, which is why we have tens of millions of illegal immigrants in the country.

      You could find support for greatly increasing legal immigration, if we weren't already flooded with illegal immigrants. But everybody knows that, if the laws aren't being enforced anyway, any increase in legal immigration is just on top of the illegal immigration, not in place of it. So until something serious is done about illegal immigration, they're not willing to increase the legal.

      1. The fact that you’re complaining about “tens of millions of illegal immigrants in the country” and using this fiction to justify low levels of legal immigration is pretty much a show-and tell example of exactly what Somin remarked on in his article.

        1. You'll find out how much of a fiction it is when the Democrats pull off their mass naturalization of illegals some time in the next couple of years.

    3. How is our immigration policy too draconian?

      We currently have one of the highest % of foreign born individuals in this country in decades.

      1. Have you talked to any immigrants lately? We have done a great bipartisan job in the past 10 years making them insecure. We're losing researchers over it.

        And that doesn't count the shadowy nonperson crap we pull on illegals while we allow businesses to employ them no prob.

        1. 1. Yes.
          2. OK, and? Plenty of researchers out there in US college campuses. Plenty of people looking for faculty jobs who have US citizenship. Wages for people with doctorates are stagnating.
          3. There are plenty of laws against this. The problem is not ENFORCING the laws against businesses employing illegals.

          1. Research quality is not some threshold where you're good enough, except maybe at the very very elite.
            Losing researchers means we lose quality.

            Agree with the enforcement issue. That's discretionary on the President, no?

  27. Is there anybody writing articles at The Volokh Conspiracy who isn't a leftist ********** like Ilya Somin?

    1. Nope. Just ultra-liberals like Josh Blackman and Eugene and David Bernstein. You're clearly a long-time reader, to have made such an insightful and accurate assessment. Oh, almost forgot Stewart Baker. Man, talk about a leftist!

      1. santamonica811, you are an ultra-leftist. From your perspective, Stalin was a conservative.

        1. True. Other than being a registered Republican, voting for Trump in 2016, contributing to Trump's campaign in 2016, voting as write-in for John Huntsman in 3 other presidential elections . . . yup, sounds leftist to me. (Plus, voting for Rep. candidates for California governor in 3 elections. But with your No True Scotsman world-view, actual facts don't matter. You can (and will!!!) shift those goalposts when those damn facts get in the way.)

      2. Don't forget the far left Orin Kerr. He's practically a red diaper baby.

    2. Reason Magazine is the Koch Brother, a Deep State agent and owner. He did OK from the shutdown, and from the pandemic false propaganda.

  28. Lefty fascists and socialists, not nationalists, are the greater threat to . . . Liberty, if that's what you mean by "liberal democratic institutions" (or perhaps something less desirable is meant).

    Immigrants are great. Just need to answer the question of the rate at which the population ought to be added to through immigration, there are myriad reasons it should be in moderation (even the most leftist commenters on this blog have repeatedly disavowed open borders).

    "Ethno-nationalists" or "white nationalists" are an entirely different thing. (Does the use of "ethno" imply the same applies to black nationalism or whatever else?). The label is obviously used to refer to an ideology that is thoroughly racist at its core. I should hope that such immorality can be condemned regardless of, and without any need to mention this bizarre assessment of whether or not it is "good for liberal democratic institutions." That's certainly how the vast, the overwhelming majority of regular everyday Americans feel about racism.

  29. Yeah what really scares me is the guy down the street who thinks America should exist to further to common welfare of its citizens first and foremost.

  30. The jump from 'nationalist' to 'ethno-nationalist' comes so fast it's impressive, even for for a bigot like Somin. He didn't even manage to make it to the body of the article before declaring anyone that disagrees with him a racist!

    1. It doesn't take long reading the comments here to see how close they are.

      1. More reading into in place of reading: Point out the people actually saying anything racist. I'll give you Aktenberg78 as a freebie, who else?

        1. Well, you are into the immigration is a plot by Dems to assure that demography is destiny.
          So is dwshelf.

          How is that not race-based?

          And I won't go in on the whiff of 'rootless cosmopolitans' going around here. That spills over into an alltogether different bigotry.

          1. How is it not race based? Because it's not freaking race based, the left is concerned with the demographics of the people we import, I'm concerned with their culture.

            1. Culture not race, but it just happens to map onto race. And also the Bell Curve.

              No one's buying it except maybe yourself.

              1. Yes, it happens to badly correlate with race. So freaking what? I'm not allowed to care about anything that's correlated with race? How stupid is that?

                1. With all due respect, any conservative who doesn't recognize the reality of race and intelligence will always lose, as he'll never support anything that is based on race that must be to preserve civilization.

          2. The idea of race-based decisions is not just another definition of racist. You’re using terms interchangeably:

            1. No one is talking about racist, the term Brett objected to was 'ethno-nationalist.'

              Though I agree with your larger point - that's why affirmative action isn't racist.

              1. I'll reiterate because you seem to have forgotten what the sub-thread was all about:

                Toranth said:

                The jump from ‘nationalist’ to ‘ethno-nationalist’ comes so fast it’s impressive, even for for a bigot like Somin. He didn’t even manage to make it to the body of the article before declaring anyone that disagrees with him a racist!

                Sarcastr0 said:

                It doesn’t take long reading the comments here to see how close they are.

                Brett Bellmore said:

                More reading into in place of reading: Point out the people actually saying anything racist.

                You responded to Toranth's comment, which was about "racist", since it was the last piece of the sentence. Be honest - that's what made you reply. The word "racist" was bolded for a reason.

                1. Be honest – that’s what made you reply.

                  Your telepathy is on the fritz.

                  I posted because the jump Somin is accused of is made multiple times in this thread.

                  That's my thesis. I'm not calling anyone racist; that's either trivial as in the case with Aktenberg, or it just adds more heat than light.

                  1. You are surprised the jump was made in the comments, when Somin made it explicitly in the first place?

                    There is a large difference between a nationalist and an ethno-nationalist. When you deliberately conflate the two, as Somin did, you set up a strawman. It's dishonest and misleading, and entirely typical for him.

                    1. No, dude, read better.

                      I'm saying that the jump you complain about at 4:47 am is made manifest by the comments. I'm not conflating anything. The comments here are full of fear about 'demographics.' or 'culture.'

                      Explain how the demographics people in this thread are concerned about is not a stand in for race.

                    2. Also the growing number of people calling for Somin to be deported. That's nativist bigotry at the very least.

  31. Let's assume, arguendo, that non-white immigrants will never subscribe to conservatism in any significant numbers; after all, the Democrats themselves believe this, which is why they frequently say that "Demographics is destiny" and "A blue takeover is inevitable."

    Why, then, should conservatives support the immigration of these people, legally or illegally, that will permanently entrench in power their political opponents?

    No one has ever answered this.

    1. 1. I've only heard demographics is destiny in order to debunk it. And not really in a partisan way.

      2. Demographics can be about things that are not immigrants.

      3. I love it when you try and help.

      1. 1) Where the hell have you been? Leftists constantly say this.

        2) But that's not what people mean. They mean "non-white."

        3) Fuck off.

      2. 4. Republicans know, because they themselves have written it, that they should perhaps "pivot", to use a modern business buzzword, some towards immigrants to capture more of the vote

        How has the past four years done for that effort?

        1. Pretty well, actually, based on the 2020 polls.

  32. If we must restrict liberty in order to protect ourselves against illiberal nationalists, the most appropriate people to target should be the nationalists themselves. But I hasten to add that I do not believe the US and other Western nations should actually go down this path, so long as there is any other plausible alternative.

    So tomorrow Somin will decide that, you know there just aren't any "plausible alternatives" to "targeting" nationalists. Sorry I looked and looked and had to decide that targeting was the only option. This POS should just admit that he's joined up with the filth cleansers like Molly and for that matter many of the rest of the libs here.

    1. Speculating yourself into a paranoid frenzy really does seem to be the style on the right at the moment.

      1. It's easy to get into a paranoid frenzy by just listening to you libs these days. What does Somin mean by "targeting?" What does Molly mean by "cleanse the filth?" I don't include you in this group but this is not just my imagination. Eliminationist rhetoric exposes an intense hatred that will at some point be acted upon.

        1. If we must restrict liberty in order to protect ourselves against illiberal nationalists, the most appropriate people to target should be the nationalists themselves. But I hasten to add that I do not believe the US and other Western nations should actually go down this path, so long as there is any other plausible alternative.

          See, you need to assume another step in this in order to realize your oppression fantasy. When I called you on it, you responded with...this quote. Where you need to go another step.

          I can't stop you if you want to live in paranoia, but precriming Somin as an authoritarian is some silliness.

          1. "Plausible alternative." Weasel words. There isn't any justification for targeting a group of people for being nationalists. It's the same as defining whole swaths of people as "filth" just because they don't share your world view. I notice that when the other side engages in this you don't consider it a "fantasy" to be concerned about it.

            Somin may not think of himself as an authoritarian but here he is walking and quacking like one.

            1. You're doing an awful lot of work to twist what Somin explicitly said he wasn't saying into what you want him to say.

      2. If these paranoid people were right, the left would be censoring Trump off the Internet.

        1. Pretty sure Trump can get on the Internet, Ben.

          1. Not even trying to be honest any more then?

            1. If you think twitter is the Internet, that's your problem.

              It's a big enough difference not to be pedantry.

              Because your thesis sounds like crap if it goes 'If these paranoid people were right, Twitter would be censoring Trump off of twitter.'

  33. Ah, yes. Prof. Somin's weekly rehash of the same article he's been posting for years. Read one, you've read them all.

  34. SSDD

    Ilya writes yet another post antithetical to our Declaration of Independence. You see, dear people, you have no right to separate yourselves from the global community. You must open your borders wide and allow every person to enter whether they be a boon or a bane to your society. And this is so, because Ilya says it is so.

    You must not consider that every nation controls its own borders. Those other nations do so only because they are racist. Ilya would not say it if it were not true.

  35. If there is anything the Volokh Conspiracy's carefully curated class of followers -- obsolete bigots; whining right-wing culture war casualties; superstitious faux libertarians; disaffected clingers -- can't stand, it is the occasional intrusion of genuine libertarian content from a genuine libertarian.

  36. OK... a few points.

    1. The US currently has one of the highest % of foreign born immigrants in decades. Currently at 13.7% - 15.4% of the population, and over 45 million immigrants. This is a 100-year high for % foreign born. This is especially notable in the US as the foreign born population tends not to be from the same cultural group as the majority of the population. (This is unlike some countries like New Zealand, where the UK immigrants form the majority of immigrants). Any conversation has to take this high current level of immigration into account. Ilya CONSISTENTLY fails to do this.

    2. In pointing out the lack of any examples, one of the most dramatic examples may be the case of Israel, both current and past.
    2a. Israel, post WWII saw extremely high levels of immigration from the worldwide Jewish population. Ultimately, this had the effect of displacing much of the native population.
    2b. If the native population had control of its borders, this almost certainly wouldn't have happened. The native population would've restricted immigration.
    2c. Instead, the native values were displaced within the country

  37. Native Americans failed to control immigration, Ilya. Remember that?

  38. Let's add on a few more points that are poorly understood.

    1. People "tend" to congregate, mix, and socialize with people who have similar life experiences and culure to their own. This is by no means exclusive, but it's a tendency. It's why you get immigrants in many areas organize into immigrant communities, rather than dispersing. It's why you see more of this happen with cultural groups with greater dissimularities from the "native" group. Often people will rely on this social capital within the group for support, jobs, etc. It's why you see certain businesses "dominated" by certain ethnic groups.
    2. At low levels of immigration, this is fairly dispersed. At higher levels of immigration (>10% foreign born) you see higher levels of ethnic communities forming. At MUCH higher levels (>20%) the ethnic communities form decent size chunks of the country as majority areas, and questions about independence form. This is when you start to see real country-cohesion problems occur. This occurs when there is a large cultural gap between areas. Low cultural gaps (same language, for example) tend not to have this issue.
    3. The issue Ilya has, is he's part of a different class, the so-called "internationalist" class.
    4. The internationalist class has greater cultural cohesion with other members of the internationalist class, rather than the native culture.
    5. The internationalist class is typified by high income, high social status, often with extensive travel. The internationalist class largely doesn't have any issues with visas, immigration, or travel, and it's due to their high income. The internationalist class relies on other internationalists for their social capital, as well as their inherent income.
    6. There have been various incarnations of the internationalist class in the past. The nobility of Europe in the 1700's for example, who shared greater commonalities with other nobles than with their own citizens.
    7. However, being part of this class can blind people to the other social classes, and how things work without the inherent high-income levels and social connections with other high-income internationlists. This is the situation Ilya is in. The proverbial "Let them eat cake" type of mentality.
    8. There is also likely a lack of understanding on the effects on income and job prospects for mass immigration at the other social levels, and how it affects jobs, income, and more. For the internationalist class, it doesn't matter whether their native culture or an immigrant culture does a job. Whichever is cheaper.

    1. Cool story bro. But just because you think it doesn't mean it's true. You have lots and lots of ipse dixit there.

      The 'Internationalist class' is basically rootless cosmopolitan warmed over. You might say European nobility, but anyone with an understanding of history hears something else entirely.

  39. So, if every member of the Chinese Communist Party wants to move to America, they should be allowed to do so?
    And this would be no threat to freedom?
    This is insane.

  40. So, the essence is that sometimes the local ethnic majority doesn't like the immigrant minority, and wants to restrict immigration. Right?

    Somebody remind me again what the definition of "democracy" is?

    We don't live in a true democracy. And a good thing that is.


    And, folks, if you don't like what Prof. Somin says... don't read it. It's not like you have to read to the end of the article to see who wrote it. You might even be able to set up an automatic filter so you don't even see his articles.

    1. Or, more precisely: if you don't want to read what he writes, don't read it. Just because he writes on VC doesn't mean you have to read his articles.

  41. I look forward to the day when I will read about Ilya Somin's suicide.

    1. For years I tried to defend conservatives against liberal claims that their movement was based primarily on racism. People like you, of course, make it clear that liberals were right.

    2. How can you type this and think you're not the bad guy here?

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