Immigration or Why I’m Not a Libertarian

6 Feb

Our politicians talk alot about immigration. Opinions on the topic cover just about everything from absolutely no more immigrants to fully open borders. I don’t think anyone of sense holds the former opinion, and therefore we will not address it. As for the latter, it was an opinion previously held by myself and one I think held by most who consider themselves to be Libertarian. It is this opinion which we shall address. That is, should the United States adopt an open border policy? I assert that it should not do so and that our founders laid upon us the duty and the right to prudently limit immigration for the perseverance of republican virtue.

In 1789, Governor Morris of Pennsylvania, describing the French temperament, wrote:

“Inconstancy is so mingled in the blood, marrow, and every essence of this people, that when a man of high rank and importance laughs today at what he seriously asserted yesterday, it is considered as in the natural order of things… The great mass of the common people have no religion but their priests, no law but theirs superiors, no moral but the their interest.”

He is describing a people thoroughly debased by despotism and therefore incapable of sustaining a free government. He believed virtue to be a prerequisite for liberal government or government by the people. This belief was normal for our founders, though it is completely foreign to us today.

The morality that claims, “you can do whatever you like, so long as you don’t harm others” habituates a people to despotism by enervating the body and separating citizen from citizen. Allow me one illustrative example:

As no-fault divorce and other more controversial practices drive a wedge in marital relations the government grows. It is not a hard equation to grasp. A couple has a child – but don’t feel obligated a) to each other or b) to the child. The mother, as is very often the case, tells the pops to get lost. “Are you going to let that child starve because its parents separated? How dare you deny a single mother the money she needs to support that child.”

Well, what argument can you make? If such an issue were to be raised in front of a people who valued marriage as something sacred, children as the responsibility of all parties involved and men as scum who thought otherwise then you could effectively argue against the extension of government. You might say:

–       A) “It is not the governments duty to support this child, but those who brought it into this world. The man must marry the mother, and he must work.”

–       B) “Bringing a child into this world requires marriage, it is the Christian thing to do.”

But these arguments will fall flat if presented to a people spoon fed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and not the Declaration of Independence.

–       To A) “You cannot make a man marry a woman if they don’t love each other, this would violate their freedom because it hedges their ability to choose.”

–       To B) “You’re a fucking crazy fundamentalist. Keep your God off my body.”

Regardless of which camp you now support, my point is that the citizens, in a republican government, determine what type of government they will live under. Yes, there is a constitution and there are laws but when the lawmakers are elected by the people any barrier can be overcome, that is, re-interpreted. We’ve seen it occur. “But they have to abide by the rule of law – we have a constitution for crying out loud.” If you don’t have a people accustomed to the rule of law, you won’t have the rule of law.

I’ll conclude my proof of virtue’s necessity with a quote from Washington:

The people must be taught “to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of theml to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; … to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness – cherishing the first, avoiding the last; and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.”

And so we come to immigration, which is not so hard a concept once we’ve grasped the necessity of virtue for the rule of law.

As I said earlier, we have the right and the duty to regulate immigration. If we decided that all the world possessed the “vigilance” and discriminating ability needed for republican government, we might do away with restrictions to immigration. But so long as that is not the case, and I claim that it is not, then we must limit immigration. “By what standard! Who are you to decide?” I am not the one to do so because I am not an elected official, but when I vote I will vote for one with a sensible immigration policy. And there can be no fixed “standard;” rather, the elected statesmen must prudently decide what is necessary for good government. Similarly, the people must prudently decide which statesman to elect. Prudence and a “frequent recurrence to fundamental principles” must be our guiding light.

On the issue of immigration, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“In the recommendation to admit indiscriminately foreign emigrants of every description to the privileges of American citizens, on their first entrance into our country, there is an attempt to break down every pale which has been erected for the preservation of a national spirit and a national character; and to let in the most powerful means of perverting and corrupting both the one and the other.”

My claim is three-fold:

1st, Republican virtue, as understood by the founders, is necessary for the maintenance of our rights. Without it, a lazy and profligate people gladly sell their freedom for comforts and false security.

2nd, limiting immigration is necessary for the maintenance of republican virtue and as such, is a reasonable action for statesmen to take.

3rd, That our founders intended for us to guard our rights and part of that was regulating immigration. This is not something we are simply “allowed” to do, but it is our duty.

I will now entertain objections,

Cole Simmons


2 Responses to “Immigration or Why I’m Not a Libertarian”

  1. John P February 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    “Opinions on the topic cover just about everything from absolutely no more immigrants to fully open borders. I don’t think anyone of sense holds the former opinion…”


  1. Immigration, or why virtue doesn’t matter « RSSted Development - February 11, 2011

    […] old pal Cole wrote a post on immigration. It followed a conversation we had on the […]

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