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Fortress America?

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 02/01/2002 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Have you been following the colorful debate at WND over immigration policy?

Recently, I took exception to remarks by Pat Buchanan that libertarians were foolishly playing into the hands of statists by supporting open borders. Now, two Buchanan wannabes, Karen De Coster and Ilana Mercer, have their shorts in a wad over the threat of “hippie libertarians,” who want to give away the keys to the country. Their shrill attack on “left-wing libertarians” is peppered with quaint old libertarian ideas and principles, but they conveniently ignore the key issues and avoid proposing any meaningful alternatives to the failed policies that now confront us in the real world.

Of course, nothing in my previous essay advocated uncontrolled immigration or open citizenship. Instead, I proposed re-opening our borders so that documented foreign workers would find a revolving door, not a deadly, one-way fortress. I even pointed out that such an open-door policy worked successfully for decades under California’s Bracero Program.

Indeed, statistics marshaled by Ilana Mercer confirmed that only a minority of immigrants come here to work and that the majority come in as family members, once the worker gets in the United States. In the upside down world of current U.S. immigration policy, it is easier to smuggle your family into the U.S. than to attempt to cross back and forth.

Unable to demonstrate any historical support for their positions, De Coster and Mercer argue on theoretical “libertarian” grounds, but end up with little to distinguish their conclusions from those of Buchanan. Although they claim to support limited government, we are asked to believe that more government is justified to protect our borders. It is the same old argument of national security as a justification for less freedom.

In reality, De Coster and Mercer are mouthing the same reactionary mantra as Buchanan, advocating further militarization of our borders and the creation of Fortress America. Like Buchanan, they bemoan the “dumbing down of America” by immigrants, but their solution to our failed immigration policy is to hire more dumb government agents and more dumb federal agencies, so that some of the dumbest members of society end up with all the guns and authority over the rest of us. How smart is that?

Most libertarians care about the same things as the Buchanan crowd, including preserving our country, our property rights and our precious Constitution. We appreciate many of Pat Buchanan’s ideas and we applaud his willingness to debate and call attention to such important issues as immigration., However, libertarians place more stock in protecting ourselves from an ever more hostile and intrusive federal government, than in any scheme to substitute our freedom for a false promise of safety.

What we freedom-loving libertarians would prefer to see is a plan that will reduce illegal aliens by slashing government welfare programs and making it easier for foreign workers to return to their families back home, rather than being forced to smuggle them into the U.S. We want to address the real problem, not people’s fears about the problem.

Don’t forget, the terrorists of 9-11 all found a way to enter the United States legally. It’s just like gun control, the bad guys always get by, while the common citizens must suffer all the controls and searches.

Perhaps the only thing that De Coster, Mercer and I do agree on is Mercer’s statement: “It’s about absolute private-property rights, stupid.” Unfortunately, those who call for further militarization of our borders are contributing directly to the erosion of our private-property rights, because that is the end result of handing more police powers over to the government.

Did you know that U.S. customs agents already have the right to search your car or home, without a search warrant, if you are anywhere near a border? Do we really want more deadly home invasions and warrantless searches unleashed upon private-property owners? Pat Buchanan and the wannabes appear to think so. They still believe the government cares about protecting our rights and can be entrusted to do so. We libertarians are naturally distrustful of government and find that the government’s cure is usually worse than the disease.

Don’t be swayed by the shrill voices of those who urge the creation of Fortress America. Don’t buy into the idea that we must create a police state in order to solve our immigration problems. It’s time to get real on immigration and admit that the current policy is a deadly and costly failure that must be replaced with policies based upon open markets and freedom – not fortresses and fear.


Steve Kubby was the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate for California and played a key role in the passage of Proposition 215, California’s historic medical marijuana law. He is the author of two books on drug policy reform and the founder of the American Medical Marijuana Association. His current position is as producer for the Pot-TV News.


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