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Libertarianism leads to statism? Get real!

Pat Buchanan’s recent column on libertarianism wins some points for a basic
understanding of the libertarian role in opposing Big Government and
protecting the rights of the individual. But then Buchanan makes a huge
leap in logic claiming that “on open borders, as on mass immigration,
libertarians line up with the Party of Government.”

Buchanan argues that the immigrant crime rate “is twice that of the
native-born, which translates into diminished security for American citizens
and a necessary expansion of state police power – i.e., more cops, judges,
courts, jails, prisons.”

Apparently Buchanan believes that fuzzy-headed libertarians have failed to
connect the dots and see how their support for open immigration plays into
the hands of statism. In a bizarre twist of logic, Pat Buchanan argues that
the way to stop the expansion of state police powers is to militarize our
borders and expand the state’s powers to use deadly force anywhere near the

Buchanan also raises the classic argument that immigrants are
“disproportionate users of social services.” Like most social conservatives,
Buchanan would rather pass more laws and hire more border cops, than deal
with the underlying issues of Big Government. Libertarians don’t care if
immigrants use a disproportionate amount of social services, because we
believe all social programs should be junked.

Buchanan plays upon ethnic mistrust and xenophobia to portray open borders
as a disaster: “With an anticipated 75 million immigrants poised to enter
the United States in the next half century – mostly poor folks, far more
prolific than our native-born – there will arise an inexorable need for
still more police, jails, prisons, schools, laws, rules, regulations,
services and restrictions on all Americans at the local, state and national

Such hostility towards immigrants is very popular these days. As a result,
the Libertarian Party’s support for open borders has become our most
controversial position. Libertarians are endlessly scolded for supporting
such a dangerous idea as open borders, especially since the events of 9-11.

Though libertarians may be suspect in today’s political climate for
supporting open borders, it is a fundamental issue for anyone who believes
in open and unregulated markets. Like the war on drugs, the basic premise of
closed borders is flawed and cannot be enforced. Just look at the results
in both cases – despite huge escalating budgets to control drugs and
illegal aliens, there are more drugs and illegals than ever before.

Fifty years ago, the United States didn’t have immigration problems or
illegal aliens, at least not by today’s standards. Instead, America was
held up as the freest and most tolerant nation in the world. The U.S.
economic system was, by comparison with most other nations, a free market
economy. Immigration was not only far less restricted than today, U.S.
borders were virtually unmanned. Back then, borders were easily crossed and
people prospered on both sides.

For example, back in the ’50s Mexican workers would spend six months a year
working in California and six months a year with their families in Mexico.
Unlike U.S. foreign aid, that may only reside in a country for a few hours
before it is transferred to a private Swiss bank account, the dollars that
went south with the Mexican “Braceros” went directly to poor families and
local Mexican communities. Without strict borders, Mexicans filled a vital
need for California agriculture, while creating stability and prosperity
back home. Most Mexican families found it preferable to remain in their
beloved communities, enjoying the advantage of the low cost of living.

Now, the border between California and Mexico has become one of the
deadliest borders in the world, with dozens of deaths each year. Crossing
such a deadly border means that once an illegal alien gets into the U.S.
they are very reluctant to leave. Dollars that would have gone back to
their home country end up instead going to “Coyotes” to smuggle their loved
ones into the U.S.

Libertarians understand that free markets and open borders have always been
the route to real peace and prosperity. That’s why we oppose the drug war and the siege mentality of current U.S. immigration policy. Sure, it
would be easier and more popular to reject our controversial policy of open
borders, but libertarians don’t abandon basic principles of freedom,
regardless of which way the political winds may blow.

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.