Thursday, 6 April 2006

Closing the borders

Immigration is on the whiteboard both here in New Zealand and in the US, and many people in both NZ and the US seem to have forgotten that it was and is immigrants who built both countries. In New Zealand:  
The Government is looking at tough new immigration rules that will make it harder to get into New Zealand and easier to kick people out. [Source, NZ Herald]
 In the States, George W. Bush seeks to pass legislation that includes a temporary worker program but avoids amnesty for an estimated 11 million illegal migrants... [An earlier bill passed through the House in December] has sparked nationwide protests by Hispanic groups and their supporters. It defines illegal presence in the country as a felony, instead of a civil offense, and calls for the construction of a fence along the U.S. border with Mexico. [Source, Reuters]

What a slap in the face to the people who built both countries. Just over a century ago Emma Lazarus's famous poem was engraved on a plaque and fixed to the Statue of Liberty's pedestal:

...Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Since 1903, those words have been forgotten by many Americans. They are words that many New Zealanders might still take to heart. Immigration, it is often said, is complicated. Well, no it isn't. As Michael Hurd explains, "There are so many platitudes about immigration--some cloaked in sincerity, and others completely meaningless.The truth really isn't that complicated. The answer is not open immigration, or a closed society. The answer is a free society."

True enough. Let peaceful people pass borders freely -- there's about an uncomplicated and as moral an immigration policy as you'd need. Open immigration to peaceful people is, argues Harry Binswanger, both moral and practical. Therein is the way to remove the complication, he argues: "Entry into the U.S. [and New Zealand] should ultimately be free for any foreigner, with the exception of criminals, would-be terrorists, and those carrying infectious diseases." I urge you to read the argument in its entirety. I've said this myself before, on this very topic:

As a corollary of the principle of freedom of movement libertarians favour completely open borders, while acknowledging that terrorism, refugees and welfare systems have complicated the implementation of this principle. The refugee ship Tampa symbolised the latter two complications, and showed up the hard heart of welfarism. Ahmed Zaoui symbolises the last. Ending welfarism and commencing private sponsorship of entrants solves both 'complications.' ...[L]ibertarians recognise however that as author Robert Heinlein suggested, successful immigrants demonstrate just by their choice and gumption in choosing a new life that they are worthy of respect. As James Kilbourne says, “God damn you if the only two words you can find to put together when talking about people who leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves and their families are ‘illegal aliens.’
Letting peaceful people pass borders freely is both moral and practical. Just over one hundred years since Emma Lazarus's poem was laid at the foot of Liberty's stature, it would be good to think that its simple sentiments were once more heard throughout the world. Let freedom reign once again -- and God damn to hell those who would close off freedom to peaceful immigrants.
LINKS: Government acts to close border loopholes - NZ Herald US lawmakers push to break immigration logjam - Reuters
'The New Colossus', by Emma Lazarus - Fact Monster
Immigration: Pave your own way - Michael Hurd,
Immigration quotas vs individual rights: The moral and practical case for open immigration - Harry Binswanger, CapMag
Cue Card Libertarianism - Immigration - Not PC
Bloodstains on the refugee red carpet - Peter Cresswell
Welfare's inhumanity to immigrants - Peter Cresswell

TAGS: Politics-US, Politics-NZ, Libertarianism


  1. PC, your take on the US illegal immigration debate is uninformed. The big point here is not that these are immigrants, the point is that these illegals do not want to assimilate, do not want to learn English, do not want to become citizens, and wave Mexican flags on their protest rants.

    The US debate has *nothing*, I repeat, *nothing* to do with immigration.

  2. "...these illegals..."?


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