Closed Borders Are Incompatible with Liberty

When advocating for open borders, a common argument we hear is something along the lines of this:

[B]ut immigrants suck down welfare, commit more crime, including rape, and are actively engaged in destroying Anglo-Saxon culture, the culture that brought us the economic liberty…


White supremacist overtones aside, this argument represents what I like to call the Pyrrhic Argument for Liberty.  By that I mean, one would destroy liberty in order to protect it.

The reason it is Pyrrhic is because closed borders are inherently illiberal.  Liberty includes, among other things, the right of association and the right of property.  As I wrote about the other day, it is the right to say “no” as well as the right to say “yes.”  Just as government action may take away one’s power of veto to say “no,” and that is inherently illiberal, government action (through immigration restrictions, etc) takes away one’s power of consent to say “yes,” and that is inherently illiberal.  The right of association, held dear to may liberty-lovers (and I dare say is essential to liberty itself), is the right to associate (or not) with whomever one chooses (or not).  Immigration restrictions immediately destroy that right.  They limit who one can do business with, sell to, buy from, marry, even talk to.  Immigration restrictions are no less detrimental to liberty than economic restrictions like tariffs, occupational licensing, or bans.

In short, no one can claim to be a friend of liberty and support immigration restrictions.

Update: Sandy Ikeda’s contribution on this matter is indispensable