Open Immigration Does Not Necessarily Equal Open Borders

“Open immigration” in the context of capitalism means open to non-criminals and open to non-jidhadists. It does not exclude screening for criminals (those who violate rights), those with contagious diseases, and terrorists.

This is how Yaron Brook and Craig Biddle use the term. (I believe Binswanger is for “open borders” eventually — so I am not sure how he
will handle jihadists).

Those who paint advocates of open immigration, such as Brook, Biddle and Weiner as leaving borders open with no screening (for jihadists and diseases, etc.) are dishonest.

Dr. Brook explicitly states screening is required in his definition of open immigration in his video. Link is here:
http://openimmigration.net/category/video/

Biddle states in his essay on open immigration and individual rights:

“Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration. Nor does it mean that anyone who immigrates to America should be eligible for U.S. citizenship–the proper requirements of which are a separate matter. Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America–providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases.2 Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.”

There are many differing arguments for open immigration — each with their different nuances — many of those arguments for open (and closed) immigration are wrong. So be careful when you lump them all together.

Don’t get caught up in the open to everyone vs. closed to everyone dichotomy on this issue. So people be careful when you paint with your overly large brush when demonizing an imagined enemy.

  • Tony Palmeri

    I posted the following, in response to Keith Weiner’s recent article at CapMag. I originally used the term “open borders” in my criticism, but I will edit it as “open immigration” here (so as not to be accused of dishonesty). I believe all my essential points are still valid:

    While I agree with many of your particular points (eg: I am completely sympathethic to those who wish only to live a better life; I also absolutely would try to come to America, even illegally, under the circumstances many of them face; I don’t say “they take ‘our’ jobs,”; I don’t blame *them* for the fact that social welfare benefits are offfered to them [I blame our domestic altruists who force it]), I am opposed to the “open immigration” policy put forth by Harry Binswanger, Craig Biddle, and other prominant Objectivists (which essentially advises allowing entry to anyone, so long as they are not a known criminal/terrorist, or carrying certain communicable diseases, or are from an identifiable enemy nation).

    I believe such a policy will ulimately be a complete disaster for Freedom in America.

    I do not accept the oft asserted “natural right” for any individual to cross any national border (or to immigrate) as an absolute, contra a nations’ right (more specifically, the individual rights of all the individuals within a nation, materially put into action via their institution of government) to protect and to preserve the very Republic that is meant to protect and preserve *their* hard-won rights (not those of the whole rest of the world).

    Yes, everyone is vested, by their nature as a human, with certain inalienable rights, but I disagree with the notion that everyone is automatically vested with an *entitlement* to have their rights materially defended/protected/preserved at the expense of others. In exactly the same way that a right to protect and preserve one’s own life does not imply an ‘entitlement’ to health care, there is no natural/inherent ‘entitlement’ to be a participant in a particular society that has (at great cost) *materially* secured a geographic region against tyranny.

    Am I saying “close the borders” (or “end immigration”)? Certainly not. Am I a racist, a xenophobe, a bigot (all accusations that have unthinkingly and despicably hurled at me)? I’ll leave that for intellectually honest people to judge, in response to my actual words here and elsewhere.

    My opposition to the completely open immigration policy (advocated by many Objectivists) is that, similar to Libertarianism’s out-of-context treatment of the ‘non-agression-principle’, it seems to fiercely cling to a certain notion of Individual Rights as a platonic ideal that cannot ever be questioned, regardless of the obvious ways that adherence to that ideal (in some particular fashion) actually undermines the foundations necessary to sustain the American Republic.

    Our Republic, our institution of government which is meant to preserve and protect our individual rights, is not some kind of disembodied entity that naturally/spontaneously came into existence as the default option or whose continued existence is unconditional. Moral men took a principled stand against tyranny, and pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor to the project. They conscientiously enunciated the moral and philosophical case for freedom, and they *materially* acted to secure this land for freedom, for themselves and for their posterity. In subsequent generations, hundreds of thousands of men died in battle to fend off the threats to our Republic. Americans paid a dear price to secure this land.

    While it is true that the geographic region of a nation is not exactly the same thing as “private property” (and cannot automatically be regarded as such in argumentation on the immigration issue), it is not exactly the opposite thing in all respects, either. Just because there are some ineffective and ill-conceived arguments coming from the Right that equate the nation to “private property” (and speak of trespass), this does not invalidate all notion of the rightful determination of a nation to secure it’s borders and control who may enter and who may immigrate, in the interests of preserving the Republic.

    As Objectivists, we understand that what justifies the notion of private property is the fact that an individual, through his own intellectual and *material* effort, *increased* the value of some natural resource. We understand that one’s rightful claim to dominion over certain material objects or a plot of land is that *he* acted to create those objects or to secure that land for his own life-serving purposes.

    In a similar vein: moral, decent, life-loving, rights-respecting men pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor, and *materially* acted to secure this land for themselves and their posterity. Against all odds and against all the forces opposing them, they created something that had not existed before, something that was not the default, something that would never ‘naturally’ occur on it’s own in a thousand generations. They loved life. They wanted to live. They objectively assessed the requirements for life – a proper life for man, and they acted to gain and to keep that life.

    Once they have materially secured this land, they have dominion over it. But not in the collectivized sense of “all land is ‘public'” but rather in the sense that the individuals who morally and materially support the preservation of Individual Rights for themselves are righteously entitled to *keep* it secure.

    But how?

    By moral and material support of the American Republic.

    Our Republic is an institution for the *material* preservation and defense of our lives and our rights against the *incessant* forces *against* it (which are the ‘default’ option, judging by all human history).

    This institution can only be created by individuals who understand and respect the moral foundations of Individual Rights. This institution can only be *preserved* by individuals who understand and respect the moral foundations of Individual Rights and who actively, conscientiously, morally and *materially* act to preserve those rights.

    Can such a Republic exist in the middle east, given the actual dominant cultural notions there? Did America succeed in changing Iraq into a rights-respecting Republic by force of logic and reason? Was there a critical mass of individuals in that country that had an intellectual understanding of individual rights and “yearned to be free” and *acted* to create a rights-respecting Republic?

    Obviously not.

    Can the American Republic withstand the utterly *indiscriminate* injection of many millions of individuals from all over the world — anyone with the wherewithal to physically make it here? What will the character of America be? What effects would it have on our culture, at large? Will we *still* have the necessary critical mass of individuals who morally and materially support the essential principles upon which America was founded and which our Republic is meant to protect, defend, and preserve?

    Honestly, it seems completely delusional and detached from reality to think so.

    So, what does this mean for immigration policy?

    Peter Schwartz wrote “The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America,” where he advocates a policy under which a nation’s interests are measured by only one standard: the individual liberty of its citizens. I say we need an “Immigration Policy of Self-Interest” for exactly the same reason. Note that it’s not the individual liberty of the citizens of *other* nations that is the standard. It is the individual liberty of American citizens that our institution of government should *primarily* be concerned with. If this means controlling who is admitted into our nation (for the reasons I gave above), then it is both practical and moral.

    Yes, it is despicable and disgusting that so many individuals live in horrible conditions throughout much of the rest of the world, but we are under no moral obligation to altruistically offer safe haven *if* that ultimately means the obliteration (or gradual withering away) of our hard-won Republic.

    Note: the above is not quite as organized as it would be if I intended it as an official publishable response, it was mostly an off-the-cuff presentation of points I’ve made elsewhere on the matter. I certainly expect people to object to some of my points and welcome the debate, but I expect intellectually honest people to discount any attacks on the basic style of my writing. Also, I will regard *any* insinuation of racism, xenophobia, or bigotry as some kind of projection cast by anyone who would go there. I’m not necessarily saying that they are secretly racist xenophobic bigots, but rather that they may be projecting their own tendency to see all opposition on this issue (no matter how principled) as necessarily rooted in bigotry.

    • Swede_P

      Very forcefully and logically argued. To be honest, I am not exactly certain where I stand on the issue (of course translating the matter to my own country’s circumstances), but you have offered some serious food for thought.

  • *Sharpshooter

    As a soverign nation, we DO get to pick just how restrictive we wish to be, depending on various shifting conditions, amongst other reasons.