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Winter 2006

Fall 2005

Illegal Immigration Hastens the Rise of the 3rd Party?
Marc Solomon

This summer, I plan to travel to the Libertarian national convention to attempt to change our platform. Because we have the opportunity of a generation.

A recent Rasmussen poll stated something like "a third party, with a credible message to protect the borders from illegal entry, would defeat the Republican candidate and virtually tie the Democratic one."


The Democrats would get support from 31% of Americans. The third party would be in a virtual tie at 30% while the GOP would get only 21%.

That's pretty nifty for the Libertarian Party, as the only other party that gets on the ballots of all 50 states consistently. Those kind of numbers would be a big change from the 1% the "unbiased" news machines allow us, given all the equal time we don't get.

Here's my problem: I have to prove to my fellow freedom-lovers that it is not a violation of our principles to support such a position; that we are not pulling a cheap and immoral about-face to make a fast political buck. Remember, we are the Party of Principle.

But this would start changing everything. Remember how exciting (or scary) 1992 was? And Ross wasn't even a libertarian. Anyone care for some new ideas? Tired of being tired and cynical?

I do believe illegal immigration is a problem. My naive sense is that if people want to truly immigrate and become citizens, they should follow the process. I am second generation on one side, and we had to do the long boat ride and the grand Ellis Island tour.

What's the difference?

There is a third world country parked just south of here. They look across, don't like what they have there, like what they see here and come. Being illegals, they have no hope of becoming citizens, since they bypassed that step. Did they really want to be citizens, or do they just like the money? Some would say it's more basic than that: just survival. Fair enough. But does Mexico have to be a third world country? Do they lack arable land, minerals, oil, seaports? Are they stupider than us? No and no. Just because they can literally walk away from their problems does not make them our problems. They have their history and their society, and therein lies some of the problem. More on that later.

So back to the process. There are limits and restrictions on how many people a single country can send to us every year. A kind of safety valve. At the 11 million number most estimate for Mexican illegals, that would take up the total number of green cards to be authorized for around 30-40 years (feel free to stomp on my math). Is there some reason that Mexico would get to do this, say over India? The quotas are probably way too low, but I think questions of "fairness" in this case aren't justifiable. That's too lopsided by any standard. Is there going to be anyone left in Mexico at this rate?

The riling point to the riled up American citizen is that if these uninvited guests fall ill, or have school age children, federal and some state laws require US taxpayers and private hospitals to provide for them. The result is a demand for services not governed by the forces of a market economy. Disaster. Many see the few emergency rooms we have left being used as primary care facilities, and public schools taking on more students, who do not speak English, and neither receiving the benefit of funding.

The real problem to libertarians is not the presence of Mexicans or any other immigrant group; it is the continued existence of the welfare state, and the potential for social ruin that uncontrolled demand causes. Also, if these immigrants are not truly freedom seekers (reference the Statue of Liberty)--who really want to put down roots and learn English--but only day workers who wish to take money from the culture, they become second class citizens. No more of that. We are still bleeding from slavery and Jim Crow laws. Yet while in their homelands, statism, corruption and socialism continue to ruin what is left there.

The entrenched parties are now caught. This has gone on for too long. Neither party has secured the border or taken the issue seriously. Perhaps they didn't care because is was business as usual (insert standard rich farmer/business conspiracy theory here). Yet congress got the big idea to make the existing crime of entering illegally a crime. Then, Latino highschoolers protested the criminalization of a criminal act. (do I cry or laugh?) Mind you, in pure libertarian terms, there is no such crime. Unfortunately for the students, their actions galvanized the sleepwalking body politic and those trusty bloodhounds, the commerical press, into digging in and poking the issue with a stick, respectively.

The old parties cannot promise "homeland" security and leave the borders as porous as cheesecloth. Seems like our national defenders are sitting in the wrong places at the moment. If they crack down, they lose the hispanic, and more importantly, the TV news vote ("they are SO mean!" I can just hear the rich talk show hosts).

The revolving door that is the current policy is a joke, a game that unfortunately ends up in the deaths of many would-be illegal immigrants.

The naked evidence of the inability of the old parties to accomplish anything they promise is our opportunity. The public has seen the light.

Back to my problem. We libertarians believe in freedom. That government derives its power from the people. Our party platform has always kept to the credo "peaceful people should be able to cross borders freely". We used to have this question on our short quiz to find out where someone stands politically (you can see the new version at We always got bashed for it. Sign of things to come?

Libertarians recognize a limited set of functions that governments ought to have: Protect citizens from crimes involving force or fraud, provide defense from enemies from without, and provide a system of courts for the resolution on both civil and criminal issues. Each state, county and municipality can do whatever they like. The state's fundamental purpose is to protect an individual's rights and property.

Thinking about this has wracked my soul. I have been lectured to by libertarians that I need to remember that free people do not need countries or borders. Damn straight. That is our goal. We have too many laws, not enough freedom, and now this horrible mess. We have seen the studies that immigrants enhance our economy and on average use less public services (, but no one believes that unfortunately. Yet I say, "but those are LEGAL immigrants." See the problem?

But I want us to start changing things. To do that we have to get noticed, get votes, get elected. Am I selling out the long term?

To be at peace with this, I have to see this from two perspectives:

World Libertarianism
The freedom for all people everywhere is the goal of world libertarianism (like in Costa Rica). Humankind needs to recognize that we have to stop enslaving and controlling each other, no matter how small the increments in which it is done, or for what seemingly noble purpose, religion or fashion. The result is always tyranny. In that world, however magical, we have no need of nations or borders. The best future for this world is not a world government, but as little government as possible. Governments have had their chance already.

American Libertarianism
The Libertarian Party in this country, in this time, has the goal of limiting the federal government to those powers explicitly granted by the constitution. That great document leaves the rest to the people and the states. If we need and should increase the quotas, let's do it. But we are a nation of laws, not men. Lack of enforcement is an invitation to the corruption that runs rampant in other cultures. The citizens of any nation cannot just be allowed to flee here without establishing that they share and acknowledge the values and implications of personal responsibility, and that they value the rights of property. If we import tyranny, the fault is ours. Cortez burned his boats. Let's see that kind of commitment.

I'm going to Portland with this message:

The Libertarian Party should propose a realistic plan to physically secure the border. We should couple it with a proposal to make immigration easier, but with the understanding that America is not a hand-out. We should repeal all federal laws mandating education, economic support or health care to non-citizens. It's tough, but if you're here illegally, you should go and come back as a real immigrant. I don't want to make these people criminals either. Paying for jail space for them is just as stupid and wasteful as for recreational drug users. But they give up their chance to become citizens. We have to mean it. Let's have a meaningful increase in green card authorizations per year. Immigrants are good.

Also, all documentation requirements and penalties placed on employers and citizens should be abolished. A police state is not the solution to any of our problems. Businesses, small and large, are already under crushing regulation at all levels. No charitable organization should be investigated or punished for helping people. We must remain a free and open culture.

We violate no principle by protecting our borders. It is one of the few things government ought to be able to do. It stands out now because it is so obviously manageable. Our RepDem Government bunglers cannot find the man who planned the 911 attacks, it cannot extricate itself from its new Vietnam, it cannot help but borrow and spend our future like a teenager with an Amex card. Hopefully, the border as it is today will not become an easy entryway for terrorists. Maybe if we stopped invading other countries that might help too.

This, incredibly more than the sad and awful eminent domain travesties that continue to occur, is something Americans can see as visible evidence of the hopelessness of the two-party, no-real-choice system. Even the best of the other parties are shackled to the constraints of the game. I'm not sure why it is a game to them, and I don't even care why anymore. It boggles the mind.

Let us in, and things will finally start to change. Aren't you tired of waiting?