Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The War on Immigration Will Result in a Police State

 by Glenn Jacobs

Libertarian philosophy is based on the concept of self-ownership. Human beings own themselves. When we rightfully acquire property, either by making first claim to that property (homesteading) or through voluntary transfer with another person or persons, that property becomes part of our lives, and thus we lay claim to ownership of that property as we would our own bodies.

One of the problems that libertarians encounter when discussing various issues is determining ownership, or, in many cases, articulating the nuances of applying property rights to the issue. These problems are compounded when government is thrown into the equation since the same rules about property and ownership that apply to private individuals do not apply to coercive government. The hot-button issue of immigration is a great example, illustrating the complexities involved in applying property rights to an issue.

Ownership means that one not only possess something, but one also controls the thing. In other words, if you truly own something, you must be free to use the thing as you wish so long as doing so does not violate the property of others. You must also be free to transfer the thing to another person so long as the transaction is voluntary and consensual. When it comes to land, property rights, i.e. control over that land, include controlling who enters into the boundaries of the land.

When dealing with the topic of immigration, that is, the movement of individuals across political designations, this is where things get confusing. The State claims not only to be able to control who crosses the land that it owns, but also to control who enters land owned by private individuals. It also claims the authority to prohibit certain individuals from living within its borders, even if these individuals acquired their land rightfully (using the criteria above) by homesteading or through voluntary exchange. Those of us who believe that private property is the basis of a free society must ask: how was this authority engendered?

If we continue along this line of thinking, the logical conclusion must be that the State owned all the land within its borders a priori since it is the government which sets the conditions for how that land may be used, and to whom it may be transferred in the future. The State continues to retain a high degree of control since the government has the ultimate authority to make the rules for all property, even property now in private hands.

To the libertarian, or anyone who believes in the sanctity of property rights, these conclusions are quite troubling. When it comes to land ownership in America, property rights are not at all secure; they are not really rights at all, but government granted privileges.

While our system of property rights is already imperfect, the current immigration policy leads to even greater infringements on these rights. For example, if one owns property on or near the border, the government may claim the authority to build a fence or a wall on one’s property, and government agents may come and go as they please without the property owner’s permission.

These problems remain even if we move away from the border. For example, if the government suspects that I am employing undocumented workers, it claims the authority to raid my business – to enter my property without my permission – with armed agents.

If one truly owns one’s property, how is it that the government can control who is allowed on this property in opposition to the wishes of the property owner? In other words, why should my friend from Mexico beg for permission to enter the country in order to have dinner with me? Shouldn’t free people be able to associate or not associate with whomever they wish so long as those interactions are voluntary, consensual, and do not harm a third party?

The same is true of economic activities. So long as commercial activities are voluntary, consensual, and do not encroach upon other individuals or their property, what is the justification for the government prohibiting these activities or associations?

Read the rest here.

Glenn Jacobs is the actor and wrestler Kane. He blogs as CitizenX.


  1. Um, trust me, border land owners are not begging for the Mexican friends to have valid entry. This entire post is wrong: property owners routinely have their rights violated because the government won't enforce laws on illegal immigration. I.e., trespass. Dozens of people are murdered on their own property at the border every year. There are millions of dollars in property damage and theft from illegals at border crossings.

    The government is not *preventing* people from coming into this country. Quite the opposite - to the detriment of private property ownership.

    I can see illegal (notice the word "illegal" there?) immigration causing a police state, but for the exact opposite reason. Let 30 million criminals in and exempt them from all civil responsibility, and you're going to have a problem.

  2. Ella,

    What does a person being murdered on their property, which happens within the "interior" of the US and other countries, by "legal" and "illegal" individuals alike... have to do with the legal status of a person's citizenship?

    You don't seem to understand what a police state is. Your "30 million criminals" remark would be a "criminal state" not a "police state."

    Ella, the truth is the government should not be in the business of dictating borders, including private ones-- private individuals should be expected to, and have the responsibility of, enforcing the sanctity of their own private borders on their property. If this involves shooting criminal trespassers on sight (lest they be murdered themselves, as you imply), so be it. But the government should get out, of this activity and all others.

  3. The problem, Taylor, is that 1.5 million illegals a year cross the American-Mexican border. I emphasize here -- illegally. Which means they are invading people's private property. Some are "immigrants," some are drug runners. But they violate those people's property rights. Period. That's not a mystery.

    As a direct result of government policy and inaction, people are murdered on their properties along border states. Or have their homes broken into. Or have their lands used (or misused) by literally hundreds of people crossing.

    The *lack* of border enforcement in the south is an astonishing violation of property rights which is abetted by the government.

    The murder or theft, itself, isn't the problem. (I mean, it is, but as you point out, it happens.) But these specific crimes can and should be prevented by the nation following its inherent duties of protecting its sovereignty.

    You may not like the idea of a nation. But a nation, by definition, defines and enforces its borders. Otherwise, it's not a nation. It's a territory or a region or something else without an identity.

    It is not possible to enforce the sanctity of border properties without exceptionally violent methods. You're looking at a ranch owner, a single property owner, with 1,000 a month crossing his property. What, exactly, do you expect him to do?

    As for police state/criminal state, no, I meant exactly what I said. There are 30 million illegals here. The best of them commit identity theft and immigration stuff. The worst are, well, the worst. But very few rules apply to them, meaning that a general condition of lawlessness exists. The police state cracks down on the honest people in response, and it's win-win - a constant state of chaos is a perfect excuse for a controlling police state. Because we all want to be safe, right?

  4. This is the crux of Glenn Jacobs's argument:

    If one truly owns one’s property, how is it that the government can control who is allowed on this property in opposition to the wishes of the property owner? In other words, why should my friend from Mexico beg for permission to enter the country in order to have dinner with me?

    The first half is totally accurate. By allowing, even encouraging, illegal immigration, the government is telling land owners that they have to allow dozens, possibly hundreds, of people every month to stream across their property and use whatever resources they find. Without any recompense or the ability to say no.

    The second half, I'm going to go out on a limb here, is not the reason that anyone complains about US border laws. I mean, someone has to show a driver's license for a day trip across the border! THE HORROR! The property rights violations!

  5. Ella,

    If you'd stop hyperventilating for a few minutes you might see how simple this issue truly is:

    If a person buys private property in an area that happens to be adjacent to a travel corridor for the desperate and economically-depressed, it is their responsibility to bear the costs of protecting their property from invasions by such people. Furthermore, they should not only be expected to bear that responsibility but they should be "allowed" to, as well, ie, if criminal trespassers are making their way over their property, damaging it or threatening the owner in the process, they are fully within their rights to apprehend, detain or shoot on sight.

    You don't seem to understand that whether or not the federal government says it is "legal" for these persons to be "in this country" is irrelevant to the actual injustice you're concerned with-- violation of private property rights via criminal trespass (that is, the trespass of people not invited by the property owner, not the trespass of people the government says are "illegal").

    This is Jacob's entire point-- you can't tell a person they are "illegal". Just because a person might run across someone's ranch in, say, Texas (and possibly damage the ranch or murder the owner in the process) doesn't mean it's now okay to set up a federal immigration bureaucracy and stop people from, say, India, landing in, say, New York, to take up a new residence and start a new life by voluntarily working for another or voluntarily acquiring property from another.

    Your whole logic boils down to "bad things are happening, therefore any means necessary can and should be used to prevent those bad things from happening." And that's no logic at all.

    Again, to summarize-- a man kills another man, or, an "illegal" man kills another man... which is the crime, killing a person, or being "illegal"? Obviously it's killing another person, and a person's citizenship status is irrelevant to the question of property rights violations.

    By the way, I notice you aren't hyperventilating about the federal government's encroachments on the rights of private property owners via eminent domain, criminal trespass and assault (think Ruby Ridge, Waco, the Browns, etc.), tax collection, inflation, etc.

    You're looking at a ranch owner, a single property owner, with 1,000 a month crossing his property. What, exactly, do you expect him to do?

    Shoot them? Arrest them? You speak as if a person has a right to make others bear the costs of securing his property that he unwisely purchased in an insecure area.

  6. One is wise to ask what is sovereign and who is sovereign as rights are exercised out of sovereignty.

    Let me ask: is the individual sovereign?

    Are the states sovereign entitites? It looks to me that states rights have gone bye-bye; they are a principle of a bygone era. In Washington DC and in Arizona, President Obama is now sovereign, his will, his way and his word is the law of the land. We are living in the era of global governance, when a crisis arises in a geographical region, finance leaders and state leaders meet in summit and announce policy, mechanisms, and rules that define one’s rights. The precedent has been set by both President Bush and now President Obama, that when a crisis emerges, the President can militarize an area to secure and stabilize it militarily. As greater crises develope and become more severe, I expect a world leader, a Sovereign, and a world banker, a Seignior, to emerge, fulfilling the call of Timothy Geither for unified regulation of banking globally as related in James Politi and Gillian Tett Financial Times article NY Fed Chief In Push For Global Bank Framework.

    Personally I believe that God and His will are sovereign; and that in eternity past, He foresaw all that would happen and is happening, and is simply letting things proceed along a pre-established course.