Open borders, open houses

By Nathan Barton

A common issue which divides many Libertarians, and even those who are anarchists, is the issue of open borders.

There are quite a few points that are constantly argued over and over. There is no question that an essential natural right (God-given, if you please) belongs to all men and women to travel where they wish. But are there limits? Perhaps.

A correspondent posted this recently in her own weekly column:

Some Americans are dead set against certain immigrants coming to our country and want Pres. Trump to finish building the wall between the U. S and Mexico. Having a wall doesn’t mean “keep out”. It means “use the door” (come in legally).

Those wishing to come to the U. S. legally are welcome. It’s illegal entry, accompanied by crime, drugs, gangs, sex trafficking, etc. that most Americans are against – and rightly so.

Many libertarians will disagree with Margaret.  Indeed, Mama Liberty and I discussed this issue many times, and never fully agreed.

The issue came up last month in Sunland Park, New Mexico, where a private organization has started building a half-mile of border wall to divide New and “Old” Mexico. The group has raised $22 million in private money: the first section of wall is apparently costing about a third of that.

It is an impressive wall: steel framed, and seems to be about forty feet tall.

A key aspect of this project is that this wall is being built on PRIVATE land.  Of course, in virtually all of the modern Fifty States, it is illegal to build ALMOST ANYTHING on your own land without getting permission from various local (and sometimes state and federal) government agencies.  Not just walls and fences but houses and barns and sheds, and even roads and ditches and parking areas – some even require that you get a governmental permission slip to put up a picnic table or a new yard light. Sunland Park is such a place: the builders and contractors applied for the necessary permits, paid the required “fees” (taxes), and were given the permission slips.

And then the mayor apparently bowed to pressure from all the various people who don’t like the idea of a wall on the border – even if it is on private land.  And claimed that they didn’t have permission.  Work was stopped for a few days, but last I heard, at last the permits were properly issued (or reinstated) and work has resumed.

One of the many reasons (or excuses) for opposing a border wall is that it is going to either (a) be built on public land or (b) be built on land seized by eminent domain.  I agree that there are problems with both of these – especially the second.  Eminent domain is a legalized form of coercion and theft – even if “fair market value” is paid for the land seized.

But these reasons do not apply to this stretch of border. The owner of that property has the same right (power) to put up a fence or wall on their property as I do to put up a fence on the property on which my home sits, in South Dakota.  The fact that the boundary of their property is also the imaginary line between two different states and two different federations of states, is NOT germane. Yet they are condemned for being evil racists who hate people for various reasons.

Do I hate people because I want them to come onto my property through a gate in my fence, or into my house through a door – rather than jumping over the fence, climbing through a window, or cutting a hole in the wall?  Of course not.  The fence and the walls on my property exist to protect my property and my family from those who might otherwise take advantage and do us harm, physically or financially.

Put another way, MY right to travel freely does NOT include the right to walk through my neighbor’s house (without permission). For any reason. Or to drive though his private land.

A recent libertarian commentary accused the group building the wall in Sunland Park of constructing a replica of the Berlin Wall.  This rather silly – indeed, stupid – remark shows the writers’ complete unwillingness to understand the situation.  I believe the unwillingness is intentional and deliberate. The people who wrote that are smart enough to know the very important differences between this border wall (or the fence around my lot) and the Berlin Wall.  The Berlin Wall was built to keep people INSIDE East Germany, NOT to keep the West Berliners from going into East Germany.

Not that keeping people (or animals) inside something is ALWAYS a crime or evil. New Mexico, like many Western States, however, is a “fence-out” State. That means that if you don’t want your neighbors’ cows, horses, emus, or dogs on your property, you have to fence them out.  A rancher or farmer is NOT required to fence their animals in.  But many do.  Is it evil to do so?  Building a wall or fence around a landfill  or a gravel pit – even if the landfill or pit is on “public land” – to keep people out is not evil, is it?

When my children were young, the fence around my property was intended not just to keep outsiders from coming in, but to keep my children from going out, at least unsupervised. Was I evil to do that?  By some current definitions, apparently I was.

There are many nuances to an uncontrolled border.  Blind and total rejection of walls, fences, ditches, or other means of controlling WHERE people (and animals and vehicles) enter and exit your property – and even the common property is wrong. People who refuse to recognize property lines are wrong to do so. Failing to respect property rights is aggression: it is NOT libertarian.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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8 Responses to Open borders, open houses

  1. Samuel Boes says:

    Nathan, I found this article posted on Rational Review News, which seems to imply either than an article you posted just a few weeks ago is “not recent” or that you are not a Libertarian. What say you?
    Recent Silence from Libertarians Who Favor Immigration Controls
    Source: Future of Freedom Foundation
    by Jacob G Hornberger
    “It’s been a while since I have seen any articles by libertarians who support America’s system of immigration controls. I can’t help but wonder whether the reason for that is the immigration system’s massive death and suffering that has recently been reported by the mainstream media. After all, any system that produces massive death and suffering is obviously not an easy sell. As I have long pointed out, libertarian advocates of immigration controls always, without exception, fail to address a big problem with a system of immigration controls: enforcement. Such libertarians always limit their arguments for joining up with the statists on this particular issue by relying on esoterica, such as by arguing that everyone in the world would flood into the United States, go on welfare, and force Americans to learn communism, Islam, or Spanish. In doing this, they ignore the fact that in order for the government to prevent people from illegally entering the United States, the government must engage in enforcement measures.” (07/09/19)
    https://www.fff.org/2019/07/09/recent-silence-from-libertarians-who-favor-immigration-controls/

    Like

  2. beau says:

    the only ones wanting the border uncontrolled are those who would control us.

    Like

  3. Thomas L. Knapp says:

    “The Berlin Wall was built to keep people INSIDE East Germany, NOT to keep the West Berliners from going into East Germany.”

    Not according to the government which built it. They called it the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall (Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart), and it was justified as a barrier to prevent “bad hombres” from 1) economically disrupting East Germany by buying cheap government-subsidized goods and taking them back to the west, and 2) committing crimes (like espionage) in East Berlin. Sound familiar?

    Is the US regime — which has been busily re-creating the Soviet bloc’s internal passport system with e.g. REAL ID and TSA over recent years, while simultaneously coming up with various reasons (taxes, child support, etc.) to deny external passports — any more trustworthy as to its intentions than the Erich Honecker’s regime was?

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    • TPOL Nathan says:

      Tom, I need to stand by my statement. I don’t think that I can believe the VoPo, the Stasi, and the entire regime in East Berlin any more than I can believe the Thugs in DC (or for that matter in Pierre or Denver). What they claim is really not germane – it is what actually takes place – the purpose which the walls then or now actually serve. I know and have known a fair number of people who escaped over the Wall in Berlin (or the wall/fence on the Inner-German Border between the Ostzone and the FRG, and they knew that the real reason for the Wall to exist was to keep them from leaving.
      A wall around my house, or a fence around my property (now that my kids are grown) keeps people out unless (a) they are “bad hombres” (which is why I and my family are armed), or (b) I invite them and let them come in. A wall (or doors or windows) offers only limited security, as I know from helping my aunt as a landlord for many years: but it is better than nothing, and at least can help identify those who are bad hombres or not.
      But I appreciate the other points that you are making. The FedGov IS re-creating the Soviet system in not just this way. Like the Soviets (and virtually every other government in history) the FedGov lies constantly about anything and everything, and seeks in every way possible to expand its power and the wealth of those who benefit from its existence.
      As always, I appreciate your comments, and welcome the chance to think things through and sharpen my reasoning!

      Like

  4. Slave Larry says:

    A passport is a fence.

    Like

  5. Darkwing says:

    These slags coming to the US without permission has been a problem for many years. Building a wall will not stop anyone from coming to the US. If the government (federal, state, county, city) enforce the laws on the books, these slags would leave by the millions. What laws: If you house an illegal, you are fined, if you do not stop, the housing is taken by the government. If you give a job to an illegal, you are fined, if you do not stop, the business is taken by the government, stop giving these illegal slags food, money and other stuff and they will leave.

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    • Thomas L. Knapp says:

      The law already on the books is the US Constitution, which originally (Article I, Section 9) unambiguously forbade the federal government to regulate immigration and after 1808 would have required an amendment to create such a power.

      Which is why a big-government activist Supreme Court had to miracle up that power out of its ass in 1875 (Chy Lung v. Freeman), after which Congress didn’t trust the sudden change and predicated the first federal immigration law (the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) on treaty provisions instead.

      It wasn’t until 1947 that one theoretically required even a passport to enter the US (not much enforced from Mexico or Canada until this century).

      If the government enforces the unconstitutional laws on the books, significant numbers of government agents should end their shifts in body bags until they knock that shit off.

      Like

    • kewpeekid says:

      Do you really want to give government that much power? Any person from anywhere who wants to take care of himself and his family and wants to contribute to his community should be welcome. The government should have nothing to say about it.

      Like

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