Lee Wrights: America needs secure open borders

by R. Lee Wrights

BURNET, Texas (April 14)  – America has always had an “illegal immigration” problem. Just ask any Native American. During a conversation with a Cherokee chief several years ago I asked him, “What did the native tribes call America before the white settlers came here?” He looked me straight in the eyes and solemnly replied, “Ours.”

This immigration debate is a classic example of why libertarians must become better communicators. Libertarians and others advocating immigration law reform talk about “open borders.” Conservatives, on the other hand, insist America must have “secure borders.” Both sides use these terms as if they were mutually exclusive. They’re not. They’re opposite sides of the same coin. It’s possible to have borders that are both open and secure.

The problem is that the term “open borders” is not specific enough to convey to a listener what we actually mean. When some people hear the words “open borders” they immediately envision an invading army marching across our borders unchallenged. On the other hand, when others (particularly libertarians) hear open borders, all that it means is accessibility for peaceful people to come and go.

As far as I’m concerned, we have open borders now. You go through a checkpoint at the border and if you are on the up and up, you’re allowed to pass unmolested. The border is kept both open and secure this way, at least in theory. Building walls and fences do not keep people out, and really only serve to keep people in.

People who complain about “illegal immigration” usually insist that anyone who wants to come here should “get in line.” The problem is there is no “line,” at least no line that makes any sense, as this chart from Reason magazine illustrates. The real problem we have is not the immigrants themselves as much as America’s immigration laws.

The Emmy award-winning investigative report John Stossel did a program last year that dramatically illustrates this point. If you’re from India, for example, have a doctorate and want to come to America and become a citizen, the immigration process takes five to seven years. Most people would agree that’s relatively reasonable and doable.

But if you’re an unskilled laborer from Mexico and want to come to America and become a citizen, the same process takes about 130 years. We’ve made it impossible for these people to immigrate legally. It’s no wonder people are swimming the Rio Grande. We have literally made it easier to swim the Rio Grande than to climb Mount Bureaucracy.

Not surprisingly, government has “created” this illegal immigrant problem. When people start screaming about the illegal immigrant problem, are they complaining about people coming from India to burden our system by taking advantage of already over burdened government programs? No. Generally they are complaining about people coming from south of the border. Why? Because we’ve made it impossible for them to come here legally.

Libertarians can become better communicators if we stop using broad and general terms too easily misunderstood by our audience. Instead of building walls we should work to expand the doorway leading to the American dream. The Libertarian position on immigration should advocate for “secure open borders” coupled with reform of the ridiculous immigration laws and phasing out of onerous welfare programs, to make it easier for peaceful people to come here to live, work, prosper and become productive members of our society.

R. Lee Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end he has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states. Wrights is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party and co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.

Lee Wrights for President
Contact: Brian Irving, press secretary

7 thoughts on “Lee Wrights: America needs secure open borders

  1. Steven R Linnabary

    I was with Jim Babka at the Ohio LP convention a couple weeks ago. We both marveled at the sound bites or one-liners Lee Wrights came up with.


  2. Steven Berson

    Another great blog by Lee Wrights here. As someone who has experienced “open borders” as a traveller (between Portugal/Spain/France/Germany in the EU, in the town of Chui/Chuy straddling Uruguay & Brazil, and in going from Brazil to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay) – I’ve got to say not having to deal with a hassle at all is seriously appreciated – and I do need to note that the border towns with such “open” arrangements seemed to be doing better economically than the other surrounding towns.

    Here’s the border between Brazil & Uruguay at Chui/Chuy – nothing stops you – except maybe the bargain deals at the shops or the good parillada:

  3. Jill Pyeatt

    I think this is a particularly good article by Mr. Wrights. He makes everything sound so logical.

  4. Jose C

    Reach out and touch someone. The more we hear, the better it sounds. Lee Wrights, the right choice.

  5. Be Rational

    Lee Wrights gets it.

    He’s ready to deliver a clear Libertarian message to the American people in 2012.

    He may not be famous, he may not impress as a former officeholder, he might raise less money, but in the end, with Lee Wrights as our candidate, more people will have an idea of what Liberty and Libertarianism really is.

    Let’s show the world that we’re serious about Liberty in 2012 and nominate the candidate who best represents the Principles of Liberty.

    I’ve thought it over, I’ve considered Gary Johnson, and I hope that Governor Johnson will stick around after a defeat in the convention, learn to be a real Libertarian, help build the LP and earn our nomination in the future.

    In 2012, we need Lee Wrights to be our nominee.

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