Libertarian Party: Let the Immigrant Children In

In response to recent media reports about the increase in Latin American children seeking entry into the United States, Libertarian Party Chair Nicholas Sarwark released this statement:

Should the U.S. government forbid foreign children from entering the United States? The Libertarian Party says no.

It would be unjust and inhumane for the U.S. government to prohibit these children from entering the United States.

A great irony is that U.S. government policies have caused the conditions that some of these Central American children are fleeing. The War on Drugs has created a huge black market in Latin America, causing increases in gang activity and violent crime. Some of the affected children naturally try to flee this violence. It is wrong to jeer at them, call them “illegals,” and tell them to get out.

Many of these children are hoping to reach friends and relatives in the United States. A freer, simpler legal immigration process might result in a safer journey with more adult supervision along the way. In any case, Libertarians support maximizing freedom knowing that risks, including risks to children, are always involved. In some cases, children may be better off migrating, even without adult supervision, than staying trapped in dangerous environments — just ask the Jewish children who escaped from Hitler, or Tutsi children who escaped genocide in Rwanda.

Libertarians do not support forcing people to pay for other children’s welfare, and there are obviously costs associated with helping children who arrive in the United States. However, there are many charitable organizations that have already mobilized to provide that help. A nation of 320 million people can provide sufficient charitable help to the number of children involved (around 50,000 over the last nine months). And if we’d just end the War on Drugs, the number of refugee children would be much lower.

Ultimately, the fact that many of these children are fleeing dangerous situations isn’t the issue. Even if they were coming to the United States for fun, we should still allow them to enter. All foreigners should be allowed entry into the United States unless the government can produce positive evidence that they pose a threat to security, health, or property.

Our bad immigration laws affect a lot more people than just these children. Many foreigners want to come work in the United States, which benefits them as well as Americans. However, our government makes it impossible for almost all of them to work here legally.

The Libertarian Party believes that the U.S. government should not prohibit Americans from hiring foreign workers. There are about 60 million legal foreign entries into the United States each year (mostly tourists). Those foreigners should be free to work in the United States as well. There’s no question of border security — it’s just a question of the government’s unjust and foolish protectionist labor laws.

(By comparison, there are only about 500,000 “illegal” entries into the United States each year. Most of those are foreigners who want to work in the United States, and who would be denied visas because of that intention.)

Some observers have noted that generous benefit and subsidy programs in the United States, including free education and health care, may be attracting lazy foreigners. The Libertarian Party supports the abolition of government benefits and subsidies, for both natives and foreigners. It’s worth pointing out that foreigners use these programs at a lower rate than natives, according to a recent report by the Cato Institute.

It’s a shame that many in the media are trying to make Americans feel fear and suspicion toward immigrants. It’s particularly disgusting that protesters would yell at children to make their political point. Immigration is good for foreigners and good for Americans, and we need to change our laws to make immigration much easier.

The Libertarian Party Platform says the following about the freedom of trade and migration:

3.4 Free Trade and Migration

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.


14 thoughts on “Libertarian Party: Let the Immigrant Children In

  1. Jill Pyeatt

    This is such an excellent article! It explains our views very clearly. It has already sparked a heated discussion on my Facebook page, and I know at least one other Libertarian involved in a discussion on his page, too.

    Perhaps a well-educated, white small business owner from Los Angeles County should be horrified at the influx of immigrants–but I’m not. I genuinely believe that they add more to the economy than they take. The actions of some of my fellow Californians in Murrietta this past week have been mortifying (re: screaming at buses to leave). I know immigration issues are emotional for many people, but so many people don’t even stop to think about the situation beyond their initial gut reaction. Somewhere between letting everyone in no questions asked, and letting no one in must be worked out.

  2. Joe

    It occurs to me that in addition to already being the BEST LP CHAIR OF THE MILLENIUM, Mr. Sarwark would also make one hell of a terrific candidate for POTUS!

  3. From Der Sidelines

    Sorry, but being on someone’s property without permission is trespassing, and it should be treated as such, ESPECIALLY if you value strong property rights as libertarians claim to do. I don’t want to hear any excuse crappola about borders shouldn’t exist and peaceable travel. If you value strong property rights, from self-ownership on down through all of its derivatives including ownership of land and property, then you support the individual right to have people stay off the lawn.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp

    And if you value strong property rights, from self-ownership on down through all of its derivatives including ownership of land and property, then you also support the individual right to have people come onto the lawn if the owner invites them, instead of having the most powerful street gang draw imaginary lines on the ground and hold your property rights hostage to them.

  5. Jill Pyeatt

    Also, a libertarian who respects property rights most likely thinks that other people have the right to get property for themselves, through the same kind iof hard work they acquired theirs.

  6. DSZ

    It should also be noted that if immigration laws were more lax, we might actually have less of an immigration “problem.”

    Many people wish to come to the United States, earn an income, and return to their families with that wealth as needed. Well after enforcement of immigration laws became stricter in the 1990’s, more families have attempted to come over on a permanent basis since it is much more difficult to go back and forth seasonally. It is much safer and easier to cross once. Paradoxically, you can’t really be against permanent immigration and for a closed border at the same time.

  7. paulie

    Sorry, but being on someone’s property without permission is trespassin

    Great, when is the federal (and every other level of coercive monopoly) government going to get off everyone’s property who does not wnat them trespassing?

    I don’t want to hear any excuse crappola about borders shouldn’t exist and peaceable travel.

    Because the regime is the rightful owner or part-owner of everything within the borders it claims?

    If not, it has no legitimate right to claim trespass, since it is not an owner or co-owner; if it is, where do libertarians get off telling the regime it can’t exercise all the other customary rigts of property owners, such as charging everyone on its property rent (taxes), regulating behavior, and the right to make anyone leave at any time?

    If you value strong property rights, from self-ownership on down through all of its derivatives including ownership of land and property, then you support the individual right to have people stay off the lawn.

    Yep. Key word there being individual, as in not collective.

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