Recently, I became embroiled in a debate relating to proposed "Border Security" plans proposed by President Trump. Well into the debate, someone popped up in the debate which caused me to step back and reassess my position. Below, I lay out my thoughts and I invite feedback and discussion...
Starting Point: "Should the U.S. build a border fence/wall to better control illegal immigration?"
I had started here and was very much in the camp of "Well, doh." for an answer. However, after reading a number of essays from Objectivists whom I respect, I have at least reconsidered how I make my case--and what that case should be.
What I have come to think of as a mistake was my assumption of the analogy that the territory of the U.S. is "our property." I recoiled at the assertion made by another commenter that I was espousing collecitivism. But, thanks to some articles of Harry Binswanger, I have moved to thinking of the U.S. border as the geographic limit of the jurisdiction of the Federal government. When we "defend" the border, it must be to defend individual rights, not to defend the "border."
That said, I found that everyone easily agrees that if an armed group of people approach the U.S. border, that the military should take appropriate measures to repel or eliminate the threat. I also found general agreement that "peaceful people in search of opportunity" should be able to cross into the jurisdiction of the U.S. without being subjected to quotas or limits. (NOTE: The fact of general agreement is NOT justification--I am simply eliminating points of agreement for the purpose of highlighting areas which I consider insufficiently "chewed" by Objectivists I either know or have read.
OK, so let's continue-- assuming agreement on defense against obvious threats such as foreign military or armed gangs approaching the border... and further assuming agreement that peaceful people have the innate right to move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction of their own free will.
Let's look at other "threats"...
Cartel violence -- this would obviously be solved by decriminalizing drugs. The issue is that I doubt it is politically feasible to do so. Perhaps marijuana will be decriminalized, but I don't see the American people supporting the decriminalization of hard narcotics, especially opioids.
Human trafficking ("Coyotes")-- while this can be largely resolved by eliminating immigration quotas, it would remain an issue for those barred from entry to the United States. For example, known terrorists or felonious criminals barred by a U.S. Court of law from re-entry after deportation.
Sex Trafficking-- While the victims of sex trafficking (involuntary prostitution) would "have a better chance for being saved" in the U.S., I doubt that even the de-criminalization of prostitution would resolve the issue. Also, I can't see the U.S. Congress de-criminalizing prostitution in our country any time soon.
Foreign Terrorists-- In the "old days" attacking another country required columns of soldiers and lots of heavy equipment for invasion. Today the world has evolved to face the threats of bio-terrorism and suitcase nuclear devices.
If we adopted "open borders" as some would suggest, the above threats would not abate--and would, in my opinion, get worse.
And here's the crux... idealism vs practical reality. (Don't jump on me yet-- keep reading!)
To quote from a Broadway musical, "Politics is the art of the possible"
While I would agree that unrestricted border crossing by peaceful people is the ideal-- the question remains, "Who will vet the threat posed or not posed by border crossers?"
Is "inspection" at the border an acceptable solution? If so, then border fences and ports of entry are required. If not, then how do we prevent perfectly shielded nuclear devices from entering our country's jurisdiction?
I don't want to take on the subject of illegal immigrants already inside the country within this post--though I'm happy to discuss it in another post. ;-)
But, I will say that those who cross the border without "clearance" (documentation) for doing so are put into the position of receiving the un-earned (they *can't* pay most taxes, yet are allowed to benefit from our institutions) and the position of fearing exposure for being in the country illegally--thus are far more vulnerable to exploitation.
Ultimately, this discussion seems to end in a quagmire of what we "should" do and what we realistically "can" do.
I submit that we have to solve issues like the pointless war on drugs, the welfare state, and other issues before we can genuinely approach the question of national borders with philosophical clarity.
In the meantime, I am left with supporting effective border crossing controls and inspections (fences, patrols, technology, etc.), but we could at least eliminate immigration quotas/limits NOW.
To support throwing open our borders is to be utterly naive about the very real threats to the individual rights of our citizens by doing so.
I do agree that anyone physically inside the jurisdiction of the United States is entitled to the respect of their individual rights-- but I simply cannot support the idea of a "right" to come to the U.S. for those not already here.
NOTE: This is where my thoughts are at present. I am open to reasoned discussion and feedback--and reserve the right to update my position should I be proven wrong to my satisfaction. i.e., I always reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than I am today. My genuine goal is to whittle these issues down to their roots, chew them further, and arrive at a coherent position--and a realistic action plan for moving from present policy to ideal ones.