Question for Anti-Illegal Immigration Activists

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

I regularly catch flack in the comments section for using the label “anti-immigrant” when I’m referring to people who say they’re only opposed to illegal immigration.

So here’s the question: If you’re adamant that you only oppose illegal immigration, then do you also support vastly expanding the number of legal visas the federal government grants to low-wage, low-skill workers (which at the moment is an exceedingly small number)?

The problem with the argument that Mexicans and other Hispanics should “wait their turn” before coming here is that there’s no “turn” for them to wait for. It just isn’t possible for the overwhelming majority of people who want to work low-wage service jobs to get legal access to this country, and to the jobs we need them to fill. So would you support vastly expanding the number of visas we hand out to them, consistent with something like the Cato plan?

My experience has been that people who get angry about illegal immigrants also recoil at the thought of making it easier for Mexicans to come here legally, too. Which really only leaves the option that their real problem is with Mexicans coming here in general. I remember an email exchange I had a few years ago with the paleoconservative Steve Sailer. Sailer wrote flat out that he is not anti-immigration. He supports immigration from countries with populations he considered more intelligent and productive, like–um–Europe. Which in addition to being rather racist, also means he supports the one form of immigration that really would take jobs from American citizens.

In any case, if you’re anti-illegal immigration, and don’t support expanding the legal means for Mexicans to come here to do low-skill labor, then it’s pretty hard to argue that you aren’t “anti-immigration.”

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76 Responses to “Question for Anti-Illegal Immigration Activists”

  1. #1 |  JJH2 | 


    That’s because there IS no linkage between “democracy, citizenship, and nationalism” and libertarian freedom. That is, if by “democracy” you mean majoritarianism and nationalism you mean love of the nation-state. Majoritarian government is the antithesis of personal liberty, because it allows factions (whether majority of minority) to coercively expropriate the wealth of the rest of society and to rig the playing field in favor of special interests. The government is now, and has always been, the enemy of personal liberty and freedom.

    Constitutional republicanism was founded on the premise that government was, at best, a necessary evil (for all their faults, at least they got the “evil” part correct). Today’s “big government libertarians” seem to have forgotten even that. Most seem perfectly content to let the warfare and national security state spiral out of control in the name of cultural purity — I mean, “respect for the law” and concern for the “welfare state.”

  2. #2 |  Kevin | 

    It’s just such a terrible thing to have to not be able to get servants for an “affordable” cost to raise your kids for you and do the yardwork. Horrors, you might have to pay someone enough money that they didn’t have to live 20 people to a house. Worse, you’d have to pay taxes and maybe even provide benefits. And they would not be able to be intimidated if you threaten to turn them over to ‘La Migra’ and might go get a better job when they get tired of your petty tyranny.

    After all, we have such a huge shortage of people who will do manual labor that when they had to replace the arrested illegals at a meat packing plant and had to stoop to hiring americans only several thousand people applied.

  3. #3 |  Brad | 

    How typical to equate nationalism with “love of the nation-state”, which is to equate nationalism with fascism; and how typical to equate democracy with “majoritariansim”, which is to equate democracy with mob rule.

  4. #4 |  Brad | 

    What day was it that Libertarians decided to take a page from the left-wing-othodox playbook, and condemn border control as racism and condemn nationalism as fascism?

  5. #5 |  JJH2 | 


    It should come as no surprise. 40 years ago, arch-Libertarian Murray Rothbard recognized the liberatory potential of the New Left, and abandoned the rotting corpse of a Conservative movement which had fallen in love with Collectivism (nation-worship of the type that the modern anti-immigration movement is concerned with) and authoritarianism. See:

    Legitimate, principled libertarianism has NOTHING in common with small-government conservatism, despite what the increasingly irrelevant paleolibertarians continue to howl.

  6. #6 |  Alex | 

    “Legitimate, principled libertarianism has NOTHING in common with small-government conservatism, despite what the increasingly irrelevant paleolibertarians continue to howl.”

    Who are the new, relevant, neolibertarians?

  7. #7 |  Max Deployment | 

    Boy, what’s with the anti-foreigner posts and the typos?

  8. #8 |  Max Deployment | 

    Anyway, there’s a huge backlog of Filipinos waiting to get visas, and I’m sure they’d be willing to fill some of these low-wage, low-skill jobs. Ever taken a cruise?

  9. #9 |  MikeT | 


    You are seeing this from the perspective of a Northern Virginian, not from someone taking into consideration the entire country’s labor pool. Around here, you’re right, we do need a lot of Hispanic labor, but in rural Virginia, that’s not true. When I go back home to visit family in Western Virginia, I see mostly Americans working these jobs that “Americans won’t do,” not illegal immigrants. The only jobs that the illegals really do are ones like at the chicken plants that are just… nasty, and ironically, no one, not even white and black trash out there, minds that they do that.

    The United States does not really have that much of a labor shortage, but rather it has a shortage of extremely cheap labor. Duke university recently proved that there is no shortage of labor in IT, invalidating the claims for the H1B visa expansion, by pointing out that that there has been no pay or benefits increase commensurate with an increase in demand for labor. Law of supply and demand, right?

    Yes, there should be a low-skill worker visa program, but it should be limited to only a few million jobs. The United States government has to balance the needs of employers with the needs of workers. The Mexicans don’t just take over low-skilled jobs, but every sort of job, including skilled ones like construction jobs where there are plenty of American workers. Why should the federal government flood markets where the only reason that employers are “having a hard time” is because they just don’t want to pay the going rate for an American employee?

    There is always someone willing to work cheaper than your current employees, for the same quality of work. I bet you we could replace the Mexicans with workers from the poorest countries in Africa, but where does it stop? There is a human side of this that is ignored by libertarians, which is one of the reasons I suspect that the public is starting to reject libertarianism in a big way. Libertarians would do well to understand that freedom is not equal to security, in all of its basic forms, on the hierarchy of needs, and a system that sacrifices the wages of workers by flooding the labor market will not remain free for very long because the public will demand regulations–and get them.

    One of the things that is just amazing about all of this is that libertarians tend to reject the claims of workers about how wages are doing, and how bad competition can be, but they embrace the anecdotes of employers like Bill Gates and Craig Barrett on the need for more immigration as gospel truth. Aren’t both inclined to represent their interests? This is why there has to be a federal policy of balancing both sides out, otherwise one will be unfairly advanced against the other.

    The simplest option would be to crackdown on illegal immigration systematically, to drive illegals out of the country, and then open up visas in Latin America for up to 2-3M workers, with preferential treatment given to skilled workers over unskilled workers.

    But as to why we’re not legitimately “anti-immigrant?” How many anti-illegal immigration people would get upset if we were flooded by 12M college-educated Indians instead of 12M barely, if at all, high school-educated Mexicans? People are upset over what sort of immigrant we are being flooded by, not the fact that we have them.

  10. #10 |  MikeT | 

    Considering what the political left gave us in the 20th century, any “libertarian” that finds common ground with them is a fucking idiot who should be drubbed out of the movement as a member of an ideological 5th column.

    The political left gave us the worst mass murders in human history. Oh yes, you put a new face on them, and call them the “New Left” and now they’re all shiny and new.

    Give me a fucking break. The New Left is the same movement as the Old Left. The only difference is that its leadership hasn’t had the opportunity to rise to true power, shock the useful idiot base, and repeat the cycle again.

  11. #11 |  David Chesler | 

    What if I think those that “And this time we really mean it” about the 1986 Amnesty, the one that gave us the I-9, which got us more used to having a national ID, ought to be held to it? What if I think instead of 12 Million, the correct number to have been admitted is closer to 6 Million? What if I’m even more concerned, because it hits my own pocketbook harder, with the large numbers of legal non-immigrant “guest workers”, imported because of false claims of a shortage of software engineers? What if I think there is a real difference between the assimilation of past immigrant groups, as compared to the bilingualism and other old-country ties that have been going on more recently? And especially what if I agree with the early comments that the country would be better able to retain its character while absorbing a more diverse group of immigrants? I must be one of those know-nothing xenophobic racists too.

    That’s a common fallacy, poisoning the well like that — if you disagree with me, you must agree with ____, and they’re obviously wrong.

  12. #12 |  JJH2 | 


    Alex, the new, relevant, hip Neo-Libertarians are those who took Rothbard’s radical structural criticism of the US (and Samuel Edward Konkin’s continuation of it) and have run with it — and who loosely identity themselves as “Left Libertarians.” ( Left-Libertarianism is the only branch of libertarianism currently offering deep, libertarian structural criticism of the US economy to explain both the disempowerment of workers at home, and also workers abroad — while the irrelevant vulgar libertarians continue to deliberately conflate the current US economy with a “free market” to continuously remind the most shat upon workers that they’re truly living in the best of all possible worlds.

  13. #13 |  JJH2 | 


    There are lots of valid criticisms to be made about many aspects and practices of the New Left — but seeing as how they were explicitly anti-War, anti-Bolshevik, and anti-Authoritarian, and that they developed largely in opposition to the Soviet and Chinese Communism, the one thing you CAN’T do, is to pin the Statist slaughterhouse of the 20th century on them. For all their faults, the New Left was advocating all the right things — opposition to racism, foreign adventurism, and promotion of civil liberties at home — all the things that the Old Right at the time was against (and surprise — all the things that the New Right today are against too!).

  14. #14 |  Luke | 

    The difference between present immigration and previous waves of Chinese, Irish, Germans, etc, aside from the welfare state and “free” healthcare is that these folks didn’t have militant groups akin to La Raza and MeCha claiming that large portions of U.S. territory were actually stolen Chinese/Irish/Polish/German land…

    As an aside, assuming we should let in anybody who wants to live here, who thinks the United States COULD accomodate the hundreds of millions of people around the world who’d like to come live here, and still be recognizable as the USA? Show of hands?

  15. #15 |  Alex | 

    JJH2, I don’t care. In college, when I was really stoned, I might have taken the bait. But honestly, I don’t really give a shit about your or any other Movement. I’m pretty much operating on the assumption that countries have borders until I see evidence to the contrary.

    Also, I think everyone on this thread likes the guest worker programs, and since that’s the most libertarian/conservative/liberal/left-libertarian/anarchist/anarcho-capatalist/agorist/you-need-a-hobby/whatever that has any chance of passing, shouldn’t we just be glad that there’s common ground with enough people to actual have solid pro-market, pro-immigration legislation?

  16. #16 |  Dave | 

    I am a legal green card holding Canadian.

    I am completely anti-illegal and pro expanded legal immigration policy. Those that come in illegally are metaphorically the same type that cut in line in front of you in the movie theater.

    We all want to see the movie, but when there are only so many seats you should be standing in line like everyone else.

    Yes they should be building more theaters. But until they do, skipping in front of me in line is not going to endear me to your cause.

  17. #17 |  Lyn | 

    Cute argument but it overlooks the most important aspects of the immigration debate.

    America is a White majority nation. Most of our ancestors are from Europe. It is natural, and it is just, for us to want this to continue to be a White majority nation.

    I oppose Mexican immigration. Some of them are admirable people. Other Mexicans settle in Colorado, Texas, and California just to expand their criminal activities. Mexicans are the main reason the western and southwestern US have problems with meth. In California and Texas many Mexicans are just welfare freeloaders.

    The stereotype of Mexicans being hard working and filling the lowest jobs is not completely true. Many Mexicans come here with nothing but contempt for the US. They either get on welfare, or they commit crimes, or they do both.

    Jobs and opportunity are precious things; White America should jealously guard these things.

  18. #18 |  Joseph | 

    I have to wade in. In reality there are several issues to be delt with.
    1. The people who are quite happy to have an “open” border are the large companies and goverment. It provides them really cheap labor that can be exploited. They pay below minimum wage, do not provide benifits and can make the labor work in unsafe or conditions that a citizen would not. If the illegal complains or refuses he is simply replaced. This is the sort of behavior that caused unions to be formed. The companies make additional profit on the suffering of others. Please don’t tell me that it’s better than in Mexico. The illegals are kept at a poverty level that makes them dependant on the state or others for their welfare and makes them succeptable to abuse. Additionally for the citizens this cheap labor had driven wages down and put them out of work. If you want to fix this you have to fine and jail employers who hire illegals and do not provide fair wages or work practices.

    2. Because the illegals are treated in this manner the are provided with welfare and healthcare at the expense of the citizens. This would not be so bad with just a few but with the staggering numbers it has put a strain on all our city and social services. The result is the taxpayer gets less and less service for their money. If you don’t believe me go to an emergency room or a school and look around. The reslult is more taxes on those who pay them and get little or no service for this increase. To fix this simply do not provide any, except emergency, services to non citizens.

    3. Illegals are also given a pass by our goverments (state and federal) because that are a dependent class of people and a potential new voting block. So the laws are not being enforced against illegals. Law such as allowing 30 people to live in a house or garage. Drunk driving laws. Penalties for not having driving insurance or a License. Health inspections and immunizations.

    I do not blame the illegals. I would jump the border too if I were in their situation of abject poverty with no way out. We simply need to enforce the rules on everyone and this problem will correct itself. I am for more visas so long as the rules for entry are enforced.

    By the way, this was the way things were done up until the 70’s or 80’s and we had an “open” border. Workers were allowed to come up from Mexico to work on a visa but were the responsibility of the employer who did not get a pass on the rules and the taxpayer did not foot the bill to care for them.

    So what’s stopping us from doing all this now? One word “GREED”.

  19. #19 |  Mike Schneider | 

    > Many Mexicans come here with nothing but contempt for the US.
    > They either get on welfare, or they commit crimes, or they do both.

    IOW, they’re just the same as many here-already Americans.

  20. #20 |  MikeT | 

    There are lots of valid criticisms to be made about many aspects and practices of the New Left — but seeing as how they were explicitly anti-War, anti-Bolshevik, and anti-Authoritarian, and that they developed largely in opposition to the Soviet and Chinese Communism, the one thing you CAN’T do, is to pin the Statist slaughterhouse of the 20th century on them. For all their faults, the New Left was advocating all the right things — opposition to racism, foreign adventurism, and promotion of civil liberties at home — all the things that the Old Right at the time was against (and surprise — all the things that the New Right today are against too!).

    They did a lot of good on the opposition to racism, but they have failed in many ways on civil liberties. It’s rare to ever meet someone who is a member of the New Left and actually believes in an expansive, full view of the entire Bill of Rights. Look at Obama, Mr. Constitutional Scholar Big Time Civil Libertarian. He’s great until you talk about the 2nd amendment, at which rate he’s two degrees of separation from every totalitarian who banned guns in the name of public safety.

    I am not here to defend the reactionary wing of conservatism. I just don’t see how the new left can be said to be right about much of anything from a libertarian point of view. The fruits of their policies have born out a great deal of collectivism, that in many ways outweighs the net good they have done for individual liberties. Why should I thank them for getting things like hardcore pornography declared free speech, when other members of the new left impose speech codes at state universities that make talking openly about anything that might offend anyone a dangerous proposition?

    Were the New Left to categorically repudiate Marxism and all of the isms that it spawned as ferociously as it has repudiated Fascism, I’d be sympathetic. However, too many members of the New Left just don’t see their forebears in the Old Left as truly evil ideologues whose policies were monstrous. We’re talking about political ideologies that managed in 1 century to mass murder more people at government hands than the previous 4,900+ years of history combined, so you’ll have to excuse my cynicism.

    I think we will truly know the heart of the New Left when the remnants of the libertarian wings of both major parties are finally drubbed out, and it’s just the Rockefeller Republicans and Neoconservatives on one side, and the New Left on the other. I suspect that we will find that the New Left is no where near as liberal as advertised.

  21. #21 |  Scooby | 


    WTF is your definition of “white”? Does it include me? I’m visibly Anglo, with mostly English and German heritage, but I also have quite a bit of aboriginal American ancestry. The only difference between me (whose ancestors were all off the boat by the early 19th century) and one of those dirty, no good, lazy, good for nothing Mexican welfare free-loaders is that my Euro component is Northern Euro & British vice Iberian, and my aboriginal component is from what is now the Southern US vice Southwest US and/or Central America.

    Most welfare free-loaders are “white”. Are you proud of them?

  22. #22 |  Questions at The Everlasting Phelps | 

    […] Bad form, Balko. […]

  23. #23 |  TGGP | 

    in two generations they’ll be as “American” as German-Americans are today

    Wrong and wronger.

  24. #24 |  JJH2 | 

    Mike T:

    Uh… what? The New Left as a significant mass movement hasn’t existed for over 30 years. Obama is not “New Left.” There are a few people floating around from the New Left who have managed to maintain, more or less, a consistent set of positions – Tariq Ali and Noam Chomsky come to mind. And frankly, both have contributed more to the cause of genuine libertarian-style freedom than all the small-government, warfare state conservatives and minarchist libertarians combined.

  25. #25 |  TGGP | 

    The New Left was in large part Maoist. Mao broke with the Soviets when Kruschev said Stalin had went too far (this was around the time the U.S supported them in the Sino-Soviet split). I don’t think they have much over the Old Left other than being more anti-establishment towards LBJ than FDR.

  26. #26 |  TJ | 

    I’ll take the low road.

    I don’t want them here unless they have undertaken the correct procedures legally to get here.

    As far as anti-immigration goes, yup, it should be hard to get to be a citizen of the USA, sort of a trickle effect where we are not overwhelmed by any particular group.

    I think that works better towards true assimilation. Many people are annoyed by what they see as pandering to the mexicans solely because of their numbers (press one for spanish, the protest marches waving the mexican flag, etc.)

    Moreover, I could just imagine on how I would get treated if discovered with a falisified drivers license based on bogus documents (fake social security nuimber, which is required to obtain a license in Arizona).

    Indeed it is against the law. I don’t agree with many laws, but that just tough…I have to follow them. They apparently don’t.

    As far as being painted or labeled by some fellow as this or that, I coulld care less….what is that to me? Just another opinion is all. Call me a racist or what?

    Like that makes a difference to either me or the labeler. Certainly, neither of us will change our opinions or actions because of some person on these internets.

    I will continue to vote for and support every illegal immigrant ballot initiative that Arizona can serve up, and I hope Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others that make life difficult for these criminals can keep up the good work.