Why I Oppose Open Immigration, on Principle

In 2013, regarding immigration, I wrote,

Any non-criminal, non-disease-carrying individual should be free to enter the United States and work just like any American citizen.

I was wrong. I failed to realize that an enemy can organize large numbers of people who have not yet committed a detectable crime, but who have committed—or are at least inclined—to follow the enemy’s orders. The German National Socialists did this kind of organizing. So did communists in America. So did Saul Alinsky. So did the Obama administration last year at America’s southern border. And that is what our Islamic enemies are doing now.

It can be argued that infiltration is the most effective military tactic available to evil in fighting against good. The communists’ nuclear weapons came from infiltration. The Trojan War was won by this tactic. Villains in Ayn Rand’s two greatest novels use this tactic. Infiltration is an archetype of conquest. As I have written, “The Islamic plan to take over an enemy country by immigration is so basic to Islam that there is an Islamic word for it: hijrah.

I changed my mind last year about immigration when I saw thousands of aliens streaming across our southern border in what was in effect an invasion, evidently orchestrated by the Obama administration. This invasion may have changed the character of America’s electorate, and may have admitted hordes of anti-American soldiers and thugs who will fight against patriotic American civilians on American soil in a future time of crisis.

This terrible practical result of what I had thought was good theory induced me to rethink the theory. The excellent article “Yearning to Breathe Free: The Foundations of a Rational Immigration Policy” by Ed Mazlish, most of which I agree with, also helped to change my mind.

I have been negligent in not posting my change of mind sooner on this blog, and so here are my new thoughts in brief.

It is not the role of government to defend people with good ideas from the ideas of people with bad ideas. The way to fight bad ideas per se is not via government but rather with good ideas.

However, as the agency of force, government should be concerned about the actions that people with bad ideas—anti-American ideas, ideas that call for the violation of individual rights—might take. Would-be parasites of all kinds—including would-be criminals, welfare-state freeloaders, and would-be fraudulent voters—might seek to enter America because America is home to the wealthiest potential hosts. That is why immigration policy must include ‘ideological exclusion’; government must screen prospective immigrants—or anyone seeking entry into the country—for bad ideas.

The most crucial part of the concern over bad ideas is that people with bad ideas might be organized ‘sleepers’—Trojan Horses—who will carry out bad actions when such sleepers reach a critical mass of the population. The most dangerous evil is organized evil, as in organized criminal gangs and especially evil governments. Our own government must protect us from these organized foreign evil entities.

The 2005 article, “Keeping Extremists Out: The History of Ideological Exclusion and the Need for Its Revival” by James R. Edwards Jr., reviews America’s long history of ideological exclusion—including the demise of this policy since 1990—of prospective immigrants and others seeking entry to the country. This history goes back to before James Madison, who—as quoted in the article—stated at the Constitutional Convention that he

wished to maintain the [American] character … [by admitting] foreigners of merit and republican principles.

All individuals should recognize the rights of all individuals. But government does more than recognize rights. Government is responsible for protecting rights, albeit to degrees that may vary based on citizenship and taxpaying status, of every individual within its borders. Government is not responsible for protecting rights of individuals outside its borders, whether those individuals are in some backward place on the other side of the globe or five feet outside our border. We know this principle in the case of foreign policy; the principle applies as well to immigration policy, which can be considered an aspect of foreign policy as well as domestic policy.

The principle, sometimes cited by advocates of ‘open immigration’, that an individual is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ applies in the context of the law considering a particular crime. The principle is an application of the principle that actions leave causal traces—that if a specific person committed a certain act, then there will be evidence that he did so. But an individual coming from another territory should not be presumed innocent of having committed crimes in that other territory, because such crimes do not leave causal traces inside our country.

In general, an individual is presumed to act in the future as he has acted in the past. Because most American citizens historically have respected the law, it has been reasonable to presume that most such citizens will continue to do so.

But we do not presume that there will be no crime at all. We presume that crime will continue as it has in the past. That is why we have police, security clearance, guns in our homes, locks on our various kinds of doors, and passwords.

An individual’s personal policy for prevention of crime depends a great deal on where the individual lives. If he lives in a place with low crime, then he reasonably presumes that crime will remain low there. Therefore, he may leave his car unlocked, his personal computer unwatched in a public place, and his children free to play in the park unsupervised. If he lives in a place with high crime, then he will guard himself and his family more heavily against crime.

When an unknown person shows up at our border, the reasonable presumption is that he is like most people in the place he came from who share his ideology. If he came from Somalia, then he should be presumed ignorant until proven knowledgeable of freedom, and he should be presumed likely to have violated rights in his past. If he is also a Muslim, then he should also be presumed likely to want to enslave or kill non-Muslims. The onus of proof is on him to prove otherwise.

Instead of the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, which applies only to specific crimes already committed within the nation, the correct principle is that an unknown individual has the onus to prove himself worthy to enter America; he has the onus to prove that his mind is civilized enough so as not to be a threat to the rights of individuals already here.

A would-be immigrant from a bad place may gain some credibility merely in virtue of wanting to immigrate to America, but he may also lose some credibility for an important reason: Evil can be organized. Organized criminals, organized state enemies, and organized Democrats may specifically target prosperous America for mass infiltration by people from bad places, taking advantage of the freedom of entry and mobility of residents in America. Exploitation of the good will of an enemy is a basic strategy taught by Leftist Saul Alinsky and by Muslim Muhammad.

If borders were completely open, then an enemy could infiltrate hundreds of thousands of sleeper warriors, not to mention hundreds of nuclear weapons and other armaments. I hope that this has not already happened.

In another blog post, which I plan to publish tomorrow, I present at length my thoughts on immigration policy—in the context of war policy—pertaining to Muslims in particular.

Some open-border advocates argue that a citizen has a right to bring any person onto his property, that for government to investigate what a citizen does on his private property requires probable cause of some danger. But because of the power of the human mind, an unknown adult mind—that is, a mind with no known track record—is indeed a prima facie danger. Once in the country, a dangerous individual on one person’s property can readily travel to other properties and cause harm there. Although a citizen vouching for an alien might be evidence in favor of an alien seeking entry, this evidence needs to be evaluated by government.

A moral government holds a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. Except in emergencies, a moral individual does not have the right to retaliate unilaterally. For the same reason, a moral individual does not have the right to admit a foreigner into the country, even onto his own property, unilaterally.

An underlying principle in this matter is the impact of error or irrationality. If a man errs or is irrational with his own money or property, he does not harm others. But if he errs or is irrational in the use of force, even force that he deems retaliatory, then he does irreparable harm. That is the fundamental reason why, in civilized society, the use of retaliatory force must be delegated to a deliberative body with codified laws: government.

The same kind of irreparable harm can occur by admitting evil individuals into the country. The testimony of an individual property owner who would sponsor an immigrant carries weight; but a codified, deliberative process is still called for.

The authority to vet is not transitive. When one individual gains security clearance, he does not thereby gain the authority to grant security clearance to someone else unilaterally. The same principle holds for citizenship or entry into the country. One citizen or property owner does not have the authority to confer citizenship or immigrant status onto another individual. Each new candidate for citizenship or entry into the country must face the same codified, deliberative, legal tests.

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