WSJ Endorses Libertarian Immigration Policy

Mexico illegal crossingThey never use the word libertarian per se, but if you take this Wall Street Journal article (via Coyote Blog):

Our own view is that a philosophy of “free markets and free people” includes flexible labor markets. At a fundamental level, this is a matter of freedom and human dignity. These migrants are freely contracting for their labor, which is a basic human right. Far from selling their labor “cheap,” they are traveling to the U.S. to sell it more dearly and improve their lives. Like millions of Americans before them, they and certainly their children climb the economic ladder as their skills and education increase.

We realize that critics are not inventing the manifold problems that can arise from illegal immigration: Trespassing, violent crime, overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, document counterfeiting, human smuggling, corpses in the Arizona desert, and a sense that the government has lost control of the border. But all of these result, ultimately, from too many immigrants chasing too few U.S. visas.

Those migrating here to make a better life for themselves and their families would much prefer to come legally. Give them more legal ways to enter the country, and we are likely to reduce illegal immigration far more effectively than any physical barrier along the Rio Grande ever could. This is not about rewarding bad behavior. It’s about bringing immigration policy in line with economic and human reality. And the reality is that the U.S. has a growing demand for workers, while Mexico has both a large supply of such workers and too few jobs at home.

And compare it to the Libertarian Party’s 2006 platform on immigration:

The Issue: Our borders are currently neither open, closed, nor secure. This situation restricts the labor pool, encouraging employers to hire undocumented workers, while leaving those workers neither subject to nor protected by the law. A completely open border allows foreign criminals, carriers of communicable diseases, terrorists and other potential threats to enter the country unchecked. Pandering politicians guarantee access to public services for undocumented aliens, to the detriment of those who would enter to work productively, and increasing the burden on taxpayers.

The Principle: The legitimate function and obligation of government to protect the lives, rights and property of its citizens, requires awareness of and control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a threat to security, health or property. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demands 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.

Solutions: Borders will be secure, with free entry to those who have demonstrated compliance with certain requirements. The terms and conditions of entry into the United States must be simple and clearly spelled out. Documenting the entry of individuals must be restricted to screening for criminal background and threats to public health and national security. It is the obligation of the prospective immigrant to demonstrate compliance with these requirements. Once effective immigration policies are in place, general amnesties will no longer be necessary.

Transitional Action: Ensure immigration requirements include only appropriate documentation, screening for criminal background and threats to public health and national security. Simplifying the immigration process and redeployment of surveillance technology to focus on the borders will encourage the use of regular and monitored entry points, thus preventing trespass and saving lives. End federal requirements that benefits and services be provided to those in the country illegally. Repeal all measures that punish employers for hiring undocumented workers. Repeal all immigration quotas.

There seems to be more than an accidental overlap, no?

It’s interesting to see the WSJ slowly transform away from being Republican cheerleaders and start moving in a more libertarian direction as they go back to touting those “free markets” that have always gilded the road to success for the majority of their business readers. Maybe are finally shucking off the recent “Republican conservative” tone (meaning they just acted as apologists for all the screwed ups fiscal policies Congress enacted) and proudly embrace their paper’s historical roots in economic libertarianism.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. Of course it isn’t accidental. When something is true, anyone can discover it independently if they try.

    Libertarians see further than most, but anybody can get there. It’s entirely possible they simply figured it out.

  2. I love it when a plan comes together. :D

    What you see there is called being ahead of the coming political sea change in America. The Republican Party is going to go down for the count due to the facts about Iraq and other evil things that have happened. THEY WILL BE SUCKING WIND FOR YEARS. The Democrats are going to take over, but they have no new ideas about governance. They helped Bush along the whole way. All we have to do is make sure this is realized.

    If the LP follows it’s current course and does not retreat from full blown political action, we will be pulling 10 to 15% in any race we enter by 2012. By 2018 we will be electing Congressmen. The majors will adopt our positions, the same way the Democrats adopted the Socialist platform in the early 1900’s.

    The coming middle east war is going to reshape the political landscape in America. ( and maybe the real landscape as well. Boom. ) Bye bye Republicans.

  3. Don’t hold your breath waiting for quick victories. We’ve said stuff like stuff many times before.

  4. I am aware of that. There’s a lot of things that have to happen yet, but if those things do in fact happen, I think there’s a good chance those predictions will come through.

    We are now on the edge of a political re-alignment, the kind that happens every 100~120 years. Economic and political realitys are coming together in a manner that forebodes very well for the LP.

    One of the 2 major parties is going to become a minor party before the decade is out. Something is going to take it’s place. The LP can be that party if it decides it wants the job.

  5. whether or not timothy is right, you’ve got to love his ass-kicking attitude!

    i’m with him all the way!

  6. If one were to say in 1989 that the Soviet Union would fall in less 2 years, one would be labled insane. Yet that’s exactly what happened.

    Sometime huge change happens very fast, and often it happens in the very same manner that the platform got “purged” in Portland – the lid to needed change is kept on so tight and for so long that the inevitable change, when it finally happens, is explosive and uncontrollable. When the full truth comes out about Iraq, as it must, the Republican Party will implode.

    I may be wrong of course. I’m not a Professional Libertarian. :D …..but I think I’m right.

  7. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. (They’re worse.)

    We’ve always been ahead of the curve, but I think we can turn on a dime when the time is right. Be ready.

  8. The RLC will be considering a resolution on immigration at our next National Convention in Orlando, Florida the weekend of September 15-17.
    It may actually be more “radical” than the LP Platform.

  9. Two main factors exacerbate the problem of immigration:

    1) The costs of maintaining welfare state social services, and the toll both on finances and public opinion of offering these services regardless of residency status.

    2) “Free trade” agreements that are anything but, and damage the Mexican agriculture business by putting it on a “level playing field” with subsidized U.S. corporate farms. This is mostly responsible for the post-NAFT surge in immigration.

    I think that completely open borders is a nice ideal, but obviously (?) not practical as a first step when half the world’s 6+ billion population subsists on less than $2 a day. Some throttling is necessary right now, and if that means I’m “not principled” than so be it. However, if we start by elimiating the welfare state and pursuing REAL free trade first, we will move toward that ideal much faster than by the road we’re currently taking.

  10. Tim,

    You write:

    “If one were to say in 1989 that the Soviet Union would fall in less 2 years, one would be labled insane.”

    Unless, of course, they’d read and understood L. Neil Smith’s prediction of it in 1977, or Murray Rothbard’s prediction of it in 195x, or … well, you get the picture.

    You’re taking a very strange approach — positing a massive near-future political realignment while fighting like hell to get the LP on the side of that realignment that’s going to slide into the ocean when the quake hits.

  11. Tom,

    I dont recall the coming fall of the SU being addressed on the NBC Nightly News or any other mainstream media at any point up and until Gorbachev resigned. That was the first time the mainstream TV press mentioned that it was entirely possible that there would be no Soviet Union soon. I remember watching that very night, followed up with the lowering of the flag, what, maybe 2 or 3 days later? I remember thinking at the time that this was the biggest single change of that century, and yet it was surreal to see the relative calm.

    I am aware that various academics, for lack of a better term, forecast the fall. But it wasnt translated into the mainsteam media nearly that far in advance. That’s becuase it was impossible to forecast.

    I’m trying to remember if I ever saw one report on the TV news in the mid 80’s that seriously suggested that the Soviet Union would be no more by 1991. I just cant recall it.

  12. As far as being on the wrong side, I wasnt aware that I became a Bush supporting Republican.

    The truth about Iraq will come out, and it’s going to make Watergate look like nothing. This will be a conspiracy that killed over 2500 military and injured 18000+, not a third rate burgle job. The only question is has the press been so subjugated that it wont report the story? That might change things.

    The future casting business is a inexact science to be sure.

    To be honest, this whole thing is nothing more than a big troll for my #1 fan, D. Walter. He likes it when I say stuff like this. How can I let him down?

  13. It should be noted that the Wall Street Journal editorial board has been calling for open borders for more than 20 years.

    On July 3, 1984 they called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “There shall be open borders.”

    Wrote the WSJ:

    “If Washington still wants to “do something” about immigration, we propose a five-word constitutional amendment: There shall be open borders. Perhaps this policy is overly ambitious in today’s world, but the U.S. became the world’s envy by trumpeting precisely this kind of heresy.”

    The entire article is online at, alas, an ANTI-immigration group, and is well worth a read:

    They have called for open borders many, many more times since then.

    It’s another great example (one of many) of a bold libertarian position supported by a mainstream establishment institution. The WSJ articulates it beautifully, and we should point to their endorsement when we argue for this position.