Video: Why I’m Against Open Borders

In this video, I make my case against open borders. Open border advocates have been doubling down since Hoppe’s talk was released. In it he suggested a halt of mass immigration.

Video Notes:
  • The common argument for open borders is that it is in violation of the NAP to prevent an immigrant from crossing the border. Confused libertines claim that freedom of movement applies here, but, of course, there is no such thing as freedom of movement according to private property norms. In a society based on private property, there is no freedom of movement, only permissibly granted movement by property owners. Of course, you may move freely on your own property.


  • Open borders libertarians miss the mark. While it may require force to stop someone from immigrating, the original act of aggression or violation of property rights was the act of the state taxing people to fund the development of public property and infrastructure.

  • Because the state uses stolen resources to fund public property development and infrastructure, the state can’t possibly grant unrestricted access to public property by opening its borders. It isn’t the state’s property to give away. It isn’t unowned property or a general condition of human action, such as air.


  • Whether we like it or not, public property is a means. Roads and other infrastructure are means to attaining ends. Because public property is in fact means, not a general condition, it is a scarce resource that is subject to private property norms. Because it is scarce, it can be exclusively possessed and accessed. It should be clearer now that public property is not the property of the state, or unowned property, but the property of tax victims.

  • Austrian economics offers this great insight: To quote Rothbard in Man, Economy, and State, “action does not necessarily mean that the individual is ‘active’ as opposed to ‘passive,’ in the colloquial sense.” For the state to not enforce the borders is in fact action by the state. Refusing to enforce borders is just as much an action as halting immigration. Therefore, if the state were to have open borders, this would be an action constituting an unjust transfer of resources, namely public property, from victims of taxation to an unlimited number of immigrants.


  • Such a proposal should be laughed at by any libertarians who understand private property rights to be the foundation of libertarianism.

  • To be clear, this isn’t a consequential argument that it’s better to have closed than open borders for the sake of citizens. My argument is that open borders is logically inconsistent with libertarian ethics.


  • If you still don’t agree, follow the chain of the transfer of property. Tax dollars are taken from citizens without permission, making it an illegitimate transfer. Tax dollars are invested in public infrastructure by the state. By granting unrestricted access to public infrastructure with an open border policy, the state would be unjustly inviting newcomers onto property that they do not have a claim to.


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Immigration in a Free Society

On the issue of the United States border, it is useful to imagine what immigration would be like in a Free Society. In a libertarian social order, migration would occur in accordance with private property norms. Property owners would be welcome to invite a newcomer to the land. Refugees could be invited and cared for by migrant agencies, for example, as long as they don’t violate private property norms. Migrant agencies would be liable for the refugees, and would have to ensure that the refugees do not trespass on private property.

Private property owners could invite newcomers for various reasons. Rather than regulating what reasons for immigration are acceptable, newcomers would be “regulated” by their ability to adhere to private property norms and to assimilate into society. Failure to do so would result in intervention by the private legal system with deportation being a possible outcome. One could invite a newcomer by selling him or her land, or renting space. The point being to avoid forced importation of refugees who become a burden on a society if individuals are forced to subsidize their well-being.

Certainly, unowned land would be open for homestead by newcomers. The newcomer would only have to access the land without trespassing. Perhaps road access or access to unowned land would be granted to newcomers by the owners of roads for a fee, or be included in some migration agency fee.

Given Austro-libertarian principles and these ideas explaining how immigration can occur in a libertarian social order, we can try to describe the best solution to the United States borders and public land. When individuals act, or engage in purposeful behavior, they are using means to achieve a desirable end. When a newcomer attempts to enter a country whose “public property” is paid for involuntarily by taxpayers, the newcomer is trespassing. For one, the migrant is knowingly or unknowingly increasing the demand for taxation. An increase in population in a given area will decrease access to infrastructure in that area. This creates more burden on taxpayers. Secondly, the newcomer is trespassing when entering “public property” because “public property” can only be owned, so to speak, by the taxpayers who have been victimized by the state. Taxpayers, being the victims of theft by the state, have the highest claim to the property altered by the state using the taxpayer’s resources.

The open borders position is very much at odds with these principles and ideas. Intentionally or not, an uninvited newcomer is trespassing and ultimately committing an act of aggression against victims of taxation. I’ll admit that having closed borders and deporting uninvited newcomers is a better position than open borders. It is much easier to prevent entry and remove uninvited newcomers than it is to subsidize the newcomers use of “public property” for years and years.


An ideal solution would be proportional restitution to victims of taxation along with privatization of all “public property”. “Public property” specifically meaning property altered with funds of tax victims. Unowned land would remain unowned until one homesteads the land. Restitution could possibly be done by distributing stock in the private firms assuming ownership of the previous “public property”. These kinds of policies aren’t even in the same universe as the current mainstream political discussion. Permitting closed borders for the time being, the best way forward for libertarians is to demand privatization of all “public property” and to push for secession as a means of achieving a Free Society.

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