Open Borders: A Libertarian Reappraisal

Open Borders: A Libertarian Reappraisal By 

This talk was delivered at the Mises Circle in Phoenix, AZ, on November 7, 2015.

Whether we’re talking about illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America, or birthright citizenship, or the migrants coming from the Middle East and Africa, the subject of immigration has been in the news and widely discussed for months now. It is an issue fraught with potentially perilous consequences, so it is especially important for libertarians to understand it correctly. This Mises Circle, which is devoted to a consideration of where we ought to go from here, seems like an opportune moment to take up this momentous question.

I should note at the outset that in searching for the correct answer to this vexing problem I do not seek to claim originality. To the contrary, I draw much of what follows from two of the people whose work is indispensable to a proper understanding of the free society: Murray N. Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

Some libertarians have assumed that the correct libertarian position on immigration must be “open borders,” or the completely unrestricted movement of people. Superficially, this appears correct: surely we believe in letting people go wherever they like!

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