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KOL258 | Liberty Forum Debate vs. Daniel Garza: Immigration Reform: Open Borders or Build the Wall?


Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 258.

This is my debate at New Hampshire Liberty Forum, Feb. 7, 2019—really more of a roundtable discussion of immigration policy from a libertarian perspective. The other panelist was Daniel Garza, President of the LIBRE Initiative, and the moderator was Jeremy Kaufman. Some listeners may be surprised at my pro-immigration comments.

Transcript below.

Recorded on my iPhone. I’ll upload a higher quality version later, if it becomes available.

Related links:


Liberty Forum Debate vs. Daniel Garza: Immigration Reform: Open Borders or Build the Wall?

by Stephan Kinsella, Daniel Garza, and Jeremy Kaufman

New Hampshire Liberty Forum, Manchester, NH (Feb. 7, 2019)


M: … something that we’ll find out through the course of this.  Speaking tonight are, on my left-hand side, depicted by the convenient net placard I have in front of me, is Stephan Kinsella.  You’re not talking to me, all right.  Stephan Kinsella who is a patent attorney and leading libertarian legal theorist, the founder and director of the Center of the Study of Innovative Freedom and the Libertarian Papers.  He’s a former adjunct professor at the South Texas College of Law.  He’s published numerous articles and books in IP law, international law, and the application of libertarian principles to legal topics.  You can give a hand for him if you want.




On my right, your left, Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative.  I have a very lot to say about him, but he’s asked me not to say all of it.  So I will say that he held a couple of important positions for the Bush administration in the early 2000s, has also done important things for the Hispanic community for Televisa and Univision and is currently, as I already said, president of the LIBRE Initiative, lives in Mission, Texas with his wife and three children.  Daniel Garza.




Moderating this will be Jeffrey Kaufman.  I don’t have a bio written for him.  I’m going to let you listen to him talk about himself and then field your questions.  There is – for anyone who wants to participate in this, Jeffrey will give you the opportunity to do so.  There’s a microphone at the back there, so that the panelists can hear you.  Just find me back there, and I will let you speak, and thank you for coming.  Thank you everybody.  Off to you, Jeff.




JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you.  And I actually, since I see my purpose as moderator to be facilitating discussion and this has very little to do with me, I’m going to tell you nothing about myself, so we’ll just let that mystery remain.  So my purpose is to facilitate these guys talking.  This will – if I’m doing my job right, this will be the longest I talk in sequence for the entire night.  I do my job to be making sure that they’re answering the questions that are asked.  I am going to be trying to find areas of disagreement, so if there’s too much consensus, I’ll hopefully try to rile them up a little bit, and my job is to ask hard questions.  There will also be, depending on how good my questions go, either some or a substantial amount of Q&A time from the audience.


So if you – as you’re listening to this, if you have questions, make a mental note of them, and there will be time to ask them at the end.  That said, this – while this is a debate, it is not going to be a debate with a fixed resolution, so it’s going to be somewhat of a discussion aspect, although we will be seeking to find the areas of disagreement between our two speakers.


So what I want to start with actually – oh, sorry.  One more premise.  It’s – when we have these debates, a common tension in libertarian communities is the debate between the pragmatics of what we’re doing today, what we ought to do today in the world we live in today, and sort of what’s compatible with libertarian theory and anarcho-capitalist utopia or whatever you think the world ought to be.  And so it’s important both with our speakers when we’re asking questions if you could differentiate between what we think about what should be done today, or are we talking about what should be – how things should be in our ideal world.  So I’m going to start just by asking our speakers to just lay out your position on open borders, and we’re going to start with open borders in the world today.  So please lay out your position for open borders in the world today, for or against.  And we’ll start with Daniel.


DANIEL GARZA: So at the LIBRE Initiative, we take a very pragmatic actually approach to immigration given the realities of the world, given the realities of sometimes the overt statism that we live under.  It’s – I think it’s essential to look at the immigration debate in three components.  It has to do with family, integration of family and keeping the cohesiveness of families, and it has to do with humanitarian issues that are involved in the integration issues.


In that entire space, there are needs I think that are being driven or being imposed upon us that are humanitarian, and that is, I think, an important factor that can never be lost in this whole debate, things like refugees, people fleeing, economic conditions, political conditions, sometimes things that people have to endure because of – in the criminal space or criminal dimension I think is something that is tragic, and I think America has to be considerate of that.


And then for, I would say, if not most important, it’s probably critical is market demand like for market forces, to address market forces, to their – we believe in sort of a market-based immigration approach, so not so much open borders as much as I think it has to be – and I’m not talking about this sort of [indiscernible_00:05:52] where we decide the quota of – where the market demand is now.  But what I’m talking about – and [indiscernible_00:06:02] really important.  This whole discussion lately currently that we’re having on merit-based, switching [indiscernible_00:06:09] forward to merit-based.  I have issues with that as a person who believes strongly in individual freedom and spontaneous border.  Over 200 million immigrants have come to America in – through the arc of history, more than 200 million, and they made America strong, and they made America rich.


W: They made it great one might say.


DANIEL GARZA: I’m sorry?


W: I said it made it great one might say.


DANIEL GARZA: It made it great.  Absolutely it did.  Immigrants have made America great, and so what was important – an important part of the discussion is immigrants have always known how to fill market demand.  They developed any skills that they needed to fill market demand or leverage their own talents, their vast capacities to fill market demand.  And central planners didn’t have to tell us how many engineers we needed or how many doctors or mathematicians or whatever, and so I resist that.


So I’m open borders in the sense that I don’t think we should categorize the kind of immigrants that come in.  Immigrants are creating wealth for themselves and wealth for Americans, always have, always will.  They complement the American labor force, which is the greatest labor force in the world as far as I’m concerned.  And I think there’s – that we should honor that with the kind of immigration policies that we have.  So I guess what I’m saying is a smart, flexible system that accommodates for flows of – future flows of immigrants that – where we address family connections, humanitarian issues, and then also in market demand, which is smart, smart policy.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you, Daniel.  And Stephan, your position on open borders in the world today [indiscernible_00:08:14].


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Right.  So from my point of view, I think the consistent libertarian is a libertarian because we’re against aggression, going back to basics, which means that if you’re consistent, you’re against the state because the state is the agency of institutionalized aggression.  So, in other words, you have to be an anarchist libertarian to be a real libertarian, which is what I am, so that’s how I think about these issues.


So when these issues arise, we live in a non-free society.  We live in a state-dominated society.  So our only question is it’s either one of theory or it’s one of practice.  What would the world look like in a free society?  And what policies should we support now by the government, which is not libertarian and can’t be libertarian?  Everything the state does is a criminal act, so in a sense we real libertarians oppose everything the state does.  But the question comes down to what policy should be support now?


But we have to first recognize that that policy is not the ultimate policy because the ultimate policy is for the state to commit suicide or whatever the word in Latin would be for the state to kill itself, to disband.  Anything they do short of that is not going to be the optimal solution.  Given that the state exists, there will be losers of any state policy.


And this is one thing I think that open borders advocates, which I think I will come around to arguing for in a sense, but open borders advocates among libertarians don’t want to admit this.  They don’t want to admit that there’s really a choice, that we’re libertarians.  We’re against the state.  We’re against aggression against individual people.  Therefore, we have to be for open borders.  But they don’t want to admit that we live in a second-best world where the government is there, and the government will have a policy, and that policy will – whatever that policy is will harm some people.


So the question is what should the policy be?  What would the world look like in a free society?  In a free society, the question of immigration would make no sense.  There would be no states.  There would be no political borders, and everything would be done privately.  Everyone who moved, we do so by invitation from an owner or by permission of the owner of a road or something like that.  They wouldn’t have the right to vote.  They wouldn’t have affirmative action.  They wouldn’t have civil liberties such as anti-discrimination rights.  They wouldn’t have welfare to apply to.  These issues would just disappear.  So immigration wouldn’t make sense in a free society, but we’re not talking about that.  We’re talking about what our current government should do.  In my view, ultimately the question comes down to what can libertarians in their heart favor, and it’s really difficult.


And this is an issue I struggle with, and I’ve written on both sides of this issue.  The reason it’s difficult is because we have a state, and the state causes victims and harms people.  It makes us choose.  Now, in the end, what can we do?  Choose something that will be better for liberty on a pragmatic basis, or choose something that’s better for human welfare?  In today’s society, we’ve had closed borders among all the major nations of the world to some degree, not closed but not totally open.  If we open them up now, there would be a rush of people going to the rich countries taking advantage of affirmative action laws, anti-discrimination law, welfare rights, and so on.


And in the US especially, given the history of slavery, the 14th amendment, and birthright citizenship, they or at least their children would soon have the right to vote, and so then they become part of the polity, so that would affect the political character.  The entire motivation behind the Free State Project here in New Hampshire is the idea that it matters who lives in an area and who has political influence.  It matters who votes in today’s world.  So the entire idea of a free state project is that if we get a critical mass in a certain polity, they can have an effect, and that, I think, is probably true.


But that implies that people immigrating have an effect.  If it is the case that immigrants would tend to vote for socialism or different types of policies that we favor, and they have a certain critical mass, it would result or it could – you could believe it could result in substantially less liberty.  I’m not saying I’m a consequentialist or that we have to be consequentialists, but consequentialism and the consequences of the laws that we favor have to matter.  We’re in favor of all of these principles that we favor because of the consequences of liberty.


If we believe that if Japan or Israel or Switzerland tomorrow lowered their barriers completely, I think we all have an idea that they would be overrun very quickly by lots of outsiders, and things would change very quickly.  And those societies where they’re not libertarian utopias, they are relatively liberal and open societies compared to the bottom half of the world or the past.  So let’s say the Swiss identity or the Japanese identity are the way of life or freedom itself was wiped out within a generation or two because of mass immigration.


Would we be in favor of it even then, even though that was the right thing to do?  I’m not so sure.  The problem as a libertarian is we have to recognize that the federal government in America is the steward of the government behind, in a sense, the greatest nation on the Earth.  But it’s also the greatest, the most evil, powerful government that’s ever existed because it’s parasitical upon the wealth that the free market in this country produces.


It’s hard to say that any libertarian with a good heart can support the INS.  In the end, if forced to choose, I don’t want to lose liberty in this country.  I don’t want something to happen that will cause us in 10, 20, 30, 40 years to have lost the liberty that we have and the tenuous grasp on it that we have and the potential that we have.


But in the end, we also can’t support the INS.  So I’m left with an uneasy sort of conclusion.  I can never support the INS, the goons of the federal government.  You just can’t do it.  On the other hand, you can make a theoretical case, which we maybe can get to if we have time, for how to analyze this situation and how to view that the best second-best policy that we can hope for, for a state like we have now would be to do something similar to what the effective rulers in a free society would do to try to minimize the harm done to us.  So that would be the policy that I would say they should adopt.  And to be honest, from having read Mr. Garza’s policies on his website, they seem pretty reasonable.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: No, we need to disagree.  I’m going to – if you have something [indiscernible_00:15:56].


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Well, I’m not sure if he agrees with me on patent and copyright law, so if we want to get into that, we can.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: I think Stephan basically gave – so first I actually was going to introduce – but we have a lot of questions.  I want to get to questions from the audience.  Maybe just sort of tap on the table if I want you to kind of get to the end because we do only have already only 40 more minutes.  Stephan kind of answered both of my liberty questions at once, so if you have something more to add I’ll let you, but I’d like to hear from Daniel on if you’re designing the government from scratch, whether you might not be a fully anarcho-capitalist libertarian that Stephan is.  Maybe you’re a minarchist.  Maybe you believe in a larger state than that.  What does immigration look like for you in that society?


DANIEL GARZA: So the primary purpose of the state is to defend its people from foreign aggression.  And so let me just say that that’s important because what it does is it defends culture.  It’s defends your ways, your principles, your ideas, which is what the Spartans did against the Persians.  They defended their people, their ideas, their culture.  And what I mean by that is we need to take a step back even further.


In the Americas, I think the greatest irony is, for thousands of years, the Iroquois, the Cherokee, the Seminole, and Maya and Azteca, Inca [indiscernible_00:17:16] all roamed the Americas for thousands of years freely.  And at the end, of course, you had Christopher Columbus and [indiscernible_00:17:24] in the Americas, and the non-indigenous came and said to the indigenous here are borders.  You stay there.  And today, mainly – I think one of the cruelest ironies, as I already said, is that mostly the non-indigenous, for leisure, for business, for whatever they want, get to travel the world.


And mostly it’s the indigenous who are told to – or whose movements are restricted.  And it was that way of life that was taken from them.  That culture was taken from them where they were told now you have to adapt to a new way of the world order.  And the world order that we established can be changed tomorrow here in, I think – if we don’t give it thought and consideration.


My idea is, when it comes to immigration as Americans, we decide who comes into America.  And the people that we decide who should come into America are those who are going to be industrious, those who are going to benefit America, those who come to work hard, those who come to generate wealth for themselves and wealth for others just like the 200 million immigrants who have come in the past to America have done so.  And we keep out those who would exploit Americans or other immigrants, who would take advantage of our system.  And that, I think, is a smart immigration policy that’s pragmatic and practical but also defends our principles or preserves our principles and our ideas or at least allows us to move towards a more libertarian nation.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you.  So I’ll pose a question to both of you.  One idea that proponents of open borders support today is something called keyhole solutions.  And keyhole solutions is the idea that we can allow people to come here, but we don’t have to grant them the full rights that citizens have.  So an extreme version of this and less-extreme versions might look something like all immigrants are welcome.  Immigrants aren’t allowed to vote.  Their children aren’t allowed to vote.  They’re not allowed any welfare programs.


They’re not allowed any state benefits whatsoever.  If they want to still come here, they would be welcome to do so, and so some of the – a proponent of open borders today, they might advocate for something like this.  And this will be a question to both of you, which is how do you guys feel about a proposal like that or something along those lines?  It doesn’t have to be as extreme as the one that I said.  Sometimes it’s 10 years or other things like that.  Who went first last time?  We’ll go with – I’ll just keep bouncing.  So Daniel can go [indiscernible_00:20:13].


DANIEL GARZA: I actually loathe that idea.  I don’t want to give it too much space.  Maybe there are areas where maybe that’s a necessity, people who have work visas with a specialized skill who are temporary by nature come in to do some work maybe for a two- three- four- five-year project.  I can see that to accommodate for something like that, but to have it as a long-term, viable solution no, because what we would create is a two-tiered society, the two – I mean a second-class type of resident who – people who come to America or who immigrate to America should really be of the mindset to become American in our values and our principles.


And I think what would happen is when you start separating two kinds of categories, you really do stunt the assimilation process, and in fact, maybe even create conclaves of people very different from us as E. Pluribus Unum—out of many, one.  Out of many factions I guess is – what should be our new motto.  So I would reject that with the exception of temporary work.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: So it would seem that you’re concerns then are not purely economic [indiscernible_00:21:46] previous answers have leaned on the productivity, which would be applied when we’re thinking about the costs to the state and things like that.  This is now more of a cultural [indiscernible_00:21:57].


DANIEL GARZA: But it’s also – I mean it’s always economic, right?  So, for example, when an immigrant learns English in America, they will quadruple their lifetime salaries according to some states.  That’s transformative, but that’s also an assimilation that begins to take place where Americans who speak English who have a certain mindset and principles and values and culture, then also are more accepting of others who are more like them in principles and – and if they’re not, then you lose out on economic things.  I mean it always comes down to economics.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Suppose we derive a test or a standard, so it’s not a year.  It’s not a permanent thing.  It’s once they demonstrate that they’ve adopted the values that you support, is that something that…


DANIEL GARZA: That’s fine.  I mean that’s fine.  I think – my grandfather came in under the Bracero Program in World War II.  When Americans were off to foreign battlefields defending the country, we needed workers in the fields, in the orchards.  And my grandfather came as a Bracero, temporary, and continued this pattern of circularity where his would come in and work and then return to his country of origin, Mexico [indiscernible_00:23:07] also my parents are originally from.  But this was a temporary work program that allowed for this kind of circularity.  I mean I can see that because my grandfather at the time never intended to be fully American, never intended to be fully American.  If somebody comes with the intent to be American, then I don’t think we should have that kind of system.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you.  And Stephan, common on keyhole solutions for an open border.


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Well, I share Mr. Garza’s concerns about having a second tier of society where you have people of different liberties and status, and that’s not America, and that is not stable.  I’m skeptical as an anarchist, of course, of the idea that the primary purpose of the state is to protect us.  I think the primary purpose of the state is to perpetuate its own power, and I would rather invite immigrants to come here to do productive work than to go become soldiers in our destructive wars, and I don’t think World War II was to defend us either, but that’s a secondary issue.


Look, I think that one problem is we have the 14th amendment, which is the result of slavery, which we shouldn’t have had in the first place.  And so you couldn’t even have legally I believe a policy where someone can come here and not have the right to vote because that becomes untenable after a while, and eventually they have children, and they have the right to vote.  They become citizens.  So any people that come here, they’re going to become productive members of society.  They’re going to become part citizens in America at least anyway.  I think the most productive way to look at it is to imagine what are the harms done by policies in either way.


When the government prohibits immigration as we do now, there are people coming here that want to work, and there are companies that want to employ people, high-tech workers, etc., and they can’t do it.  I think all those people should be allowed because they’re economically valuable, and most of the arguments against immigration by Donald Trump and the idiot Republicans are based upon this kind of economic protectionism.  I’m surprised the Democrats don’t loudly agree with them because they’re even stupider in economics than the Republicans even are if that’s possible.


So I actually agree with the idea that, look, if anyone wants to come here and they have some kind of economic potential, some kind of job lined up, let them come.  They’re going to do good.  The problem as I see it is that Americans want to say – and even libertarians want to say things like, well, as long as we deny the right to welfare or the right to vote or the right to X, Y, and Z government policies to these immigrants, then they can come.  Well, first of all, that’s not realistic.  We know that the democrats are never going to allow that.  Everyone is going to have to come in on the same terms.


And it’s almost a little bit – it has a whiff of this alt-right kind of racialist perspective of some of these European groups now where they say things like, well, if you have a smaller, more racially similar society like Denmark or Sweden or something, then they can have a welfare state as long as they don’t allow too many immigrants in.  So they’re basically national socialists.  They want to keep socialism alive.  I mean my goal is not to keep socialism alive.  I don’t think it’s possible to preserve the kind of rickety version of socialism that we have in the US and keep welfare and social security and all these programs going for Americans and deny it to new immigrants.


It’s not feasible anyway, and what’s the point?  Why do you want to preserve this in the first place?  It is true that some immigrants that come here become a burden because of the public schools, because of the anti-discrimination laws, because of the welfare laws.  But the solution is to get rid of those laws.  Instead of saying that we can’t allow immigrants because of our welfare system that we want to preserve – I mean we’re libertarians.  We don’t want to preserve this welfare system, so let’s not say let’s have a second-tier class of citizens come in who just can’t get all these things.


I mean if these things are a problem to give them to immigrants, why do we give them to Americans?  So we need to get rid of anti-discrimination law, affirmative action, even the right to vote in many cases.  And them immigrants would do nothing but contribute economically to the country and culturally, and there would be almost no objection to them, so that would be my solution.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you.  I think this question is primarily for Stephan because he’s our only even theoretical supporter of open borders on this panel, although you’re certainly welcome to respond.  So my question for Stephan would be in your – we’ve reached your anarcho-cap [indiscernible_00:28:07] anarcho-capitalist.  It’s anarchy, right?  There’s no state.  Is it ever possible, are there scenarios in which immigration would come with externalities that aren’t properly considered?  So if you’re generally a libertarian, you’re a believer in market, market forces.  Market forces work when the price of something incorporates for cost.  Is it possible that certain immigration standards could come with externalities that would still not make open borders possible?


STEPHAN KINSELLA: And this is when it helps to have principles and to be an actual libertarian, to believe in property rights and justice.  This is why Ayn Rand and some of the earlier libertarians – their main arguments against proposals like the minimum wage or antitrust law – the main argument was not the Milton Friedman-type, namby-pamby argument that it’s really hard for merchants to collude together.  So we don’t really need antitrust laws, or minimum wage laws don’t really do any good.  I mean the hardcore principled libertarian argument is that there are rights.


Two businessmen have a right to collude and set prices, yes.  Accept it.  That’s the world.  Yeah, it’s unlikely.  Minimum wage laws – people have the right to offer to pay you a penny an hour if you want.  In fact, a lot of congressional interns work for zero, which, as far as I know, is less than minimum wage.  And during the government shutdown, if I understand it, a lot of people were not being paid minimum wage, so I don’t know why the federal government wasn’t in trouble for that.  But the point is we have to stand on principle.  So it’s not always about the predictions of the way these things will turn out.  I think they will happen to turn out right because I think that consequentialism in a principled case for liberty, they dovetail.  They support each other.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: So as I said, it’s my job to push back here.  There’s no ends to this, right?  So if you’re – if known rapists or child molesters or murderers want to move next door to you, if the entirety of the Sinaloa Cartel wants to set up shop next door to your house, there’s no externalities imposed on you.  You have no rights to technically…


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Right.  So the reason I mentioned that preamble was because the externalities question is sort of a Chicago-type question.  It’s about this idea of public failure or market failure, and when there are externalities and people do things that impose costs on other people that are not being properly internalized by the free market, that we have an argument for the state to step in, which is the sort of Richard Epstein argument for a limited government or…


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Suppose it’s not about the state.  It’s about your moral right as an individual.  Do you have a right to [indiscernible_00:30:52]?


STEPHAN KINSELLA: So I think that – so in my view, the concept of externalities is almost incoherent and is never a justification for aggression.  So the example you gave of these drug cartels is there wouldn’t be drug cartels in the first place if not for the United States federal government and our drug laws and our treaties imposed on the rest of the world.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: [indiscernible_00:31:11] hypothetical that I came up with.


STEPHAN KINSELLA: It’s hard to come up with…


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Terrible people still exist in a state-less society.  I don’t think that’s your position that terrible people won’t exist.


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Right.  So – but that means that what you’re saying is that the risk of living with other human beings on the Earth sometimes comes with bad things, sometimes comes with good things.  And if you’re going to call that an externality and if you want to say that will there ever be crime committed by an immigrant?  Yes, there will be just like there will be with other humans.  I just don’t see a libertarian distinction among these classes of people.  They’re all individuals with the same human rights, and I think we should ultimately be libertarians, not Americans.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: I’m going to start taking some audience questions [indiscernible_00:31:52] but do you have any comments on that?  I think it’s a little non-central to your position, but I’m certainly welcome to.


DANIAL GARZA: Well, I mean [indiscernible_00:32:01] some discussion about the welfare issue and the [indiscernible_00:32:04] and look, I don’t know of any immigrant, and I come from an immigrant family and immigrant families who looked at America and said, yeah, I’ve got to get a piece of that welfare system.  Whether you had it or you didn’t or Obamacare or not Obamacare, if you kept all that stuff away from immigrants, actually they would thrive in America, and they have.


I talked about the history of American immigrants, and immigration has been good for America.  Obviously, our system is not, but immigration has been good for America.  My parents came over when they married to California as farm workers, and they would follow crop seasons from California to Nebraska to the state of Washington.  They didn’t know English.  They didn’t have a driver’s license.  They didn’t have a high school diploma, and they didn’t have Obamacare and [indiscernible_00:32:57].


And yet they thrived, and yet they were able to fly.  Why did they?  Because of our free-market system that allows for that kind of freedom of movement, freedom of – to sell your labor to whoever wants to buy your labor, to save, to accumulate capital, take that capital and then invest it in a business and take risks, fail, and then make it.  That’s exactly what my parents did.  Now, we can accelerate that process for a lot of immigrants when they move into America, take these basic-skill jobs and then move on and up quickly.


My parents worked in the fields too hard and too long.  And in fact [indiscernible_00:33:36] to reduce that time.  But still, the point is if people in their position could amass wealth in America and then their child can go and work in the White House, not that that is the sign of success to work for the state, my libertarian friend over here.  But it is something to behold, to have in one generation you could – your son could be in the most powerful offices in the world.  And it’s a testament to this country and our free-market system and how you can generate wealth.  So I’m not afraid of these externalities.  I’m not afraid of removing this or adding that.  Immigrants are going to do well, always have.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you.  I know we’ve got a couple of individuals here who are really dying to ask a question, so we’re going to get into some audience questions.


JUAN: Okay.  Hello everyone.  I’m Juan [indiscernible_00:34:29] from South America, libertarian.  I’m pretty inspired by [indiscernible_00:34:35] Murray Rothbard but also Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s contribution to libertarianism.  And let me put here a point that I’m more pro-closed borders than Stephan Kinsella and even as a Latin American.  Why is that?  That’s [indiscernible_00:34:55] right?  So here’s the thing.  My sister married a Norwegian guy, a nurse, and she went through these two-or-three-year process of adapting to the culture because, let me tell you [indiscernible_00:35:11] the streets are dirty.  The bus stops are dirty.  People don’t treat each other very elegantly so to speak because they are always in a rush or whatever, but the streets are dirty.


People are not punctual.  People are not worried about accidents overall.  I’m not whatever verb you want to use on my culture so to speak.  But let me say this.  In Latin America, we have been isolated 10,000 years from the rest of the world of exchanges and commerce and all those things we [indiscernible_00:35:51] which is my point.  And at least 500 years from the Spanish site, so the thing is I truly consider, and this puts some real contradictory as a South American, that America should have closed borders and allow people little by little so they can adapt to western values.


Why is it that migrants did so great things over the last decades in the US?  Because the migrants that usually came were not after the welfare state benefits, political correctness, equality in the bad sense that you get equal treatment under inequal merit.  So I truly believe that you should have a period of adaptation.  Of course, that could – it could harm me or benefit me.  I don’t really care.  But I truly see America as a very exceptional experiment of liberty in [indiscernible_00:37:04].


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: What question do you have?


JUAN: And my question to both [indiscernible_00:37:07] and especially Stephan Kinsella is why not present this [indiscernible_00:37:14] case for closed borders where you actually choose for people that have gone through this very – I don’t know how – let’s just introduce this term [indiscernible_00:37:28] my question, cultural capital prerequisites so that people can come here and actually add, as immigrants of old used to do when they entrepreneurial people came.  Now, you will have hordes of people just making a mess of this, and trust me, it will be a mess.


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Let me just answer quickly, and Daniel can have whatever comments he wants.  Look, the bottom line is things would improve in my view if we did a few things.  Number one, we increase the number – the quotas that people can come here.  The guest worker program would be a good idea for seasonal workers.  If we started selecting for economic merit in the sense of people that want to come here and do something economically productive.  I’m in favor of all that.  That would be an improvement because it would reduce the harm done by both of the alternative policies that we have now.  Number one, it would reduce the forced integration aspect that Hoppe talks about because if you have people coming for an actual job, they’re not coming to just parasite off the rest of us.


And on the other hand, if people wanted to bring people over as guests or invited workers, they could do that, so it would reduce the forced exclusion aspect of the harm that Hoppe points out.  So I would be in favor of expanding the numbers and making them more merit-oriented so that you could say the quality is better.  I know exactly how you’d do it, and the problem is that, as Mr. Garza pointed out, we want to have industrious people.


But the real problem is a political problem.  The problem is that people that make these standards are politicians who are not industrious people.  These are the parasites that rise to the top of society, and they are not free-market-oriented.  They are not libertarian, and it’s hard to believe and to expect them to adopt policies that will achieve this.  But if they did, I think it would be an improvement.




DANIEL GARZA: I agree.  The IRCA, the Immigration Reform and Control Act that Ronald Reagan advanced absorbed the three million that at the time were here illegally or without authorization.  But it didn’t allow for future flows of immigrants, and even just this week during the State of the Union speech, Donald Trump said that he wants to expand our immigration numbers because of the labor demand.  So you can see he sees benefit.  Now, obviously he doesn’t want to expand on the humanitarian side and the family unification side.


But even he sees that we should expand.  Why?  Because in restricting legal immigration, then we induce more illegal immigration, and that’s not good for America.  I think what has been good again is – has been absorbing the flows of immigrants and those who really want to come to America and be a part and be American.  I think that that’s been critical.  Now, I would be for sort of a guest worker program as long as it didn’t shut the door to permanence if somebody wanted to pull that trigger, but to keep somebody in a temporary worker program and that’s where you’ll stay, I find unacceptable.  But to this gentleman’s point…


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Can you elaborate on why that’s unacceptable?


DANIAL GARZA: On the temporary guest worker program?  Because again, you’re creating a two-tiered society.  You’re creating two classes of people in America, one citizen that’s fully invested and that takes ownership of America who has a franchise and agency, and one who doesn’t.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Is that bad for the first class of American citizens or is it [indiscernible_00:41:12]?


DANIEL GARZA: It’s bad for everybody.  It’s bad for the entire society.  It’s bad for the children.  It causes a stigma on them.  And people – there’s also, I think, a – I guess you’re treated as a [indiscernible_00:41:28] lesser guy in a sense.  And that’s – that can never be good to the psychosis of the person or the ethos of the person.  There has to be – look, I – we criminalize everything, and there is an over-criminalization that takes place.  And now, I understand that to have security at the border, we need to criminalize the issue of who comes in and who doesn’t, and that [indiscernible_00:41:55].  We even call people illegals as if humanity can be illegal.  I find that offensive actually, and I don’t think any human is illegal.


In the 1920s, we passed a law.  It was prohibition.  And we prohibited the production, the consumption, and the distribution of alcohol.  It was a felony, and for want of a beer, Americans were arrested and thrown in jail for want of a beer.  And so it turns out it was a bad law, and we changed that law.  Here, for want of opportunity, we want to criminalize the people coming and going, for want of opportunity because that’s what they’re coming to America for.  They want to contribute.  They want a better life for themselves and for their children.  They want a shot.  And so look, I think we should look for ways to absorb folks who want to do good, who want to create wealth as opposed to criminalizing them.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: All right, I’m going to take a question from the audience.


M: All right.  Some people have invoked an anarcho vision of immigration in which there are no borders.  There’s free movement.  Anyone can live anywhere.  And I want to call into question, based on the ideas of Robert Nozick, is it not the case that in an anarcho society, neighbors would gather together?  Neighbors would form associations.  They would establish sort of boundaries and levels of requirements for participation in a community.


And then, in establishing that, that would essentially be our immigration law, but in a competitive landscape.  So I guess what my question is does a strictly rights-based analysis apply here when the alternative would create a similar system, and should we really be asking the questions that the people in those associations would be asking to include our society and how to immigrate from it?


STEPHAN KINSELLA: I think I understand the question.  Let me condense as quickly as possible, and if people want to read up further.  Look, your question basic – the idea is this.  We have an idea of government distortion in place right now that harms people.  What do we do about that?  What policies should we have?  What should we be moving towards?  We have to have an ideal in mind.  This is why minarchists and anarchists differ on these things.


In a free society, in a private-law society, as Hoppe calls it, in an anarchist society, and by the way, Nozick was not an anarchist of course.  Nozick was a statist.  His whole book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, is an argument in defense of the state.  It’s a completely flawed argument, but even real anarchists, unlike Nozick, we accept that there will be private property regimes and agreements and contracts and customs.  And there would not be totally free movement of people.  That’s why the idea like of Hoppe was to say you have anarchy.  You have monarchy and democracy, and this idea we have that that was a movement towards prosperity or an improvement in society is not necessarily true, that the move from monarchy to democracy was worse in some ways.


And so the whole idea is that if we want to model what we should be moving towards, maybe the way that a monarchic society would operate is closer to a free society than the democratic society would be.  This is how these arguments go.  So the whole idea I believe is that the policies that we should adopt would be those that would reduce what I call forced immigration, which is the idea that anyone can move anywhere, be next to each other.  They can use public roads, which is public infrastructure paid for by taxpayers.  There can’t be any discrimination.


Look, I’m not in favor personally.  I’m a cosmopolitan.  I’m a libertarian.  I’m an individualist, citizen of the world, Montessori, blah, blah, blah.  But people do segregate different ways.  This is how life works.  And if people want to segregate, you better let them do it instead of making it illegal.  The government is in no place to do that.  So the policy that the government should adopt should be one that does not try to force people to live with each other if they don’t want to.


But it allows free movement of people, and by and large, when people want to hire people to work on their lawns or to work in their factories or to be neighbors in their communities and buy their real estate, these are voluntary transactions.  And ultimately, I think a cosmopolitan, individualist attitude will prevail over old-world, old-fashioned kind of racialism and bigotry and segregationism.  But to the extent people want to pay for that, they’ve got the right to do it.




DANIEL GARZA: [indiscernible_00:46:55] I’ll repeat [indiscernible_00:46:56] like the gentleman was saying very much in that same spirit.  Look, our forefathers, our brothers and sisters and grandfathers and mothers died in foreign battlefields to defend the principle of this country, which is to be a free country, free people, a voluntary exchange to have freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought.  That we defend those principles to this day I think is important, and if the state does exist, it exists to protect those freedoms and the people who believe in those freedoms.  And so if anybody would subvert those, would be an enemy to those values and those principles, I would question their entry into America.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: I’m going to reserve – use my moderator privilege for the last question, but I don’t think we’re there yet.  So I think we can take at least one more audience question.


W: So the question that leads to tribalism, natural people just naturally being tribal animals and the – also with respect to key differences among different groups, and this idea that the indigenous people of any continent really were just roaming freely until Europeans got there.  Well, they were fighting with each other before the Europeans got there, and the Europeans brought ideas.  So the first – I mean the first voluntarism really [indiscernible_00:48:34] western idea, and I think maybe [indiscernible_00:48:41] should assimilate, but they’re not, and they don’t.


They [indiscernible_00:48:47] from the border, the Mexican border [indiscernible_00:48:49].  I was born there.  And they – well, they drive around with flags in their cars.  There’s flags.  They’re not American flags, flags of other countries, South American countries.  And, of course, immigration [indiscernible_00:49:10] as free as anything, and I migrated to New Hampshire.  But given the current reality of my hometown in my home state of Arizona and see what’s going on down there, statistically Latinos vote to the left and…


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: I think we’ve got the question, so I think this is primarily for Daniel, which is are – well, they’re not assimilating.  You’ve emphasized that assimilation is very important, and the claim or question here is, well, either how can we enforce that or if we’re doing it now, it doesn’t seem like we are.


DANIEL GARZA: Well, you do the hard work.  In Texas, we have 30 million residents, 10 million of which are Hispanic.  In California, you have exactly the same percentage of Latinos in California.  Yet, in Texas, every state [indiscernible_00:50:12] elected official is a Republican, the governor, the lieutenant government, the – I mean all of those.  In California, every single one is Democrat.  So there’s two different things going on, two dynamics happening in two very big states where half of the Latinos live.  And basically is that in Texas they do the hard work.  They connect.  They – I’ll just – not that this is a – I’m getting into politics here, but quickly because I have to dispel this they’re-not-assimilating thing.


The Latino vote is not baked into the left.  If it is anywhere, it’s because one side has allowed it to.  In Colorado, Michael Bennett won the Latino vote, 90% of the Latino vote, and 85% of President Barack Obama in his reelection, yet Cory Gardner decided that he wasn’t going to take that vote for granted, and he went and did the hard work and went into the churches, went into the chambers of commerce, and met with Latinos where Latinos were at, earned their vote, and he got 45% of the Latino votes in a state that had just voted 90% for a Democrat.  So it’s not baked in, but it requires hard work, and it requires connection.


Now, it also requires that the Latino vote feel a sense of ownership in America, and if we’re going to [indiscernible_00:51:41] with immigration, they probably never will, and that’s a problem.  So what we do at the LIBRE Initiative is actually work with the Latino community to engage them on public policy, on issues that are impacting them, work from a libertarian point of view.  Now, a more pragmatic libertarian point of view as opposed to an anarchist point of view, which is – anyway, so – but it’s important that you go to where Latinos are at.  We’re not going to hurt you.  You just have to [indiscernible_00:52:17].


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you.  Stephan has kindly skipped an answer to this question, and so I’m just going to give my final question, which is many of us here are [indiscernible_00:52:33], so we do vote.  And so let’s talk about pragmatically, if we want to move the world in a more libertarian society today, a freer society today, we’re probably not going to get exactly what we want.  What can we get realistically?


DANIEL GARZA: So, for example, we have a current debate that’s happening right now.  The president is asking for $5.7 billion for infrastructure and border security measures that will enhance border secure.  And the left has a – presumably a priority, which is the DACA community, 700,000 kids, and our argument is we can solve both by actually leveraging one against the other.  Why would we go ahead and do a permanent solution for the DACA community with a preferred line path to citizenship and the president gets what he’s asking for?


But does that include the wall somebody will ask?  Look, we’re opposed to a wall because we feel that there are other things that we can do.  I mean there’s enough wall already along the border.  We need to handle migration.  We need [indiscernible_00:53:35], a bunch of reasons we’re opposed to the wall.  But we’re willing to be pragmatic, to answer your question, on this issue and say, yes, give the president what he’s asking for, which would include some infrastructure in order for us to get this long-term solution and get on with the business of fully assimilating 700,000 kids in America.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: And Stephan, comment on what’s pragmatically achievable today.


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Okay, quickly.




STEPHAN KINSELLA: As opposed to comparing anarchy to pragmatism, I mean I think anarchy is pragmatic.  The idea that the government can get anything good done is what’s not pragmatic, but that’s my anarchist tendencies.  The wall – I mean the wall seems practical in some ways, but the wall would require not only taxation, which I oppose.  I don’t want to pay my fair share of that.  But it requires theft, eminent domain of thousands of acres of private property.  And I don’t even know if it will work because a wall would be on American soil.  It can’t be right on the border because that’s not possible because of the river.


So it would be on American soil, so if some of these immigrants cross over the river and they get close to the wall, they’re still on American soil, so then the laws kick in.  The whole thing is pointless.  As for pragmatism, I believe that the way to achieve liberty is for us to keep evolving towards greater wealth per person, which requires more technology and more liberty and more people because we have the division of labor.  And so the only way to achieve liberty in the long run is for us to be wealthy enough that the state becomes irrelevant.


So pragmatically, I think anything that increases liberty and wealth is going to achieve more liberty, and I think immigration, despite some of the flaws given the way the government controls it, gives us more division of labor and more people, more human capital.  So I think the way is to let more people come into the country that will do something productive and make us bigger and stronger and freer in the long run.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: All right, thank you.  We’re going to end it here.  We’re basically out of time, so a round of applause for our speakers coming [indiscernible_00:55:48].  If you want to plug any – check out the webpage.  If someone is very interested in the LIBRE Institute, the next step is to.


DANIEL GARZA: Sure; www.belibre.org, B-E-L-I-B-R-E dot org, or go to Facebook where we have a million followers almost, the LIBRE Initiative, and then on Twitter as well, LIBRE Initiative.


JEFFREY KAUFMAN: Thank you, and Stephan, is there anything that you would like the audience to do in terms of keeping up with your writings or ideas?


STEPHAN KINSELLA: Just my name is all you need.  Thanks.


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