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Illegal Immigrants and Emigrants

Posted By Don Boudreaux On September 5, 2006 @ 1:48 pm In Immigration | Comments Disabled

Marshall Fritz [1] is the moving force behind the noble effort to separate school and state.  He recently sent me an e-mail, chiming in on the debate over whether or not immigrants who don’t possess official government permission to be in the United States truly are wrong-doers worthy of our scorn and deserving punishment.

What percentage of the American public are opposed to illegal emigration?  You know, people who disregard the law and hop the Berlin wall or who disobey Castro and leave Cuba?

If an immigrant’s failure to get government permission to come into America is sufficient to render him or her a criminal worthy of scorn and punishment, then the same arguably is true of emigrants who fail to get government permission to escape from a particular country.  Telling a Cuban, for example, to wait his "turn" — telling him that law and order and decency and fairness require that he first get permission to leave from Castro’s government — would be a most absurd exercise of the myth that the state defines all that is right and wrong.

It’s true that some governments are less evil than others (with Cuba’s among the most heinous), but no government creates rights.  If no government — not even Uncle Sam — creates rights, then people have rights (as the American founders understood) independent of government.  And if people have rights independent of government, then the popular anti-immigrant tactic of pointing at "illegal" aliens in America and accusing them of wrong-doing simply because they are here without Uncle Sam’s official blessing is illegitimate.

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[1] Marshall Fritz: http://www.sepschool.org/essays/fritz/bio.php

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