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Immigration Again

Here’s a letter to a correspondent:

Dear Ms. Nguyen:

Thanks for your kind e-mail.  You question the “realism” of my refusal (explained in this recent blog post) to abandon my opposition to government regulation in order to prevent an influx into America of immigrants who might vote for policies that will destroy the very freedom principles that I hold dear.

I stand by that post.  I add here only words of wisdom from an 1822 volume that I’m now re-reading. The volume is Tyranny Unmasked, by John Taylor (of Virginia’s Caroline County).  In the Preface to the first edition, Taylor – a careful student of history – warned that “the folly of letting in some tyranny to avoid more, has in all ages been fatal to liberty.”*

I would deeply regret if new immigrants to America were to vote to give yet more power to the diktat-happy, arrogant dirigistes who today swarm in Washington.  But I’m far less confident than you are that an acceptable, or even a practical, way to avoid this possible outcome is to continue to entrust those same diktat-happy, arrogant, swarming dirigistes with the power to thwart or to impede your and my and other Americans’ freedom to associate peacefully on American soil with non-Americans.  And make no mistake: the restrictions you applaud diminish your freedom no less than they diminish the freedom of foreigners.  For example, in his efforts to restrict immigration Uncle Sam monitors who you hire, and will actively prevent you from employing workers of your choice if those workers don’t meet Uncle Sam’s approval.

I urge you to be wary of schemes to protect liberty that have at their core restrictions on liberty.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

* Page xxviii, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1992 [1822]).