Campus Media Response: Immigration – Both Left and Right are Wrong


statueoflibertyCampus groups share thoughts on immigration reform
Daily Illini, November 20, 2009

Dear Daily Illini,

In her article, Lori Bell portrays the classic positions of the Right and the Left on immigration. The Right wants a slower influx of immigrants, and wants measures in place to ensure that they will not receive government aid. The Left wants more immigrants to come to America, and wants every single one of them to be offered a full slate of government aid. The two sides present their positions as if they were the only available options, with disregard to any other solution.

The Left’s position is clear: Americans—the haves—ought to sacrifice their own well being for the sake of foreigners seeking to immigrate—the have-nots of the moment. The Right’s position, however, is much more hypocritical. The Right alleges that it is concerned about the economic toll that increased immigration will place on Americans. But if this is really the concern, why not advocate for free immigration with no welfare for immigrants? Such a plan easily addresses the alleged problem—it requires no sacrifices from current American citizens, and allows immigrants to enter the country freely to produce and trade.

The United States is a free country built by the pioneering immigrant spirit that yearns for freedom. “Receive the fugitive,” Thomas Paine implored Americans in 1776, “and prepare an asylum for mankind”. Paine recognized that part of being a free country is the right to let people come and work as they wish, so long as they respect the law. How could one claim to stand for freedom, while denying others the right to be free?

Sorry to say for the Right, but to stand for freedom while opposing free immigration is a contradiction in terms. You can’t be an advocate of freedom while forbidding your own citizens from employing and trading with men cursed to be born in non-free countries. (And sorry to say for the Left, but freedom does not mean the right to take things from hard working Americans and give them to the “needy”–whether American or not.)

Many on the Right argue that immigration would cost Americans jobs, money, or their culture, but this is a smokescreen. No American has a right to a job, or to a wage, or to make his neighbor speak his language. He has a right only to his life and what he can produce, so an immigrant takes nothing from him. And by allowing more immigrants to enter the country, Americans invite more competition, more opportunity, and more people of ability into their borders. Furthermore, without welfare, immigrants would work to support all the institutions and businesses Americans already enjoy, thus strengthening the economy.

To oppose free immigration is to stand against the very idea of freedom. Freedom is not a nationalistic dogma, it is a philosophic principle that should know no borders, and it should certainly not be limited by an artificial cap. It is a right all men have, and Americans should be the first to offer it to them as the champion of personal liberty.


Daniel Casper

The Undercurrent, Guest Editor

Photo by Alex Jagendorf on Flickr.

Posted by on December 22, 2009. Filed under Campus Media Response, Winter 2009-10. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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  • Terry Schaub

    Unfortunately, it seems that immigrants to the USA are able to get welfare.

  • Daniel Casper

    Not that Americans should have it either. This is one example of how welfare makes a complicated mess of simple moral and political issues. It also shows that Leftists and anyone else pro-welfare are among the greatest threats to the immigrant, despite their goals to help immigration. The Left also provides an easy justification for the Right to stand against immigration on economic issues. Removing welfare from the equation, as I advocate, deprives the Right of one of its excuses and respects the rights of current Americans.

  • Anonymous


    You write: “No American has a right to a job, or to a wage, or to make his neighbor speak his language.”

    Does an American have a right to his land? Yes.

    Immigration involves stepping onto land. Look further into whose land is being stepped on. You will realize that immigration isn’t a matter of “allowing foreigners onto our land” but, in more accurate terms, “forcing American (private) land owners to let foreigners step foot on their land.” “Free” immigration isn’t a matter of protecting “rights” of immigrants, but rather trouncing the property rights of existing Americans. I put immigrants’ “rights” in quotes because they do not have a right to step on private American land. I have not given examples for brevity, but do research. Even in your imagination, think of all the places (land) that immigrants are “allowed” to step on once they officially immigrate. Certain private land is on the list. “Allowed” is in quotes because these private land owners are forced by the government to allow the immigrants (and many others) onto their property—there are actually laws to that affect. Look into it if you wish.

    I agree with your deepest principles (those of Objectivism), but you and many other Objectivists who have written on this issue have missed some very important facts.

  • Anonymous


    I’m speaking in the context of people cannot pass laws forbidding immigration. I obviously do not advocate that immigrants should have the right to come on to private property against the owner’s wishes, but the State may pass no law impeding immigration (such as quotas), just as “free” enterprise does not mean that the government can regulate just a little bit.

    I think the conflict is over the idea of a right to immigrate. In this sense, you are correct, and I agree with you. It is a misnomer and it all boils down to property rights, which subsumes things like immigration. The rights of the actual property owners in America cannot be infringed upon by the immigrant or the government.

    As far as how immigrants would come into the country and where they would go, that would be a job for both property owners and the government to work out. But you cannot challenge the assertion that they should be allowed to freely immigrate with respect to private property.


  • Kris Barnett

    Regarding the comment by “Anonymous” below, I don’t see how free immigration involves any kind of violation of the rights of those already in America. Don’t want to invite immigrants to your home or otherwise associate with them – you’re free not to. Don’t want to hire an immigrant? Fine – you’re free not to. Don’t want to allow immigrants to rent your apartment? You’re free not to. In general, I’d have to wonder at what rational motivation one could possibly have for a blanket dislike of immigrants as such, but in any case, no one is saying you should be forced to allow immigrants to live in your basement or anything weird like that, so I’m not sure where the idea that free immigration is a threat to property rights comes from.
    Just as you are free to choose with whom you associate, other people are equally free to choose to hire immigrants, associate with them, rent to them, etc., and them doing so represents absolutely no threat to other people’s property rights (or to any of their rights). Our rights to associate with whom we choose are completely disregarded and subverted by current immigration laws.
    America should welcome immigrants, recognizing the consistency of such an attitude with our founding ideals.