The Issue of Illegal Immigration and Property Rights.

The concept of “private property” applies both to individuals and groups. Effectively the American people “own” the United States of America.  The government of the United States of America exists to the serve the American people as the owners of the territory of the United States of America. The entire USA is our “property” in the collective sense of ownership. Just as the stockholders of a corporation are its legal owners under the law. There may be a difference of opinion as to how these concepts are worded, but effectively the American people should be seen as the property owners of the portion of North America where the nation of the United States of America exists.  We also own other portions of the world, both as states and territory, but in the sense that as American citizens, we are the collective owners joined together in common ownership.  This in any case, is how I see it. Granted, usually we consider such things as the national parks as belonging to the entire country, but still if we the people do elect governments to serve us, then it would appear that we must be the owners in common. That the country belongs to us! We call ourselves “Americans”, and we together effectively “own” the United States of America just as the stockholders of a corporation are the legal owners of that corporation.

Why is this something important? The basis of a free society is the right to own property. To use that property as we see fit as long as we do not harm others in the doing so. Part of the right to property is the legal authority to decide who we will allow on our property. I’m sure all of us reading this have seen signs stating “Private Property, Keep Out”. The owner of the property has decided as the rightful owner of the property that he or she does not want anyone entering his or her property without permission. This is also why we put up fences, gates, put locks on our doors and so forth. We have the legal right under the law to decide who we will allow on our property. Nor can the property be taken away from us except under certain legal aspects of the law. If the government ever desires to take our property for public use, it is required under the Constitution to pay us fair compensation for our property. Granted, sometimes there is an issue as to what is “fair compensation”, but that is a matter that has to be determined by a court of law. Every bit of territory in the United States of America is “owned”, either by private individuals or by the American people under a concept of public ownership where we are the collective owners of the property in question. There is no longer part of the USA where there is no “ownership”.

If indeed we are the collective owners of the territory called the United States of America, then as property owners we have the right to decide who we will welcome on to our “property” and those that we do not want coming on to our property.  This is why we have national borders.  Why people are required to obtain “permission” in the form of a passport or visa in order to come here legally. Those who come here without gaining our permission are in fact trespassers. They are not here legally, but illegally.  And as property owners, we have the legal right to tell them to leave, get off our property!  As a matter of fact, every nation on Earth has laws regarding who will be legally admitted and who won’t be admitted. I know of no country where you can just enter that country legally without first obtaining permission to do so.  The fact that millions of people have entered the United States of America illegally does not mean that they have any legal right to be here. Any more than you can enter someone’s home without permission. The fact that our government allows people to trespass on our land does not grant these people the right to trespass. No doubt people do trespass on private property and in many cases manage to do so without being caught by the owner doesn’t mean that what they are doing isn’t “wrong”. A criminal act is a criminal act regardless of if the criminal gets away doing it. The same thing applies to those who enter the USA without permission.  They may “get away” with it, but that does not mean that they were acting within the law just because the police or other law enforcement agents didn’t happen to catch them. We do have laws regarding such things, and until these laws are changed by the American people, illegally entering the USA is still a crime. We may well decide to allow people who entered illegally to stay here, but that doesn’t change the fact that those who entered illegally broke the law by doing so. The fact that we lacked the ability to prevent illegal entry doesn’t make such entry legal.  Any more than breaking the law and getting away with it makes the action in question “legal”. This may not be the opinion of many libertarians, but it does fit in with the concept of private property and public (collective) property. And the right of property owners to decide who they will allow on their property. In my opinion if we want people to immigrate here, we should be honest about it and require that those who immigrate here do so legally. Instead of leaving them in a legal “limbo” where they can be deported at any time…  We are supposed to be a country of laws, and the laws should fit the reality of what we are!


About muskegonlibertarian

77 year old retired owner of a security guard agency. Member of the Libertarian Party.
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2 Responses to The Issue of Illegal Immigration and Property Rights.

  1. Gunther Leenaert says:

    Since the realities of immigration and national properties are more complex than written laws concerning immigration and real estate and since private property law in this context is too narrow as a framework for analysis, it is unwise to try and project the general concept of private property law onto the very real and morally gray issue of illegal immigration.

    I wish to show why the distinction between illegal and legal immigration should be non-existent.

    A reason why a country shouldn’t discriminate between illegal and legal immigration is the fact that illegal immigrants are most likely victims of denaturalization by their home nation. Targeting illegal immigration with more regulations would effectively render these ex-citizens immobile, since they would be unable to flee the country, either legally or illegally. In a lot of cases, this would mean taking away their last chance at rehabilitation or the restoration of their basic human rights. The same applies to victims of statelessness due to (civil) war, censorship, human rights violation or any other process that results in denaturalization.

    Also, I’m not saying that you did, but when someone would want to posit that criminality and terrorism are the main reasons for outlawing illegal immigrants, you should keep in mind that antagonizing and stigmatizing not just individuals but groups based on their lack of citizenship is a crime against humanity itself, just like any other form of discrimination. It’s also worth noting that: “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” (article 11, universal declaration of human rights)

    The presumption of innocence principle should be adhered to, even concerning matters of immigration. Post 9/11 U.S. Immigration regulations, the application of domestic security and international affairs, as seen by the rest of the world, do not seem to be adhering to this.

    A second reason why a country shouldn’t discriminate between illegal and legal immigration is because the notion of a poor illegal immigration class and a rich legal immigration class is highly subjective. The words illegal immigration are subjective and stigmatizing to begin with. When you truly believe that immigration (more specifically, the illegal immigrants working class) is destroying the U.S. economy, think about the infinitely greater amount of dollars that don’t pass taxes because of the privileged 1%. Now think about the formidable working class of illegal immigrants, investing their low wages in the education of their children, the produce they buy in the state they illegally reside in and the cheap services they can deliver to all middle class families.

    The survival of the average illegal immigrant in a target country almost always depends on hard work (with the promise of a good education and career for their children). And hard work is something more and more citizens look down upon, due to technological advancements and the gaps in quality of education between the last few generations. So any smart country with a relatively gray demographic (see Europe’s countries) or an ever shrinking working class (nearly all developed nations) should welcome immigrants to bolster their working class, legal or otherwise. Not solely for this, but it should play a part in creating policy.

    Thirdly, a truly progressive libertarian would agree that taking a defensive stance on the issue of immigration in a globalized world is Sisyphean (pointless) because it is in no way productive for the country of origin, the target country and the immigrants and citizens of the respective countries. It is also impossible, loose from the issue of legality, to stop immigration.

    This pointlessness of struggle against (illegal) immigration can be easily explained by elaborating on the reasons mentioned above and by the fact that diversity should be applauded. It’s good for markets and consumers. It adds a layer of needed complexity which creates a demand for more scientific research in a lot of fields and creates a need for social and political reform. It also nudges people to accept a broader view of the world and its cultures instead of narrow-minded and prejudiced thought. In short, diversity is a requirement, or should I say catalyst, for human progress.

    The only reason why immigration is an issue is the same one that you will find for any other kind of discrimination. Fear.

    Fear for a loss of identity. This can be in the form of patriotism, racism, nationalism or other discriminating attitudes. In my personal experience browsing youtube comments, where opinions are spouted by trolls and radicals incessantly and unfiltered, fear of loss of identity appears to be the primary fear that fuels certain aggressive ideas about race, nationality or religion. I would imagine that this fear plays a role in immigration as well. Right-wing politics plays into this well by implying that Islam will take over the western world, if we don’t stop them, for example. There are many more examples of propaganda and actions to keep people in fear and divided (lat.: divide et impera), including:

    – the war on terror
    – blaming the economic crises on the huge influx of immigrants
    – racial intelligence studies pointing out caucasian/asian/jew superiority
    – media attacks on countries with high emigration stats
    – wars and proxy wars that don’t involve resources are mostly for long-term stabilization, to insure lower immigration stats.
    – the creation of ghettos
    – the war on unions (keeps immigrants in an class as low as possible)
    – fixed mainstream media debates and specialized propagandists for right-wing causes (including hiring people to spam internet sites and fora all day)
    – …

    Who would do this? Corporations, parties, lobbyists in the target countries who profit from a bigger uneducated working class, from economically interesting disparities between groups of people, from a divided people (identity crisis) to govern over

    But your identity and that of your country won’t be destroyed by immigrants. Think about how hard it is to change a country as an individual or even as a group, now think about how much harder it is to accomplish it without citizenship and national roots.

    So after having said all that, I guess it’s obvious why I can’t agree with your original standpoint.

    I’m a proponent of a global open protocol for immigration. A fair and efficient protocol that allows for a greater global dynamic and that aims not to discriminate at all. A protocol that does not base citizenship on paperwork in the country of origin, but a decent screening nonetheless. A process that involves steps to:

    1) Incorporate immigrants into the target nation (in the sense of being integrated as an ingredient of the national culture, not in the sense of assimilation)
    2) Let the individual in question familiarize themselves with the national law (especially differences between the country of origin and the target country) and agree to adhere to it (written contract)
    3) Provide them with administrative means to be employed and housed easily and to fully enjoy the other benefits of full citizenship.

    (Instead of the ridiculous scare tactics and highly inefficient bureaucratic processes that are taking place at this time and are in no way increasing the security of the U.S. or other nations who take a similar stance towards immigration. It demonizes entire population groups in the eyes of citizens of those target countries and it demonizes the target countries in the eyes of the open nations.)

    • I am in favor of allowing in anyone who will be an asset to the country. However, in order to do this, we have to know something about the people who wish to come here. That means that there has to be a system where people who wish to come here can apply for permission to come here. I know of no country that simply lets in anyone who might wish to come without any restrictions. Our present immigration laws are too restrictive by far. But there has to be a legal standard of who is allowed to enter and who is not. And “who” is to decide this, and on what basis? I feel that the issue should be resolved upon the idea of property rights. If there is a right to ownership of property, then who is the “owner” of the USA? I feel that it is the citizens of the United States of America. It should be their decision just as it is the decision of the property owner whether to allow others to come on the property owner’s land. The idea of the citizens of a country being the collective owners of a country is really no different than the fact that an individual, or a business, has a legal right to own property and decide who is allowed in.

      As a general rule, the land owner, the business owner welcomes people who will not harm or damage the property. The business also has a need for employees and the more choices the employer has, the better. The same idea should be the basis of all our immigration laws. For example, Christians in the Middle East are heavily discriminated against by the Muslim majorities. In some cases, this can even result in death or serious injury to the Christian in question. There is also the issue that people who assisted our military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan now live in fear of retribution by their fellow countrymen because they “helped the infidel”. We should establish a means of bringing these people either here to the US or another western country where they no longer fear for their lives. This is an humanitarian issue, not a political issue. Unfortunately we seem to be less accepting of political refugees than we used to be. Most Muslims are just as law abiding as anyone else. It is only a very small minority who become terrorists and suicide bombers. Unfortunately there is a phobia about Muslims today.

      One reason we have had such a flood of people across our border with Mexico is due to our “War on Drugs” which has created a major problem in northern Mexico with the drug cartels and the level of violence they have created. Without our drug laws, these problems would not exist. Due to the violence, no one wants to invest, start businesses, create jobs in what is a “war zone”. Also, the illegal immigrant is subject to exploitation by certain types of employers due to the fact that the immigrant is here illegally. So it would be better for everyone if we could create a system where everyone who comes here is “legal”… Then they will be able to get regular jobs and enjoy the protection of our laws. This does of course require that our laws change so that anyone who wishes to come is free to do as long as they do not have a criminal (crimes against persons or property) background.

      Jerome Bigge (

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