Sunday, March 26, 2017

Immigration: A Human Right?

Talk about confused…Is Immigration a Basic Human Right? My Opening Statement, by Bryan Caplan.

Before I get to the confused part, who is Bryan Caplan?

I'm Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and blogger for EconLog…. I am currently working on All Roads Lead to Open Borders, a non-fiction graphic novel on the philosophy and social science of immigration…

Now, what are “human rights”?

The United Nations has a “Universal” declaration; you can imagine the long list of positive rights in this document…which is pretty much assumed whenever one speaks of “human rights.”  I will say, even the United Nations is not so bold as to declare immigration a “human right.”  The clause on point, as follows:

Article 13. 

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Freedom of movement within the borders; freedom to emigrate.  There is no freedom to immigrate.  The only “open border” is to the resident, to return freely to his country.

Wikipedia offers a page on human rights, and from there a link to another page, Freedom of Movement:

Freedom of movement, mobility rights, or the right to travel is a human rights concept encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place within the territory of a country, and to leave the country and return to it.

Again, nothing about immigration.  But there is more….

Some people and organizations advocate an extension of the freedom of movement to include a freedom of movement – or migration – between the countries as well as within the countries. This include Libertarian Party of the United States, the International Society for Individual Liberty, and … [wait for it…this is a doozy…]…

…economist Bryan Caplan.

Now, on to the confused part of Mr. Caplan’s piece:

If someone is peacefully living his life, he's innocent - whatever the government says.  What does this have to do with immigration?  Lots. 

That is the “human rights” part.  Now, how does he defend this human right?  Using the example of illegal immigrants in San Diego, he offers:

What are the vast majority of them doing?  Working for willing employers.  Renting apartments from willing landlords.  Buying stuff from willing merchants.

Every action involves a property right.  So…why defend it as a property right, yet place it under the lefter-than-left term…human rights?

To justify an action based on human rights is a road paved to hell.  The United Nations – an far-left entity that does not have the audacity to claim immigration as a human right – offers a long list of positive rights under the umbrella of human rights.

Would it surprise you to learn that I found Caplan’s piece at Jacob Hornberger’s blog?

Hornberger and Caplan: more “left” than the United Nations?  Hornberger and Caplan: willing to rely on the road paved to hell that is “human rights”?  Hornberger and Caplan: arguing “human rights” when property rights is the only appropriate argument for a libertarian?




  1. Yes.

    But why tho?

    UC's law: When a "disinterested" intellectual's aims are in sync with the Power Elite and the NGOs- treat with extreme suspicion.

  2. I like Hornberger (he's a nice person), but he really needs to read Hans Hoppe.

  3. Open border libertarians dodge many issues, but the one they dodge the most is the fact that globalists like Hillary Clinton share the exact same view on immigration and borders.

    If open borders actually led to greater freedom, why would Clinton & Co. support it?

    When you and your enemy share the same political position yet have mutually exclusive goals, either they are mistaken or you need to reassess your own position.

    It's clearly not the former. Clinton is evil, not dumb. She knows full well the consequences of open borders.

    And let's be honest; so do open border libertarians.

    1. To be fair, many open-borders/left libertarians are expressly consequentialist. They freely admit that their libertarianism is conditioned upon what it will help create: a more culturally left society. I argue the opposite: liberty creates a less libertine society. Family, along with religious, civic, and (nonstate) social institutions reassert themselves as the state shrinks. And it becomes harder to offload the costs of one's lifestyle choices onto others.

  4. I think that the logical consequence of Hoppe and yours position, is to be against freedom of movement also within states, and cities, and neighborhoods... every owner a border basically.. ideally..

    anononimo lombardo

    1. I won't speak for Hoppe, but I have been clear about the logical consequence of my position: in a libertarian world - where all property is privately owned - every owner would *manage* his border.

      There you have it. Communists and many left-libertarians would disagree or label this a violation of the NAP.

      What do you say?

    2. I'm for it.. we don't need a law to regulate this.. also without a law we will have an order. A market order, respectfull of the nap. We will have legal freedom to discriminate but pratically other things will limit us. We are mutually dependents, and that will be true especially in a far decentralized world.
      Anonimo Lombardo

  5. No. The union has its rules and only the Congress has the authority to tegulate interstate commerce. Regulate and not prohibit.

  6. This is an interesting discussion and I thank you for it. If every owner of property manages their own borders, could they not then, through property ownership of contiguous parcels, create a prison wall around one's private property, not allowing access or entry?

    1. Only if someone made the mistake of buying property without the requisite easements to prevent such a thing. Could it happen? Of course. Would it happen often if everyone was operating under such knowledge? Rarely.

  7. Still Caplan does not address the core technical issue stopping open boarders. That is the welfare state. As long as a welfare state exists at any level of government you can not have open boarders. Immigrants who use more welfare services on average than the native population will consume resources until there are none left and the whole society decays into debt driven chaos of the type you see in Europe.

    How does Caplan feel about people immigrating and then getting all of the freebies paid for by the native population? Are these freebies a "Human Right"?

    And as usual not one of these "Open Boarders" proponents will admit that the staying power of the welfare state and its ability to draw whole populations under its "protection".

  8. Nearly the entire Texas border is privately owned. Those who respect property rights, not nationalist xenophobes, accord them the right to admit on their property whom they chose.

    1. As a nationalist xenophobe I am offended by this comment. Try to be more sensitive please.

    2. UC

      I hope you do not now insist on a "safe space" in the comments section of this blog....


  9. Jack. It is certainly an issue.

    Now what? Trespassers, illegal aliens, no property rights.

    How do you solve this without violating someone's "rights?"

    1. JaimeInTexas, There’s nothing to solve. That’s one property owner and he can do what he wants. The US-Mexican border isn’t owned by 1, 2, or 3 property owners. It’s 1,900 miles long. There will be lots of property owners who will allow Mexicans or whomever onto and through their property. It’s the state that monopolizes use of land.

    2. You do not follow information relative to immigrants trespassing private property, my guess, and the common ocurrance of water lines being cut, for example.

    3. It’s a consequence of the closed border. They aren’t the ones armed with guns like the vigilantes in the article you cited. They aren’t doing the evil that ICE is. They just want to make a better life for themselves and their families.

    4. That is your excuse to violators of property owners?
      They want a better life? I also want a better life.You house and support them.

    5. What’s more than pathetic is your pretense to respecting property rights as a matter of principle. The state monopolization of land along the border is a violation of property rights on a grand scale, and you support that; and likely support what the branch of the US police state ICE does. Merely passing over someone’s property in an emergency when there’s no other choice, is in a different category.

    6. Emergency? What emergency?

      It is still trespassing. And when there is property damage and the property owners are afraid to go out after dark because they could ne kilked by the smuglers, who is the pretender?
      You fake American. I bet you drive roads, use electricity maybe also gas, take showers and maybe, just maybe, use the internet.
      Are you or family in these uSA illegaly.

    7. If that does occur, supporters of the closed border are the ones to blame. Just as with the drug war, prohibiting that which has high demand has unintended consequences. My first post you responded to was about the Texas/Mexican border. Your responses have mostly been diversionary. The rest of your post here is nonsensical.

    8. I am talking about my Texas too.

      Well, are you a citizen or not?

  10. Per Bryan Caplan: immigration is going to make meat too expensive for most Americans to afford, so Americans must learn to eat beans like the people in Mexico. Let them eat beans!

    This is seriously Bryan Caplan's argument. Obviously the best interests of actual Americans is not what he has in mind.