Immigration is a Moral Issue

by | Sep 1, 2017 | Immigration, Racism

In the name of individual rights, we should dismantle the entire bureaucracy of immigration restrictions

I’m glad to see many of my colleagues in the tech community promoting immigration reform (e.g., They point out that immigrants are often innovators and job-creators, and that immigration helps our economy. This is true and important, and it’s a good reason to loosen our draconian immigration laws.

But there is more that can be said—that must be said—in favor of open immigration. Immigration is an issue of human lives, of individual dreams and ambitions, of personal happiness and love.

Every immigrant is a human being with unalienable individual rights. They want to come here to pursue a better life. Their personal goal might be to teach at one of the world’s best universities, to work at one of the world’s best companies, or to pursue art in a country that gives freedom to artists. Or perhaps they just love our spirit of individualism and want to build their lives here no matter what they do.

We take those goals and we bury them under a mountain of paperwork. We take dreams and we put them on years-long waiting lists. We take futures and subject them to arbitrary caps and quotas. We take love and place it under the review and approval of government bureaucrats.

By what right? By what standard? There is no other form of bigotry in this country still practiced, still institutionalized against so many people. If we had special work permits just for women, it would be denounced as sexism. If we had caps or quotas on the number of blacks living in the country, it would be denounced as racism. But in the name of a misguided protectionism, we impose both of these on immigrants for no crime other than having been born abroad. We make exceptions for skill, for money, for intelligence—as if merely existing inside our borders were a privilege to be bought or earned.

And what of the US citizens who want the immigrants here? Have we no rights? For every worker we keep out of the country, we hurt the company and the team he would have joined. For every teacher we block, we hurt the students whose lives he would have touched. For every artist we deny, we hurt all the fans who would have loved his work. And what of the immigrant and the American who fall in love?

We should look at our immigration laws not merely as an economic inefficiency, but as a moral outrage. We should look at them with indignation and disgust.

In the name of individual rights, we should dismantle the entire bureaucracy of immigration restrictions. Open the doors. Let them in. Short of a threat to public safety, no immigrant should be denied entry to the US or residence here for any reason. Nothing less is morally conscionable.

Ask not what immigrants can do for our country. Ask: by what right, by what privilege, can anyone presume to keep them out?

Thanks to Ben Bayer and Manjari Narayan for commenting on a draft of this post.


  1. Open Borders Intrinsicism, spelled out for all to see. A great argument for destroying a society founded on *securing* individual rights of Its citizens. And that, long after glaring evidence, available for *objective* induction, has been provided by Western European nations’. Unconscionable, Libertarian drivel.

    It is an obvious fact that allowing immigrants who do not understand the fine principles of individual rights will alter American culture,
    Heed the words of John Adams, “”Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.”
    James Madison: “”A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.”
    Ayn Rand: “A nation, like any other group, is only a number of individuals and can have no rights other than the rights of *its* individual citizens [not anyone in the world]. A free nation—a nation that recognizes, respects and protects the individual rights of *its* citizens—has a right to *its territorial integrity*, *its social system* and *its form of government*. The government of such a nation is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of *its citizens* and has no rights other than the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific, delimited task (the task of protecting them from physical force, derived from their right of self-defense)… “Such a nation has a right to its sovereignty (derived from the rights of its citizens) and a right to demand that its sovereignty be respected by all other nations.” – “Collectivized ‘Rights,’”The Virtue of Selfishness, 103 (All emphasis is mine.

    Again, Ayn Rand: ““Rights” are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in *a social context*—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of *a society* [not indiscriminately to the World’s entire human population], between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating *society* [not The World] to moral law.” – “Man’s Rights,” in The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 108. (my emphasis).

    Not to mention admitting those who have the direct intent of subverting the entire American system.

    A rational Immigration system is needed to prevent a rapid influx of ideologically inappropriate individuals. This means numbers must be kept small and ideology must be evaluated by the best possible, objective, means. It means more than simply evaluating if a person has Smallpox or has committed a crime elsewhere. It means deporting illegal immigrants because they do not understand that immigration law that is needed to protect the rights of citizens. It does mean allowing entry by those who appreciate individual rights and intent to live by them.

  2. (I wanted to append this further remark as a ‘reply’ to my other comment, but it want active yet): One quick comment: Just because I am opposed to the suicidal “open borders” policy pushed by so many Objectivists (and like-minded Libertarians), does not mean that I am opposed to immigration, or deny all the benefits a *rationally-selfish* immigration policy can bring.

  3. Is there a reason why my other comment (which I posted earlier than this one) has not been activated yet?

  4. Has the author of this given the matter a minutes thought? Under a suicidal open immigration policy the US would become a third world country, Israel would become Islam and Europe would become Islamic.

    Of course no mention of all the crime, welfare dependency, multiculturalism, etc. that immigrants inflict on us.

  5. I’m sure that this article is written by a international socialist , are we going to read the national socialist point of “view”?!
    Most 3rd world want free stuff not freedom (it’s human nature) , that is why “big brother ” statism is so popular around the world . If you put into that equation the “religion” factor (ex. muslims) you know that the people who wrote this do not care about freedom (in all forms) , property rights,free market..
    Plenty evidence of what immigration does to a society , just because you have “good” immigrants does not mean that all/mass immigration is moral/good.

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