Libertarian perspectives on immigration

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The libertarian perspective on immigration is often regarded as one of the core concepts of libertarian theory and philosophy.[1][2] Some libertarians assert that "[e]fforts by the government to manage the labor market are as apt to fail as similar efforts to protect domestic industries or orchestrate industrial policy. [...] If an immigrant seeks to engage in peaceful, voluntary transactions that do not threaten the freedom or security of the native-born, the government should not interfere".[3]

Libertarian proponents of free immigration[edit]

Samuel Edward Konkin III has promoted illegal immigration as being a key part of the counter-economy.[4]

Libertarian author Jacob Hornberger, a proponent of freer immigration policies,[5][6] argues that open borders is the only libertarian immigration position.[7]

Jeffrey Tucker, Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education,[8] has been critical of the closed-border arguments made by conservative-leaning libertarians:[9][10]

This is a huge debate among people who otherwise swear fealty to "limited government." Many people who claim to want freedom seem to have no problem with the implications of a closed-border policy: national IDs, national work permits, non-stop surveillance, harassment of all businesses, a "papers please" culture, mass deportation, tens of billions in waste, bureaucrats wrecking the American dream, broken families, [and] the rights of Americans and foreigners transgressed at every turn.[9]

Libertarian opponents of free immigration[edit]

A significant strain of right-libertarian thought, associated mainly with paleolibertarians and Hoppean anarcho-capitalists, denies freedom of movement as a fundamental right, maintaining instead that in their preferred formally stateless society in which all land is privatized fully and absolutely, where economic and political power resides principally with private landowners, a policy of open immigration necessarily amounts to legalized trespassing.


  1. ^ Brennan, Jason (2012). Libertarianism, What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press. pp. 42, 50, 119, 125. [Libertarians] believe everyone has the right to take employment in any other country, regardless of citizenship. They hold that, except in special circumstances, governments may not forbid citizens from leaving a country, nor may governments forbid foreigners from entering. (Page 42)
  2. ^ Brennan, Jason. "Immigration Rights". Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  3. ^ Griswold, Dan (2008). "Immigration". In Hamowy, Ronald. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Cato Institute. pp. 235–37, at p. 236. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n145. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024.
  4. ^ "Counter-Economics: what it is, how it works" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009.
  5. ^ Hornberger, Jacob (November 1, 1994). "The Case for Unilateral Free Trade and Open Immigration". The Future of Freedom Foundation. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  6. ^ Hornberger, Jacob (February 1, 2000). "Let's Stick with Traditional American Values!". The Future of Freedom Foundation. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  7. ^ Hornberger, Jacob (May 19, 2016). "Open Borders Is the Only Libertarian Immigration Position". The Future of Freedom Foundation. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  8. ^ "Jeffrey A. Tucker". Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Tucker, Jeffrey (2015-09-14). "Why Open Borders?". Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  10. ^ Tucker, Jeffrey (2016-08-26). "Five Differences Between the Alt-Right and Libertarianism". Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved 2016-11-05.