I favor a selective and high-quality immigration policy for Western nations...
I do as well. I read Mr. Binswager's article. I agree with the underlying principles - we both come from the same philosophical basis, of course. But we differ in one way. I see the citizens of the United States as owning, in common, our legal structure. And, from that legal structure flows the economic and political reality of our country. My view means that there is a kind of property right that government must protect - just as they must protect the federal court houses, the white house, our embassies, etc.
There are a number of small, logical errors in the article:
"...entry into the U.S. would be unrestricted, unregulated, and unscreened, exactly as is entry into Connecticut from New York."
New York and Connecticut are states and with the ratification of our constitution they agreed to give up the regulation of their borders. They are both under the juridsication of that constitution and all federal law. That makes this a false comparison. Mr. Binswager would not agree that there should be unrestricted, unregulated, and unscreened entry into his home... because he knows that he has property rights to his home.
"(Note: I am defending freedom of entry and residency, not the granting of citizenship or voting rights, not even after decades of residency.)"
But voting rights and residency are civil rights - as is entry into the country. His position that "No special geographical location is required in order to have the right to be free from governmental coercion" can't explain why someone outside of the nation couldn't come here to live AND vote, as a right. Where, in his analysis, does the right of government to restrict voting to citizens come from? He is clear in saying that government's only just powers are derived from individual rights and that the purpose of government is to secure those rights. If there is no "right to vote" or "right to reside" or "right to be a citizen" then there can be no just government power to interfere. My concept of a property right in the structure of laws, that is held in common, makes that connection between a natural right (property) and the government actions that control the border, immigration, citizenship, and voting.
"A foreigner has rights just as much as an American. To be a foreigner is not to be a criminal. Yet our government treats as criminals those foreigners not lucky enough to win the green-card lottery."
This ignores the difference between natural rights and legal rights. I have a right to purchase and drive a car. That is the simple application of property rights and only requires that I buy from someone who owns the car (not a car thief) and that the purchase be a voluntary transaction. But the right to vote is a legal right. It is granted, by law, to those who are citizens. Citizenship is defined by law. The natural rights foundation is that people, as much as possible, should be in control of the government and not the other way around. Notice that Mr. Binswager does not believe that foriegner has a right to vote. Citizens vote and that is their participation in the creation and enforcement of our laws (by selecting the law makers). It is right that they then be seen as the owners of that full structure of the law.
"It is not a criminal act to buy or rent a home here, and then to reside in it. Paying for housing is not a coercive act—whether the buyer is an American or a foreigner. No one's rights are violated when a Mexican, or Canadian, or Senegalese rents an apartment from an American owner and moves into the housing he is paying for."
He would be right, unless there is a property right that all citizens hold in common. For example, government can prohibit people from camping out in a federal courthouse - Why? Because government is charged with the rational management of public property. There should be no government property unless it is needed to protect individual rights. Government cannot defend individual rights without a structure of laws, and the laws must define the rights and the actions that would violate them. And this requirement, as a working process, requires certain actions, hence actors, and property. Otherwise it is all an elaborate floating abstraction.
All of his arguments flow from the assertion that there is no form of ownership that citizens have in their nation. Deny that assertion with the claim that there is some form of property right that government is, therefore, just to enforce and it is totally different.
"The implicit premise of barring foreigners is: 'This is our country, we let in only those we want here.' But who is this collective 'we'? The government does not own the country. It has jurisdiction over the territory, but jurisdiction is not ownership. Nor does the majority own the country. America is a country of private property. Housing is private property. So is a job. Only the owner of land, or of a business employing people, may set the terms regarding the use or sale of his property."
But Mr. Binswager agrees that citizens can vote, but not foriegners. "This is our country, we get to vote and foriegners don't." Who is this collective "We" that gets to vote? Jurisdiction is a part of the answer. Mr. Binswager is correct that jurisdiction is not ownership. But there is a kind of ownership of the jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the property that is collectively owned. Note that if there is no legal distinction between foriegners and citizens that the intellectual path implied leads directly to anarchy. There can be no right to protect our rights by means of the laws our government creates and enforces unless we have a kind of ownership in the resulting structure. If we don't have this property right (as citizens) then anyone, anywhere, can 'vote' - voting would have lost its representational nature. And ask yourself, "what is the basis of representational government?" It is a property right in the control of the government.
"There is no more authority to demand papers at the border than there is for the police to board a city bus and demand papers of everyone on it. A man, citizen or non-citizen, is to be presumed innocent. He does not have to satisfy the government that he is not a criminal, in the absence of any evidence that he is."
If there are people who keep trying to enter my private property agaainst my wishes, repeatedly, it is perfectly moral and legal for the government to station law enforcement officers at the 'border' of my property to stop the unwanted visitors from trespassing. They are protecting my individual rights. Again, if we have a limited kind of ownership in our nation - as citizens, then it is moral and legal to have guards at the border to seperate out welcome visitors from trespassers. Trespassers are criminals.
There is no such thing as collective, social ownership of the land. The claim, 'We have the right to decide who is allowed here' means that some individuals—those with the most votes—claim the right to prevent other citizens from exercising their rights over the land they own."
Ownership can take many different forms. I give the example of the ownership of a corporation by its stockholders. The corporation's management directs the actions of the corporation on behalf of the stockholders. It is very true that the stockholders, by voting their stock, can say, "We have the right to decide who runs this company." Those with the majority of votes get to decide on issues up for stockholder decisions. This in no way violates the rights of the stockholders who voted, but were in the minority, or the rights of non-stockholders who were not permitted to vote.
Mr. Binswager makes many good points in the rest of the article, but they don't alter the basic issue of who owns what the government properly manages? Does anyone want to argue that there can be such a thing as property that isn't owned? That would be an example of a stolen concept.
And is it reasonable to believe that there can be a form of ownership in something like the legal structure?
Immigration is good for the economy but I'd argue that this issue is more complex that presented. Immigration based upon merit would be better for the economy than immigration of the least skilled, for example. I'd also suggest that immigration's boost to the economy depends not only on not limiting too sharply, but also on not accepting too large a number in a short time. But these are just practical issues and don't overide the moral issue of rights.
Mr. Binswager argues that the belief that crime is higher among immigrants than others isn't discriminating between legal and illegal immigrants. There are radically different crime rates between legal and illegal immigrants. But again, this doesn't rise to the level of a moral rights as the deciding principle on immigration.
"I'm very afraid that the actual reason for limiting immigration is xenophobia, which is simply a polite word for racial bigotry."
I'm sorry that Mr. Binswager wrote that. It is most likely true for some people who want to limit immigration. But it most certainly is not true for me and for others I know. It is wrong to accuse people of being racist when they they aren't.