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Well-Known Libertarian Advocates for Amnesty

Former GOP candidate for US Senate in Missouri, Austin Petersen, is supporting the Koch brothers’ push for massive amnesty.

The Washington Post reported that the Koch brothers are lobbying for a massive amnesty.

Yesterday evening, Mark Levin shared this article on Twitter.  Austin Petersen then picked it up, defending the Kochs and promoting the idea of a massive amnesty.

At least he’s honest.

Immigration policy has to be the defining failure of libertarianism.  For all of their issues with pot, prostitution, abortion, and Gary Johnson, none of them reek of cognitive dissonance in the same way that immigration does.

Immigration is a unique issue in that it involves the movement of people in and out of the country.  Immigration is unique in that it does not involve personal policy choices of people already here. Whereas legalizing pot or prostitution does not, in theory, impose anything on anyone, amnesty increases the size of the nation by millions in an instant.

Other libertarian pet projects are problematic because we live in a welfare state, but amnesty compounds this problem even further.  Instead of American potheads requiring socialized medicine, now we have millions of new citizens who are entitled to EVERYTHING the United States has to offer for no other reason than that some people felt bad that they broke the law and had to “live in the shadows.”

Austin Petersen thinks that it is “good” that the Kochs are working toward a massive amnesty, but amnesty cannot possibly be good for libertarians or the nation in general.  The eternal problem of the libertarian cause is the focus on the end results and the obsession with taking what they can get.  A libertarian is supposed to say that amnesty should only happen if the welfare state is abolished.  But that’s never going to happen so they will gladly take amnesty by itself despite the fact that this will completely destroy the libertarian cause.

Any amnesty will strain social services that are meant for Americans, particularly for the American poor and working class.  This includes poor Whites, poor Blacks, and poor Hispanics.  These are people who are Americans, not foreigners who broke our laws by remaining here after illegal entry.  If libertarians are so concerned about the welfare state, why would they support a policy that increases the size of the welfare state? They are expanding the Ponzi Scheme in the name of some ideological purity and a commitment to some vague principle about the right to travel freely between nations.

As a practical matter, amnesty changes the electorate. There aren’t millions of immigrants who are reading Friedman, Hayek, and Mises by candlelight as they flee juntas. These are desperately poor people who just want to make a better life for themselves, and in the United States, that includes help from big government.  A misquote of Alexis de Tocqueville says “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”  The libertarian cause is in no position to convert the presumed recipients of government benefits to its line of thinking as long as those benefits flow freely.

Petersen lamented the right’s aversion to amnesty, comparing it to the left’s obsession with climate change being devoid of facts.  Yet Petersen’s claim illustrates that support for amnesty is devoid of facts.

Chief among them being the sheer number of illegal immigrants already present in the United States.  In a tweet, Petersen followed up his defense of the Koch brothers with snide comment about the government remaining closed indefinitely if the democrats were to offer a full wall with total amnesty, for all 11 million illegals.

Eleven? 2005 called, they want their inaccurate census data back.

And maybe that’s why libertarians don’t have a problem with amnesty, because they think it won’t be as bad.  But I thought libertarians were supposed to be good with numbers.

To that end, I give you Bear Stearns analysts Robert Justich and Betty Ng.  Over a decade ago, they studied a variety of factors that led them to conclude that the census was wrong and that in 2005, we were looking at 20 million illegal aliens, not 11 million.  It checks out.  Basic principles in psychology and statistics warrant a cynical view of self-report data like the census.  But more importantly, Time Magazine published an article in 2006 that indicated 3 million illegals were entering the country every year. Obviously the recession cut that number down, but are we really that naïve to think that the 11 million figure has managed to remain the same for more than a decade?  If millions come and go freely to where the 11 million figure does not change, are you seriously going to tell me that illegals are willingly smuggle themselves back into Mexico? Are there reverse coyotes?  We know that our border is porous.  We know that data on the number of entries are simple estimates because border patrol cannot be everywhere all the time.

But even if we accept the 11 million figure, we still have to deal with the potential magnet that amnesty would create.  The 9th circuit was granting amnesty to people in the mid-2000s under the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act, or Reagan’s Amnesty.  How many people would try to enter and succeed and then fraudulently apply? INS approved 800,000 known fraudulent applications for the agricultural amnesty in 1986.

In theory, amnesty may be the libertarian thing to do assuming there is no welfare state, but we aren’t there yet.  I’d even be open to it if we lived in a libertarian society. We don’t.  We live with big government.  Some libertarians will claim that the federal government has no authority to regulate immigration and they argue that it is a purely economic endeavor.  And this is the problem with the libertarians.  They operate in philosophy and theory (because they don’t run any local or state government in the US).  They have no use for the constitution when it disagrees with their principles.  If immigration were purely economic, then surely the commerce clause would suffice.  And I hate the commerce clause! But you aren’t going to tell me that the United States cannot use the commerce clause to regulate the flow of migrants across borders if we assume that migration is purely economic. The libertarians get into sovereign citizen territory with their theorizing about the rights of man.

Austin Petersen was a big hit with conservative college students a few years ago when he was known as the pro-life libertarian.  It’s odd that he would support an idea that would decimate his cause. Amnesty is a thoroughly bad idea.  Some liberals understand that it jeopardizes even liberal policy goals.  Bernie Sanders used to denounce open borders as a “Koch brothers proposal.” And how right he was.


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