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By Zach Foster
Opposing open borders in favor of strict border control, especially by means of the state, is antithetical to liberty. War is the health of the state, but the same can be said about strict border control, which requires the militarization of borders. If war is the health of the state, then militarized borders are also the health of the state. It takes a large, strong state to significantly and effectively shut down an international border.
Confused Trump-supporting libertarians are increasingly abandoning their laissez-faire and anarchist principles to rally around their standard-bearer and his red ball cap, ever ready to be cheerleaders for border security and militarization becoming the health of the state. Many of them love making the claim that open borders are a communist concept (referring to humanistic Marxism, rather than Marxist-Leninism). However, a simple study of history (read: reality, not political theory) will reveal that strict border controls is a virtue taken directly from the playbook of Marxist-Leninist and outright Stalinist regimes.
Closed Borders and the Early Soviet Union
An excellent place to begin the history of violent opposition to open borders is the first independent Marxist uprising: The Paris Commune uprising of 1871. The Communards built makeshift walls and barricades to keep the bourgeoisie out while they consolidated their control of parts of Paris. Though they had legitimate grievances against the government and big businesses, they abandoned the moral high ground when they began executing business owners and clergy members.
Shutting down open borders became important again in the early twentieth century in Russia. The Red Army was still fighting the Whites, the Anarchists, and the bandit militias to control Russia and the nearby territories of the old Russian Empire. The Soviet government started a militarized corps of Border Guards after multiple foreign governments imported anti-communist guerrillas into Russia during their Civil War. The civil war in Russia even claimed the lives of over 400 US soldiers from American Expeditionary Force Siberia and American North Russia Expeditionary Force between 1918 and 1920. The Bolsheviks further saw the need for militarized border police after their planned invasion for the “liberation” of Poland was interrupted by the Polish invading them first.
The last time anyone invaded the Soviet Union was during World War II when the Communists’ big ally, Adolf Hitler, broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The Soviet Border Guards participated in the defense of Brest Fortress in 1941, and multiple regiments of Border Guards fought in Berlin in 1945. At least 150 Border Guard troops were even made Heroes of the Soviet Union, a title equating to the Red Medal of Honor. 1945 was a special year for the Border Guards because the Soviet Union’s border effectively expanded to the middle of Germany and all the way down to the western border of Albania. Border security in the Soviet-occupied areas was very tight, and it was literally easier for ex-Nazis to wander into the Soviet Zone than for Americans or British to do the same. The newly-minted postwar Communist states had their own militarized border police as well.
Walls: A Stalinist Tactic
The subject of walls is an interesting one, since confused Trump-supporting libertarians seem to think walls are a good thing. They desperately want a wall on America’s Southern border just like the Reds needed a wall on their Western border. The Communist Bloc had the Berlin Wall that divided East Berlin from West Berlin. However, there were other walls and fortifications (like miles of trenches and concertina wire). They solidified the Iron Curtain of Communism from North East Germany and along the western borders of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Albania.
The Berlin Wall and the other borderlands fortifications were highly effective. The Berlin Wall and its contemporary other “walls” (military fortification networks) were built specifically to protect the Communist states from foreign threats. Stalin had already been invaded by a formal ally, Nazi Germany, in 1941. He saw no reason why the latest group of Allied states wouldn’t want to invade the Soviet Union. After all, the USSR had lost 27 million people in the war and seemed weak.
Stalin was actually closer to the mark than he would ever know. We know today that in the original plans for Operation Unthinkable, Winston Churchill wanted the Western Allies to rearm the German Wehrmacht and go after the Red Army. Even if Operation Unthinkable had never been drafted, the Communists still had thousands of miles of walls, and military fortifications reaching fifty to a hundred miles inland. Now that is strict border security!
Elsewhere in the Communist world, the mutually distrustful Soviet Union and Red Chinese deployed entire armies to their borders. There were even skirmishes and battles in 1969 in which hundreds of soldiers were killed. On the other side of China, the Communist government built a wall to separate Red China from the far more prosperous Hong Kong.
Closed Borders are an Assault on the Free Market
During the early Cold War, the United States government wasn’t remotely concerned with border security. The actual fears for national security revolved around the boogeyman of Communists working in the US government. Yes, Operation Wetback happened in 1954, but that ill-conceived mass deportation was aimed at reducing the economic footprint that undocumented Mexicans were allegedly having on the system. It was initiated by the Mexican government’s request, since the socialistic (but strongly anti-Communist) Mexican state was feeling the drain. Its best workers who were going north for a better life and better working conditions! This is simple free market economics. The market spoke and 200,000 people a year took their labor to where they could get a better deal.
Operation Wetback was really political theater to appease white voters, primarily farmers and blue collar workers in Border States who felt their jobs were being threatened by the braceros. This ill-conceived expansion of government was not about safety and security. It was about economics and how it was unfair that these Mexicans were somehow “stealing” by soaking up public goods and services funded by tax dollars. The irony is that those tax dollars were already stolen from U.S. citizens and legal residents. It wasn’t about security, but about who gets to spend the money that the Feds stole from everyone. To restrict the movement of workers and consumers was yet another assault on the free market by government.
Libertarians flirting with the alt-right like to call for their state-sponsored savior Trump to “build that wall, build it all.” They’re also for a moratorium on legal immigration, as well as a significant cultural shift in public perceptions and attitudes between the left and the right. That’s fine, since the supposed anarcho-capitalists and libertarians of the alt-right suddenly deny laissez-faire economics. Even if illegal immigrants today don’t work—which is a falsehood for most of them—they still spend money and consume! They spend their dollars on the American economy!
A Long History (and Future) of Violence in the Border Lands
Those in favor of the wall love to cite all kinds of statistics on crime committed by illegal immigrants. It’s nice that they care about these numbers which conveniently reinforce their bias, but they fail to realize a fact of life. There has always been more crime and more violence in the Border States! Trump’s wall can’t change that. During Prohibition, the Border States were a hotbed of bootlegging and other gang activities. Between 1910 and 1924, there was much violence on the border relating to the Mexican Revolution. During this time, various Mexican citizen-armies tried to reform or overthrow the Mexican state. Dozens of white men on the border lands were murdered in ones and twos by ethnic Mexican Sedicios who were allegedly, though doubtfully, supporting the Revolution.
Pancho Villa’s guerrillas murdered 15 American civilians in New Mexico in 1916. Around that time, hundreds of Mexicans in Texas were lynched by hastily-hired Texas Rangers and by vigilante groups tolerated by local authorities. At least 339 ethnic Mexicans (both Tejanos and people from Mexico) were lynched during a decade known today by Tejanos as “La Matanza” or “The Massacre.” One of the most grievous incidents was the 1910 Slocum Massacre, in which 22 black men and an unknown number of Mexicans were killed by mobs running rampant around Anderson County for three days. Also, the 1918 Porvenir Massacre, where 15 Tejanos were rounded up and summarily executed by gunfire. It was a regular occurrence for ethnic Mexican farmers to allow bandits passage through their private property under threat of being murdered. Then, vigilantes executed those farmers for “helping” the criminals.
In Los Angeles, California in 1871, one white man was killed in the crossfire of a shootout between two Chinese gangs. The result: a mob of 500 marched into Chinatown and 20 Chinese immigrants were indiscriminately tortured and murdered. Moreover, from the early 1800s until after the 1930s, untold numbers of people from all ethnic groups across the Southwest were murdered by criminals from all ethnic groups. During the 1800s, there were series of genocidal wars between Western civilization and various First Nations on the frontier lands, the borders of those times. Most notable are the series of wars with the Sioux in the Midwest, the Comanche in Texas, and the Apache in Arizona and New Mexico. Today, there is still higher crime and more violence in the Border States than anywhere else in America. With the Mexican Drug War killing over 150,000 people in the last decade, spikes in border violence are no surprise. Border violence under the current statist system is an unavoidable fact of life.
Freedom: The Case for Open Borders
In this day and age, the most libertarian position to take would be one supporting open borders. This is where the alt-right starts to foam at the mouth. It’s because they’re picturing the end scene of Born in East L.A. starring Cheech Marin (of Cheech and Chong fame), where a battalion-sized group of undocumented Mexicans basically overwhelm the Border Patrol with a giant human wave charge. The movie’s hilarious. That scene perfectly describes the way state-worshipers histrionically view open borders.
In reality, the Trump supporters can still have their precious wall and their Border Patrol (even though the Sinaloa and Zetas cartels have dozens of Hezbollah-quality underground tunnels that can accommodate fleets of semi-trucks). They simply shouldn’t pretend that paramilitary groups won’t forcibly open borders whether conservatives like it or not. While the wall and Border Patrol could focus exclusively on the cartels and others who use the border for criminal activity, the vast majority of migrants and immigrants would use the various legal ports of entry.
At the open borders ports of entry, they would need to show their Mexican or home country IDs and have their bio-metric information (eyes and fingerprints) put into a U.S. immigration database. They would undergo electronic background checks with the cooperation of their home countries. Once screened and cleared, they can enter the U.S. without a visa. However, being in the computer system, they’re accounted for and they have rights (as well as responsibilities, like not killing or robbing people). They’ll have a right to be in the U.S. but NOT a right to entitlement programs and the taxpayer-funded social safety net. If they leave, whether it’s at the Tijuana port of entry or La Guardia International Airport, their departure will be recorded in the U.S. immigration database.
We can take the Syrian refugees too. Those opposed to this certainly have a point in arguing how many Syrian men have raped, robbed, or murdered people in Europe. However, the European countries are doing it wrong. In 1975, over 100,000 Vietnamese refugees fled from the Communists. They were housed, screened, and processed by the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton before being released to build their American dream. That sounds like open borders to me, and no one was hurt! If America could handle 100,000 Vietnamese, then it can handle 30,000 Syrian refugees. People can scream and cry about how many of our tax dollars would be spent, but that really became a non-issue once the federal government started spending trillions of dollars just on the War on Terror. Open borders are not fiscally unrealistic anymore.
Naturally, the libertarian sellouts see the pro open borders libertarians as cultural Marxists, even though history shows us the actual Marxists were the ones who forcefully undermined open borders. History also shows us how deportation and restriction on immigration is an assault on the free flow of workers and consumers, and all for the health of the state. When it comes to the Iron Curtain, the Communist Bloc was blatantly controlling people while opposing and stopping capitalism and laissez-faire economics, whose logical conclusion requires open borders.
Though the Iron Curtain, the walls, and the miles upon miles of militarized borderlands were built to keep foreign intruders out, they quickly became the tools for keeping people in. In other words, strict border security and violent negation of open borders became the means for controlling human movement. Of course a massive government would want to control human movement! Controlling people is just what governments do! I specifically recall Republicans lambasting Ron Paul in September 2011 when he argued that border fences are designed to keep us trapped in the country. That was certainly the case with the Communist countries. Moreover, I agree with Ron Paul when he said in 2016 that Trump’s wall sounds a lot like theft and that it’s illegal and immoral.
Treating Causes, Not Symptoms
We really don’t need a wall; we need to treat causes, not symptoms. The issue of violence in the Border States would significantly shrink if the federally-imposed War on Drugs were ended, since there would no longer be an economic incentive for paramilitary drug-trafficking organizations to smuggle illegal drugs over the border. Likewise, there would be no more incentive for them to hire street gangs to distribute their products (and do all the other predatory things that thugs do).
Yes, violence is higher in the border lands, but it’ll always be higher in the border lands. It’s also true that immigrants migrate to other corners of the U.S. These aren’t arguments for a wall, but instead for the Second Amendment! The real risk is why more Americans need to become gun owners. This is why more of civil society needs to form watch groups and look out for each other. We libertarians don’t depend on the government to protect us from the dangers of consuming raw milk, just like we don’t depend on the government to protect us from dangerous people. Like John Wayne said, “Out here a man solves his own problems.”
The pro-Trump libertarians have abandoned some basic principles of liberty by running directly into the arms of big government to protect them from predatory immigrants This reminds me of Ben Franklin’s quote: “Those who would sacrifice liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither.” MAN UP and do what needs to be done to protect you and your family. Stop relying on big government. Strict border security, like war, is the health of the state. Open borders are a libertarian concept. There’s no excuse for empowering government at the expense of even more freedom. That’s specifically a tactic of Communist states.