Tag: Trump’s Wall

The Libertarian Case for a Border Wall

Andrew Lepore | United States

Libertarian philosophy centers itself around protecting property rights. It also recognizes the immorality of coercive action against any individual or group. So on its face, the construction of a southern border wall seems contradictory to libertarian values; in fact, I at one time opposed it. But since diving deeper into the issue, I have concluded that the wall will provide a net benefit to individual liberty. 

Misinforation about the Border Wall

First of all, it seems that many people have misinformation on the issue of illegal immigration. Among this is the incorrect statement that the majority of illegals come from overstayed visas. This is false: only 42% of illegal immigrants are here for that reason. Though this is a plurality, calling it a majority is deceiving. 

Another common false point is that illegal immigrants do not have access to welfare. But an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) shows that 62% of illegal-immigrant-headed households use some form of welfare, excluding social security (compare this to 30% of native citizens). Illegal immigrants do in fact benefit from welfare that their children legally obtain via birthright citizenship.

Moreover, opponents perpetuate the falsehood that, historically, walls have proven ineffective in preventing undocumented migration. They say it would be inefficient and is just not worth the cost on taxpayers. Common responses include the notion that immigrants could go over, under, or around it. However, the facts show that these assumptions are ignoring the history of border walls across the globe.

Walls Work

For example, the construction of Israel’s border wall decreased illegal migration by 99% while Hungary’s did the same by 98%. In Soviet East Germany, before the wall existed, illegal emigration was a serious problem. Between 1945 and 1961, over 3.5 million East Germans walked across the unguarded border. But as the statistics below demonstrate, the wall reduced defection numbers by over 90%.

Once again, there are obvious contradictions to libertarian philosophy in the construction of a border wall. Most importantly, it requires the government to use coercion against those trying to cross it. Moreover, the government will be using our tax dollars to construct it. They also will use eminent domain to obtain the land they need.

Granted, those are immoralities, but so is welfare (a redistribution of stolen tax dollars). Large, government-funded public programs are as well. And so is allowing political parties to take advantage of democracy by permitting massive migration of a demographic that vastly supports larger government programs.

Risks of Illegal Immigration

Government spending has exploded since the 1960s and is continuing to climb at an unsustainable rate (see graph below). As you may know, the United States is nearly $22 trillion in debt. But what you may not know is that the United States is also in an over $210 trillion hole in the unfunded liabilities column for welfare benefits, social security, and pensions that we owe in the future.

Government spending over time
Government spending over time

To reiterate, a majority of illegal-headed households use welfare. Moreover, 6 out of 10 who cross the border illegally will go on to start a family that will consume tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars every year. Every dollar of this is taken involuntarily from citizens.

Even worse, illegals are taking up benefits owed to Americans who actually pay into the overcrowded system. $210 trillion is an enormous number which we will be hard-pressed to pay off; some even say that we never will. Our system already has far too many burdens and rising debt. It would be financially irresponsible to hand out taxpayer-funded welfare benefits to anybody who shows up.

Welfare use

Welfare use, excluding social security

Some dispute the validity of the current statistics, as the analysis does not account for household income or size. This analysis does not compare the welfare rate of illegal immigrants and natives in the same income bracket or with the same size households. It is showing that due to many factors, illegal immigrant households have higher welfare use rates.

Use of Public Services

Welfare is not the only program which allows illegals to benefit from American taxpayers. Due to a vast array of public services, illegals provide an additional impact on the American taxpayer. Wear and tear on roads, cost of emergency services, congestion, public utilities and more all contribute.

These may seem less impactful, but the numbers add up significantly over the years. The taxpayer cost of illegal immigration over the years will make the initial construction cost look like a drop in the bucket. The cost of the wall is one-time, while the benefits are continuous.

Support for Big Government

Another way the wall may preserve liberty in the future is with the preservation of a demographic with limited-government political leanings. Statistically, Hispanics are most likely to illegally cross the border due to geographic proximity. The Hispanic population also happens to be the demographic with the highest welfare use among illegals. Moreover, they are far more likely to support leftist government policy than natives.

Hispanic party affiliation, from Pew Research Center

The wall will help preserve a population that prefers smaller government by reducing the demographic impact of any future amnesty deals. In the case of such deals, massive demographic changes would take place. Most likely, it would not reflect the aspirations of native-born citizens. A large-scale amnesty deal like Reagan’s in California may not happen, but it is very possible. Such would have massive effects on the political demographics of the United States.

Even if an amnesty deal never takes place, illegal immigration has a significant effect on the electoral college and the distribution of seats in the House. Seats are apportioned based on state populations, which includes non-citizens and undocumented immigrants. So, increased illegal immigration without amnesty gives citizens in border states an unfairly large voice in Congress.

The Wall: A Net Benefit to Liberty

Every year, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants come across the border to work. But while they do this, many take advantage of the benefits the government hangs in front of them. Illegal immigration is not stopping any time soon, and neither is the welfare state. Every single dollar they hand to illegals, they stole from a working American taxpayer.

Granted, funding and constructing a wall will require some force and an act of government. That pinch of statism, however, is necessary to stop a tsunami of future leftist coercion. Construction of the wall can almost fully prevent this future pillaging of the American taxpayer. The protection of liberty we can achieve through its construction vastly outweighs the little liberty we must surrender for it.

In conclusion, if I could abolish welfare instead of building a wall, I would. In today’s political theater, though, the abolition of welfare is not feasible while the construction of the wall is. Due to the boatloads of money Americans lose every year due to illegal Immigration, the wall’s construction will provide a net benefit to liberty.


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The States Should Control National Parks

Jack Shields | United States

The federal government has been shut down since December 22nd. I am a huge fan of government shutdowns, as I believe they disprove a popular illusion about the importance of government. The illusion, of course, is that we need government to shield us from the dangers of freedom and without the government being involved in every part of our lives, we’d fall apart in violent anarchy. But it’s been weeks since the shutdown. I’m not dead. No one else is dead. People are still getting their Social Security checks. The military is still out there protecting us, fully funded. Everything is okay. And the fact there are parts of the federal government that can be labeled as ‘non-mandatory’ and not be funded during this shutdown ought to prove the government has grown way too large and we should rid ourselves of these self-acclaimed unnecessary programs. You’d be hard pressed to find a private company that could survive long while paying non-mandatory employees. Many of these non-mandatory programs should just be defunded and forgotten about forever (the study which analyzed the effects of cocaine on a bird’s sexuality comes to mind). However, many are extremely popular and aren’t going anywhere, with national parks being perhaps the biggest example. These types of programs should be devolved back to the state level. This will restore federalism and actually improve the state of the parks.

The idea of national parks was conceived in the mid nineteenth century, with advocates such as John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and Stephen Mather claiming the federal government should ensure that some land is kept natural and preserved so that all generations may experience their beauty. And they were incredibly successful. The first of such came about when President Lincoln required California to preserve Yosemite. Then, President Grant made Yellowstone the first official national park. More were gradually added but the number of national parks skyrocketed under President Theodore Roosevelt, as he added national parks, national monuments, national game refuges, bird sanctuaries, and millions of acres of national forests. Under President Wilson, the National Park Service was created in 1916, and today there are 392 national parks along with millions and millions of acres of other federally protected lands and areas.

National parks in and of themselves may not be such a bad idea. I, for one, am certainly sympathetic to the idea we should preserve some of nature for the generations to come. Even one of the greatest Libertarian thinkers of all time, Ron Swanson of Parks and Rec, seemed to give exception to the national parks when it came to his philosophy of an almost nonexistent government. But just because something is a good idea does not mean the federal government should be the one doing it. If this was true, then we should immediately give the federal government complete control over the economy, violent crime, schools, and every single issue that has ever existed. Because, after all, if it’s a good idea, why shouldn’t everyone do it? This logic is in complete contradiction of federalism, localism, and most importantly the Constitution.

The United States was designed to allow most decisions to be decided at a local level. This was because it holds the representatives more accountable, ensures there are more similarly held beliefs, prevents tyranny, and actually makes more people happy with their government. When it comes to the national parks, there isn’t too much concern that tyranny will arise from them, so making the people happy is the most important issue, and localization ensures the highest success rate. Say for example there are 100 people living in Texas and 80 living in New Mexico. In Texas, 80 people want to increase the budget for the parks. In New Mexico, only 30 want to increase the budget. Under a federalized park system, the budget is increased, with 110 citizens being left pleased with the turnout, and 70 citizens being left disappointed. But under true federalism, the budget is increased in Texas but left the same in New Mexico. This leaves 130 citizens being left pleased with their respective states’ decisions, and only 50 being left disappointed. If Americans want more funding for parks, more protections, or perhaps they’d rather sell the land, all that is well and good. But it should be decided at the state level, leaving more people happy.

Even more important than ensuring the happiness of the citizenry, national parks should be devolved to the states according to the Constitution. There’s really nothing wrong with the idea of parks, and National Parks aren’t really a tyrannical threat to liberty, so most people are probably fine with them being run by the federal government. But we are either a nation of men or a nation of laws. And seeing as because of the principles it is built on, a nation of men turning tyrannical is almost certain, I’d much rather live in a nation of laws. That means strictly upholding the Constitution. Even when it comes to the fun stuff like parks that almost no one has a problem with. Nowhere in the Constitution is the power to run national parks granted to the federal government. This fact requires two parts of the Constitution to be evaluated. First, Article I Section 8 Clause 18, known as the Elastic Clause. This clause states that any law may be passed to execute an enumerated power, and this has been interpreted to allow the federal government to have powers not specifically listed in the Constitution if they are necessary to execute an enumerated power. For example, requiring men to sign up for the draft is considered an implied power which is necessary in executing the power to raise and support armies granted by Article I Section 8 Clause 12. However, it is clear that having national parks isn’t necessary in order to coin money, regulate commerce, or any of the other powers granted to the federal government. Which leads to the 10th Amendment which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by this Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Constitution says quite clearly what should be done when it comes to parks. 

This devolution of the parks to the states will not only be in line with the Constitution and make more people happy but will also ensure the parks are run more efficiently. Right now the federal government is shut down, which means the national parks are shut down. This means there is no tourism which is causing lots of money to be lost, no one is cleaning the parks (except a few cases of private, charitable parties doing it), and many other problems and inconveniences. The shut down is occurring because the Republicans and Democrats cannot come up with a compromise when it comes to immigration reform, more specifically, President Trump’s proposed wall. Which means tourists can’t go to the parks, and the parks are covered in trash that can’t be cleaned, because of immigration laws. It seems silly that immigration policy should determine whether or not you get to go to Yosemite. With parks in the hands of the states, President Trump and Speaker Pelosi can scream at each other all they want and shut down the government as long as they want, and it won’t effect your trip to the park one bit.

Devolving the national parks to the states would be a simple concept in a time of extreme partisanship and gridlock that would do a little to reign the federal government back into its constitutional boundaries, make citizens a little happier, and prove that not only does the federal government not have to be involved in every little thing, things may actually be better when they aren’t.


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Recapping President Trump’s Address to the Nation

Josh Hughes | United States

Tuesday night, President Trump gave his first national address to the nation from the oval office. The speech, which lasted just over 11 minutes, did not solve the stalemate between the House and Trump. Rather, it repeated the same rhetoric that Trump has used throughout the government shutdown.

Citing a “humanitarian and security crisis” as a reason for the address, President Trump outlined many reasons he believes Congress should accept his budget proposal. The beginning of the speech gave an overview of the opioid and drug crisis in America. Specifically, the president declared, “This year, more Americans will die of drug overdoses than in the entirety of the Vietnam War,”. Statistics from national archives confirm this, with over 72,000 and 58,000 deaths, respectively.

Stopping Drugs and Human Trafficking

Trump claimed that a wall along the border would stop the flow of drugs into America. He also focused on other things it would stop, such as human trafficking. An interesting talking point he did not touch on is the claim that terrorists were getting into the country via the southern border. This assertion has received considerable backlash in recent weeks.

Another large part of the speech hit on violence in America due to illegal immigration. The president mentioned the killing of Ronil Singh, the California police officer that an illegal immigrant killed. He also mentioned the recent “beheading” of a Georgia man by an illegal immigrant. This section of the speech was heavy with emotion.

To close out the address to the nation, he made a call for action. Trump implored Democrats to accept the bill that he and other top officials have proposed. He also asked the people to call their local representatives and demand they accept the deal, calling it an issue of national security.

Action from Trump’s Address to the Nation

It is unclear what will happen next. The president has said that he has invited Democratic leaders to speak with him on Wednesday. Yet, this is no guarantee that they will come to an agreement.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that the president is fearmongering to get a deal rather than stating facts. Thus, so one can assume that House Democrats will continue to resist the president’s proposals.

The main takeaways from the night’s address to the nation are that the president did not declare a state of emergency, as he had previously suggested. Also, there was little progress between Trump and the Democrats as both sides refuse to budge. Many are claiming the speech was just an attempt to incite fear for political gain, and that it was a misuse of a national Oval Office address. Others, though, consider it necessary to ensure national security.


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Trump’s Border Wall is Another of his Broken Promises

By Josh Hughes | United States

On Tuesday, President Trump and Democratic leaders met in the White House to discuss funding for the border wall. However, the conversation did not go well for either side. Rather than coming to a compromise, both sides kept at a standstill. The president, meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, reiterated how adamant he is about funding for the wall. In fact, he stated that if he did not get $5 billion in funding by the December 21 deadline, the government would shut down.

Despite this threat, the details of the shutdown are not the most important issue here. The part that sticks out the most is that President Trump failed on yet another promise. He has been doing this from the start of his political career. Unlike most politicians, he ran on an often “non-political” ticket. That’s not to say he didn’t run on important issues, but the way he went about addressing them was something many people were unaccustomed to. He was proudly “politically incorrect,” and portrayed himself as a candidate who wouldn’t be like other politicians. Now, nearly two years into his term, he has failed in coming through on many of his campaign promises, despite having a Republican majority in both houses of Congress until the midterms.

Broken Promises

During the president’s campaign, he repeatedly said the United States was going to build a wall across its southern border. He also emphasized a desire to make Mexico pay for it. Two years in, there is no wall, and now he is asking taxpayers to fund his wall. Whether or not the wall is a good idea is up to the reader to decide, but the fact that he has not kept a promise is alarming, but not surprising.

During the campaign, Trump also said that he would balance the budget, and “do it fairly quickly.” On the contrary, the federal deficit is increasing and has neared one trillion dollars. It is unlikely this trend will change in the future, either. The national debt is also continuing to grow.

During the campaign, Trump heralded himself as a champion of gun rights. Many conservatives were relieved that the war on the Second Amendment would be over after the Obama administration. Trump and the NRA struck a friendship that, to many, seemed to usher in an age of complete gun freedom. Yet, he has only stripped gun rights away, recently announcing a ban on bump stocks. Minor restrictions are slippery slopes that lead to the further erosion of rights.  

The List Continues

Other examples of promises broken by President Trump include not taking vacations, pushing for Congressional term limits, pursuing charges against Hillary Clinton, cutting Common Core standards, and defunding Planned Parenthood.

President Trump promised many things that sounded good to conservatives and libertarians. Despite this, he has failed to come through on most of them. With Democrats taking control of Congress in 2019, it will be tough for his promises to pass, even if he wants them to. They simply will face heavy compromises. It will be interesting to see what plan he chooses to finish the last two years of his term, but hope for actions favoring liberty is quite low.


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1500 Honduran Refugees Headed North

By Spencer Kellogg | United States

Over 1,500 Immigrants are marching North to the United States as President Trump has amplified calls to secure the Southern border with Mexico.

Honduran Refugees Marching

The 2,000-mile journey, led by mostly Hondurans, began over a week ago and marked the holy week. Video from the march can be streamed on this Facebook page. The little-known group, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, began accepting donations for the organized march over a month ago. This isn’t the first march Fronteras has led and according to their Facebook page, the group was founded in 2010 and their stated mission is: “To provide shelter and safety to migrants and refugees in transit, accompany them in their journey, and together demand respect for our human rights.”

Organizers for the march condemned the idea of a border wall: “We want to become one, supporting us shoulder to shoulder and show that together we can break down borders.” Fleeing from gang violence, police brutality, and extortion, the refugees are seeking asylum and plan to ask for entry as asylum seekers when they arrive at the southern border wall.

The immigrants gathered in the Southern Mexican town of Tapachula ahead of the march North with organizers preparing the refugees for navigation within The United States after they arrive. At one point, group leaders instructed men how to build a fortified wall with their bodies around potentially threatened women and children.

In the town of Arriaga, refugees boarded the “Train of Death”, a transport known for rape, murder, and chaos. Along the way, help has been found amongst Mexican citizens who have provided food and shelter on the journey North.

Tightening the Southern Border

Trump blasted the ‘grassroots’ march and immediately bolstered troops along the Southern border in anticipation of a showdown. After threatening to kill NAFTA, Mexican officials hurriedly promised to shut down the immigrant’s route.

We are going to be guarding our border with our military. That’s a big step. We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing, and by the way never showing up for court. – Trump

This is one of the largest asylum marches in history and could provide a constitutional route to citizenship for many Southern immigrants looking for a new life. Not all of the refugees are looking to cross into the United States, however. Some are simply fleeing the torturous chaos of life in Honduras and are hoping to gain entry into Mexico.

Alfonso Navarrete, the Interior Minister of Mexico, Tweeted that he was working in coordination with the White House to curb migratory flows into the United States.

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 12.09.00 PM.png

On Tuesday, Former Mexican President Vincente Fox hit out at the president’s rhetoric on Twitter:

[Donald Trump] continues to blackmail, offend and denigrate Mexico and Mexicans someone has to stop him! – Vincente Fox

One of the refugees is a former member of the Honduran Congress. In an interview with Reuters, Maria Elena Colindres Ortega spoke out against the issues citizens are facing in Honduras:

We’ve had to live through a fraudulent electoral process. We’re suffering a progressive militarization and lack of institutions, and … they’re criminalizing those who protested.

We will be following this story as it develops in the next week.

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