I am perfectly aware of the risks of articulating what I am about to. The consensus among modern libertarians seems to be that free immigration is the only stance possible in this debate because of the ‘economic benefits’ and that those who oppose free immigration are just statists who want the government to control who can and can’t move about from here to there. For those swayed by the content of this article, I highly recommend that you look into other ‘paleolibertarian’ stances and you may find yourself agreeing me on more than just immigration. Finally, before I begin, I know that I have previously supported open borders and I fully retract any such support here and now.
Not long ago, I remember there being a very brief mention of UKIP’s immigration policy on The Libertarian’s Facebook page. It raised an interesting point and those who commented were at odds over whether libertarians should be in favour of a ‘free immigration’ policy or a ‘closed-borders’ policy. To begin, it would do well to summarise UKIP’s immigration policy.
On the whole, I think the way to summarise their stance on immigration is: an end to multiculturalism; control of the UK’s borders by the UK government; allow people to enter the country only on a work-permit basis. Those libertarians who consider themselves cosmopolitan and tolerant may cry ‘racist’ and ‘far-right’ at such policies, but I wholeheartedly support them.
It does not help the libertarian movement in the UK when self-proclaimed libertarians like Sam Bowman write such things as “…immigrants bring new skills to the country, allow for more specialization, tend to be more entrepreneurial than average, pay more in to the welfare state than they take out, and make things cheaper by doing the jobs that Britons won’t.”  This is true, yet Bowman is only arguing from a viewpoint with no conception of absolute rights. Yes, real incomes may well increase as a result of mass immigration, but the answer to the immigration question can’t be that simple. As libertarians, we must take into account the rights of individuals, namely property rights.
Indeed, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, a sound Austrian economist himself acknowledged all of the arguments made by Bowman and more in his 1999 article on Immigration:
“The classical argument in favor of free immigration runs as follows: Other things being equal, businesses go to low-wage areas, and labor moves to high-wage areas, thus affecting a tendency toward the equalization of wage rates (for the same kind of labor) as well as the optimal localization of capital. An influx of migrants into a given-sized high-wage area will lower nominal wage rates. However, it will not lower real wage rates if the population is below its optimum size. To the contrary, if this is the case, the produced output will increase over-proportionally, and real incomes will actually rise.”
However, Hoppe – who helped to change my mind on immigration – still does not support a policy of mass immigration. In fact, Hoppe calls for a return to the time when monarchs would take it upon themselves to take out the ‘human trash’ and argues the case for near-closed borders. For the remainder of this article, it is my attempt to explain my position in terms of property rights and justice rather than the laws of economics.
Ignore governments for a moment. Abandon any thoughts of a state existing and forget any such talk of ‘immigration policy’. Let’s now talk purely and simply about our ‘rights’ to ‘move’ within this free society. For example, do I have any right to move onto my neighbour’s property without his consent? Furthermore, even if we call it migration, do I have a right to burgle a house? All rights we have stem from our rights to the property that we have acquired or been granted use of and thus it is plain wrong – and stupid – to talk of any ‘rights’ to move onto anyone else’s property without negating the concept of exclusive rights to property itself. Even if, while I break into your house to steal your television, I empty my wallet onto your couch to compensate for the robbery before I quietly leave, it can’t be said that I ever had any right to break in in the first place.
But government blurs the issue beyond recognition. Firstly, we are so used to and comfortable with the idea of an ‘immigration policy’ – meaning merely the government’s interference in the movement of people from one person’s property to another – and secondly, the government has ‘acquired’ property which it calls its own. To be sure, no consistent libertarian can think of ‘government property’ as anything other than an oxymoron; the state has no just property and all that it possesses belongs to its original appropriator or his heirs. And there are only two ways in which an immigration policy can unfold: either it becomes forced integration or it becomes forced segregation.
Accordingly, then, we must choose between the lesser of the two evils. Forced integration can be viewed as nothing less than the government allowing swathes of burglars into one’s home; nobody, but the state which is a criminal, gave the immigrants permission to enter their property. As the state has decided to assume that it owns the borders and most of the country, it can be further said that the present population of the country must all consent to any further entrances to it. Anything less than 100% consensus on free immigration from the present citizens is to be taken as a no, as everyone has absolute property rights which can’t be violated – not even by majority consent.
What though, really, is forced segregation, then, other than a protection of the rights of those who do not consent to a policy of free immigration? We forget, all too often, that the state simply cannot legitimately be seen to be the owner of the roads, the streets, the shores and our ‘borders’. Somebody though, must own them. Now, due to the difficulties of tracing the real owners of these pieces of land, we may say that they are either ‘unowned’ or, for the time being, owned equally by every single member of the present population. And if one, just one, of these owners does not consent to another inhabitant of ‘our’ island, then we must leave it as that.
Further to this, I can honestly say that there is nothing, by my standards, wrong with ‘transportation’ of criminals. While I would object to dumping them in another country without their consent, I would not object to placing our criminals on a boat and giving it a little push. For, if no member of the present population is willing to allow them to access to their land then a useful job for the state to do would be to kick such undesirables out.
Hoppe did advocate something similar to Farage’s party in his 1999 article, which was “…requiring an existing employment contract with a resident citizen” for any immigrant. While some citizens may be prevented from enjoying the benefits of rising real incomes if we are to adopt such a strict immigration policy, this is no issue for me as a libertarian preoccupied with protecting person and property.
 Sam Bowman. 25/3/13. Adam Smith Institute. http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/economics/abandon-hope-all-ye-who-enter-this-immigration-debate
 Hans-Hermann Hoppe. 1999. Lew Rockwell.com. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/hermann-hoppe1.html