The other day the VTLP posted an opinion piece about immigration protests and advocated the abolition of ICE, the federal agency tasked with immigration and customs enforcement. This sparked a heated debate on their Facebook page (original post below) with strong opinions hurled angrily in each direction across cyberspace as is what generally happens in heated internet debates. Some agreed with the article and argued for a more open-border approach while some argued for a wall and tighter security, with some good points made on both sides.
Immigration, like all politics nowadays, has become a very polarizing subject even in a small state like VT where we remain largely unaffected by the current crisis on the southern US border. The only thing everyone seems to agree 100% on is that our current system is broken. In my opinion, the LP has a fantastic opportunity to take the lead on this issue (among others) so for the purposes of this article, I will focus on where we all seem to agree and how we could possibly come together and make progress without compromising principle.
The first point that everyone seems to agree on is that our current system is not working. At all. The quagmire of laws and regulations that one must navigate while attempting to immigrate to this country legally has become an unreasonable burden to good people who want to come here for the right reasons. When our laws become too massive and cumbersome and unfair, people are forced to make a choice: Give up and turn around; go back to a life of poverty and slavery imposed by the corrupt overbearing governments of your home countries, or: take your chances breaking American law to try and make a better life for yourself and your family. The irony of this situation is that, when faced with it, good people (the ones we want here) will be the ones less inclined to break the law and take a chance. No one seems to agree on who or how many should be let in, but we should be able to agree that the good people who are not a threat to the security of the country, should be allowed to come here for the right reasons: to work hard, contribute to our society and live in peace. Isn’t that what we all want?
The second point of agreement we should focus on, is that it is a key component of libertarian principle, that free, peaceful people should be able to move freely with minimal interference from government. If one of the legitimate functions of government is to protect us from the threat of outside force, then it falls within the duty of that government to at least try to weed out foreign threats to our country; after all, not everyone comes with the best of intentions. That same government should not however, suck up trillions of taxpayer dollars per year while failing to do anything except create a horrendous mess at the border and relentlessly publicize it. Both parties have had numerous chances to solve this issue and have not done so. The Democrats couldn’t do it when they had the majority under Obama, and a Republican controlled Congress failed to do so for 2 consecutive years under Trump. Why would they? A never-ending crisis energizes the voters on each side, and we continue to sink farther into political tribalism while our individual rights and the American dream quietly slips away. Libertarians would do well to rally around our principles on the issue of immigration and try to find the common ground with both sides when it comes to implementation.
Most libertarians agree that we should roll back the massive welfare state; why not start with that? There are cuts that we could make all over that would remove the motivation for people to come here for the free ride. Furthermore, we could focus our efforts on legislation that made it easier for the good, honest folks to come here, work hard, pay their taxes (ugh, I know, just bear with me for the purpose of this argument), and contribute to society while also making it easier for our people at the border to watch out for the bad ones. There may come a day where we can realistically talk about abolishing ICE but in the meantime let’s focus on where we agree and what we can do about it. Can’t we start by cutting away the bureaucratic mess so we can get a handle on things then go from there?
With countless voters tired of the status quo, the Libertarian party has steadily been gaining support across the country. We have a chance to make progress in 2020 but it’s up to us. In a world of absurd and childish politics, let’s be the adults in the room. Let’s be the voice of reason in a society gone mad. It’s up to us to break the cycle.