The Immigration Enforcement Police State is Here

English: ICE Special Agents (U.S. Immigration ...
English: ICE Special Agents (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) arresting suspects during a raid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

February 7: Muhammad Ali, Jr., returning to the US from a speaking engagement in Jamaica, is detained for two hours at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and questioned about his name and religious beliefs.

February 22: Passengers disembarking from a domestic (San Francisco to New York) flight at JFK airport are held up by US Customs and Border Protection agents demanding their IDs.

February 24: Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education clears the usual security checks at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport en route to Mexico. Then, while actually boarding the plane, he and the other passengers on the flight are stopped by US Marshals demanding that they submit to retinal scans.

You’re probably thinking that this is the point where I’ll take a break to blame Donald Trump. It isn’t. It’s the point where I’ll take a break to remind Americans who’ve been voting for politicians who promise to “secure the border” and other such authoritarian nonsense that THIS is exactly what they’ve been voting for.

When advocating for the libertarian position on immigration (“open borders,” which also happens to have been the position Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush both took in the 1980 Republican presidential primary debates) I usually prefer to stick to the moral argument. That argument, put simply, is that where peaceful people move to, settle or work is nobody’s business but theirs.

But there are practical arguments against America’s increasingly draconian immigration laws too.  Enforcement is expensive but, fortunately, almost certain to be ineffectual (if it worked, severe economic downturn would be the result).

The most important of the practical arguments, in my opinion, is that a police state built to persecute immigrants will necessarily persecute everyone else as well.

I’ve spoken with friends who traveled in the old Soviet Union and eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall came down. They see near-complete similarity between those regimes and the operations of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol forces.

The difference between pre-reunification East Germany and the 100-mile wide “constitution-free zone” along the US-Mexico border is the flag the agencies in question salute. Recent administrations have worked to expand that zone to cover the entire country and the Trump administration seems bent on finishing the job.

The near-total police state blossoming before our eyes is the inevitable result of America’s 70-year romance with the astoundingly stupid idea that it’s the government’s business to monitor and control who travels, lives and works where.

America had legally open borders for its first century as a nation, and nearly so for half a century after that. It wasn’t until after World War Two that one even needed a passport to enter or leave the United States.

Open borders workedFreedom worked.

The subsequent seven decades of attempts at rigorous immigration control have irrefutably established that our choice is not between open borders and closed borders, but between immigration freedom or totalitarian government. And Americans’ time to stop the stampede toward the latter is running short.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Also published on Medium.

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  • MamaLiberty

    Amen… and the same thing can be said for any non-voluntary government efforts to control or eliminate any other free market and individual liberty actions of human beings.

    The truly astonishing thing, to me, is the absolute fact that so many people seem to believe that any “government” has an unquestionable authority to do this.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG Where peaceful people choose to live IS MY business, if I’m being asked to support them. And I am. Worse, open borders in a democracy means Islamic settlers (not immigrants, but settlers, there’s a BIG difference) can and will vote in the same oligarchical practises the American revolution left behind. Sharia law anyone?

    • Whether or not you support them is their business. Where they live isn’t. Neither is their religion.

      You don’t have to like it. That’s how it is whether you like it or not.

      • Brian Fr Langley

        Says who? You? When America defined borders, then opted to create an army to defend them, and further opted for a democratic republic (heavy on republic) Then Americans have every “right” to say who comes and who does not. As for supporting them, as long as they’re food stamps and welfare, who do you think is supporting very (very) many of them?

        • 1) America had open borders until 1882 for the very good reason that the US Constitution, Article I, Section 9, forbade the federal government to regulate immigration. An activist Supreme Court miracled that power up out of its ass in 1875 (it wasn’t until after World War II that the little brats in DC had the impudence to demand a passport to enter or leave the US).

          2) America also didn’t originally have a standing army, and didn’t have MUCH of a standing army until after World War II. There was a good reason for that, as we’ve learned from the last 70 years of unremitting war for the purpose of transferring as much money as possible from taxpayers’ pockets to “defense” contractors’ bank accounts.

          The immigrants you’re whining about pay more in taxes, consume less in welfare benefits, and are less likely to commit real crimes than native-born Americans. And even if that weren’t the case, the answer to the problem you imagine exists would be to eliminate the welfare, not to get up on your high horse and then bend down to see just how far get your nose into everyone else’s business.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            I’m for eliminating welfare but good luck with that. As for contention about immigrants paying more in taxes? That’s simply leftist propaganda. As for no standing army? The U.S. has been at war since inception. The revolutionary war. the war of 1812, the war against the Ottoman Empire (the Tripoli pirates, the first Islamic predations on U.S. shipping)), the Mexican wars, (remember the Alamo) the war against Spain, (the Philippines), and the civil war. There is reality and then there’s grade three girls who ask, “can’t we all just get along”? A libertarian state in our world be soon be overtaken by folks with values antithetical to freedom. You can for example offer freedom of religion to Islam, BUT Islam will categorically NOT offer it back. As soon as it becomes ascendant it imposes Sharia law, (and outlaws other religions), and has been doing so from around 600 AD to 2017.

          • OK, OK, you win — any other topics you want to display your near complete ignorance of?

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Well one of us is obtuse in the extreme, but I was thinking it was you.

          • “I was thinking”

            Highly unlikely.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Obtuse and hubris? That’ll win you a lot of debates? Not.

          • Ah, there’s your problem — you think that this is a “debate.”

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Best way to convert ignorance into knowledge. Unhappily some folks prefer to wallow in their ignorance.

          • Very good — the first step is admitting you have a problem.

            A debate starts with a proposition and proceeds through arguments for and against that proposition.

            My article was not a proposition. It was a polemic.

            Your response, although not nearly as well written and apparently not at all thought out, was also a polemic.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Now that you realize you have a problem, it’s probably a good idea to study a little Islamic history. Islam (which means submission) is anathema to liberty (or libertarian values). While you may be happy to mind your own business, Islam will not buy what you are selling. They believe (firmly) in conversion by coercion and have been hard at conversion by coercion for some 1500 plus years. And the problem with mass Hispanic immigration has absolutely nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It has to do with the fact they’re predominantly Roman Catholics. WAT??? Where (North)American Protestants were for liberty and small Government, The Catholics to the south were for big Government and dictators. (Islam also loves their dictators) In fact for most of the past two hundred years both South America (including Mexico and Central America) and the middle East have been ruled by Dictators. Thus the migrants to the U.S. tend to vote Democrat three and four to one. AND, Democrats have become intractable purveyors of big Government. The bigger the better. Now this is a polemic. But it’s also a most valid opinion based on sound observation. Feel free to be a libertarian in a free country. But leave the borders open and it won’t be a free country for long.

          • I’m just guessing here, but I’m going to guess that I’ve spent more time in Muslim countries than you have, read the Quran more times than you have, and personally know more Muslims than you do.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Red herring, your friends are not relevant to the rapacious history of Islam. Some of my friends on the other hand are in jail simply for being Christian. Their businesses closed or stolen, not allowed to be hired to earn a living, their wives or husbands threatened, their children removed from their homes, and often jailed for months on end. AND in some cases tortured for information on other “cells”. They have only two choices, recant, or try to get out. While true they are not executed as in days gone by, their lives are made a misery. Typically their only relief, is when their (still Muslim) family members get them temporary reprieves by promising to try getting them to recant. The ones still free, live in constant fear of being raided (by the police) during their house Church worship services, or in their homes if they’re outed. Arrests are always in the middle of the night. Worse some of their Pastors have actually disappeared. Fled? or dead? No one knows. Islam is antithetical to liberty, it always has been, and always will be. Just ask your many Muslim friends.

          • Who said I had many Muslim friends? Only a few, actually. My guess was not a claim to have a bunch, just a guess that someone as abysmally ignorant of history in general and Islam in particular as you would almost certainly have even fewer.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Wow, red herrings, and ad hominem attacks. The first refuge of an ideologue (typically leftists) who chooses dogma over facts. My last post had nothing to do with history? it was an anecdote of personal knowledge, of the circumstances befalling people whom I personally know. As to my ignorance of history herein? Ignorance is lack of knowledge, which assertion is inaccurate? For an easy reading, non political, (or ideological), book on some Islamic history, I recommend “Lords of the Horizon” “a history of the Ottoman Empire” by Jason Goodwin. As for your Muslim friend(s) just ask them, if they are actually friends they’ll tell you the truth. Islam is anathema to liberty. (at least the way Americans understand liberty) Libertarianism, like Communism would create a utopia if only the masses would co-operate. Unhappily they never have, and more unhappily they never will.

          • I didn’t say your last post had nothing to do with history. I said that you’re absymally ignorant of history.

            I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt on that. The alternative is that you’re knowingly lying.

            Here’s a question for you:

            As the Muslims conquered lands, they required the “dhimmi” (Christians and Jews who refused to convert) to pay a special tax (the jizya) and placed other restrictions on them (e.g. not being able to ride horses lest their heads be higher than Muslims’ heads and so forth).

            Question: Did the Crusaders impose similar measures versus Muslims in the areas they conquered?

            Followup: If not, why?

          • Brian Fr Langley

            I just love it when the crusades are conflated with the predations of modern Islam. HELLO, they were over 1000 years ago. But here’s the thing.The crusaders were virtually 100% illiterate. Thus they were vulnerable to Clerical propaganda. Modern Muslims involved in the Jihad are entirely literate and thus are actually following the precepts of the Koran, the Hadith and Sharia law. And notwithstanding all the above, Eastern Rome (Christian Byzantium) had been enduring endless predations from Muslim armies. The Patriarchs call to the Pope of the Roman Church for help in keeping Jerusalem open to pilgrims is most understandable. THAT IS, the crusades were actually a war of defense, NOT offense. As for my friends they have no opportunity to pay the tax or accept Dhimmi status, because they are converts. What folks like you JUST don’t get is that Christianity in it’s written teachings (the Bible) is a religion of conscience, (a coerced conversion is considered null and void), while quite to the contrary Islam in it’s written teachings, (the Koran, the Hadith and Sharia law) is a religion of coercion. I say again, Islam is anathema to liberty. And that is just a plain undeniable FACT.

          • I see you don’t have an answer to the question, so I’ll provide one.

            No, the Crusaders did not typically levy a special tax on Muslims in conquered territory or impose other special burdens on them.

            Instead, they typically just murdered them all.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Come on this lame even for you. (speaking of ignorance) The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted nearly 100 years. During this time Muslim and Jewish pilgrimage continued unabated. Not a likely scenario for folks who would simply be murdered.

          • And yet it is precisely as historically, theologically, doctrinally and factually accurate as anything you’ve said about Islam.

            You seemed to think that I was unfair in not adhering to your standard of argument. That’s what it looks like when I do.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Codswallop. Islam is anathema to liberty. (the premise) The argument. Boko Harem, ISIS, the Taliban, Al-Nusra, Al-Quaida, Hez Bollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Shabaab, Islamic Jihad, and Quds force, to name just a few. As well, there is major Christian (and Jewish) persecution, including death, displacement, economic sanctions, banishment, imprisonment, and terror in Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Chad to name a few of the more egregious examples of both current ongoing, and severe Christian persecution. (the counter argument) How about them crusades?

          • Correct.

            Your premise is : “Islam is anathema to liberty because Brian Fr Langley really waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnttttttttts Islam to be anathema to liberty.”

            My premise is: “And people in hell want icewater, too. So?”

          • Brian Fr Langley

            So if I could give people in hell ice water I would. AND, if I could vote in a democracy for defended borders, borders that restricted immigration from Nations that wanted to export their “settlers”, I would. The behavior of an entirely rational, liberty loving, peace loving people who are minding their own business.

          • Well, have it your way — but remember Luke 16:22-26. That’s the icewater scenario. Your border idea is exactly as likely.

            The US has 95,500 miles of border and coastline. They’ve always been open, they’re open now and they’ll always be open. The choice is between open borders and freedom, or open borders and a police state to make you feel like you’re doing something about the open borders.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Codswallop. The idea that it’s either liberty or tyranny based on immigration controls is ludicrous. In my opinion, the path to a police state is far surer with open borders. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all been very particular about who comes into the country as immigrants. And in Canada multiculturalism is feted. However, I completely agree tyranny can be shockingly deceptive. Thus liberty always means being on high alert. But while the “deep state” magicians have you entranced with their right hand, they’re real goals are being accomplished in their left. Goals that include statist centralization along with global political, economic, and religious homogeneity. Not surprisingly these were (are) also the goals of both Comintern and Jihadist Islam.

          • Another (likely educated) guess: I was covering the deep state long before you ever noticed it.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Hubris seems to be your stock in trade. However as an argument against immigration controls it lacks both intellect and imagination.

          • Rockslider1

            your problem is you refuse to even look into the facts of your false claims when the real cost to Americans is there for everyone to see but you keep believing what your little mind says to you

          • Rockslider1

            you better check your facts on the cost of supporting illegals ” This report estimates the annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion; nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level. The study also estimates tax collections from illegal alien workers, both those in the above-ground economy and those in the underground economy. Those receipts do not come close to the level of expenditures and, in any case, are misleading as an offset because over time unemployed and underemployed U.S. workers would replace illegal alien workers. ”

      • Rockslider1

        so tell me just how many have you allowed into your home to support and feed ? If your going to voice support of illegals you should also be leading by example in your view on the issue. But Im betting you wouldn’t want unknown individuals to invade your sanctuary

  • beard681

    There is an implicit demand that all countries and persons of the world submit to neoliberal economic policies in the “Open Borders, Free Trade” argument. The fact is that the nation state is not going away anytime soon, and if it is it seems destined to be replaced by undemocratic transnational institutions such as the EU, or “NGO” agencies such as would be set up by the TPP.

    Countries should be allowed to democratically chose their own economic destinies, whether they be collectivist or libertarian without being flooded by products and services produced under other economic systems, or by migrants flooding in to partake in social services or undercut wages.

    At any rate the whole “anti-terrorist” meme has nothing to do with immigration but is a symptom of American Empire. You can’t be the policeman of the world without having a police state back home.

    • Neoliberalism is managed trade, not free trade.

      Open borders isn’t “submission” to anything. It’s freedom from control of the overgrown street gangs that call themselves “governments.”

      • John Hasse

        and being controlled by the other overgrown street gangs that have come to sponge off your welfare state.

        • It’s not my welfare state. I support getting rid of it instead of holding other freedoms hostage to getting rid of it.

  • John Hasse

    If we had freedom, and not the nanny state/welfare state, then those coming would be coming to work and help us, not sponge. Once we give up some freedoms, we lose more of them, until we are slaves to a system that doesn’t work.

  • Marilyn Shepherd

    Article 13 of the US led Universal Declaration of Human rights states that everyone has the right to enter or leave any country, even their own, without punishment. So-called nation states, passports and other nonsense were then invented by states and it has been monstrous to see how people of peace are treated.

  • Rockslider1

    ” America had legally open borders for its first century as a nation, and nearly so for half a century after that. It wasn’t until after World War Two that one even needed a passport to enter or leave the United States. ” This may be true but the fact is the country has grown and changes in our immigration were needed. We have a counties to the south that refuse to control the crime and do whats needed to benefit the people of those countries like mexico. The people of those countries refuse to stand up for themselves against corrupt govt.s who abuse and even kill their citizens. yet the govt refuses to allow American troops to help end the corruption. So these people would rather find their way here to live and yes many take advantage of our social services that are intended for the needy citizens of this country. Why is it our responsibility to accept these people into our communities without first learning who they are ? WWll was a turning point in many countries not just here, in how they handled immigration. To believe that all people are law abiding and self supporting is a fools belief. We have enough of these of our own in this country. we as citizens who struggle to live on a daily basis should not be burdened with the inflow of more of the same.