Trump's Immoral Immigration Tactics: What's the Libertarian View?

In the US, children are taken from their parents. In Europe, the Schengen Agreement may collapse. What's going on?

We've come a long way from "Mr. Gorbachev - tear down this wall."

In case you forgot, here's an excellent reminder clip from June 12, 1987.

Tear Down That Wall in Global Reverse

  1. An extremely contentious political debate is recently underway in the US. Illegal immigrants are frequently separated from their kids and held in hellhole facilities. Even some prominent Republicans disagree with Trump's policies.
  2. Trump wants a wall with Mexico, and he insists Mexico will pay for it.
  3. Today, Trump Mocks Germany in Immigration Tweet. The German government and the Schengen Agreement of no EU border checks may both collapse.
  4. On June 11, Italy stirred up a storm by refusing to allow a ship with refugees to dock. The result was Eurozone Immigration Crisis 2.0. Matteo Salvini, who refused to let ship carrying 629 refugees and migrants to dock, says: ‘We have opened a front in Brussels’.
  5. Australia has a "no immigration boat" policy. At its peak, 18,000 people arrived in Australia illegally by sea according to an October 2017 BBC report. Boats are now turned away and forced back to Indonesia.
  6. PBS reports Venezuelan Refugee Crisis Faces a Backlash Across Latin America. Five thousand Venezuelans flee the economic collapse at home every day and resettle across Latin America, a region with a tradition of open borders. But now, countries are facing a backlash. This month, the governor of Roraima in northern Brazil sued the federal government, demanding it close the border and provide aid to states.

Contentious Debate

The Texas Monthly asks What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated?

Some of the details are sickening. I cannot support them.

Judging from the mothers and fathers I’ve spoken to and those my staff has spoken to, there are several different processes. Sometimes they will tell the parent, “We’re taking your child away.” And when the parent asks, “When will we get them back?” they say, “We can’t tell you that.” Sometimes the officers will say, “because you’re going to be prosecuted” or “because you’re not welcome in this country” or “because we’re separating them,” without giving them a clear justification. In other cases, we see no communication that the parent knows that their child is to be taken away. Instead, the officers say, “I’m going to take your child to get bathed.” That’s one we see again and again. “Your child needs to come with me for a bath.” The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.”

These are people seeking asylum. Bear in mind they did arrive illegally.

They effectively US closed the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge by shutting down the asylum application process to a trickle. The potential refugees illegally crossed by raft and in many cases turned themselves over to the border patrol. the above paragraph shows the result.

Here is the policy: If you come to a bridge, we’re not going to prosecute you, but if you come over the river, we’re prosecuting you.

I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no. In another case, the father said, “Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?” The officer said, “You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.” So the father just let the child go.

Parents are not getting any information on what their rights are to communicate to get their child before they are deported, what reunification may look like. We spoke to nine parents on this Monday, which was the 11th, and these were adults in detention centers outside of Houston. They had been separated from their child between May 23 and May 25, and as of June 11, not one of them had been able to talk to their child or knew a phone number that functioned from the detention center director. None of them had direct information from immigration on where their child was located.

Bear in mind, we are talking about kids 5 years old and in some reported cases younger. These kids likely cannot spell their parents' names or know their former street address. Reunification may not even be possible if there is any slip up in communication or ID process.

Change the Laws

Secretary of Homeland Security

That last Tweet is controversial. Even if one gives Nielsen the complete benefit of the doubt where "border" means "legal crossing for those seeking asylum", she already admitted they will separate kids from their parents if they believe a need to do so to protect the kids.

Importantly, the decision a child is in danger can be real, imagined, or purposely fabricated.

Laura Bush Former First Lady

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Sen. Susan Collins says Family Separation Policy 'Inconsistent' With American Values.

Collins said she’s still waiting to hear from the Trump administration with more information on the practice. However, she said it’s already known that separating migrant children from their parents “doesn’t act as deterrent” and “is inconsistent with our American values.”

“What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that if you cross the border with children your children are going to be ripped away from you,” she said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“That is traumatizing to children who are innocent victims,” she added.

Collins is correct on all counts.

What's Going On? A Simple Explanation

  1. Opportunity
  2. Free Benefits

That's it. People want to move from Africa and the Mideast to Europe, and to the US from Latin America (and in general), because of opportunity and free benefits.

Those two categories overlap as free benefits in education and healthcare in and of themselves create opportunity. However, many would elect to migrate to the US on opportunity alone.

The US has its flaws, like constant warmongering and external meddling coupled with hypocrisy on both.

But the fact remains that in the G7 the US has among the most open and free markets.

That is what creates opportunity.

Friendly Discussion

I exchange emails with two friends on economics and Trump-related political issues every day.

One of them (X) is a free market capitalist, the other (Y) is a self-admitted socialist.

As you may guess, I most often agree with X. But on this issue we all agree that Trump's handling is despicable.

Yet, Trump's behavior is easy to explain. If word gets out that children are forcibly taken from their parents, many will stop trying to get in.

Meanwhile, Trump has put a gun to the head of Democrats to get what he wants: a wall.

This is might-makes-right strategy no matter how many kids lives gets destroyed in the process.

US vs Europe

The US has huge barriers known as oceans, specifically the Atlantic and the Pacific. Except through Mexico, it's tough to get here.

It is much easier to get into the EU through Turkey or from Africa across the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, Chancellor Merkel welcomed the refugees with open arms. Refugees came in a flood. But they did not want to stop in Greece or Italy, they wanted to go to Germany.

Why? Because Germany had the most benefits.

The EU is a basket of pathetic regulations. If it could, the EU would bust up Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel.

Yesterday, I wrote: Trade War Stupidity: US Chip Makers to Pay Tariffs On Their Own Chips

Friend (X) replied "Our high tech guys can kick the shit out of the world competitively and don’t want stinking tariffs. In truth, trade protection is not about workers. It’s to protect the grandees of non-competitive US firms that want to kill competition and enhance their firm’s stock value."

Bingo. Tariffs are for the same reason everywhere: to kill competition.

Break Up Google?

A Boston Globe editorial ridiculously said Break up Google.

I may comment further on that story, but the attitude is wrong. The US leads the word in technology because it does not hinder business.

Venezuela Hell-Hole

In Latin America, who does not want to escape the socialist hell-hole known as Venezuela?

Escape from Venezuela may mean going to another socialist country, but it's a matter of degree. Nearly every country is better than Venezuela.

If Venezuelans could get here, and we would let them in, they would come. This leads us to the critical point.

Milton Friedman on Incompatibilities

In an Email to Henryk A. Kowalczyk, Milton Friedman wrote:

Immigration is a particularly difficult subject. There is no doubt that free and open immigration is the right policy in a libertarian state, but in a welfare state it is a different story: the supply of immigrants will become infinite. Your proposal that someone only be able to come for employment is a good one but it would not solve the problem completely. The real hitch is in denying social benefits to the immigrants who are here. That is very hard to do, much harder than you would think as we have found out in California. But nonetheless, we clearly want to move in the direction that you are talking about so this is a question of nitpicking, not of serious objection.

Libertarian View

A reader made a comment just the other day that he stopped being a Libertarian because of the open immigration issue.

He view is incorrect. Libertarians do not object to open immigration under the current scheme of things.

On Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux made this note on a previous Anti-Immigration Argument.

Since the appearance of this column [Mish Comment: That is a broken link] of mine, on immigration, several friends (as well as non-friends) have accused me of ignoring the fact that Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, and some other free-market advocates oppose more-open immigration.

But let’s be clear. In the case of Milton Friedman, his only reason for opposing more-open borders was the existence in the U.S. of a welfare state. Friedman emphatically did not make the anti-immigration argument that I criticize in my column. (And he would not have made that argument. Just before he died, I asked him by e-mail if he’d favor a return to the pre-1920s immigration regime if the U.S. abolished its welfare state. He wrote back saying yes.)

Unfortunately, the link to the Boudreaux's referenced article is broken. I have his Email address and will ask him to fix the link.

Note that following WWI immigrants received relatively few benefits and had to quickly learn English and get a job to survive.

Complex Issue

Clearly this is complex issue. But unless we address the fundamental issue of free benefits, the problem will not go away.

In that regard, Europe is much worse off for numerous reasons, as stated above.

Unlimited Demand for Free Services

I respect Friedman's view and do not believe it is incompatible, under current conditions, with the Libertarian view.

Let's make it clear with a simple indisputable fact that I have made many times: "There is an unlimited demand for free benefits and services."

That fact makes it perfectly logical for Libertarians to oppose immigration under the current setup.

However, that fact does not justify the immoral response of President Trump and his willingness to destroy families to get his way.


I received an Email from Don Boudreaux on the broken link. He fixed it. The link points to Libertarians & Immigration.

Inquiring minds may wish to give it a look.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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If the issue is "complex," while literally "any solution" (say just nuking the planet) may not be as good as any other, by definition noone knows which solutions are good and which ones are not. If the latter was knowable, the issue would be simple.

So, since noone (currently) knows, the rational response is to let all punters try what they think is best. Then, those whose solutions look promising, can be copied and further refined by those whose solutions seem less so. Over time making the issue at least a bit less complex. Perhaps, given enough time, attempts and and iterations, even reducing the whole issue to something simple.

Using ones current asymmetry of armament, to force others to accept that the earth is the center of the universe, is certainly not likely to be the optimal approach. Neither is dictating how many nails are "needed by the economy" for the next 5 years, and banning anyone else from feeling differently and making a few more. Nor is deciding how many immigrants some other dude may want to hire, employ and build housing for. Nor of course, what "services" other people should pay for providing to immigrants they didn't particularly want here in the first place. Instead, just let it rip. Ban murder, theft and assault, and leve the rest alone, as would be proper in a free society.


Hi Stuki. I agree that more government is not a solution. Sadly, Trump believes that it is. He is imposing more government in everything possible. I do not agree with “Any solution is as good as any other.”


If a solution isn't simple, you can be pretty darned sure it's ultimately wrong. Movement of planetary bodies looked mighty complex when viewed from a geocentric perspective. Ditto making sense of light speed measurements pre relativity. And things falling down pre gravity. And social interaction pre economics. As well as post economics, as current day hacks are so successfully demonstrating....

Politically and legally, this is even more important; as virtually all "these are complex issues" moniker is used for, is excusing why "we" supposedly "need" more government, laws, trumped up "experts" and other expendables to harass us. Not that any of those clowns are capable of sorting out even the simplest of "issues." But them repeatedly failing at 2+2 is obvious to anyone. So they instead pontificate that "these issues are complex," which means nothing more than "the fact that we are failures, doesn't mean anyone else is any better."

If an "issue" is "complex," it means noone has a solution. Any solution is as good as any other. So, leave everyone to find the one that makes most sense to them. Instead of asymmetrically arming a bunch of self promoting hacks, empowering them to force their self-serving "solution" to issues too complex for them to ever understand, down others' throats; the way certain churchmen did wrt geocentricity back in the day.


As Mish said, this is a complex issue. The world is full of complex issues. Sadly, the world is also full of people who want simple answers to complex problems. Even worse, is attempting to solve these complex issues with simple solutions.


Why weren't they immoral under Obama? If he lets them in to run free, they will burden the taxpayer, violating the NAP and more even if they don't do property, violent, or identity theft crimes. The key evil is the Welfare State (especially as applied ot non-citizens, or at least illegal aliens given the public goods and externalities problems). Let charities pay for the upkeep of aliens and there would be no problem. Let aliens bear the costs and penalties for crimes and there would be no problem. Right now illegal aliens socialize costs among the citizen taxpayers, but bring private benefits to their families (some back home) and to corporations seeking cheap labor. This would be condemned in any other context.


This is how you keep crime stats low:

  • Authorities failed to act over 40 years - despite repeated warnings to social workers - with up to 1,000 girls, some as young as 11, abused in Telford

  • Authorities failed to keep details of abusers from Asian communities for fear of “racism”

This is a 3rd such case, after Rochdale and Rotherham.


Mish, childrens' lives are being destroyed long before ICE separates them (what few are actually 5 y.o., that is; most are teens w/o parents). Any idea what goes into getting from El Salvador to Taos, NM? Is the open desert any place for a 5 y.o.? Ever spend a night in an open desert? Its like the arctic. Are making shady deals with gangster "coyotes" for cash or sex to be smuggled with 50 other men and women in a suffocating truck for days on end a place for a 5 y.o.? I tell you what: If I did anything like that to my kids, guess what would happen? Social Services would separate them from me. These illegals are committing child abuse.


There is nothing inconsistent between having an immigration policy and libertarian ideas. At it's core, a libertarian believes that the government is responsible for maintaining order internally, and maintaining security externally, in other words, the police power and the military power. An immigration policy is fundamental to maintaining order, and therefore a proper function of government. It is a truism that if you can't control your borders, you can't have an immigration policy. Right now, the US does not have control of the borders, and therefore the immigration policy is non-existent. Why bother to talk about such things as amnesty when, if you deport someone, they can come right back? The proper order of things is to control the border, then decide who you want to keep (the people contributing to the economy?), and who you want to deport (those with criminal records?).


USA is running ads in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and el Salvador telling people how to claim asylum in USA because kirstjen Nielsen decided that was a good idea.


It's a mistake to think these folks come here for the free benefits. They don't. They come here because in their home countries they end up as essentially indentured servants who will be killed if they attempt to leave their employers. They come here for economic freedom. And these folks work extremely hard for little pay. But they actually can have confidence that they will be paid and their children will be fed.


Kirstjen nielsen is incompetent, sessions is clueless and under them are lots of bureaucrats from Obama era who are giving them bad advice in order to keep borders open and sabotage trump. Nielsen was john kelly's favorite and that is the only reason she got the job.


Both sides are weaponizing this...but the real jerks are the families who get them to the border without a plan and just think it's their e-ticket into the country and taking advantage of liberal, do-gooder ideals.


Nielsen needs to be FIRED for telling people to claim asylum, running ads in Guatemala Honduras etc instructing people to claim asylum and causing this crisis. There is nothing in international law or the Geneve convention giving a right to travel through a safe country and claiming asylum in another country.


Border Patrol should stop people at the border and tell them "you have travelled to usa through mexico which has opportunity to claim asylum and mexico has not persecuted you so you need to claim asylum in mexico" and people who sneak to USA and claim asylum should be returned to Mexico with same message.



Doood! Indeed. Only immoral, cowardly, selfish parents would try to break a country's laws using a kid as a shield. They don't deserve to be called parents nor treated as such!


Nielsen said of 12,000 kids counted in (?), some TEN THOUSAND were sent to the border without any parent???????? Does anybody have a handle on the veracity of this? If true, then Nielsen's statement that nobody is 'separating' anybody is substantially correct.


Welfare benefits and birthright citizenship and illegal jobs are what is making people want to come. Trump could limit welfare, earned income tax credit and snap food stamps to only us citizens and make e-verify mandatory and put 100k fine on every illegal employed for companies and stop birthright citizenship and people would stop coming

No. 26-50

Nielsen is incompetent in her job and trump should fire her. Nielsen is running ads in Guatemala and Honduras and nicaragua and el salvador telling how to seek asylum from usa and how people should not come unless they seek asylum . Since the ads started arrivals have exploded. Then Nielsen and sessions put people in detention causing a crisis. It is like Nielsen is deliberately trying to fail when she also claims Usa can not stop people at the border because usa does not have agreement with mexico that people seek asylum in the first country. Usa has this agreement with canada. Usa could stop people at the border now since mexico is safe enough and is not persecuting these people as government. Usa could also immediately return these people to mexico when caught in usa and tell them to seek asylum in mexico. Geneve convention forbids returning people to unsafe borders where people were persecuted. Mexico is safe and does not persecute so usa should stop these people at the border or return them immediately. Nielsen and sessions are building a catastrophe that will cause needless suffering and turn away independent voters.


Have you REad 'Camp of the Saints' Mish??

Do you know who you are selling out??? The virtue signalling and giving away something that is not yours to give.

Is there a non-White majority area that you would like to live in?? If so, why aren't you there? IF not, why don't you admit Whites have racial interests and rights.

1.White people exist. 2. White people have the RIGHT to exist. 3. White people have the RIGHT to exist AS White people in White Communities and Nations.


Why this 50 year dishonesty?? White Genocide is immoral.

Keep families together?? Send the all back together.

Africa for Africans, Asia for Asians, White countries for everyone IS White Genocide. Its a crime, not a policy option.

Some basic truths: Access to White people is not a human right


Isn't it normal to separate a parent from their child when the parent commits a crime and needs to be detained? Happens all over the world all the time.


Toddler's with nasty 'parents' who drag them through sewers to use as sympathy props.

Dude? What are you, a sea turtle?