The Immigration Enforcement Police State is Here


By Thomas L. Knapp

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 worked. Freedom 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 Knapp -- Photo Credit Avens O'Brien

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.  He is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (

Get Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp
4 years ago

The “assimilation” whine is a post-World-War-II thing. Putting 16 million men under arms and demanding that they take orders in the same language was the first real move toward the idea that everyone in America has to look, talk, etc. the same way (although there were a few cases of the US shutting down German-language schools circa World War II). America has always been full of people speaking different languages, practicing different languages, eating different foods, etc.

As far as “sapping social systems” goes, illegal immigrants are probably the only thing keeping the welfare benefits coming for lazy white middle class Americans. Just last week, there was brief popular notice of the 15 million or so who pay Social Security taxes under other people’s names but never collect benefits. The same is true of income tax withholding, etc.

They come here and we push them around as much as we can steal as much as we can from them, enjoy the lower cost of living they bring us … and then bitch incessantly about them. It almost makes me wish they WOULD go away and leave us to starve. But then the same ingrates whining about them now would blame them for that too.

William Hicks
William Hicks
4 years ago

Not enforcing “immigration laws” is what’s expensive. Those here, without proper papers, are a draw on the taxpayer, particularly when many of them take their income under the table. Simply put:

1) They don’t even pay their way.
2) They sap our social systems.
3) They send lots of cash back to their home country.
4) Most important, they don’t assimilate. They expect, and get, what they demand because our immigration laws have not been enforced by both dominant political parties. Why should they assimilate when they get what they want without that effort.

Citizen Reporter
4 years ago

Not working anymore dude.