Why do Objectivists disagree on immigration? Well, they really don’t. I think we all agree (certainly Leonard Peikoff does) that in a laissez-faire world, there’d be open immigration. The disagreements arise because we are light-years away from that world
And it’s not just that we have wrong political conditions. It’s that we know that, within the foreseeable future, we won’t enact the right solutions to the problems created by the statism.
In the case of immigration, the right solution is essentially fourfold:
1. Militarily crush Iran and its ally-states, in an all-out campaign (it would be too short to call it a war). That, coupled with a proper foreign policy, would end the rise of Islam and worry about Muslim immigration.
2. Make immigrants sign away their right–for their whole lives–to any government loot. That would end the worry about poorer immigrants coming to get welfare.
3. Make it impossible for immigrants to get the vote–for their whole lives. That would end the worry about immigrants from statist cultures voting in more statists.
4. Replace multicultural BS with the proud, morally confident assertion of America’s moral superiority over the statist and theocratic societies from which the immigrants are coming. We are right and they are wrong–politically, philosophically, and in other ways. Standing up for our values would end the worry about immigrants diluting (the fast-fading remnants of) American individualism.
But not one of these things is going to happen in the foreseeable future. So what are we to do in regard to immigration?
Look at what this means: given that our government is not going to do the right things, what should it do? But there’s no way to answer that question. If it’s not going to do the right thing, then, by definition, whatever it does will be the wrong thing. Can we pick the best, or least bad, among the wrong things? Yes, to a certain extent, but not in a principled way.
It is a contradiction in terms to ask: “On what principle should we act if we are not going to act on the principle by which we should act?”
But philosophy deals in principles.That’s why there are continuing arguments about immigration among those who accept the Objectivist philosophy.
Deprived of the guidance of principles, the issue then becomes one of concrete facts. Do immigrants, in the aggregate, take more out of the economy than they contribute? Some of us think “yes,” others think “no.” Will the immigrants assimilate and become Americans in spirit as well as in legal status, given our multiculturalist intellectual establishment? It’s a factual question, on which views differ. If immigrants are going to be given citizenship, will they vote leftist or could a better Republican strategy (and other ideological work by us) prevent this? Is there a really dangerous threat to our safety from massive Muslim immigration, or is this a very minor issue compared to what’s going to happen to us from Islamic regimes abroad, with or without that immigration?
People can certainly differ on these factual issues, and raw, statistical (!) facts are all we have left when we can’t appeal to principles, because the principled path is not “politically realistic.”