North American Union?

Over at, one of their more conservative (i.e. less libertarian) bloggers, Larry Stanley, is railing against immigration, highlighting this quote by Tom Tancredo (R-CO) (emphasis added by Larry, which I will continue here):

“People have to understand what we’re talking about here. The president of the United States is an internationalist. He is going to do what he can to create a place where the idea of America is just that – it’s an idea. It’s not an actual place defined by borders. I mean this is where this guy is really going.”

America is a place defined by borders, but it is much more than that. A year and a half ago, I argued specifically that America is an ideal, and that this nation is an approximation of that ideal:

I love America, but I don’t consider myself a “nationalist”. America, to me, is not simply a nation. America doesn’t start or end at our borders. America is an idea.

“The American Dream” is more than three little words. It is the idea that if you put your mind to something, the only thing that will cause your success or failure is the strength of your idea and your work. The government, ‘the man’, isn’t going to keep you down. The American Dream is an expression of the triumph of human potential. It is, in three little words, the idea that you can be all that you desire and more.

When you read the words of many of the idealists who founded our nation, they didn’t believe our birthright of liberty came as a result of being born in America, they believed these rights to be inherent in all of humanity. They were determined to set up a nation based upon those rights, and thus America was born. But the rights came first, and the nation came later.

The worry of these folks is that we will one day be a de facto North American Union, where most of the barriers between the US and Mexico will be as easily-traversable as France to Germany. It is a call for little more than protectionism, to deny those who aren’t already here from the chance to join in the American ideal. They are afraid that if we respect the rights of new entrants to our nation, it will somehow diminish their rights. But that’s not how it works.

William Allen White said it best: “Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you give it to others.” These folks are asking that other people, stuck in horrible third-world countries where the rule of law and property rights are not even fathomable, much less respected, just accept it. Their position is that because these people were not born here in the United States, they are not deserving of the blessings of liberty. It may be easy to tell someone in a nation where tyranny is enforced by jackbooted thugs with automatic weapons that it is their responsibility to win their freedom. But it downright cruel to turn them away when they escape those nations to live the dream of freedom here.

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  • Kevin

    What’s wrong the concept of the North American Union? If immigration is the big concern, we can redeploy the Border Patrol and Canadian customs to the southern border of Mexico.

    I think it would be beneficial to combine Canada’s resources, American capital, and Mexico’s potential into a super alliance to take on Europe.

    Or am I being just a bit idealistic?

  • Eric

    I don’t think so Kevin.

  • Larry Stanley

    Thanks for cross-posting this essay. I was hoping, by posting at, that folks would analyze and comment.

    I agree that the Rights of Man and Common Sense are valid documents prescribing the desired human condition. I also agree that “they believed these rights to be inherent in all of humanity.”

    However, I do not agree that any one set of people who are governed and taxed and regulated should bear the costs of providing governance, services and regulation for others “stuck in horrible third-world countries.” Every condition of America’s stength in economy is based upon market conditions either allowed or imposed by our government. Our government is unique because of our love of liberty. Our place in the world economy is not enhanced by giving away the store whenever beggars appear at the door.

    They believed these rights to be inherent in all of humanity. And initially the doors were open to all who would abide by the laws, customs and conditions imposed by our lawful government. Nothing was immediate and nothing was easily derived.

    Appear at the door with hands out, insisting on education and healthcare and access to all that others have achieved and pay for. Immigration is not the focus of complaint. Illegal subcultures existing on the backs of others is the point.

    In Europe I see open borders, free trade and many people publicly singing Kumbaya. I do not see nations capable of defending their own cultures, economies or borders. Socialism is engrained.

    Protectionism as applied to bolster US business (not hand-outs or corporate welfare) is something I do support. Economic welfare of America’s middle class is worth defending – else we develop a “trade union economy” similar to the EU.

    Protecting and defending the US Constitution, America’s borders, America’s business and American workers is a worthy cause. Opening borders to welcome massive populations that will drain resources and further inhibit America’s middle class is not. Allowing offshore business offices to avoid paying US taxation also not a worthy condition.

    Any person or business entity taking advantage of services, conditions, defense and liberty provided by the United States can, should and must adhere to an America-First principle. Failing that, I see encroaching socialism…. the stuff that NAFTA, CAFTA,open borders and Kumbaya are made of.

    Thanks for allowing me to explain, defend my position and vent.

  • Brad Warbiany


    As Walter Williams would probably respond, people arriving with their hands out is not a problem of immigration, “that’s a problem of socialism”. As someone who routinely sees large amounts of money disappear from my paycheck, I’m not happy to see more people coming here to demand more of what I earn.

    I’ll agree with that point. Socialism, particularly in a rich country, is mutually exclusive with a policy of unrestricted immigration. If we cave in to people (either foreign or domestic, actually) with their hand out, without any limits, we’ll quickly bankrupt ourselves by starving the economy of much-needed capital to expand. I.e. Russia, Cuba, North Korea, etc.

    But where I break with you is on the employment side. If someone wants to come to the United States and apply for a job, that doesn’t take money out of my pocket to feed them. It may mean I have stiffer competition to find work for myself, but it’s simply allowing another person the exact same liberties I have (whereas socialism is allowing other people to steal from me, giving them special benefits and myself special costs). The liberty to travel and work are rights that I refuse to restrict only to US citizens.

  • Larry Stanley

    Brad, no argument on your salient points.

    When the same worker has no desire to assimilate, pay taxes, or share the burden for services (healthcare, education, police), that is what I call the subculture. That is the group I call beggars.

    No sensible person wants to continue the tyrannical rule of dictators and despots who ride the backs of their people. At the same time, the US cannot militarily impose our value system upon Mexico or any other country. We must do so economically… sometimes slowly and judiciously. We cannot accomplish the end of tyranny by simply opening the borders. A real trading partner, one that shares a symbiotic relationship is better.

  • Dana

    I would agree if we did away with our social programs. I am all for the whole, “give me your tired, your poor, your wretched masses yearning to be free” bit so long as we are not creating another socialist haven for them (albeit a lot friendlier than the socialist nations they have come from). I believe our immigration problems would disappear if our social programs were not so attractive. If people truly want to come for the “dream,”that is great and our own freedoms will only be strengthened.

    That doesn’t seem to be the effect in the current system.

  • VRB

    Social programs are the red herring in the debate. They may be a strain on the school systems and hospital emergency rooms, but how in the hell do they get welfare when a citizen has to jump thru hoops. Most immigrants on welfare are legal. Mostly older refugees. i don’t have the statistics either.

  • Adam Selene

    The issue at hand is not immigration. Immigration is a net positive. The issue at hand is the socialism we have had foisted upon us in the name of “fairness”. We no longer trust in the individual, we no longer believe that each person can make decisions for themself better than the “experts” far away in Washington can. Except, of course, when the choices are taken from ourself rather than some other person. Why, then, it becomes obvious that we can make better decisions than those politicians!

    You want to fix immigration? First, rid yourself of socialism and recognize that economics is not a zero sum game. Don’t listen to the socialists or the conservatives. The socialists believe in a zero sum game that must be distributed fairly. The conservatives believe in a zero sum game that some people will get more of than others. Both are wrong, of course. Just ask Adam Smith. Or Uncle Milt.