A Libertarian Take: Immigration and the Constitution

Christian Langalis

Turn off the social media hype for one moment and consider this question: What are the costs and benefits of the immigration ban? To quote Thomas Sowell, “There are no problems and solutions, only trade-offs.” It’s a mark of intellectual honesty to be able to recognize the positives of a situation that public opinion overwhelmingly casts as negative.  

A positive of stricter immigration standards: a reexamination and reaffirmation of our  foundational principle, constitutional authority. As a highly institutionalized religion, Islam has historically maintained theocratic conceptions of government and jurisprudence. As such, a majority of Muslims maintain their support of the Islamic State, Sharia Law and Jihad according to various surveys conducted in various Muslim-majority countries. These survey results imply tacit defiance towards the supremacy of the Constitution, a contention that Anglo-Protestants settled long ago with the Establishment Clause (Separation of Church and State). Liberal Muslims who I speak with at Colgate admit that their assimilation of Constitutionalism of the Anglo-Protestant tradition is more of an exception to the rule among Muslims. As such, our immigration philosophy must emphasize commitment to the democratic, liberal and republican qualities of our nation and government.  

This is not the first time that clashes between faith and government have come up in American history.  JFK was skewered by Catholics during his 1960 campaign for admitting that his Catholic faith and credence in Vatican dogma would not supercede his commitment to the Constitution. Since first arriving en masse in the 1800s, American Catholics have steadily reconciled faith and country until today, when they make up over half the Supreme Court. The same is possible for Muslims.  

Of course, from a “rule of law” and prudence perspective, no effort to revive the travel ban should be made. Not only did the executive order defy the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which outlawed discrimination against immigrants on the basis of their national origin, but the ban was also altogether out of proportion with the risks of terrorism cited by the Trump administration. Refugees and Muslim immigrants are not distinctly dangerous. Further, the libertarian ideals of virtually open borders and the free movement of people is paramount to the success of the free market, the exchange of ideas and growth overall.  

However, while libertarians are typically very accepting of others’ views, support for the Constitution and the “Rule of Law” cannot be negotiated. Fear not: cultural assimilation has been the historical norm, and I suspect this trend will continue. However, we must always closely monitor our nation’s attitude toward the Constitution: the bedrock of our nation’s stability and success.