Libertarianism and Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration

By Kratz, Bridget; Block, Walter E. | Journal of Markets & Morality, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Libertarianism and Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration


Kratz, Bridget, Block, Walter E., Journal of Markets & Morality


At the basis of libertarianism lies the nonaggression principle--the theory that as long as someone's actions do not infringe on the rights of others then there should be no legal restriction against them. The goal of a libertarian is to increase individual liberty and thereby, as but one result, improve the economy. Catholic social teaching is grounded in the idea that all human beings have dignity and thus should be treated with the utmost respect and cared for as children of God. Both the libertarian movement and the Catholic Church are known for having clearly defined and very strong opinions on topics having to do with political issues, but oftentimes they are perceived as being on different ends of the political economic spectrum as far as human rights are concerned. (1) With regard to one topic in particular that is very relevant in America today--immigration--the two very different perspectives are either not that far apart or perhaps are even fully congruent. (2)

While there is some discordance among libertarians as to what the proper stance on this issue should be, (3) using the nonaggression principle as a guide, one can conclude that libertarianism supports open borders. (4) The social teaching of the Catholic Church teaches that immigrants should be accepted as important potential contributors.

One objection to immigration arises from the large number of illegal immigrants estimated to be in this country. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are around 10.8 million unauthorized residents living in America. (5) The reasons for migration are varied--a better life, more money, escaping a dangerous home, and so on. For libertarians, the reasons for emigrating are more or less irrelevant. They are more concerned with simply allowing people the freedom to move as they please. For the Catholic Church, in contrast, the reasons for emigrating are of utmost importance because they believe that these people have the right to work and the right to life, and therefore the right to immigrate. While they use different justifications, libertarians and the Catholic Church reach the same conclusion: Open borders are the only correct and just way to handle migration problems. Libertarian principles align with Catholic social teaching in the case of immigration. If America were to rewrite its immigration policies to correspond to libertarian philosophy, not only would the economy improve but also this country would be showing a greater respect for human life, which is a huge component of Catholic social teaching.

In the first section of this article, we discuss the libertarian analysis of immigration. The second section is devoted to an analysis of the views of Catholic social teaching on this issue. The purpose of the third section is to compare and contrast our own (libertarian) viewpoint with that of several other scholars who are considered by some to be inclined in this direction: Gary Becker, William Simon, Daniel Griswold, and Stuart Anderson. We conclude in the last section.

Libertarian Views of immigration

Libertarian philosophy rests on the nonaggression principle or the NAP. The act of immigrating is not a violent one, and therefore, according to Block and Callahan,

   not being guilty of a violation of the basic libertarian principle
   of not initiating aggression, there is no justification for
   visiting any violence upon [an immigrant]. Since forceful removal
   from our shores would indeed constitute an initiation of force
   against him, this would be improper. (6)

The United States is not lacking in land. It has vast unused tracts of acreage in different areas of the country that could possibly be used to house additional residents. Currently the US government controls virtually all of this empty territory, but libertarians point out that government does not have the right to act as owner of this land if someone else desires to homestead it.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Libertarianism and Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.