Thursday, February 9, 2012

Laredo-born Libertarian on open borders (puente Libre)

Puente Libra (free bridge) allowed free travel to and from Mexico during WBCA days

From The Future of Freedom

By Jacob G. Hornberger

Let me give you a real-life example of open borders. I grew up in a border town — Laredo, Texas. The border between Texas and Mexico is much like the border that separates Maryland and Virginia — it’s a river, called the Rio Grande. From downtown Laredo, a person can see Mexico across the river. On the Mexican side is Nuevo Laredo, a city that is larger in population than Laredo. Keep in mind that Laredo, along with the rest of Texas, was once part of the entire northern half of Mexico.

For decades, Laredo has had the biggest celebration in the country in honor of George Washington’s birthday. When I was kid, U.S. officials would completely open the border between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo in order to allow Nuevo Laredoans to freely enter Laredo to enjoy the festivities, including watching a grand parade led by Pocahontas and featuring Laredo’s debutants.

Countless Mexicans would flood across the border. The border was completely open. Yet, the border did not disappear. The Rio Grande remained intact, just as the Potomac River does. Laredo did not lose its sovereignty and, for that matter, neither did Texas or the United States. Mexicans who crossed into Laredo were subject to the laws of Laredo, the state of Texas, and the United States.
The situation is the same in Europe, where for many years citizens in the EU countries have been free to cross the borders of other EU countries. Every day, citizens of Italy, for example, cross the border into France, and vice versa. The borders haven’t disappeared, and Italy and France are still standing, each retaining sovereignty within its respective borders.

Indeed, how many Americans realize that after the United States acquired the entire northern half of Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the new border between Mexico and the United States remained completely open for well over half-a-century, enabling Mexicans to continue traveling freely to what had previously been the northern half of their country? (The Border Patrol wasn’t founded until 1924.) Mexicans would freely cross the border into the United States to visit, work, invest, and even open businesses in competition with American businesses. When they did so, they were, of course, subject to the laws of the United States and the particular states and localities where they went. In the process, the new border between Mexico and the United States did not disappear and neither country lost sovereignty over its respective post-treaty jurisdiction.

Americans have become so accustomed to open borders within the United States that hardly anyone is afraid of them. We hardly ever hear anyone expressing concern that the borders between the respective states are disappearing … or that the states are losing their sovereignty ... or that Marylanders or people from other states who come to Virginia are stealing jobs away from Virginians … or that there is a trade deficit between Maryland and Virginia or any other states ... or that Virginians are moving to Maryland to get on welfare … or that it is too easy for terrorists to cross borders within the United States.

If only Americans could apply their favorable mindset toward open borders within the United States to international borders. What would disappear is not borders and national sovereignty but rather the fear and isolationism that come with controlled borders.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

1 comment:

  1. Don't let anybody fool you, the border remains as wide open as ever.