Immigrants and Socialistic Ideologies

Written by Robert Higgs.

I am sick unto death with hearing the argument that if large numbers of immigrants, especially Mexicans and Central Americans, are admitted to the USA, they will bring with them their “socialistic” ideologies, vote en masse for Democrats, and hence destroy the free economy and society in the USA.

It’s a terrible idea for several reasons.

First, there is no free economy and society in the USA for immigrants to destroy. The country has been evolving into an ever more advanced system of participatory fascism for more than a century. By now there is precious little freedom remaining in any realm.

Second, similar arguments have been made for more than a century, but events never worked out as the fear mongers said they would. Immigrants sometimes do bring collectivistic ideologies with them, but they also change their ideologies as they and their children thrive in the USA, especially in the remaining interstices where free enterprise has some room for maneuver.

Third, even an elementary knowledge of U.S. political history shows that the destruction of liberties, especially economic liberties, was not in significant degree the work of immigrants. Native-born Americans did the deed in overwhelming proportion. There is not now, and has not been at any time in my long lifetime, any pervasive devotion to a free society among Americans in general. If immigrants did hanker to destroy freedom in the USA, which in fact few of them do, they are getting here much too late.

None of this is to say that first-generation immigrants do not tend to vote more for Democrats than for Republicans. But can anyone blame them, in view of the widespread contempt in which they are held by Republicans? And, of course, even if they voted as a bloc for Republicans, what good would that do in preserving any remaining liberties? Republicans have no devotion to the free society; on the contrary.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.