I am unabashedly in favor of open borders, but there are some who are not. One of the small-government arguments against open borders is that the immigrants who come in could vote away individual freedoms. I’ve argued against this notion in the past (you can see all the posts by running a search for “open borders” on my blog).
Now, I’d like to address this argument from a strictly small-government point of view. I contend that closed borders and small government are mutually exclusive. Even if immigrants were to come in and demand a larger government, it would still be, on net, a smaller government than with closed borders. Remember that any form of immigration control necessarily requires a very large government with very broad powers (especially in a country like ours with very long borders). Their powers would have to intrude into nearly all forms of citizen life: who one can employ, who one can marry, who one can associate with, who one can buy from, etc etc. It would have to lead to a much larger police force to enforce these laws (such as the Border Patrol or INS). It would, in short, have to lead to a much larger police state!
But there is another issue with this statement: how far should we be willing to go to make our job of advocating liberty easier? If restricting (or preventing) freedom of movement because the movers may not value liberty highly is desirable what else? Should certain classes of people be denied the right to vote because they may vote incorrectly? Should certain kinds of books or magazines be censored because they may promote totalitarian ideas?
I argue no. The difficult thing about defending freedom is defending it for everyone. Everyone has the freedom to movement, the freedom of speech, the freedom of thought regardless of what views they might hold. If we begin sacrificing liberties in order to make our job of promoting liberty easier, then we have abandoned our principles. We would become the very evil we want to fight. And that would be the death of liberty. The worst crimes of evil are committed by those who think they are doing good.