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Ayn Rand on Immigration

 

 


OpEd: defender of immigration, but not a staunch defender

The people at the Ayn Rand Institute urge us to "dismantle the entire bureaucracy of immigration restrictions. Open the doors. Let them in." They deduce this from Ayn Rand's philosophy by claiming that any restriction on immigration violates individual rights, and claim that Rand "was a staunch defender of immigration."

[But in] the collected essays of Ayn Rand, which fill nine volumes, there is nothing. Ayn Rand wrote literally nothing on the subject of immigration.

You might think a staunch defender of something would have devoted a paragraph or two defending it. Undaunted, ARI combed through Rand's unprepared remarks following her lectures, when she answered questions from the audience. Out of all these impromptu Q&A, ARI found one about immigration, from 1973: In it Rand defended open immigration.

ARI's adjective "staunch" is inappropriate when all they can produce is this one instance, and from a Q&A period at that.

Source: Ayn Rand Institute Watch column, "Ayn Rand on Immigration" , Apr 20, 2018

Closing border does not improve America's standard of living

[Since Ayn Rand never published her opinion on open immigration], the Ayn Rand Institute combed through Rand's unprepared remarks following her lectures, when she answered questions from the audience. Out of all these impromptu Q&A, ARI found one about immigration. The place and time was the Ford Hall Forum, Boston 1973.

Q: "What is your attitude towards open immigration and what is your attitude towards the effect it may have upon the standard of living in this country?"

A: "If you close the border to forbid immigration on grounds that it lowers your standard of living--which certainly is not true, but even assuming it were true--you have no right to bar others. But above all, aren't you dropping a more personal context? How could I ever advocate that immigration should be restricted when I wouldn't be alive today if it were?"

About her last statement. Ayn Rand came to the US legally in 1926, two years after passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 which restricted immigration severely.

Source: Ayn Rand Institute Watch column, "Ayn Rand on Immigration" , Apr 20, 2018

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Page last updated: Sep 10, 2018