Ayn Rand on Immigration

Ayn Rand on Immigration

With the ongoing debate about Trump’s immigration ban in mind, it’s worth revisiting Ayn Rand’s thoughts on immigration. Rand never discussed this topic at length, but in the Q&A following her 1973 Ford Hall Forum address, she was asked: “What is your attitude toward immigration? Doesn’t open immigration have a negative effect on a country’s standard of living?” This is her answer:

You don’t know my conception of self-interest. No one has the right to pursue his self-interest by law or by force, which is what you’re suggesting. You want to forbid immigration on the grounds that it lowers your standard of living — which isn’t true, though if it were true, you’d still have no right to close the borders. You’re not entitled to any “self-interest” that injures others, especially when you can’t prove that open immigration affects your self-interest. You can’t claim that anything others may do — for example, simply through competition — is against your self-interest. But above all, aren’t you dropping a personal context? How could I advocate restricting immigration when I wouldn’t be alive today if our borders had been closed? (Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A, edited by Robert Mayhew, p. 25.)

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