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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