A Philosopher's Blog

Fear of Immigrants & Refugees

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 3, 2016

English: Immigrants entering the United States...

Though the United States prides itself as being a nation of immigrants and the home of the brave, base appeals to the fear of immigrants and refugees has become a stock political tool. The use of this tool is, of course, neither new nor limited to the United States.

To be fair, there is some legitimacy to the fear expressed towards allowing in immigrants and refugees. This is because almost any large group of people will contain a certain percentage of potential murderers, rapists, thieves and terrorists. As such, allowing a significant number of people into a country will almost certainly result in some increase in misdeeds. Thus, it is not untrue to say that allowing in immigrants and refugees would increase the dangers faced by the citizens of a country.

While demagogues and pundits generally do not operate on the basis of consistently applied principles, restricting immigrants and refugees can be justified by using a principle. In this case, the principle would be that people should be banned from entering a country if their arrival would result in an increase in the dangers faced by the current citizens of that country. Since allowing a significant number of refugees and immigrants would almost certainly allow in at least some who would do harm, then this principle justifies such restrictions. While this does allow for a principled basis for restriction, it runs into an interesting problem if it is applied consistently. This sort of consistency problem is a common one—which is why demagogues and pundits generally loath and avoid consistency. This specific consistency problem is as follows.

Every country faces waves of immigrants that arrive unregulated and unchecked. While most of them are not a threat, a percentage of them engage in harmful acts ranging from minor thefts to mass shootings. Oddly enough, no politician has the courage to propose restrictions on these invaders and many actually encourage the arrival of more of these potential threats. I am, of course, speaking of immigrants from the womb. Each new generation includes a certain percentage of potential murderers, rapists, thieves and terrorists and thus presents a clear and present danger to the current citizens of the country. Using the same reasoning that justifies keeping out immigrants and refugees (that a certain percentage could present a threat), these invaders should be kept out of the country.

This suggestion should, of course, be greeted with snorts of derision and mockery: it would be absurd to impose a ban on such arrivals merely because some small percentage will become dangerous to the current citizens. The challenge is to reject restrictions on births despite the risk of allowing new potential criminals and terrorists to enter the country while insisting harsh restrictions or bans on immigrants and refugees on the basis of the slight risk they present is acceptable.

The most obvious approach is to point out that the potential rapists and terrorists who are born here are children of existing citizens and thus different from refugees and immigrants from other countries. This seems a bit unfair—where a person is born is entirely a matter of chance and is completely unearned. We do not, after all, earn or select our parents. Thus, restricting immigrants and refugees because some small percentage will present a threat while allowing unrestricted reproduction that will produce people that will present a threat seems to be grounded only in the vagaries of chance. If there is great concern about the threat presented by incoming people, then that threat must be addressed using the same standards on the pain of inconsistency.

It could be countered that immigrants and refugees present a greater threat: the percentage of murders, rapists and terrorists is higher among the vetted and reviewed immigrants than among Americans born here. However, this is clearly not the case. This should come as no surprise, given that the immigrants and refugees are vetted and checked very thoroughly by the United States. It is true, of course, that the system is not perfect—so some will slip through.

I might, at this point, be accused of wanting to impose restrictions on reproduction. This is not the case. My point is, rather, to show that the idea of putting harsh restrictions or imposing complete bans on immigrants and refugees because some tiny percentage might turn out to cause harm is as absurd as restricting or banning reproduction becomes some children will certainly grow up to be criminals or terrorists. This is not to say that there should not be screening of immigrants and refugees; there should be. After all, we generate so many domestic criminals and terrorists that it is sensible to try to avoid needlessly and carelessly importing more.


My Amazon Author Page

My Paizo Page

My DriveThru RPG Page

Follow Me on Twitter


19 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. ronster12012 said, on August 3, 2016 at 8:49 am


    There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep a society the way you like it. If immigrants were from a similar racial and cultural background then there is no problem, the only question is the actual carrying capacity of the country.

    Immigrants(in any substantial numbers) from different racial and/or cultural backgrounds only end up causing more problems than they are worth. Take moslems for example, if they don’t actually recognize the validity of your laws and institutions how can they be a positive development? Of course when their numbers are small relative to the hosts, they will be forced to accept the social norms, but when their number increase along with their political power no one should be surprised when they start to make demands on the hosts. See the sharia controlled areas in London, the no-go zones of France, Sweden as the rape capitol of Europe etc.

    So wouldn’t it be called stupid to embark on a course of action that has no upside, only downside?

    Same goes for black africans. Would it be a good idea to import another 40 million? You would simply turn more areas of the US into Africa, multiple Detroits. Is that a good idea?

    So, to compare the above examples with native born white children is to compare apples with oranges. Consistency is fine when *everything* is taken into account, but a I think that you are presenting a false equivalence.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 3, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      This is the same argument people made against, for example, Jews, the Irish and Catholics.

      As it was, it is. And will be.

      • ronster12012 said, on August 3, 2016 at 7:26 pm


        And the Irish, Catholics and Jews are just as tribal(in the case of jews even more so) as any WASP. The difference is that they are never expected to apologise for it.

        The only reason that they were in white anglo countries in the first place was for economic reasons. Even then the Irish and catholics are culturally close enough to other anglos to assimilate over time. Your false equivalence sees no distinction between them and say moslems whose first loyalty(insofar as they are moslems) is to their politico/religious creed.

        I think that you are fighting against nature(or rather trying to fight against nature as no one beats nature) in your advocacy of multicult. There are differences between races and cultures and not all of them mix well. To use an earlier analogy of yours about neighbours up the street, the best way to create hatred and resentment is to force me to have them live in my house….. forever. They will sooner or later want a say in how my household runs. If they outnumber me eventually I will resent my dispossession, if I force my will on them they will resent me…..better they live in their own house and we can get on well.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 4, 2016 at 6:12 pm

          All humans (aside from those with severe brain defects) can adopt any human culture if raised in it. Humans do not come pre-loaded with religion, language and such.

          The United States has excelled at integrating people of very different views; we can do the same in the future. While this does change the culture, cultures that do not change stagnate and die.

          • WTP said, on August 5, 2016 at 8:26 am

            if raised in it.

            And more changing of the premise. Aside from adoptions and similar, very, very few immigrants come here as infants or small children without parents who themselves were steeped in the cultures from which they came. Those parents do pass on many of those cultural aspects.

            And it’s not as if there is absolutely zero genetic components to human behavior. Genetic behavioral factors that can be augmenteted/celebrated or dampered/shamed by the enclosing culture.

            As for our successful history of integrating people from other cultures…Do not pretend that the very expectations that are decried today as racism and such were not significantly responsible for that success. Jews, Italians, Irish, etc. have been and even today continue to be ridiculed for not fitting in to American culture. It’s part of the assimilation process.

            • ronster12012 said, on August 5, 2016 at 10:44 am

              Here is an absolutely excellent video on the Fall of Rome and its Modern Parallels by Stephan Molyneaux

              One point (among many)that he makes is that prior to its ultimate fall, many outsiders became Roman citizens not for its values that the older citizenry embodied, but simply for the money, and Rome in turn encouraged this migration program to increase economic activity to counter the growing debt….ring any bells?

              As we are all ‘democratic’ now, no prizes for guessing how ethnic voting blocs will be courted by politicians at our expense.

          • ronster12012 said, on August 5, 2016 at 11:11 am


            Another question you might like to consider is when is enough enough?

            The “give me your poor tired masses” is just a vision statement thing, like corporate vision statements they are not meant to be taken literally(except by morons).

            So, the question is, if to exclude anyone from America, or any white country for that matter is exclusionary xenophobia, then we can expect to be swamped by anyone poorer than us.Given that most of the world is poorer than us, we can expect to be swamped by the world, leading to the destruction of our societies, social and financial collapse leaving us as poor(or poorer) than the rest of the world…all for no net gain.

            Where am I wrong? If I am not in fact wrong then the argument really is whether we should commit social suicide or not, no? I vote no…though it seems that I am being outvoted.

        • nailheadtom said, on August 5, 2016 at 11:53 am

          What’s the problem with the tribal phenomenon?

          • ronster12012 said, on August 5, 2016 at 12:13 pm


            Nothing really, it is how human life is generally organised, broadly speaking. Problems only arise when two or more tribes occupy the same geographical area. When times are good then they can coexist, but when times are less than good, conflict breaks out.

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 3, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I think you’re missing the point. It’s never been the fear of criminals. It’s always been the fear of losing one’s cultural identity. As Jews put it: assimilation. The Borg also calls it assimilation. America is the only nation that uses an abstract concept to unite our citizens. The peoples of all other nations are united via the common bonds of race, religion, and culture. America has to unite people based upon the abstract concepts of liberty, freedom, equality, etc… It’s hard to unite a very diverse people via an abstract concept. We’ve done better in the past than we are doing now. Identity politics is unAmerican for this very reason: it’s counter to the traditional narrative that was once somewhat able to unite us. That having been said, the Dems still invoke the traditional narrative whereas the GOP, with Trump as its candidate has trashed the traditional narrative and replaced it with WASP nativism. The current GOP resembles the Know-nothings.

  3. TJB said, on August 4, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Massive immigration doesn’t always work out well. Just ask the American Indians.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 4, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Yes, that did not work out well at all.

      • ronster12012 said, on August 5, 2016 at 10:57 am


        Did the american indians have a right to resist this uncontrolled immigration. By your reasoning they did not have a right to resist as they were just being xenophobic bigots by doing so. Did the early Russians have a right to resist the depredations of the Mongols, the early English against the Vikings, the aboriginals against the English settlers in Australia, the Han Chinese against the Mongols, the Indians against the Mughals first, then the British…etc etc etc..you get the picture.

        In other words, by successfully resisting invasion one creates the right. If one isn’t successful one didn’t earn the right. It is all biological, not abstract philosophy.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 9, 2016 at 6:43 pm

          It is one thing to face an armed invasion, another to have people applying through an established immigration system.

          • ronster12012 said, on August 9, 2016 at 8:03 pm


            In the current situation, these invasions in the US, Europe and Australia while allegedly are an ‘established immigration system’ are actually armed invasions. The armed ones though, are not the migrants themselves, but our own governments protecting ‘their’ system and forcing them on us.

            The first question to be asked about all this is “whose interests are served by migration?”. The bankers/bureaucrats/various elite interests or the locals? Establish that and you will establish the legitimacy of any mass migration. And it may show who the real enemies are….

            Regarding the American Indians and their invasion, did they have any special rights to not be invaded, given that they were pretty brutal, practiced warfare and conquest among themselves? And that they practiced slavery for the conquered?

  4. david halbstein said, on August 4, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I think we have to be careful to stick to the truth when discussing this issue. I rarely see the issue of illegal immigration being discussed where the word “illegal” is not somehow dropped from the context – turning a legitimate law-enforcement, economic issue into an accusation of xenophobia, and comparisons like the one ajmacdonald makes. The know-nothings feared other cultures based on ignorance and paranoia, which is not the case with the GOP.

    To discuss our concern over Muslim refugees within the context of “almost any large group of people will contain a certain percentage of potential murderers, rapists, thieves and terrorists.” is to deny several facts – that over 51% of the Muslims who live here indicate that they would prefer to be subject to Sharia, not US law; that a percentage of that population believes that Sharia is appropriate for all Americans.

    There is also the fact that those who seek to disrupt our lives through murder and terrorism is NOT just the chance of large numbers, but rather a stated objective to bring Jihad to this country and to kill Americans. The two Western countries that do have large incidence of Muslim immigration also have a large incidence of terrorism – Belgium and France, and it is documented by news agencies like Reuters and by law enforcement that ISIS is actively sending radicals to those countries through Turkey and Greece, posing as refugees.


    There are as many stories about ISIS sending operatives to the US.

    The news does interesting things with statistics – depending on their slant they will cite percentages (“Only .006% of the Muslims in the world are considered extremists …”) or, to put it another way, (“There are almost 10 million radical Muslims worldwide”). One seems like a negligible amount, the other is overwhelmingly frightening, both are accurate. Compare that to the 8 million card-carrying members of the Nazi party during World War II.

    Do not get me wrong – I am not anti-Muslim, nor am I anti-immigration – but when real concerns are able to be dismissed with accusations of racism or xenophobia, intelligent solutions will never be found.

    • ronster12012 said, on August 9, 2016 at 8:15 pm


      The real question is more specifically being not anti moslem in general but anti moslem in our western societies.

      Our so-called intelligencia seem to support them against us, and are the ones making the ‘ignorant/xenophobic/bigoted/ redneck allegations. Of course generally they are not the ones that have to directly live with the results of their advocacy. Their time will come when everyone wakes up to who the real traitors are…

  5. WTP said, on August 5, 2016 at 8:34 am

    David, TJ, AJ, ronster, I believe Mr. Orwell addressed Mike’s and his fellow travelers’ lines of “reasoning” on this and many other subject. From wiki but you can easily find the original source material:

    In the novel, we hear about crimestop through the eyes of protagonist Winston Smith:

    The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.

    He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions—’the Party says the earth is flat’, ‘the party says that ice is heavier than water’—and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them.

    Orwell also describes crimestop from the perspective of Emmanuel Goldstein in the book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism:

    Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.[7]

    • ronster12012 said, on August 5, 2016 at 10:32 am


      Thanks for that. Orwell is right on the money in so many ways.

      There is even a website that has documented the growing alignment of today’s western societies with that 1984. http://orwelltoday.com

      Depressing reading if you have the stomach for it….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: