Sovereign Citizens and Immigration Reform

December 18th, 2013   Submitted by Davi Barker

Disc_TemplatesOn Friday the 13th a variety of well intentioned activists, immigrant rights groups, and government sociocrats participated in a 24-hour fast to try to pressure Congress into approving a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill. Even Rahm Emanuel contributed his hunger pangs to the cause saying, “On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we join people from all over the country who are making an incredible sacrifice to remind our leaders what is at stake in the fight for immigration reform.” At first I found the whole thing sort of incomprehensible. How does some kind of distributed hunger strike put pressure on Congress? But as I read the “Faster’s Declaration” posted at I realized there’s an awkward marriage to be arranged between undocumented immigrants and the Sovereign Citizen Movement.

I suppose, like usual, we’ve got to start with language. “Comprehensive immigration reform” as a phrase contains very little useful information. For those in the know, this is the terminology used by people desiring a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But passing a bill requiring all immigrants to be chipped like dogs is both comprehensive and reform. I guess I just wish people would be more precise about what they are advocating. Fundamentally, these activists are talking about a path to citizenship, meaning they want currently undocumented people on this land mass to get documented so they can vote, pay taxes, and get driver’s licenses.

As a Voluntaryist I simply can’t advocate citizenship as a solution, but that puts me in a political pickle similar to the gay marriage debate. I don’t want to encourage people to enter into a contractual arrangement with the State, but I absolutely want them to experience all the rights and liberties of those who have. I believe free people should be free to cross free borders freely. And considering borders are imaginary lines anyway, I suppose I should say free people should be free to travel freely. And when I see that phrase, “free to travel” I immediately think of the Sovereign Citizen Movement. What’s really interesting about that association is that Sovereign Citizens are trying to go in the opposite direction. They are currently documented people living on this land mass who are trying to get undocumented. To unregister to vote. To avoid paying taxes. And most interestingly, to “travel” in a “conveyance” without a driver’s license.

Now, to be clear, in my view the semantic arguments of the Sovereign Citizen Movement have as little chance of persuading a Judge as going hungry has of persuading Congress. It’s magical thinking either way. The reason I think an alliance would be powerful here is because I think both groups want essentially the same thing, because immigration and driving are essentially the same activity. The only thing that separates them is the obstacles one encounters on the road. Whether it’s a border, a checkpoint, or a routine traffic stop, both of these groups are going to experience State aggression when they travel.

I can’t seriously believe that undocumented immigrants want a path to citizenship because they love bald eagles and Thomas Jefferson so much they desperately want to swear their allegiance to the State. The vast majority of people who move, whatever the distance, do it for economic reasons. The paperwork is a means to an end, but it makes no sense whatsoever to claim a person has a moral obligation to love an old piece of parchment, or swell with pride over primary colors before they can pick fruit, sell cheap Chinese electronics, or run a multinational hamburger franchise. What undocumented immigrants really want is the freedom to make a better life for themselves and their families without the State threatening them, and according to the State that privilege comes with citizenship.

But we all know that isn’t true. That State threatens everyone. In fact, the Sovereign Citizens are scrambling to give up their privileged status because they believe that without it the State will have no jurisdiction over them. Two opposite strategies to accomplish the same goal of avoiding State aggression to be both economically and geographically free.

What if they combined these strategies to forge a new path? What if Sovereign Citizens and immigrant rights groups demanded that “undocumented” be acknowledged as a legitimate status, what the Sovereign Citizens call, “a free man on the land.” Why shouldn’t free and undocumented people have the right to travel and to trade wherever they wander? Instead of filing and fighting to change your status, why not demand the same fundamental human rights for people of any status, or no status at all.

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7 Responses to “Sovereign Citizens and Immigration Reform”

  1. Ethan GloverNo Gravatar says:

    I love the article. It’s interesting to note that it’s always a progression of more freedom and to realize that we are nowhere near it yet.

  2. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    I think a 24 hour fast is a silly idea. I doubt congress will act because a relatively small number people fast for 24 hours.

  3. 24h fast is how the last NDAA and a whole lot of other treasonous bills got passed (on thanksgiving, new-years, christmast, or any other holiday when all opposition is out of the house).

  4. Alex ZNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you for sharing many of my convictions to a wider audience! I’ve been lambasting “imaginary lines on the ground” for decades, in fact my most recent article features the Earth, viewed from space with the caption “I don’t see any borders. Do you?”

    I’m over half a century old. Old enough to remember when we had Free borders in the USSA. My parents and most of their siblings were born in Canada and came to the USSA “undocumented” in the 1950s; all but one of them were welcomed due to their willingness to contribute to the economy, just as contemporary undocumented workers contribute today. The one exception was my uncle who actually joined the US Air Force after graduating from university!

    With family in Canada, cross border visits were a weekly routine in my youth. “Citizenship?” was the only question you ever heard on either side of the border. No “Let me zee your paperz!” My father was in his forties before he bothered to get nationalized (a green card), yet he already had a Social Security number, and had been paying taxes for over thirty years!

    The tax argument of the xenophobes is one that I have the most trouble with. When “illegals” were granted amnesty in the 1980s I had several employees come to me to finally share their real names. For all the years they had been working with false documents they were having taxes withheld, taxes that would never be applied to their labors and therefore unrecognized by the state.

    Since I am planning a road-trip from the Great Lakes to South America next year, I’m very interested in what issues and challenges I’ll have crossing imaginary lines between other nations.

  5. Jess PorterNo Gravatar says:

    You would be amazed what a 24 hour fast will accomplish–when it is accompanied with a large grocery bag of hundred dollar bills.

  6. GoVoluntaryNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks. This is a fabulous article.

  7. Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

    The constitution does not authorize the discrimination against non-citizens that the border patrol and NSA practice. It’s preamble, TDI, states that all men have inalienable rights, not just all citizens.

    Of course, as it becomes more clear that even citizens have their rights violated routinely, this argument becomes less persuasive. Perhaps we should be focused on getting the rights the govt. claims it protects before we try to get the rights they admit they violate. That battle is more clear cut and has more support.