Rethinking California’s Undefended Border

August 24, 2007

A recent commentator in California discussed the problem of so-called California out-of-state babies, children born in California hospitals to out-of-state parents. These children become entitled to state benefits such as education, and thus serve as a potential anchor for their parents to remain in the state. Our state authorities understandably are reluctant to break up families by extraditing parents of young babies. But the “right” of out-of-staters to live in California, yet another invented “right” contrived from the Constitutional right of freedom of movement between states, has become a serious cultural and economic dilemma for all Californians.

Yet again, activist judges have decided that the Constitutional right of US citizens to move through states automatically grants a “right to residency” in any state a person chooses – overthrowing the rights of the State of California (and thus the people of California).

Every year, millions of people from states other than California enter or leave the state.  Nobody is quite sure how many, since Sacramento doesn’t track the entries or exits.  Our porous border with Nevada, Oregon and Arizona allows people to come and go as they please – without having to apply for entry.  The Constitution doesn’t say that we cannot require out-of-staters to get a visa, nor does it say we cannot limit the length of their stay or restrict their ability to take employment that should go to lawful Californians – but federal activist courts have conjured up such “rights” out of thin air to please special interests.

Worse still, thousands of people who enter California from outside the state decide to stay and collect unemployment insurance, take employment that would otherwise go to Californians, or have children – who can immediately begin collecting California funded benefits like schooling and infant health care.

It’s alarming to note that many of the people who enter California from outside the state have criminal records and participate in illicit activities within the state – and our complete lack of border control and intrastate migration management renders our state government powerless to prevent terrorists from entering our state from rural, poorly policed areas like central Nevada.  If a terrorist attack ever happens in San Diego or Los Angeles, it will likely be California’s open borders that are to blame.

In some state hospitals, administrators estimate that 25% or more of the babies born have parents who are from another state. Many out-of-staters who have babies in California hospitals do not have health insurance and do not pay their hospital bills. This obviously cannot be sustained, either by the hospitals involved or the taxpayers who end up paying the bills.

No other wealthy, western states grant automatic residency to those who simply happen to stray within their borders.  EU states, for instance, allow freedom of movement for their citizens, but require a visa for a citizen of the EU to establish residency in a state other than their home state.  These visas are restricted in number, cost thousands of dollars to obtain, and can take months or years to process.  In many cases, they’re not available to residents of very poor or backwards member states like Bulgaria. These states recognize that residency involves more than the physical location of oneself; it also involves some measure of cultural connection and allegiance. They also understand that a right to free movement between states is not a “right” to stop moving and set up residency.

If only that was the case in this union!  In California, thanks to our activist federal government, we have to accept even poor, uneducated and culturally alien Alabamians and Arkansans as “residents” – whether we want them or not.  These “residents” have no cultural connection or allegiance to California, and they arguably harm our economy and way of life.  They often view California as just another place to collect benefits for a few years, or take a job at a lower wage than a Californian would accept.

Make no mistake, Californians are happy to welcome residents who follow our state residency laws and seek a better life here. California is far more welcoming and tolerant of newcomers than virtually any region on earth. But our modern welfare state creates perverse incentives for out-of-staters, incentives that cloud the issue of why people choose to come here. The real problem is not migration, but rather the welfare state magnet.

Hospitals bear the costs when out-of-staters enter the state for the express purpose of giving birth. But out-of-staters also use emergency rooms, public roads, and public schools. In many cases they are able to obtain Medicaid, food stamps, public housing, and even unemployment benefits. Some have fraudulently collected Social Security benefits.

Of course many Californians also use or abuse the welfare system. But we cannot afford to open our pocketbooks to the rest of the country. We must end the perverse incentives that encourage out-of-staters to come here, including the automatic residency assumption.

Our founders knew that unforeseen problems with our system of government would arise, and that’s precisely why they gave us a method for amending the Constitution. It’s time to end the invented right of “residency in California to anyone who wants it” by creating an amendment clearly indicating the rights of Sacramento to restrict who may enter, reside within, take employment within, and claim residency within our state.



  1. Its odd to compare Arkansas to Mexico, particularly since the constitution provides for free movement of people between the several states. This is a poor attempt at discrediting immigration policy with a wrong analogy. Besides, no one wants to go to the land of fruits and nuts any more, except immigrants.

    In the 1930’s California did indeed limit immigration from other states – they used vagrancy laws, and put up check points on the borders, and if you didn’t have the “Do-re-mi”, you didn’t get in. Sheesh, a Kucinich supporter doesn’t even know about Woody Guthrie ?

    Also, you should also look at the history of the 14th amendment, and its intent. It was about insuring that slaves (who had been born here but were not “citizens) could not be barred from citizenship. Go read a book, and stop plagiarizing the work of an honest man.

  2. I think this is satire. Check the statue of Liberty with the hammer and sickel.

  3. We did not plagiarize Ron Paul, he copied us!

    Our thinking is based on solid states’ rights principles. People citing the Constitution to overrule the rights of the states are promoting tyranny and cannot in good faith call themselves Libertarians.

    As we know, all libertarians support the rights of state government to regulate the people and protect them from federal violations of states’ rights. Ron Paul did not invent this concept!

  4. […] Luckily, out of state residents are still allowed to write letters to the editor, and contribute to defense funds in Oklahoma, just as some states allow out of state residents to work and collect “benefits”. […]

  5. […] Luckily, out of state residents are still allowed to write letters to the editor, and contribute to defense funds in Oklahoma, just as some states allow out of state residents to work and collect “benefits”. […]

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