Open border  

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"In many ways, citizenship in Western democracies is the modern equivalent of feudal class privilege—an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life chances. To be born a citizen of a rich state in Europe or North America is like being born into the nobility (even though many of us belong to the lesser nobility). To be born a citizen of a poor country in Asia or Africa is like being born into the peasantry in the Middle Ages (even if there are a few rich peasants and some peasants manage to gain entry to the nobility). Like feudal birthright privileges, contemporary social arrangements not only grant great advantages on the basis of birth but also entrench these advantages by legally restricting mobility, making it extremely difficult for those born into a socially disadvantaged position to overcome that disadvantage, no matter how talented they are or how hard they work. Like feudal practices, these contemporary social arrangements are hard to justify when one thinks about them closely."--"Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders" (1987) by Joseph Carens

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An open border is a border that enables free movement of people between different jurisdictions with limited or no restrictions on movement, that is to say lacking substantive border control. A border may be an open border due to a lack of legal controls or intentional legislation allowing free movement of people across the border (de jure), or a border may be an open border due to lack of adequate enforcement or adequate supervision of the border (de facto). An example of the former is the Schengen Agreement between most members of the European Economic Area (EFTA and the EU). An example of the latter has been the border between Bangladesh and India, which is becoming controlled.


Arguments for and against

Arguments for open borders

Open borders allow free migration between nations. Several arguments for open borders and against controlled borders are as follows:

  1. Open border advocates argue that free migration is the most effective way to reduce world poverty. Migrants from developing countries can earn higher wages after moving to a more developed country, usually lifting them from 'developing world poverty' to 'developed world poverty'. They also send remittances to relatives in their home country, the flow of remittances being estimated to be around three times the global foreign aid spending reported by the OECD.
  2. A literature summary by economist Michael Clemens leads to an estimate that open borders would result in an increase of 67-147% in GWP (gross world product), with a median estimate of a doubling of world GDP. One estimate placed the economic benefits at 78 trillion.
  3. From a human rights perspective, free migration may be seen to complement Article 13 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
  4. Professor Joseph Carens argues that the social inequality imposed by closed borders is so great it outweighs any challenges to their political or economic feasibility. He argues we should open borders based on the same reasons we reject the feudal system: both are legal systems which afford privilege based on the luck of birthright and maintain inequality by limiting the lower socioeconomic status groups' freedom to move.
  5. American bioethicist Jacob M. Appel has argued that "treating human beings differently, simply because they were born on the opposite side of a national boundary," is inherently unethical. According to Appel, such "birthrights" are only defensible if they serve "useful and meaningful social purposes" (such as inheritance rights, which encourage mothers and fathers to work and save for their children), but the "birthright of nationality" does not do so. Economist and writer Philippe Legrain argues that the countries of the world need migration to help global trade and reduce the occurrence of regional wars.
  6. Open borders cannot be dismissed as a utopian idea, argues Harald Bauder, because they do not propose an alternative way to organize human society but rather are a critique of closed or controlled borders. This critique, however, invites the search for practical as well as radical solutions to the problematic consequences of contemporary migration practices, including the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, the US–Mexico border, and elsewhere.
  7. Restrictions on mobility can only be justified if it can be shown that those restrictions prevent significant harm. Since research indicates that open borders will be better for both the natives and the migrants, and at the very least have not been shown to cause major harm, those restrictions are unjustified. The remote control methods used to keep hopeful immigrants out of wealthy nations (such as visa programs, flood lights at borders, or barbed wire fencing for example) slow down the avenues of legal migration and make other avenues of seeking asylum a more perilous endeavor.
  8. Immigrants are entrepreneurial with high labor force participation and have specialized skills giving them the opportunity to enter underserved markets and create businesses, increasing the number of jobs available in America. Author Thomas E. Lehman, has written articles on the controversial topic of opening Americas borders. In his article “The Benefits of Open Immigration” Lehman states that it is often thought that the policy of open immigration would lead to immigrants willing to work for less pay.
  9. Bryan Caplan has argued that in the U.S., which contains policies that favor high-skilled immigration, the overall long-run fiscal effect of immigrants is positive $58,000 for existing immigrants and positive $259,000 for new immigrants; thus, increasing immigration with the current ratio of high-and low-skilled workers could benefit social security programs and medicare. He states that a truly open borders policy would result in an altered ratio of low- and high-skilled workers where the productivity effect of immigration mitigates the negative fiscal impact of older low-skilled migrants. In addition to that, native-born populations also have a larger fiscal burden than comparable immigrants.
  10. Open borders would help save the lives of people who would otherwise have to wait for countries to decide the fate of refugees. As stated by author Sasha Polakow-Suransky, countries have enough to care for their citizens and others. Caplan has also shared that not doing anything and being a bystander is just as harmful to refugees. It is estimated that open borders would allow people to be safe and create a better world economy at the same time.
  11. Refugees who are in danger flee to Western countries which have provided safety and comfort. David Miliband argues that having open borders will rescue the lives of migrants who are constantly struggling to survive in inhabitable areas. According to him, accepting migrants into Western countries shows the acceptance for those in need and expresses that support and guidance is essential to saving the lives of innocent people.

Arguments against open borders

Controlled borders restrict migration by non-citizens. Several arguments for controlled borders and against open borders are as follows:

  1. That controlled borders encourage responsible policies in relation to population and birth rates for countries by preventing high population and high birth rate countries from disgorging their people onto other low population and low birth rate countries.
  2. Large-scale immigration from poorer countries into richer countries can create a "brain drain" in the source country, where educated professionals leave their home country to live elsewhere, depriving their home countries of an educated workforce. For example, in 2010 there were more Ethiopian doctors living in Chicago than there were in Ethiopia itself.
  3. The realism of open borders has been called into question, given that it could potentially require a world government.
  4. In the United States, it has been argued that it may cause increased backlash from the white population who carry 75 percent (but decreasing) of the political vote. This backlash includes preventing immigrants access to basic forms of governmental or community support as well as the creation of policies that specifically criminalize immigrants. This trend is based on studies demonstrating the more a political party shows positivity towards immigration, the more the white vote shifts towards conservative republicans who support more restrictive immigration policies.
  5. The influx of low-skill immigrant labor that open borders would bring into higher-skilled economies like the United States is feared to cause the standard for the average worker to decrease. Progressives such as Senator Bernie Sanders reject open borders as a loss for the American worker. Additionally, economic models that resemble the Nordic System operate in a way that rewards high-skilled work and seeks to avoid bolstering domestic and low-skill work that would make employment more accessible to refugees.
  6. It has been argued that an open border could cause a great replacement of traditional values and ideals of the receiving country, claiming that multiculturalism is not possible in certain countries. For example, the President of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, says that France should not cater to Muslim ways of life because they go against French liberal ideals. Others, such as Reihan Salam, have argued that low-skilled immigrants in the U.S, have formed a racialized class distinct from Americans, and that the implementation of open borders will create and deepen a cultural and economic clash in America due to differing ideals and values. Fear of losing traditional values has also been a contributing factor to the rise of the populist parties, which are greatly concerned with the social, cultural, and ethnic conservation of the majority, but the need to keep a certain ethnicity as the majority has spawned anti-immigrant beliefs within particular parties; thus, it has been observed that some populist party’s views depict immigration as a negative, even as widespread immigration causes the composition of the population to change, due to the ethnic differences that immigrants bring.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Open border" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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