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open borders today and tomorrow: a friendly response to leon fresco

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Once again, I am very grateful to Vox for doing the podcast about open borders. In this blog post, I want to offer a friendly response to Leon Fresco, a California attorney and political professional. He was also interviewed and he discussed how hard it would be to get Congress to approve open borders. When asked about it, he gave some real examples. He discussed multiple examples of how even minor changes in immigration law faced steep barriers and many failed.

The bottom line, for Mr. Fresco, is that legislation requires a coalition of people willing to push for it. Right now, the coalition for migration reform, even minor ones, isn’t there. Of course, there’s usually a large coalition of people pushing in the other direction.

This is why it’s important to think about the difference between “open borders today” and “open borders tomorrow.” “Today” means “what is possible in today’s political world?” Then Mr. Fresco is 100% correct. We live in a world where people are fairly anti-immigration. Heck, even many immigrants are suspicious of new immigrants. In today’s world, open borders is not possible.

Then we have “open borders tomorrow.” What can be done in future? That’s always a frontier and it can be different than today. Like many other struggles for human dignity, social change is often a “tomorrow” issue and rarely a today issue. Maybe one day in my lifetime, people like Mr. Fresco will be in a position to facilitate a Congressional bill that will make cross-border movement easy and painless.

“Open borders today” is not hopeless at all. Today, a major website, like Vox, is willing to discuss open borders. Professors write books on open borders. We can fill a lecture hall at a university with people who want to hear about open borders. Open borders advocates can support those fighting deportation and family separation. We can publicize ideas like the Abolish ICE movement and the sanctuary movement. We can be the movement that makes tomorrow happen.

So let’s do it. Let’s imagine a world of peaceful movement. Let’s give people like Mr. Fresco something to work for!

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Written by fabiorojas

November 9, 2018 at 5:13 am

Posted in uncategorized

open borders on vox!

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Written by fabiorojas

November 7, 2018 at 6:00 pm

Posted in uncategorized

open borders conference this weekend + blogcation

I have a lot of stuff to do soon. I will be at the Open Borders conference in DC. So come to conference! Or, make a donation. It’s all good. I am also presenting at the American politics workshop at Indiana. And, of course, I am working on Fall Contexts which will be super A+ terrific.

So I will take a two week blog break. Peace out and enjoy the video.

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 16, 2018 at 8:47 pm

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the open borders conference – 2018

It is my pleasure to announce the speaker and panelist list for the 2018 Open Borders Conference. The conference will occur on October 20, 2018 at the GMU Law School in Arlington, Virginia. We will have two excellent key note speakers:

We are also lucky to have a number scholars and activists who will participate in two panels on “theory and the law” and “practice and activism:”

    • Shikha Dalmia, Reason Foundation
    • Rev. Kaji Dousa, Park Avenue Christian Church of Manhattan
    • Sara Gozalo, New Sanctuary Coalition
    • Jamila Hammami, Social worker & organizer
    • Adriane Lopez, La ColectiVA
    • Ilya Somin, GMU Law
    • Balmore, Caravana Migrante 2018

You are all invited to this conference. If you can’t make it, we also welcome donations as the conference is run on a truly shoe string budget. Thanks for reading – and spread the word!

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!

Written by fabiorojas

September 24, 2018 at 4:01 am

Posted in uncategorized

open borders conference 2018

On October 20, 2018, there will be an Open Borders Conference, hosted at the GMU Law School in Arlington, Virginia. The purpose is to bring together all people who wish to see a world of free and peaceful movement. Our first keynote speaker will be attorney and undocumented activist Lizbeth Mateo. We will also have Bryan Caplan, who will speak on the economics of open borders. Additionally, we will have two panels: law/theory and activism. The conference is non-partisan and we welcome people of all political persuasions.

The cost is low ($10 donation) and seats are filling up fast. If you can’t make it, please consider donating to the Free Migration Project, which is the organizational sponsor of the conference. If you donate $50 or more, I’ll send you free copies of Contexts magazine. If you donate $100 or more, a free copy of one of my books.  Just write a note saying the donation is for the Open Borders Conference.

So come to the conference. If you can’t make it, please post and tweet this announcement. And send us some money!

++++++++

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
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Written by fabiorojas

August 27, 2018 at 4:01 am

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honestly, people, conservatives (and everyone else) should be open borders

family

rights

Over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Chris Freiman has a great post on how border restrictions are completely inconsistent with what conservatives claim they believe in. Against big government? It’s ok if it’s the border patrol deporting your mom. Pro-family? Totally ok to separate children from families. Against central planning? It’s ok if it’s an immigration bureaucrat deciding which people can come to your country.

It’s time to realize that migration is not a crime. It’s time to realize that migration is not a problem. It’s just normal. Let free people move freely. It’s that simple.

++++++++

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Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
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Written by fabiorojas

July 3, 2018 at 4:01 am

Posted in uncategorized

open borders and broken families

We are now in a crisis. The media has been reporting that thousands of children have been forcibly separated from their families by immigration authorities. Like most of you, I believe this is an atrocity and all children should be immediately reunited with their families.

At the same time, I want readers to consider the broader picture. Some readers may think that Trump is a uniquely horrible leader who condones and promotes the removal of children from their families. There may be some truth to that, but the bigger truth is that the United States has been breaking up and deporting families for decades.

The truth is that deportations and breaking up of families occurred under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The Trump administration is merely using the tools built by the Clinton, Bush II and, especially, the Obama administrations. Thus, we shouldn’t reserve our anger for Trump, but think about why this would be wrong no matter who was in the White House.

I’d also suggest that we think about open borders. If we truly cared about families and keeping them together, we would not create regulations that required people to be separated from their families if they want to find a job in the US. We would let people move freely between nations. But as long as we allow this byzantine and brutal immigration system to exist, we will break up families and separate children.

So give it some thought. If you want families to stay together, think about open borders.

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

June 18, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Posted in uncategorized

open borders day 2018

Every year, I like to draw attention to Open Borders Day (March 16), the moment when we take time to think about legalizing all forms of peaceful movement. This year, you might want to take a moment to consider the Open Borders position. A few of my thoughts on the topic:

In the next few months, I hope to have more news on open borders events. Until then, I want you to imagine a world were deportations are a thing of the past and it is just as easy to move between Mexico and the United States as it is to move between Indiana and Illinois. It’s a good world and I hope we can make it happen.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 16, 2018 at 4:01 am

Posted in ethics, fabio, uncategorized

the welfare objection to open borders: i don’t buy it

In discussion of open borders and free migration, you often hear the following: Wouldn’t open borders undermine the welfare state because natives would stop voting for social programs to prevent immigrants from getting benefits?

Let me start with a point of agreement. Yes, it is true that some people will become skeptical toward social welfare programs. A famous example: When Representative Joe Wilson screamed “You lie!” at Obama during a State of the Union address, he was protesting Obama’s claim that health benefits would not go to undocumented immigrants.

However, the objection is odd from a number of perspectives. First, many conservatives and libertarians are welfare state skeptics. Thus, you would think they would celebrate immigration because it would help reduce the welfare state!

Second, the academic research on welfare program utilization tends to show that immigrants use social programs at the same as rate as natives in most cases once you account for standard socio-demographic characteristics (e.g., see this articial Hao and Kawano in Demogaphy). Thus, it is correct when people correctly point out that immigrants have higher rates of social service use, but it is also true the effect disappears when you account for wealth. Immigration per se is not associated with increased welfare state use. Poverty is.

Third, there is an ethical issue – why should people’s voting patterns determine whether someone can live in my neighborhood? To clarify the issue, let us consider the following statement:

We should not allow African Americans to come into my school because then some people won’t like schools anymore.

Most of us would rightfully say, “That is not the problem of Black people. We won’t keep them out of society just because some people will feel bad.” Similarly, we don’t let people’s discomfort determine whether someone from another country can go to my school or live in my neighborhood. The immaturity of others does not determine what is right and wrong.

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Written by fabiorojas

January 23, 2018 at 5:01 am

Posted in ethics, fabio, uncategorized

civil rights and open borders

We no longer live in a society where the government bans African Americans from living in certain neighborhoods or taking certain jobs. The abolition of legalized segregation is one of the enduring achievements of the civil rights movement. It deserves to be praised and commemorated.

But a real commitment to civil rights doesn’t end with ending one type of discrimination. We need to think about other forms of discrimination. Women, for example, face many barriers and we should keep thinking about ways to make everyone an equal participant in our society.

When we think of civil rights, we often overlook immigration and we are even more likely to overlook the idea of open borders. Basically, open borders is the idea that people should be free to cross national boundaries as needed. It should be as easy to move from Tijuana to San Diego as moving from Detroit to Chicago.

But when we impose migration restrictions, we are no different than the segregationist of old who wanted to ban African Americans from their neighborhoods and schools. When he erect walls and send police to raid private homes, we say “you can’t be here!” Why? “They weren’t born in my country!” The nation of one’s birth is not a criteria of merit or justice. It’s merely an accident of birth.

My hope is that you will consider the injustice of detaining or deporting people based on where they were born. I hope that on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day you will come to realize that telling people to get out off the bus because they are Black is no different then telling the Mexican or Chinese migrant that have to leave your country. I want you to imagine a world without deportations and workplace raids and I hope that world will make you smile

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

January 15, 2018 at 3:36 am

open borders at florida state and west chester college

On Thursday, November 2, there will be two open borders events:

  1. At Florida State, I will discuss whether open borders is good for the U.S. I think so! The details: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, Florida State University, Main Campus, HCB 102.
  2. At West Chester College, Philadelphia lawyer David Bennion will speak on open borders at 7pm at the Sykes Student Union Building.

Come say hello!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

November 1, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Posted in uncategorized

open borders – in foreign affairs!!

Nathan Smith, an economist as Fresno Pacific University, has an article in Foreign Affairs about open borders. It was a pleasure to read. Well written, judicious and provocative. A few choice clips from “A World Without Borders: Richer, Fairer, and More Free“:

These advocates, including the author, call for a regime of nearly complete freedom of migration worldwide, with rare exceptions for preventing terrorism or the spread of contagious disease. Borders would still exist in such a world, but as jurisdictional boundaries rather than as barriers to human movement. Ending migration controls in this way would increase liberty, reduce global poverty, and accelerate economic growth. But more fundamentally, it would challenge the right of governments to regulate migration on the arbitrary grounds of sovereignty.

And:

The open borders position may sound new and radical, but it is simply a call for the return of lost liberties. When the Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886, most of the world’s borders could be freely crossed without passports. Passport requirements had sometimes existed before and were still in place in backward tsarist Russia, but the more liberal governments of advanced European nations regulated migration, as modern democracies regulate speech, only rather lightly and in exceptional cases, if at all. Comprehensive restrictions on international movement, which almost everyone today regards as a normal and necessary government function, are really an innovation of the twentieth century, which emerged as liberalism gave way to nationalism and socialism in the wake of World War I.

Read the whole thing!

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Written by fabiorojas

March 15, 2017 at 12:56 pm

open borders day 2017

greenarrowamberborder

It is my pleasure to announce “Open Borders Day 2017.” This year, we’ll have an event in Chicago at Loyola University. It will be a panel discussion with three speakers:

  • Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute will speak on the economics of migration.
  • Alexandra Filandra of the University of Illinois, Chicago will speak on racism and migration.
  • Fabio Rojas of Indiana University will speak about open borders as an issue that liberals and conservatives should agree on.

The event will be 1:30pm, March 16 at Loyola University in Chicago. Room: 4th floor, Information Commons. Please come by!!!

Also: If you are in San Diego, drop by the panel called “Is immigration a basic human right?” where GMU’s Bryan Caplan will argue for open borders against Christopher Witman of St. Louis University.

Let peaceful people move freely!

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Written by fabiorojas

March 9, 2017 at 12:58 am

open borders and the rawls-munger test

While discussing a recent paper on public opinion and slavery in the pre-Civil War South on Econ Talk, Michael Munger gets into the arguments made for slavery:

Munger: …  what Montesquieu asked was this: ‘We always hear people talking about how great slavery is. And you say, well, slavery is beneficial to you and it’s beneficial to the slaves; but it’s mostly slave owners who say stuff like that.’

Russ: Which makes you think.

Munger: Well, suppose we all go into a room. And when we come out, some of us are going to be slaves, and some won’t. Now, do you still believe in slavery? And if that’s then standard, then okay. But otherwise I’m not persuaded that this is really a moral argument about how we should live our lives. And so, what’s interesting is: there are these conventions. And then there are these challenges. And I think Rawls deserves credit for having said, ‘Here’s a standard that it would have to pass.’ … I don’t know we’re going to end up believing. But if you think ‘Yes,’ then in order for you to persuade anyone else that it’s actually just, it would have to pass these sorts of tests. It’s not exactly the same thing as understanding persuasion. But it is a way of problematizing the conventions that come down to us that we just accept because they are traditions.

Excellent point. I call this the “substitution test” for an ethical argument. For any policy X, you are free to make the arguments for why people A and B should accept X. Then, you have to put yourself into the position of A and B. If you wince at X at any point, then that’s probably a good reason to think twice about X. It’s related to the Rawlsian argument that one should evaluate policy from an “original position,” stripped of our actual interests.

Application to open borders: Say you are arguing that we should shut out all Syrian refugees because we’re afraid of terrorism. If you woke up and found yourself to be a Syrian refugee, would you make the same argument? If you faced death and torture in Aleppo, wouldn’t you want to argue that not all Muslim people are terrorists? Or that collective punishment and guilt by association are wrong? Or that maybe you should be given the chance to prove that you aren’t a terrorist? Or maybe that the value of saving millions of lives outweighs a few lives lost due to a few terrorists that the police didn’t screen out? Or that you’d be willing to pay an extra tax to compensate people who were harmed by migration?

In other words, most people people in the position of the Syrian refugee would not argue for shutting the gates and voluntarily returning to the burning ruble. Instead, they would almost certainly consider much more modest policies for addressing the perceived problems with migration so that lives could be saved. There’s a lot of moderate middle ground that people ignore when they promote closed borders.

Restrictionists, the ball is in your court.

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Written by fabiorojas

December 8, 2016 at 12:31 am

meet me in chicago!!! open borders day northwestern

The-Case-for-open-borders

Will you be in Chicago tomorrow? I will be giving a talk on Open Borders at Northwestern University, details here. 4pm in Room A110 in the Northwestern Technical Institute. Come by say hello! Thanks to Jeremy Foote and Bryan Jackson-Green for organizing.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 15, 2016 at 12:14 am

breaking news: new open borders event in philadelphia

OB panel flyer 3-16-16

We also have events at in DC at the America’s Freedom Foundation, San Francisco at The Green Arcade, and Chicago at Northwestern University. See here for details.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 11, 2016 at 12:01 am

open borders for conservatives: the abraham lincoln argument

At the Washington Post blog, Ilya Somin has a column on why people who favor color blindness should also favor open borders. He starts off with a great quote from Abraham Lincoln:

In a famous 1855 letter, Abraham Lincoln drew a connection between racism and hostility towards immigrants, then epitomized by the nativist Know-Nothing movement:

“I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor or degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].”

Lincoln understood the similarity between racial prejudice against blacks and xenophobic hostility to immigrants. That is one of the reasons why he took a favorable view of immigration throughout his career, and opposed efforts to exclude potential immigrants from the US or otherwise discriminate against them. So too did a good many other prominent 19th century opponents of slavery and racial discrimination, such as Frederick Douglass.

Republicans: if the founder, and possibly greatest president, of your party favored migration, maybe it’s time to soften up and mellow out about immigrants. Just sayin’.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 10, 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in ethics, fabio, uncategorized

open borders day at harvard

On March 9, we will have the first Open Borders Day 2016 event at Harvard. The event is very exciting – we have four esteemed speakers who will explore the economic and legal aspects of free movement:

Starts at 5pm and there will be excellent food served at the end. Please check out the Facebook page for the event for details. Hope you can make it.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street 

Written by fabiorojas

February 26, 2016 at 4:39 am

open borders for conservatives

A few weeks ago, I spoke about open borders at Wellesley College as a guest of the Freedom Project. My talk summarized the view that open borders is a “common grounds” position. People who are liberal and conservative should support it. It is trans-ideological and bipartisan in nature. The liberal argument for open borders is very easy to defend. The best way to end poverty and lessen inequality is simply letting people move to places where they are more economically productive. For libertarians, the issue is equally straightforward. Migration restriction is nothing but a barrier to trade and personal freedom.

The case for conservatives is a little more subtle because there is no single intuition that motivates conservative critiques of migration. In my talk at Wellesley, I broke it down this way. Each bullet point merits a longer discussion, but I present the summary here:

  • “Retail conservatives:” The rank and file conservative might oppose migration because immigrants reduce employment for natives, increase crime, or create undue stress on social services. In these cases, research either shows that there is simply no evidence to back it up or that negative effects are way, way overblown. Additionally, retail conservatives who promote family values and self-reliance should applaud immigrants because they improve their economic situation through hard work, not hand outs.
  • “Philosophical conservatives:” There is a strand of more sophisticated, philosophical conservatives that are motivated by the writings of folks like Burke and Oakeshott. One might summarize their view as a suspicion of radical change and social engineering. If so, the they should vehemently oppose closed borders. What is more radical than drawing a line and proclaiming that people on one side can’t move to the other? Aren’t migration controls an attempt at social engineering by legislators? Don’t borders violate the organic social order of communities?
  • “Cultural conservatives:” Some conservative migration critics are worried that migration might undermine the valuable things about Western culture. I think there are a few sensible responses. First, Western culture has survived socialism, fascism, communism and a whole lot more. America is much tougher than waves of low skilled labor. Second, in public opinion research, one often finds that migrants aren’t terribly different than natives in terms of political opinion. Third, Western societies tend to “chill out” migrants. If you want to decrease the anti-Western sentiment in the world, let people migrate to the West and their kids will be much less hostile than those back in the home country.

To sum up, there are a number of conservative criticisms of open borders and there are a lot of very intuitive and strong responses.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 12, 2016 at 12:01 am

open borders: a humorous approach

This truly entertaining video is by comedian Steve Gerben. He took a lot of the basic economic research on migration and wrote a 30 minute act. Except for one forgivable error (he reads a regression table wrong), it is a really great away to introduce people to the idea that immigration is good.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 4, 2016 at 12:02 am

announcement: open borders day 2016

It is my pleasure to announce events for Open Borders Day 2016. This year, we will start a week early. On March 9, there were will be a discussion with Lant Pritchett and Jeffrey Miron about liberalizing migration. This talk will be held at the campus of Harvard University. On March 16, Tanya Golash Boza will discuss her new book Deported: Policing Immigrants, Disposable Labor and Global Capitalism at The Green Arcade bookstore in San Francisco. In Washington, D.C., Bryan Caplan will discuss open borders with migration critic Mark Krikorian at an event hosted by the America’s Future Foundation. Theresa Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center will moderate the discussion. You can register for the Caplan/Krikorian debate here. Please keep an eye out for other events.

These events are free and open to the public. Consult the Open Borders Day website for details about times and locations. If you are organizing your own Open Borders Day event and would like it listed on the website, please send me a message. And of course, please feel free to share this announcement or link to the Open Borders Day website.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 3, 2016 at 12:01 am

open borders talk: wellesley college

Are you in the Boston area? If so, I’ll be giving a talk on Open Borders at Wellesley College on January 21. I am being hosted by sociologist Josh McCabe, who is currently a fellow at Wellesley’s Freedom Project.

The talk will be aimed at people who may not have ever considered the idea that we should let non-violent people move freely across national boundaries. I’ll discuss the pros and cons and then argue that the arguments and evidence against free migration is very weak. If you are in the area, please drop me a note and we’ll meet up.

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Written by fabiorojas

January 18, 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in uncategorized

the path to open borders

I was speaking about open borders to a European television show* and they asked bluntly, “Open Borders is a far off goal. Is it even reasonable to think about such a policy?” I responded that yes, we can think about broad policy change. I then mentioned how people never thought the Berlin Wall would be gone, but it happened. Still, one can ask: what path can be taken to implement such a radical change in policy?

In the US context, I think there is a reasonable, if extremely challenging, path to open borders. The intuition is that there are smaller steps that are possible and lead in the right direction. Closed borders are not one policy, they are a bundle of policies that each need to be attacked separately:

  1. No Deportations:Simple to explain and would have an immediate impact. Let people live without fear. The only people who are to be removed are those subject to criminal investigations and we should use the system of extradition to deal with crime.
  2. Visa simplification: I have learned that haggling over the visa system is a waste of time. You can spend enormous effort battling a complex administrative system and get nothing for your effort. Instead, propose a massive simplification. Simplification is simple to understand and would create a mass of people who can obey the law overnight. For example, we might have three categories: a student visa that would be automatically renewed as long as the student was enrolled in an institution of higher education; a visa for short term workers that could be renewed as long as the person shows employment; and a long term visa for people who wish to permanently reside in the US.
  3. The bridge to citizenship: The US is not based hereditary status or an aristocracy. Anyone in the world can be an American. The law should reflect that. Once we stop deporting people, and we stop making laws that are nearly impossible to obey, we should make it easy to become a citizen after a few years.
  4. Open borders: Abolish all quotas, let anyone come. If they live crime free and pay their taxes for a few years, let them stay as long as they want.

A dream? Sure, but we dreamed the end of slavery, the end of serfdom, the end of apartheid, the end of fascism, and the end of the Berlin Wall … and they happened.

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* If they use the material, I’ll post it.

Written by fabiorojas

September 16, 2015 at 12:01 am

open borders: it might be your issue

In this post, I’d like to explain why you might want to adopt open borders as one of your issues. First, open borders is an issue that affects all people. Any one of us might want to travel to another country for work or enjoyment. For millions of people, migration represents the only plausible avenue out of poverty.

Second, open borders is a “common grounds” issue. It is a policy position that is consistent with most political ideologies. Liberals should favor free migration because it is the easiest way to address poverty and global inequality. Conservatives should support it on the grounds that moving to find work is an example of self-reliance. Conservatives should also support any policy that allows families to be reunited. Libertarians should support free migration because they favor open labor markets. Marxists should support any policy that allows poor workers to travel freely to be in places with the strongest labor practices.

Third, open borders is cheap. No need to build schools, roads, tanks, or anything. All you need to do is tell the border guards to take the day off and go protect things that need protecting.

Fourth, open borders is easy to understand compared to most policy topics. Honestly, most people don’t understand climate science or Keynesian macro-economics. In contrast, most arguments about the pros and cons of migration can be understood by nearly any educated person. The empirical evidence is also relatively straightforward.

If you have ever wondered how you can change the world, adopt open borders as one of your political issues and tell other people.

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Written by fabiorojas

May 21, 2015 at 12:01 am

open borders… in the new york times?

An op-ed in the New York Times makes the case for open borders. From Debunking the Myth of the Job Stealing Immigrant by Adam Davidson:

… Few of us are calling for the thing that basic economic analysis shows would benefit nearly all of us: radically open borders.

And yet the economic benefits of immigration may be the ­most ­settled fact in economics. A recent University of Chicago poll of leading economists could not find a single one who rejected the proposition. (There is one notable economist who wasn’t polled: George Borjas of Harvard, who believes that his fellow economists underestimate the cost of immigration for low-­skilled natives. Borjas’s work is often misused by anti-immigration activists, in much the same way a complicated climate-­science result is often invoked as “proof” that global warming is a myth.) Rationally speaking, we should take in far more immigrants than we currently do.

Outstanding. I hope this spurs more discussion of open borders.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 26, 2015 at 12:01 am

frederick douglass: open borders is justice

As usual, Frederick Douglass provides moral clarity on the issue of migration. In 1869, he spoke against growing anti-Chinese prejudice:

Do you ask, if I favor such immigration, I answer I would. Would you have them naturalized, and have them invested with all the rights of American citizenship? I would. Would you allow them to vote? I would. Would you allow them to hold office? I would. But are there not reasons against all this? Is there not such a law or principle as that of self-preservation? Does not every race owe something to itself? Should it not attend to the dictates of common sense? Should not a superior race protect itself from contact with inferior ones? Are not the white people the owners of this continent? Have they not the right to say, what kind of people shall be allowed to come here and settle? Is there not such a thing as being more generous than wise? In the effort to promote civilization may we not corrupt and destroy what we have? Is it best to take on board more passengers than the ship will carry? To all of this and more I have one among many answers, together satisfactory to me, though I cannot promise that it will be so to you. I submit that this question of Chinese immigration should be settled upon higher principles than those of a cold and selfish expediency. There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are external, universal, and indestructible. Among these, is the right of locomotion; the right of migration; the right which belongs to no particular race, but belongs alike to all and to all alike. It is the right you assert by staying here, and your fathers asserted by coming here. It is this great right that I assert for the Chinese and Japanese, and for all other varieties of men equally with yourselves, now and forever.

And

But I reject the arrogant and scornful theory by which they would limit migratory rights, or any other essential human rights to themselves, and which would make them the owners of this great continent to the exclusion of all other races of men. I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth. If the white race may exclude all other races from this continent, it may rightfully do the same in respect to all other lands, islands, capes and continents, and thus have all the world to itself. Thus what would seem to belong to the whole, would become the property only of a part. So much for what is right, now let us see what is wise. And here I hold that a liberal and brotherly welcome to all who are likely to come to the United states, is the only wise policy which this nation can adopt.

“Rights wrong no man.” Amen.

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Written by fabiorojas

December 29, 2014 at 5:32 am

Posted in ethics, fabio, philosophy

open borders and out of state tuition: a key hole solution that works

In Open Borders theory, a key hole solution is a policy proposal that is designed to promote the liberalization of immigration while addressing a very specific policy concern. For example, let’s say that I was afraid that Canadians can’t drive. Instead of banning Canadians, we would simply require Canadians to take extra driving lessons before they get a license.

People may think key hole solutions are wonky, or they wouldn’t address the concerns of restrictionists, or just simply wouldn’t work. Here is an example of an actual key hole solution that (a) is widely popular, (b) works pretty well, and (c) is a solution to an issue raised by open borders. It’s called out of state tuition.

The idea is simple. Public universities offer discounts to residents who have lived in the state for a few years. The idea is that once you’ve paid years of sales taxes, property taxes, and other taxes, you get to use a public service at a discount. Why is this a problem? Open borders. America doesn’t restrict what state you can live in. You can move anywhere. But if you haven’t lived in a specific state for a while, you haven’t paid your share of state taxes that go to education. The solution is very easy. Become a resident, file some tax returns, and you get the discount.

What I like about this example is that it is a genuine policy issue (people claiming residency just for the discount) created by free migration. It is also a policy that is simple, humane, and fairly popular. The next time you hear a complaint about open borders ask yourself if there is something easy and simple we can do rather than condemning millions of people to poverty.

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Written by fabiorojas

October 9, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in ethics, fabio

(almost) open borders in time magazine

Time’s website has an article that proposes a radical liberalization of immigration:

However, there is another, and much more effective way to increase technological capabilities in low-income countries. Instead of focusing on innovating more technology to make people more productive, we could focus on getting more people to places where they would be productive.

While allowing the free mobility of goods (free trade) can add several percentage points to global GDP, we have long known that free mobility of people could add anywhere from 67-147% to global GDP. Allowing free mobility could essentially double the world’s income.

This is because people in poor areas are not inherently unproductive but their circumstances mostly make them unproductive. So, if they were to migrate, from say, Guatemala to the US, they would become much more productive.

In other words, let people move to places where they can actually be productive. My one criticism is that the authors focus on skilled workers, but there is little reason to think that allowing low-skilled migration wouldn’t be a benefit. Still, I applaud Time for allowing this idea to be debated.\

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Written by fabiorojas

September 19, 2014 at 12:04 am

Posted in economics, fabio

open borders day is today!

copy-OB_Wordpress_Banner

March 16 is Open Borders Day, the day where we draw attention to the right to peacefully move across national borders. The Open Borders position is that borders are unethical and have harsh consequences. March 16 was chosen because the Open Borders web site opened for business on that day two years ago. If you are interested in Open Borders Day, you might want to participate  in the following way:

  1. Tweet about Open Borders. #OpenBordersDay is our hashtag.
  2. Write a blog post.
  3. Use the image above as your banner image on Facebook.

If you participate in some other way, please email me and I’ll link to it.

I’ll wrap up this post by talking a little bit about why Open Borders is such an important issue. First, it is massive. We could easily and quickly lift millions of people out of poverty with the simple policy of not stopping people from migrating. Second, this is a policy that is consistent with most political beliefs. Hate inequality? Open the borders. Hate racism? Open the borders. Want to help abused women? Open the borders. Like free labor markets? Open the borders. Want to encourage families to stay together? Open the borders. Liberals, conservatives, and libertarians should all stand united for freedom of movement. Open borders!

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Written by fabiorojas

March 16, 2014 at 12:01 am

open borders logo contest finalists

The Open Borders website is hosting a logo contest. Here’s the link to the finalists. Take a look and tell us what you think. The prize, $200, goes to the person whose logo embodies the right of free movement. We favor entries that can easily reproduced on signs, posters, websites, and other materials.

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Written by fabiorojas

October 16, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in ethics, fabio

some open borders entries

Over the Open Borders Logo Contest, on Facebook, we have some nice entries. A few samples:

photo2statue

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by fabiorojas

August 31, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in ethics, fabio

open borders logo contest

The Open Borders movement seeks a symbol that embodies the spirit of free migration. To achieve that goal, we are sponsoring a logo contest. The winner of this contest will get $200 and their design will become the official logo of the Open Borders web site.

  • The goal: Create a simple logo, like the peace sign, that represents free migration.
  • How to enter: Go to the Open Borders Logo Contest Facebook page and post your image. Join the group and send me  a message so I can add you. Then, you can post.
  • The criteria for selection: We seek something that is simple and powerful. Think of an image that a person with little artistic skill could paint on a sign or banner.
  • Who will choose the winner: The Open Borders website editors and the contest sponsors (Bryan Caplan and myself).
  • The winner will be announced on October 1, 2013 or later.

All contestants will retain the rights to their design. The winner will allow the Open Borders  website to use the image indefinitely in exchange for the prize money. The winner will allow others to use the image as long as they do so in a non-profit manner.  In other words, the winner is free to use the image for their own benefit, but they’ll allow it to be used for Open Borders signs, banners, websites, and the like at no cost.

UPDATE: Although this is not a precondition of participation, it is recommended that you consider releasing your image under one of the Creative Commons licenses. Creative Commons licenses are often used for publishing artwork and images over the web in a manner that facilitates reuse while preserving selected rights of the author.

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Written by fabiorojas

August 6, 2013 at 12:36 am

Posted in ethics, fabio

garry davis – open borders hero

I didn’t know anything about Garry Davis until I read his obituary in the LA Times. Early in his life he renounced his US passport and tried to travel the world. He also helped people who were without passports and was an advocate of free travel and migration.

Why? His experience in world war two made him realize the absurdity of nationalism:

However, he lost interest in show business when his older brother Bud was killed in action on a U.S. destroyer off Italy during World War II.

“I prayed for a chance to exact revenge,” he recalled in his 1961 autobiography, “My Country is the World: The Adventures of a World Citizen.”

But after a stint as an Army aviator, he came to regret the bombing runs he made over Germany.

“Ever since my first mission over Brandenburg, I had felt pangs of conscience,” he wrote. “How many men, women and children had I murdered?”

The question so tormented him that he showed up at the American Embassy in Paris on May 25, 1948, to give up his U.S. citizenship and establish himself as a citizen of the world.

One of  his last acts was trying to get Edward Snowden a “citizen of the world” passport. I doubt it would have helped Snowden, but these documents apparently have helped many people move freely and escape oppression.

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Written by fabiorojas

August 2, 2013 at 3:33 am

Posted in ethics, fabio

open borders – a simplified argument

Here’s how I would present the basic arguments for open borders:

  1. Closed borders are immoral: Imagine if I stood in front of the local Olive Garden and built an electric fence because I didn’t want some people to get jobs washing dishes there. Sounds crazy, right? It’s equally crazy to ask the government to do the same with a fence at the Mexican border.
  2. Immigration may be a problem in theory, but not in practice: Theoretically, I can present all kinds problems. Maybe people won’t assimilate. Maybe they’ll bankrupt the state with demands for welfare. Maybe they’ll drive down wages and we’ll all starve. Most academic research shows that in practice, these concerns are way, way out of proportion. In economics, for example, most studies find that immigration doesn’t destroy the economy. Some studies find no effect on wages (here for a recent representative example). The most pessimistic study finds small short term negative effects (e.g., see here for a discussion).
  3. Immigration is the policy implied by most political ideologies: For example, liberals are worried about inequality. Immigration is one of the few policies that immediately decreases inequality by letting extremely poor people move to a place with better jobs. Conservatives extol the virtues of hard work and self-sufficiency. Immigration is the way that people find better jobs and become self-sufficient. Why should we prevent people from supporting their families by finding better jobs?

Open borders are ethical and practical.

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Written by fabiorojas

July 18, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in ethics, fabio

open borders in the atlantic magazine

The Open Borders movement is based around a simple idea – in most cases, people should not be restricted in their movement across borders. This idea was featured this weekend in The Atlantic. The article presents the case and discusses the academics and writers who congregate at the Open Borders blog, which is run by Vipul Naik.

Michael Huemer, a philosopher, boils down the argument with the hypothetical story inspired by the “Starvin’ Marvin” South Park character:

[Marvin] is very hungry and is trying to travel to the marketplace to buy some food. Another person, Sam (Sam has a large number of nephews and nieces, so we’ll call him Uncle Sam), decides to stop Marvin from going to the marketplace using coercion. He goes down there with his M16 and blocks the road. As a result, Marvin can’t trade for food and, as a result, he starves. So then the question is, did Sam kill Marvin? Did he violate his rights? Almost anyone would say yes, Sam acted wrongly. In fact, if Marvin died as a result, then Sam killed him. It wouldn’t be that Sam failed to help Marvin. No, he actively intervened….This is analogous to the U.S. government’s immigration policy. There are people who want to trade in our marketplace, in this case the labor market, and the government effectively prevents them from doing that, through use of force.

I was also cited for discussing open borders strategy:

“Open borders will become a reality when the public stops believing that immigrants are a threat,” sociologist Fabio Rojas recently wrote, comparing the open borders movement to the gay rights movement. “Even if a pro-immigration referendum fails to pass, it will still serve the function of forcing the issue onto the public stage. These actions won’t ­­change the minds of those strongly committed to anti-immigration policy. Instead, they will make immigration seem ‘normal’ to a later generation of people.”

Check it out.

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Written by fabiorojas

April 30, 2013 at 12:01 am