The Case for Open Borders

Like most nations, the United States imposes substantial restrictions on immigration. If you want to move to the United States, you have to obtain visas and other travel documents, pay various fees, and wait possibly years before you are allowed to immigrate. Although such immigration restrictions are nearly universal, there is another option. In this brief, I argue that nations should adopt a policy of “open borders,” where movement between countries is easy and regulations are light. An open borders policy has a number of benefits. First, the lives of migrants are improved by immigration. An open borders regime would allow people to immigrate in search of better jobs, higher wages, and safety from violence. Second, migration improves the destination country. Migrants tend to have low crime rates, they often perform low status jobs that native workers do not want, and they increase the productivity of the destination country. Finally, contrary to popular myth, studies show that migrants do not displace native workers. Given the benefits of migration and relatively low cost, migration should be made “safe, legal, and common.”

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