The Case for (Completely) Open Immigration

George R.R. Martin recently weighed in on allowing Syrian refugees into the country, and he did a fine job of stating the moral case for doing so, but I thought I’d just add a few thoughts of my own (on immigration in general, not just the Syrians):

    • Immigration is essentially travel. Travel is not a threat and it doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact, as we’ll discuss in a minute, there’s every benefit. Crimes, like murder, theft, rape… those hurt people. But they are already against the law. What benefit do we gain by also making travel illegal? What is the crime being committed by traveling?
    • Think about it: we have freedom of travel between states, don’t we? Between cities? Between your front door and the grocery store? Imagine, at any one of these places there was a government-mandated checkpoint where you had to show ID to pass. “Sorry, sir, you can’t leave your front door until we examine your papers.” If that were the case, what difference would there be between freedom and house arrest?
    • Freedom to travel is a basic human right. The very word “freedom” means the opposite of constraint, i.e., the ability to move. When someone commits a crime, the first right we remove is their right to travel–it’s called “arrest”. And eventually, “imprisonment”.
    • It is mystifying that some supposed proponents of all things liberty are nevertheless in favor of strict immigration laws and keeping “outsiders” out. The only possible justification for this is xenophobia. What else could it possibly be?
    • Think about it: they are only “outsiders” by virtue of a government’s arbitrary and forceful definition of it’s country’s borders. Those borders were established by conquest and war. Drop the arbitrary distinction and the people on the other side of that imaginary line are just people, same as you.
    • Your definition of them as “outsiders” then, can only be based on some way they are superficially different from you: skin color, language, beliefs, manner of dress, dietary habits, etc. Should any of those be against the law?
    • There are some bad things going down in the world. Sensible, good people are going to want to escape those things. People are going to travel where they see the best chance of making a life for themselves and their families. They have every right, and we have no right to stop them.
    • People are going to speak whatever languages they want, enjoy whatever customs they want, practice whatever religions they want. We have no more right to stop them than we would to dictate what kind of clothing they should wear, music to listen to, or food to eat for dinner. This is not the purview of government. It’s not why we have government.
    • Only gonna say this once, because, honestly, it’s the kind of thing you’re supposed to teach a child: it’s OKAY if people are different than you. It doesn’t make them a threat.
    • On the contrary, immigration only adds to your economic well-being and makes life more interesting. Imagine if there were no books from other countries, or food, or foreign films, or video games, or manufactured products. Are you sipping coffee right now as you read this? Where do you think it came from? If we were to wave a wand and make everything “foreign” in your immediate surroundings disappear there’s a good chance that 90% of everything around you would be gone, including the chair you’re sitting on, much of the building structure, your food, your vehicle, your computer, your phone, and probably most if not all of your clothing. The very idea of “liberty” originated on foreign shores (it’s a French word that has its roots in Latin). Think about that the next time you slag on “foreigners”. Your life is enhanced and made more rich owing to the ability of people (and products, and information, and ideas) to cross borders.
    • If you really are concerned about foreigners supposedly “leeching” off the system, restrict entitlements, not travel. Everyone who comes here and works productively is adding to your economic welfare, not leeching it.
    • “Dey dook our jewbs!!” Jobs don’t belong to you by virtue of occupying a place. Think about it: you move to a new city and get a job. Did you “take” the job of someone who was more entitled to it by virtue of living in the city before you? A job does not “belong” to anyone. It’s an agreement between two willing parties. A contract. A job does not belong to you any more than a handshake.
    • The argument “Well, the law is the law” is basic, patent nonsense. There are clearly bad laws which should not be on the books. Legislators are constantly dreaming up new bills to distract the masses into thinking their representatives are really “doing something”. They pass thousands of pages of new legislation every year. Do you really think every one is a model of wise and just governance, which doesn’t benefit any special interests or hurt anyone with unintended consequences? If they passed a law requiring the immediate round-up and execution of all blue-eyed people would you really make the argument “well, the law is the law…”?
    • We are all the sons and daughters of immigrants—people who saw a better opportunity for their families than wherever they were born. You are here, enjoying the life you enjoy, owing to an open immigration policy.

So, what are your thoughts on immigration? Open or closed?

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