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The empirical and economic benefits of open bordersDecember 7, 2012
Immigration is a strange issue. Although it is the subject of a lot of popular fear and political debate, there is an overwhelming consensus among economists that it is, on the whole, a great blessing. What’s more, this consensus cuts not only across political, but also methodological lines, with classical liberal, neo-classical, Chicago school, Austrian, and even some Keynesian economists agreeing that relatively unfettered labor mobility maximizes economic growth. John Stuart Mill even went so far as to say that migration was “one of the primary sources of progress.” Adam Smith opposed mercantilist restrictions not just on capital, but on labor as well. Ludwig von Mises, the guru of the Austrian school, advocated a system of free trade where capital and labor would be employed wherever conditions are most favorable for production.
The one prominent exception was Karl Marx. Although he doesn’t seem to have treated this subject in a systematic way, his comments here and there suggest that he was no fan of immigration. For example, he regarded England’s decision to absorb the “surplus” Irishmen being driven out of their country during the Great Famine not as a benefit but a ploy by the English bourgeoisie to “force down wages and lower the material and moral position of the English working class.” The popular, modern-day restrictionist canard that immigration from the Third World to rich countries is tantamount to “importing poverty” has its genesis in Marxist thought. Indeed, far from being embarrassed by this lineage, restrictionists tout it. Consider this quote by Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, the premier restrictionist outfit in the country: “Employer organizations spend enormous resources lobbying the government to import a ‘reserve army of labor,’ to use Marx’s phrase, so that they can hold down their labor costs and avoid unionization.”
It is ironic that half of the public in the free world, including America, the land of immigrants, sides not with free-market economists like Adam Smith and Ludwig von Mises—but with Marx, the father of socialism.
The primary reason for this is that the case for open borders is counterintuitive. It is hard to see how, in a world with finite resources, allowing more people into a country would enhance its prosperity instead of leading to overcrowding, more job competition and lower wages. But this Malthusian worldview, I will argue, is ultimately flawed—even dangerously so. I will lay out the theoretical case for open borders, present the empirical evidence showing that immigration is a net boon and address the common restrictionist objection to open borders: the issue of welfare.
But, first, what does open borders mean?
The state's harsh immigration law will only worsen its economic woes.November 15, 2011
Conservatives are resorting to ever more draconian measures to take back the country from “illegal immigrants.” The latest state to declare an all-out jihad is Alabama. But as with slavery and segregation, they are using the government to commit sins that will eventually require even more government to undo.
There was a DHS report in July noting that the number of arrests at our borders (includes Canadian border, but most are at the Mexico border) has been declining since 2005, and that we only arrested 500,000 people in 2010 crossing the border. I say only because we arrested 1.7 million at the border in 2000. Decent decline, and the lowest in 40 years according to DHS. Why?
The GOP presidential hopeful bashes unauthorized workers.August 30, 2011
Just when Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign badly needed some class, writes Shikha Dalmia, Bachmann reached into the mud and found another group to demonize besides homosexuals: illegal immigrants. She announced recently that she would become the first GOP presidential candidate to make opposition to illegal immigration a signature issue, no doubt in a bid to shore up her flagging poll numbers against Rick Perry.
Immigration policy is a joke on both the left and right.August 26, 2011
If you're looking for laughs, the nation's capital probably isn't the place to start your search. But you can still find reasons for levity if you try. Take immigration. As A. Barton Hinkle explains, immigration policy is a joke on both the left and right.
Under the guise of immigration enforcement, the White House pushes a pro-union agenda.July 12, 2011
When it comes to immigration policy, writes Shikha Dalmia, President Barack Obama has found his inner Machiavelli. He has devised an enforcement approach that both disarms conservatives and delights labor unions. But as Dalmia explains, under the guise of immigration enforcement, the White House is pushing a pro-union, job-killing agenda.
View Resources by Type
- Alabama's War on Immigrants
The state's harsh immigration law will only worsen its economic woes.
November 15, 2011
- Michele Bachmann's Unholy Crusade
The GOP presidential hopeful bashes unauthorized workers.
August 30, 2011
- A Laughing Matter
Immigration policy is a joke on both the left and right.
A. Barton Hinkle
August 26, 2011
- Obama's Anti-Immigrant Stance
Under the guise of immigration enforcement, the White House pushes a pro-union agenda.
July 12, 2011
- The Return of E-Verify
State governments embrace a dangerous employment verification database.
June 23, 2011
- Muddled Masses
The immigration detention system treats suspected illegal aliens like criminals, but with fewer rights.
Jesse James DeConto
June 13, 2011
- Is Obama Serious About Immigration Reform?
His speech this week suggests that he's not.
May 11, 2011
- A Pragmatic Champion of Liberty
Gary Johnson's cross-political appeal will help both the country and the liberty movement.
May 3, 2011
- Protecting Immigrants From Government Exploitation
Trading birthright citizenship for an expanded guest worker program is a bad deal for both immigrants and Americans.
April 5, 2011
- The Bogus Case Against Birthright Citizenship
Anti-immigration hysteria has blinded conservatives to their own principles
March 15, 2011
- A Birthright, and a Mess of Pottage
The misguided effort to remove birthright citizenship
January 17, 2011
- Immigrant Bashing By Immigrants
The GOP's ethnic candidates won by embracing a restrictionist agenda in the midterm elections.
November 9, 2010
- ObamaCare's First Major Casualties
Why the new health care law is bad for gays and aliens
October 4, 2010
- Giving Birth to Immigration Fears
Why birthright citizenship is nothing to worry about
August 16, 2010
- Born in the U.S.A.
The misguided movement to strip birthright citizenship from the Constitution
Damon W. Root
August 11, 2010
- The Spanish Prisoner
The unequal burdens of Arizona's immigration law
August 4, 2010
- The Immigration Question
Why we should let more people in
July 22, 2010
- Obama’s Immigration Distraction
Even immigrants are shunning America’s sputtering economy
July 13, 2010
- Citizenship Should Remain a Birthright
The latest bad idea about immigration from Arizona
June 28, 2010
- The Global Grapevine
Sociologist Gary Alan Fine explains what rumors tell us about America's relationship to globalization
June 4, 2010
- Legalize Immigration
It's time to focus on letting legal immigrants in.
May 31, 2010
- The Bogus Constitutional Arguments of Arizona's Ultra-Restrictionists
States can't write their own immigration laws
May 11, 2010
- Arizona's Un-American Immigration Law
How the state's harsh new law undermines American exceptionalism
May 5, 2010
- Arrest Everybody
Arizona encourages police to emulate "the toughest sheriff in America."
May 5, 2010
- Immigration Isn't the Problem
The real issue is border security
May 3, 2010
- Mysteries of an Immigration Law
Is Arizona's new law a menace?
April 29, 2010
- How Immigration Crackdowns Backfire
The trouble with Arizona's draconian new law
April 22, 2010
- Don't Let Obama Touch Immigration Reform
The leading proposal will curtail liberties without making life better for immigrants.
April 13, 2010
- Smoke a Joint, Lose Your Country
Rigid deportation rules make a mockery of justice.
April 7, 2010
- The Paulpocalypse
A longtime Ron Paul watcher wonders if his CPAC victory is the dawn of a new age, or the beginning of the end
February 24, 2010
- Immigration and Crime
There's nothing to fear from illegal immigrants
February 22, 2010
- The Lou Dobbs Option
The Senate health care bill's anti-undocumented-immigrant provisions ought to be deal-breakers for civil libertarians
Shikha Dalmia and Harris Kenny
January 15, 2010
- Strangers in a Strange Land
Forget man's inhumanity to man. District 9 is a deft satire of man's inhumanity to alien
August 14, 2009
- Nativist International
Bribing immigrants to leave
August 3, 2009
- Do Immigrants Make Cities Safer? The El Paso Miracle
How can a comparatively poor, high-immigration town that sits across the border from super-violent Ciudad Juarez be one of the safest big cities in America?
July 14, 2009
- I.T. Go Home
Skilled immigrant exodus
May 29, 2009
- Solving the Immigration Problem—Once and For All
The true story of the Save the Endangered Americans Act of 2018
May 14, 2009
- Goodbye Chang, So Long Singh
America's real immigration problem will soon be returning emigres
March 23, 2009
- Immigrants Have Never Been Less Interested in America
Much-needed, highly-skilled immigrants are returning to their home countries
March 23, 2009
- Shot by the Sheriff
Artists protest a border crackdown
February 27, 2009
- Checkpoint Diego
Don't go near the border
January 27, 2009
- Alien World
How treacherous border crossing became a theme park
January 8, 2009
- Video: Immigration Nation at Bloggingheads.tv
Is America still built to receive all those huddled masses?
July 14, 2008
- Scrap the Visa Cap
America's ability to attract new foreign-born workers and to keep the existing ones is diminishing
April 5, 2008
- Why Penalize Peter to Deport Pablo?
The SAVE Act won't stop illegal immigration, but might cost you your job
April 1, 2008
- Employers and Workers Are Victims of New Immigration Policy
Bush's crackdown: all politics, no principle
August 20, 2007
- For Prosperity, Immigrants Need the Family
Letter to the Editor
July 21, 2007
- This Fourth of July, Salute Rush Limbaugh
Why you should thank the people who killed the immigration bill
July 4, 2007
- Reagan Embraced Amnesty, So Should Bush
Unskilled workers don't have a path to permanent residency
May 7, 2007
- Queueless on Immigration
Why should day laborers have to "touch back"?
April 26, 2007
- Anti-Immigration: A Ticket to Nowhere
Republicans' anti-immigration movement cost them, even in Arizona
November 20, 2006
- Illegal Immigrants are Paying a Lot More Taxes Than You Think
Eight million illegals pay Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes
May 1, 2006