[Marxism] There’s Nothing Wrong With Open Borders

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 20 11:24:09 MST 2019

NY Times Op-Ed, Jan. 20, 2019
There’s Nothing Wrong With Open Borders
By Farhad Manjoo

The internet expands the bounds of acceptable discourse, so ideas 
considered out of bounds not long ago now rocket toward widespread 
acceptability. See: cannabis legalization, government-run health care, 
white nationalism and, of course, the flat-earthers.

Yet there’s one political shore that remains stubbornly beyond the 
horizon. It’s an idea almost nobody in mainstream politics will address, 
other than to hurl the label as a bloody cudgel.

I’m talking about opening up America’s borders to everyone who wants to 
move here.

Imagine not just opposing President Trump’s wall but also opposing the 
nation’s cruel and expensive immigration and border-security apparatus 
in its entirety. Imagine radically shifting our stance toward outsiders 
from one of suspicion to one of warm embrace. Imagine that if you passed 
a minimal background check, you’d be free to live, work, pay taxes and 
die in the United States. Imagine moving from Nigeria to Nebraska as 
freely as one might move from Massachusetts to Maine.

There’s a witheringly obvious moral, economic, strategic and cultural 
case for open borders, and we have a political opportunity to push it. 
As Democrats jockey for the presidency, there’s room for a brave 
politician to oppose President Trump’s racist immigration rhetoric not 
just by fighting his wall and calling for the abolishment of I.C.E. but 
also by making a proactive and affirmative case for the vast expansion 
of immigration.

It would be a change from the stale politics of the modern era, in which 
both parties agreed on the supposed wisdom of “border security” and 
assumed that immigrants were to be feared.

As an immigrant, this idea confounds me. My family came to the United 
States from our native South Africa in the late 1980s. After jumping 
through lots of expensive and confusing legal hoops, we became citizens 
in 2000. Obviously, it was a blessing: In rescuing me from a society in 
which people of my color were systematically oppressed, America has 
given me a chance at liberty.

But why had I deserved that chance, while so many others back home — 
because their parents lacked certain skills, money or luck — were denied it?

When you see the immigration system up close, you’re confronted with its 
bottomless unfairness. The system assumes that people born outside our 
borders are less deserving of basic rights than those inside. My 
native-born American friends did not seem to me to warrant any more 
dignity than my South African ones; according to this nation’s founding 
documents, we were all created equal. Yet by mere accident of geography, 
some were given freedom, and others were denied it.

“When you start to think about it, a system of closed borders begins to 
feel very much like a system of feudal privilege,” said Reece Jones, a 
professor of geography at the University of Hawaii who argues that 
Democrats should take up the mantle of open borders. “It’s the same idea 
that there’s some sort of hereditary rights to privilege based on where 
you were born.”

I admit the politics here are perilous. Although America’s borders were 
open for much of its history — if your ancestors came here voluntarily, 
there’s a good chance it was thanks to open borders — restrictions on 
immigration are now baked so deeply into our political culture that any 
talk of loosening them sparks anger.

People worry that immigrants will bring crime, even though stats show 
immigrants are no more dangerous than natives. People worry they’ll take 
jobs away from native workers, even though most studies suggests that 
immigration is a profound benefit to the economy, and there’s little 
evidence it hurts native workers. And if we worry that they’ll hoover up 
welfare benefits, we can impose residency requirements for them.

But these are all defensive arguments, and when you’re on defense, 
you’re losing. For opponents of the president’s xenophobic policies, a 
better plan is to make the affirmative case for a lot more immigrants.

Economically and strategically, open borders isn’t just a good plan — 
it’s the only chance we’ve got. America is an aging nation with a 
stagnant population. We have ample land to house lots more people, but 
we are increasingly short of workers. And on the global stage, we face 
two colossi — India and China — which, with their billions, are 
projected to outstrip American economic hegemony within two decades.

How will we ever compete with such giants? The same way we always have: 
by inviting the world’s most enthusiastic and creative people — 
including the people willing to walk here, to risk disease and 
degradation and death to land here — to live out their best life under 

A new migrant caravan is forming in Honduras, and the president is 
itching for the resulting political fight.

Here’s hoping Democrats respond with creativity and verve. Not just “No 
wall.” Not just “Abolish ICE.”

Instead: “Let them in.”

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