Today, March 16th, is
Open Borders Day, according to the folks over at OpenBorders.info. In honor of the day, they have posted an
Open Borders Manifesto, which they are asking people to sign. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. As manifestos go, it rightly defends the essential importance of open borders, but it undercuts itself by carving out vast areas for government border policing and border control, in the interest of taking a reformist approach. That’s an understandable choice if you think that reformist approaches are a productive means of securing incremental reforms. But I don’t think that they are, really, at least not incremental reforms in the direction that I would like to see. So I’ve taken their manifesto and I’ve used it to create my own. As you may know if you know my views on borders, this is actually a pretty level-headed and moderate statement. But not one that will leave any room for government border policing or suggest that there are legitimate reasons to deny people freedom of travel.
Open Borders Manifesto (Non-Reformist Edition)
Written by Charles Johnson, as a re-writing of OpenBorders.info’s original Open Borders Manifesto.
Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that no government and no individual has the right to invade. This includes movement across national boundaries.
International human rights agreements already recognize the right of any individual to leave his or her country. But a right to emigrate is meaningless if you have nowhere to immigrate to. International and domestic law must respect not only the right of individuals to peacefully leave the country they are in, but also the right of individuals to peacefully enter other countries. Governments have no right to discriminate against foreign nationals simply on the basis of their nationality: freedom of movement and residence are fundamental rights and should not be circumscribed.
Border enforcement is both morally unconscionable and economically destructive. Border controls restrict the movement of people who bear no ill intentions. Most of the people legally barred from moving across international borders today are fleeing persecution or poverty, desire a better job or home, striving to rejoin their families or to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They deserve sympathy and solidarity, not scapegoating, stigma, criminalization, arrest or exile.
National borders bar ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire simply because of where they are from, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Under the status quo billions of people are discriminated against, targeted, criminalized, legally barred from families, livelihoods, ambitions and justice purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world. It is indefensible in any order that recognizes the moral worth and dignity of every human being.
We seek for every law, policy or government that bars cross-border movement, that polices or penalizes people for immigrating across borders, to be altered or abolished. The economic toll of the restrictive border regime is vast, the human toll for billions of ordinary people is incalculable. To end this, we do not need a philosopher’s utopia or a world government. As human beings, we only demand accountability from governments for the senseless immigration laws that they enact in our name and inflict on our neighbors. Border controls should be uprooted and abolished. International borders should be open for all to cross, in both directions.
Individual or organizational signatories are welcome.
- GT 2014-11-16: Every border-crossing ought to be reduced to so much hipster ruin-porn
- GT 2014-11-13: No human being.
- GT 2013-11-26: No higher law.
- C4SS.org 2013-10-15: Against All Nations and Borders.
- GT 2013-07-27: Immigration freedom is personal liberty. Borders are statism.
- GT 2009-08-28: Border politics
- GT 2007-12-17: International apartheid in Roswell
- GT 2007-11-12: Sin Fronteras