The Moral Obviousness of Open Immigration

The case for open immigration is simple.  It is simple, at least, for anyone who begins from an assumption of human freedom, rather than arbitrary authority.  People should be free to live where they please.  They should be free to travel.  They should be able to do business or associate with whomever else is also willing.  They should not be trapped in the country of their birth.

These are obvious, basic freedoms.  Because they are so basic, they are extremely important.  Any more complicated freedom we could pursue would almost without fail build on them.  Life in America would be unimaginable without them.  My family’s history would have been impossible.  Without the ability to travel across the country, my mother from Chicago and father from Rochester would never have met.  My father could not have taken his current job in Kansas City to support his family.  I would have been unable to attend college in Massachusetts or work in the District of Columbia.  How obviously unjust would it have been to prohibit all of these things?

Just as unjust as current immigration law, in America and world-wide.  All of the things my parents and I can do easily within this country are, in various arbitrary degrees, restricted or prohibited across national borders.  When we forbid people from immigrating from the third world, we condemn them to a shorter lifespan beset by poverty and disease, life in tyrannous police states or corrupt kleptocracies, and the chaos of civil war.  What reason could we have for forbidding people to leave terrible places?

I’ll discuss and reject the possible reasons over the next couple of posts.  I’ve moved through the moral argument quickly because it is simple.  There is no need to make a thorough review of the strangling annoyances that exist under current law.  If you do not share an instinctive appreciation for the value of human beings to live their lives freely, if you do not at least see the facial appeal of open immigration, I would suggest introspection.  What moral principles could deny the right of people to freely seek a better life?

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