Addressing Common Objections to Migration Rights

Fourth in a series of posts based on my new book "Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

In previous posts based on my new book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom, I explained what the book is about and why I wrote it, described the advantages of foot voting over ballot box voting, and took a closer look at the three major types of foot voting, highlighting their various advantages.

In this one, I preview some of the arguments made in Chapters 5 and 6 of the book, which address a variety of justifications for excluding migrants.  I divide those theories into two broad categories: claims that natives have a general right to exclude migrants based on a right to self-determination, and claims that there is a right to exclude in order to forestall specific harmful consequences of migration. Today, such arguments are usually advanced to justify restricting international migration. But, as well shall see, most can also be used to justify restricting internal migration, as well.

I. Does Group or Individual Self-Determination Give Natives a Right to Exclude Migrants?

A standard objection to foot voting rights is that the existing population within a jurisdiction has a right of self-determination that entitles it to keep out migrants. The political freedom of migrants, it is said, must be restricted to protect that of natives.

Perhaps the most common  justification for a power to restrict immigration is based on the rights of distinct ethnic, racial, or cultural groups to self-determination. Thus, France is the rightful property of the French, Germany of Germans, and so on.

Arguments for restrictions on migration based on group membership founder on the flaws inherent in claims that there is a right to live in a polity that privileges a particular culture or ethnic group. Such a right would imply the power to coerce even currently existing residents to keep them from changing their cultural practices.

After all, a culture can be transformed through internal change no less than through immigration. Older generations often complain about the cultural changes created by the choices of the young. Yet few argue that their elders have a right to use force to prevent it, much less to the point of expelling anyone who fails to conform.

Another problem with the group self-determination argument is trying to determine which group has the "right" to control which territory. Perhaps such rights are created when an group that has acquired previously unoccupied territory, and then developed it, without forcibly displacing anyone else But, if so, virtually no actual government can claim such a right, as nearly all are the products of repeated conquest or coercion, and most rule territories occupied by multiple cultural or ethnic groups, not just one.

Ethnic and cultural group-based claims for a right to exclude are particularly problematic for those committed to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity. The standard defense of racial and ethnic non-discrimination is that race and ethnicity are morally irrelevant characteristics that people have no control over. Whether a person is black, Asian, white, or Hispanic says nothing about her moral worth, or what rights she should have. Most liberal democrats recoil at the idea that we should restrict people's freedom because they chose the wrong parents.

What is true of race and ethnicity is also true of place of birth. Whether a person was born in the United States, Mexico, or China is also a morally arbitrary characteristic that she has no control over, and which should not determine how much freedom she is entitled to. To adapt a famous quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., place of birth is no more indicative of  "the content of your character" than race of birth.

In the book, I also address a number of other, less prominent group-based justifications for exclusion. These include the idea that exclusion is essential to democratic self-determination regardless of whether the group in question has a distinct culture, that rights to exclude are inherent in the very nature of state sovereignty, and that exclusion is needed to enable existing residents to avoid "unwanted obligations."

In addition to group rights claims for states' authority to exclude migrants, there are also individual rights theories, which analogize the nation-state to a private house or club. If a homeowner has the right to bar outsiders from her property, the same reasoning gives a national government the power to exclude migrants.

Despite its widespread use, the house analogy has severe flaws. It appeals to property rights. But it actually ends up undermining private property. Far from protecting property rights, immigration restrictions actually abrogate the rights of property owners who want to rent their property to migrants, associate with them, or employ them on their land.

Perhaps, however, the government is a kind of super-owner that has the right to supersede the decisions of private owners whenever it passes a law that does so. With this modification, the house analogy could indeed potentially justify almost any immigration restrictions a government might choose to set up. But it can also justify a variety of repressive government policies that target natives, as well.

If a state has the same powers over land as a homeowner has over her house, then the state has broad power to suppress speech and religion the rulers disapprove of. A homeowner has every right to mandate that only Muslim prayer will be permitted in his house, or that  only left-wing political speech be tolerated within its walls.

We might potentially forestall some of the illiberal implications of the house analogy by establishing constitutional rights against them. But if the analogy is valid, such guarantees are not morally required. They can be granted or withheld at the discretion of the government.

The club analogy has the same implications as the house version. Private clubs can and do restrict membership on the basis of speech, religion, and other similar criteria. A Republican club can exclude Democrats, a Muslim club can exclude Christians and Jews, and so on.

II. Consequentialist Justifications for Exclusion

Many advocates of migration restrictions claim not that there is a general right to exclude migrants for any reasons, but instead that exclusion is often justified by the need to avoid specific negative consequences of migration. These include such dangers as overburdening the welfare state, increased crime and terrorism, and undermining of a nation's political institutions by new citizens who vote for harmful policies. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the danger that migrants might spread deadly diseases.

The book addresses a wide range of concerns like this. In addition to those already mentioned, they includ the danger of spreading harmful cultural values, the possibility that migration will damage the environment, and the risk that immigrants will undermine "social trust" and damage receiving nations' political institutions.

Here, I briefly summarize my three-stage approach for addressing such issues. First, many of the standard objections to free migration are significantly overblown. If there is little or no problem to begin with, we should not be willing to make any significant sacrifices to "solve" it.

Second, where migration creates genuine problems, it is often possible to deal with the issue by means of "keyhole solutions" that minimize the risk without barring migrants. Instead of applying a meat cleaver that undermines political freedom and inflicts great sacrifices on potential migrants, it is better to apply a scalpel.

Finally, where  keyhole solutions are inadequate, policymakers should  consider tapping the vast wealth created by expanded migration to mitigate negative side-effects that cannot be addressed in other ways.

I do not claim this approach can solve all conceivable problems potentially caused by foot voting. There are likely to be extreme cases where it fails. But the framework can be effectively applied to a wide range of issues often seen as strong justifications for imposing migration restrictions.

Consider, for example, claims that immigration will overburden the welfare state. Evidence from both the US and Europe indicates that this problem is overblown, as jurisdictions with more immigrants do not have higher per capita welfare spending than those with fewer, and the vast majority of immigrants contribute more to the public fisc than they take out. But to the extent this is a problem, there are a variety of keyhole solutions, most notably restricting immigrants' eligibility for various welfare state benefits, as many nations – including the US—already do. Finally, if keyhole mechanisms prove insufficient, we have the option of taxing some of the vast new wealth created by immigration and using it to defray any additional welfare expenses.

The three-step framework also works for claims that migration needs to be restricted in order to contain the spread of diseases, such as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – the ostensible justification for Donald Trump's recently extended near-total suspension of entry into the United States by migrants seeking permanent residency. This issue is not in the book, which was written before the pandemic began. But  the approach I set out can handle it, nonetheless.

Here, there is a genuine problem, as the coronavirus really is an unusually dangerous public health threat. But it is not  clear that travel restrictions can do much to slow its spread, especially when there is already extensive "community spread" in the destination country. Pandemics such as the "Black Death" devastated the world in even in eras when the vast majority of people were peasants or serfs who rarely left the villages where they were born.

There is also keyhole alternative to excluding migrants: impose a 14 day quarantine on entrants, as has been done by South Korea, which has done a far better job of constraining Covid 19 than the US. By that means, migrants can be isolated until it is clear they do not have the virus or are no longer contagio aus.

A 14-day quarantine may be a deal-breaker for tourists or business travelers. But, for most migrants, it is a small price to pay for the opportunity to live in a society that offers greater freedom and opportunity. And unlike migration restrictions, the combination of free migration and the quarantine keyhole solution does not create a large population of undocumented migrants, who in turn have strong incentives to avoid testing for Covid, thereby facilitating its spread. In the long run, the wealth created by migration also facilitates improvements in public health, including increased medical innovation to combat diseases.

Today, most standard arguments for barring migration are usually used only to justify excluding international migrants. But they apply just as readily to internal foot voting. If the US is analogous to a private club and can therefore bar migrants from Cuba or Mexico, then the same analogy can justify Texas in barring Californians. If the dominant ethnic group of France can bar foreigners with different cultures, then the majority ethnic group of a given US state should be able to exclude people from other parts of the United States who have different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  And if the US government can bar foreigners lest they overburden our welfare state, then wealthier states should be able to bar internal migrants from poorer ones.

Those unwilling to bite such bullets in the domestic context should carefully consider whether international migration is really so different. Indeed, historically these kinds of arguments were used to justify state-government restrictions on the entry of African-Americans, "paupers," and others.

In Chapter 5 of Free to Move, I also address arguments that restrictions on migration are justified in order to protect the rights and interests of the citizens of would-be migrants countries of origin. These include claims that migrants have a duty to "stay home and fix their own countries," arguments that governments should have the power to prevent "brain drain," and claims that potential migrants must work for the betterment of their native lands so that the latter can recoup investments made in their upbringing and education. I criticize such theories on both moral and pragmatic grounds. Like arguments for excluding immigrants, these rationales for barring emigration readily justify restrictions on internal emigration as well as the international kind. If Cubans have a duty to stay home and fix Cuba, perhaps Californians have a similar obligation to fix California, instead of moving to Texas.

I do not claim migration rights are absolute. A sufficiently great evil that can only be prevented by such restrictions might justify imposing them, just as similar tragic situations might justify violating other important human rights. But the immense value of foot voting should at least create a strong presumption against restriction. The right to vote with your feet cannot be absolute. But it should not be lightly set aside.

Note: The Introduction to the book, which provides an overview of the rest, is available for free download on the SSRN website here.



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  1. It deserves pointing out that some nations already do heavily filter out would-be immigrants who are unable or unwilling to conform in great detail to the existing culture there. Japan and Switzerland have had such policies for a long time, and I don’t think it’s an accident that both are among the quietest and most crime-free countries in the world. Australia was like that too until recently, and is regretting changing that policy.

    1. Japan and Switzerland do so in a very different manner, though.
      Japan does so on a racial basis, Switzerland on a behavioral basis.

      Switzerland accepts Muslim immigrants, but insists they ACT Swiss, e.g. “your daughter WILL wear a bathing suit and WILL attend swim class (K-12) along with the rest of the children.

      1. “Switzerland accepts Muslim immigrants, but insists they ACT Swiss, e.g. “your daughter WILL wear a bathing suit and WILL attend swim class (K-12) along with the rest of the children.”

        This is such a weird statement. “your daughter WILL wear a bathing suit…” Muslim women wear bathing suits. Their daughters wear bathing suits. What do you think they wear when they go to the beach? Nothing?

        Your reference is to a high-profile case of a Muslim Turkish family that tried to keep their daughter out of swim class. But that’s “ACT Swiss” in the classroom. Which is hardly unusual. Lots of American class rooms require immigrants to “ACT American” too, by (for example) taking American History as part of the curricular, pledging allegiance, sprekking zee English, that kind of shit. It’s like that everywhere. And it’s not like Switzerland is uniform in its cultural protectionist policies. While several cantons had burqa bans, the country rejected a nationwide ban.

        The extent that some foreign country (that you don’t know a lot about) does things differently is complicated. It’s very easy to read some article in Breitbart that affirms your priors, but that doesn’t provide the necessary context to make sweeping claims like “Switzerland accepts Muslim immigrants, but insists they ACT Swiss…” Do you think the Swiss government force-feeds immigrants Raclette? Forces them to wear or own smocks and tights? And which language would the Swiss government require immigrants to speak? Swiss German in Zurich or Basel (though remember they speak different versions!)? French Swiss as the Burgundians? Or Swiss Italian in Ticino? It’s just a bizarre example to use for a culturally hegemonic place. The idea of a national Switzerland assumes assimilation of other cultures.

        There are millions of Muslim men and women who know how to swim, and attended swim classes.

        1. Mmmm. . .Raclette.

          I’ve had one for three decades.

        2. I was told the story by a Swiss citizen, and I thank you for verifying it — although I doubt it was a singular occurrence.

          And for reasons I chose not to state here, I know a LOT about Swiss immigration policies.

        3. Actually American schools can’t force anyone to pledge allegiance and in many cases do not force student to speek English. I know of some language immersion schools that discourage it. In fact if a parent does not want their children to speek English they can home school or start their own school.

    2. The comparisons are cherry-picked and too broad to show direct causation.

      Japan has a foreign-born population of around 1.9% of its total population. The United States is around 14.3%. Singapore is around 42.9%. Yet Singapore has lower rates of intentional homicide (.16 victims per 100,000 inhabitants) than Japan (.26) and the United States (4.96). On the flip side, there are plenty of countries with virtually no immigrants (Venezuela, Jamaica, Lesotho, Brazil) that routinely end up on the top ten list of places with most violent crime/highest intentional homicide rates. Iraq, as another example with virtually no foreign-born population (.3%), has significantly lower foreign-born population than the US, but a lower crime index.

      The world is a big place. Anybody serious about determining whether there was even a correlation between % of foreign-born population and instances of crime would never rely on two anecdotes making up less than 2% of the world’s population.

      But even if you could show the correlation, there would be other reasons to question direct causation. The crime rate and closed borders may correlate incidentally. In part because of its immigration policy, Japan is one of the oldest countries on the planet. Since violent crime is committed primarily by young men, aging populations (regardless of how comprised) are going to have less crime than aged populations. Japan could artificially lower its crime rate even more if it allowed massive migration… exclusively of people over the age of 60. (Policies that skew the population towards the elderly have their own issues. A lot of countries, particularly where the native birth rate is low, use immigration specifically to avoid those problems.) And there are confounding factors. Japan (like the US) now has more women than men. Women are far less likely to commit violent crime than men.

      Any discussion of the effect of immigration on crime is going to need to account for these facts. It’s too complicated to simply select two countries that happen to confirm your priors, and bandy that out as causation (“I don’t think it’s an accident…”).

      I don’t know what the non-sequitur with Australia is intended to prove. Its crime rate is in steady decline. It was .8 (per 100K population) in 2017 and 2.2 in 1990.

      1. You do know that Japanese demographics are affected by the fact that 2.1M to 2.3M young Japanese men died in WW-II….

        And as to “foreign born population”, I think it matters where they came from. Canada is, after all, technically, a foreign country….

      2. Nice, NToJ. I don’t really know what to say to the ‘diversity is actually bad’ crowd.

        1. That they’re correct? Factually and historically speaking. Selectively chosen diversity can be okay, but the idea that anybody who is different is somehow going to make things better is bullshit. Illiterate Somali peasants are not a benefit to the USA, or any 1st world nation. You know what would happen to the crime rates in Japan if they started to let in hordes of low brow African and Middle Eastern immigrants? It would skyrocket. See Sweden.

      3. Singapore, as a city-state, is a bad example in terms of % foreign born. Like Monaco and San Marino.

        The city-state is very different in terms of “foreign born” population.

        1. Exactly. And the larger question is where the people are from.

  2. Ilya,
    Give it a break with advertising your book.

    1. If there is anything Conspiracy fans can’t abide, it’s some libertarian content interfering with the repetitive movement conservatism.

      1. Oh, buzz off Kirkland. Go cling somewhere else. Four very long posts is just shameless advertising. Go buy his book if you wantto read his screeds.

        1. Open wider, Don Nico.

          Are you enjoying the half-baked, discredited “This Day In Supreme Court History” series?

          What about Prof. Volokh’s incessant nipping at the ankles of our stronger colleges and universities?

          Most of the Conspirators have become one- or two-note soloists, along the line of Neil Young’s guitar work.

          Neil, at least, is entertaining.

        2. Er go read another website if you don’t?

  3. “The political freedom of migrants, it is said, must be restricted to protect that of natives.”

    This is something I seriously doubt anybody actually says; You really should refrain from changing your opponents’ arguments to match your own position.

    Rather, entering another country simply isn’t a component of political freedom in the first place. So refusing somebody who is a citizen of a different country entry does nothing at all to restrict their political freedom.

    1. Ilya “Open Borders” Somlin isn’t open that line of argument.

      1. Although, doesn’t Saudi Arabia essentially do that?

      2. It doesn’t matter if he’s open to it, he can reject it all he likes. But he shouldn’t, when recounting the views of his opponents, graft on elements of his own argument.

  4. In the past rates immigration have been limited by the ability to transport people. Would you consider it possible for modern air travel to overwhelm a society?

    New Zealand is consistently ranked as one of the best places in the world to live. With a population of less that 5 million if New Zealand would to allow unrestricted immigration it wouldn’t take long for someone to begin transporting jumbo plane loads of people there and in short order significantly erode the qualities that make is such a great place to live.

    1. It’s like this inside countries, too. People migrate to places that are nice. If too many people migrate to places that are nice, the places cease to be as nice (for some). There’s a market correction. Is your hypothesis that people will just continue moving to places that are miserable? Or is it that you think city councils are best informed to centrally plan the niceness of a place, at least relative to the market?

      1. ” Is your hypothesis that people will just continue moving to places that are miserable?”

        Keep in mind that a starving Somali’s idea of pleasant is probably considerable worse than your idea of miserable, so people probably would continue moving in long after the original inhabitants thought the place had been ruined.

        The key point, though, is that while internal migration can certainly have such deleterious effects, accepting that is already baked into the idea of being a country, and baked out of the idea of being SEPARATE countries.

        1. “Keep in mind that a starving Somali’s idea of pleasant is probably considerable worse than your idea of miserable…”

          Yes, it’s like that in countries, too. Rural west Kansans have a different concept of misery than people in Manhattan. But not all rural Kansans can (or want to) move to Manhattan. Some of that is because of central planning. Some of it is just markets. If a place is attractive, the cost to live there will increase, and people who can’t afford to live there, won’t.

          “…so people probably would continue moving in long after the original inhabitants thought the place had been ruined.”

          There’s no reason to drag starving Somalis into this. The argument you’re making is the typical liberal argument against gentrification. The anti-immigration and anti-gentrification arguments both ignore a critical component of how migration works. The migrants have to live somewhere. If rich whites move to poor black neighborhoods and buy the homes, increasing property values, and therefore taxes, they can only do so with the approval and assent of… the poor black people who are selling the homes. The argument against gentrification is just an argument that poor black people should not be allowed to sell their homes and move to places they think they will be happier (with all that money). The same is true for foreign immigrants; they have to live somewhere too, and they can buy, or rent, but in either case they are engaging in a voluntary transaction with a local landowner to the mutual benefit of each. Unless the government decides to prohibit that happy voluntary transaction.

          1. I should have been clearer. I meant Manhattan, New York City, and not Manhattan, Kansas. But the argument would still work.

          2. “The argument you’re making is the typical liberal argument against gentrification.”

            There are several key differences between this and gentrification.

            First, gentrification generally refers to wealthier people moving into poor neighborhoods, and this is posited to increase costs for the poor people already living there. Mainly in the way of increased property taxes as property values climb without a corresponding increase in income for the people who’d already lived there. But also their children having to move away because properties in the area had become too expensive for them to live near their parents.

            This is actually a real phenomenon, I’ve seen it happen first hand.

            In the case of foot voting, the concern is that poor people arriving from abroad will bid down the price of unskilled labor, lowering the living standards of the natives who (formerly?) supplied it. This reduced cost of unskilled labor lowers costs generally, and so is quite beneficial to the people whose incomes are not effected. The claim is made that the end result is a net increase in wealth.

            However, often what is being billed as an increase in wealth is actually an increase in total GDP, while that it is accompanied by a reduction in per capita GDP is swept under the rug. It’s quite possible for the total wealth of a nation to go up even as the average wealth goes down, if it is increasing in population, but the increase is primarily poor people.

            Also, this clearly can cause severe increases in income inequality, due to suppressing wages of the already poor.

            So, there are similarities, but they come about by different mechanisms.

            The big difference, the one Ilya wants to avoid acknowledging, is that there’s not really a lot you can do about gentrification even if it was seen as a problem, because freedom of travel is baked into the concept of a country.

            And it’s baked out of the concept of different countries, so if immigration if seen as a negative, THAT is something you can act on.

            Only he doesn’t want us to, because he cares more about the incoming people than the people already here. That’s fine, he’s entitled to. But, just as the Constitution doesn’t enact Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics , neither does it enact John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism.

            He’s not constitutionally entitled to get his way on this.

            1. “However, often what is being billed as an increase in wealth is actually an increase in total GDP, while that it is accompanied by a reduction in per capita GDP is swept under the rug.”

              Lower per capita GDP is offset by the lower costs you just mentioned. But what you’re also ignoring is the massive increase in per capita GDP accompanying a person moving from the place where their earning power is X, and traveling to a place where another human is willing to pay them X + Y. If the immigrant is preferable to the labor of the local, both the local and the immigrant are better off, and by more than the extent of the person who lost the job. Total per capita GDP goes up if you exclude national boundaries as an artificial line for GDP measurement.

              “Also, this clearly can cause severe increases in income inequality, due to suppressing wages of the already poor.”

              This is just typical liberal pablum. If the immigrant is making less where they moved from, to a place where they make more, the “income inequality” between them and their new employer shrinks drastically. Again, the argument depends on believing that “income inequality” is something that just stops at borders.

              Now, if you’re really concerned with poor Americans (which you aren’t, but I’ll pretend that you are), economists have already addressed the concerns. The efficiency improvements of free labor creates a surplus even after factoring in native losses. You just redistribute some portion of that surplus to the natives. That’s a much less invasive solution than prohibiting the free travel of labor.

              Then you return to your typical “baked in” argument, which is just defining your way to your position. We’re discussing what countries should do. You can’t avoid that normative (not constitutional…?) discussion by just reiterating “But this isn’t what countries do!”

      2. Often those places try to keep new residents out. Think of the various “smart growth” programs which generally seek to keep new people out, usually to preserve the quality of life.

        Once the quality of life degrades people may stop coming but that does not restore the quality of life and in fact even the degraded quiality of life may be an improvement for the newcomers.

      3. The market would work it all out… The problem is the point at which illiterate peasants would stop moving to America, Europe, etc is the point at which they are just as shitty as their home country.

        Does America OWE the world so much that we MUST turn ourselves into a 3rd world shithole for moral reasons??? That is literally the ONLY outcome of truly open borders. At best we’d look like Mexico or South Africa, with some affluent areas and horrible poverty for the other 90%, which is not a good thing.

    2. Would you consider it possible for modern air travel to overwhelm a society?”

      The British did it to Ireland — where do you think that the “Scotch Irish” came from? They also did it to Arcadia (now Nova Scotia) — they shipped all the Acadians down to New Orleans where they became the ‘Cagins.

      1. So? You think there’s always ONLY been Scottish or Irish people?

        They were derived from, I dunno, Vikings and French with some Germans thrown in?

        Or with the Irish, who knows since they have that weird language.

        Bottom line – every race/ethnicity came from other origins (plural).

        Nobody’s pure anything.

    3. Some countries — such as the United States — have benefited greatly from immigration and immigrants. In general, the people most opposed to immigration are insular, stale-thinking, nativist bigots.

      You know, today’s Republicans.

      1. We did not, and do not benefit, from the immigration of tens of millions of poor, illiterate third worlders.

  5. “After all, a culture can be transformed through internal change no less than through immigration.”

    True, but internal generational change within a sovereign state is inherently different from a horde of foreigners entering the state and forcing it to conform to their will. There’s a word for the latter:


    Yes, invasion — and under International Law, a sovereign state has a right to use deadly force to repel the invaders. Hence under Professor Somin’s argument, Americans have a right (arguably a duty) to shoot immigrants.

    After all, Professor Somin is describing Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa — Hitler’s stated goal was to provide Lebensraum (“living space”) for the German People. And Somin would appear to indicate that the Soviets were in the wrong in defending their country — that they should have instead done nothing and gracefully submitted to settler colonialism…

    And as to tanks being different from a horde of pedestrians, I suggest one remember how the Iranians cleared minefields during their war with Iraq back in the ’80’s…

    Older generations often complain about the cultural changes created by the choices of the young. Yet few argue that their elders have a right to use force to prevent it, much less to the point of expelling anyone who fails to conform.

    1. “Older generations often complain about the cultural changes created by the choices of the young. Yet few argue that their elders have a right to use force to prevent it, much less to the point of expelling anyone who fails to conform.”

      Actually, the do. Case in point: Marijuana — and the WW-II generation did use force to prevent its use in the 1960’s & 1970’s. Arguably Prohibition was the same thing — the WCTU was largely older women.

    2. The scenario I’m thinking of is China’s ethnic replacement of Tibet. In Ilya’s world, they’re entitled to pull that off with any small country they want, and nobody is entitled to put up a fight.

      1. It doesn’t have to be a small country… China could move 300 million people here, barely notice at home, and vote for the USA to become annexed to China. They could do it all in a year if we had true open borders!

  6. Quote:

    What is true of race and ethnicity is also true of place of birth. Whether a person was born in the United States, Mexico, or China is also a morally arbitrary characteristic that she has no control over, and which should not determine how much freedom she is entitled to.

    In that case, I demand that I be allowed to move into Bill Gates home and become part of his family. After all, the family that I was born into was also an “arbitrary characteristic” that I had no control over, so I should be allowed to choose a wealthier family.

    1. There is no law prohibiting you from purchasing Bill Gates’s home and living there. And there is no law prohibiting him from adopting you into his family. The point here is that it would be strange if it were the case that there was a law that prohibited Bill Gates from selling you his home, just because you were born in a foreign country.

      1. You totally miss the point. The focus isn’t on being born in Bill Gates specific house, but being born into a wealthy family. Same way that comparatively few people in the world are born into wealthy first world nations.

        1. In the OP, “how much freedom she is entitled to” has to do with whether someone’s choices should be limited by government. That doesn’t mean you’re entitled to some other private person’s wealth. Permitting an immigrant into the country does not require the receiving country to give them a job, benefits, etc. In the United States, as an example, immigrants are not entitled to the full buffet of rights as are natives.

  7. Arguments for restrictions on migration based on group membership founder on the flaws inherent in claims that there is a right to live in a polity that privileges a particular culture or ethnic group.

    So Israel should admit any Palestinian (or other kind of gentile, for that matter) who wants to move there?

  8. What is an undocumented immigrant? Other then a stupid PC word that is wholly inaccurate. Many immigrants have plenty of documentation. They have passports and even visas that were valid for a period time. It isn’t the lack of documentation that is suspect, but when they reside in this country while violating duly constituted immigration laws. It is this ILLEGAL action that is the better descriptor for an alien of such status. Hence why ILLEGAL ALIEN is used by everyone except those who seek to beseech the PC gods. Undocumented immigrant is just a stupid term and is only used by stupid people.

    1. I prefer the word “criminal.”

  9. Sigh… more “free immigration” nonsense.

    OK, here’s a criticism.

    Imagine Small Country A.

    Country A has 100,000 residents, and is a democracy. They’re a rich country, and decide to have open borders.

    Ethnic group B sees this as an opportunity. Ethnic Group B takes 150,000 members, and they all immigrate to Country A. They now outnumber Country A’s residents.

    Since Country A is a Democracy, Ethnic Group B now has a majority of the vote. They quickly change the laws, declaring Ethnic Group B the “correct” group, and devote large cash payments to go to Ethnic Group B from the government coffers (ignoring the original residents). Ethnic Group B quickly demands Country A borrow from the international banking system to continue excessive payments to Ethnic Group B members.

    As country A falls into bankruptcy from debt, Ethnic Group B takes advantage of open borders to flee into Country C with all the money they’ve fleeced from Country A. Country A is left a bankrupt wreck.

    So, how would an open borders proponent and a proponent of Democracy solve this conundrum. (Yes, it hasn’t happened yet, but remember, no rich country has fully open borders, so it couldn’t yet).

    1. Indeed, I’d like to see Ilya address this, and address ethnic takeovers like China did in Tibet. His freedom of entry would appear to permit some serious forms of aggression if exploited right, how does he deal with this?

      1. A Chinese takeover of Saudi Arabia. Open Mecca & Medina to Chinese (non-Muslim) tourists and free oil for China.

    2. They can’t address it, because it’s true.

      And the fact is this IS what is happening at a slow burn rate in the entire western world. It’s insane.

  10. UNHCR seeks to deal with migration issues affecting refugees and taking into account the universal nature of human rights, including the rights of all people

  11. I literally can’t comprehend how somebody can spend this much time and effort mentally masturbating over something that is so simple and obvious. Historically speaking we all know what people naturally prefer: Their own lands to rule as they please.

    Morally, I think every group should be entitled to the same. Anything else is wrong.

    So how can one claim that any group who simply has more numbers is owed the right to conquer through migration anybody else? It’s bullshit.

    China moves 300 million people to the USA. They vote to annex the USA to China. How the fuck can that ever be legitimate? How can the Americans not have the right to prevent it?

    Anybody who can’t clear that hurdle mentally can fuck themselves. Moron intellectuals trying to overthink obvious shit.

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