Open Borders vs. COVID-19: A Soho Forum Debate

Center for Immigration Studies' Mark Krikorian debates George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan on immigration and coronavirus.


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"The current pandemic makes it all the more necessary for the federal government to tighten restrictions on immigration."

That was the resolution of a public debate hosted via Zoom by the Soho Forum on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. It featured Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, and Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at George Mason University. Soho Forum director Gene Epstein moderated.

The Soho Forum typically hosts Oxford-style debates, in which a live audience votes before and after the event, and the debater who swayed the most people wins the contest. Because this debate took place over Zoom, we did things a little differently. The online audience was asked to vote before the debate. If you voted before the debate, please go to after you watch the video and cast your final vote. But if you didn't register your initial vote before the debate started on Tuesday evening, your final vote won't be counted.

Arguing for the affirmative was Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and author of The New Case Against Immigration.

Bryan Caplan argued for the negative. Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University and the author of Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration.

The Soho Forum, sponsored by the Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village.

Update: Voting on this debate ended on Tuesday, May12, 2020, at noon EST. Bryan Caplan won by convincing 21.88 percent of the audience to change their minds. Mark Krikorian convinced 15.63 percent.

Produced by John Osterhoudt.

Feature Image by Brett Raney

Photo credit: ID 145211816 © Erik Lattwein |; ID 144144905 © Oksanaphoto |; Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0); Rod Lamkey/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Martha Asencio Rhine/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Robert Gallagher/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Ivan Pierre Aguirre/ZUMA Press/Newscom