Does a country have the right to decide who comes in?
October 26, 2018 8:20 PM   Subscribe

Countries are not people, but government policy needs to actually follow elementary humane principles. Unfortunately, the implications of those principles are quite radical: as those who happen to have been born into a prosperous land, we have to share with those who have little. "But," you say, "does that mean full open borders? Does that mean all of the world's poor should be able to come here?" Doesn't a country have the right to enforce its laws and decide who comes in?
posted by paleyellowwithorange (80 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I’m a Christian, and I think I’m a person of… decent faith (...) I’m not really sure what the debate is here, other than the virtue debate, which is not interesting.

Interesting juxtaposition, isn‘t it.
posted by The Toad at 8:39 PM on October 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


"Who can enter" and "Who can stay for a while" and "Who can get full citizenship and the benefits and responsibilities therein" are three very different concerns.
posted by delfin at 9:05 PM on October 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


Also, Tucker Carlson can write his "Keep out anyone who doesn't understand that White American Culture is the only acceptable American culture" mantra on his bowtie and stick it up his ass.

Anyone who claims that Democrats want fully open borders, that immigrants should be made to conform and assimilate to the dominant culture, or that American culture in general is inherently superior is selling something that no one should be buying.
posted by delfin at 9:11 PM on October 26, 2018 [31 favorites]


After reading this and watching Nathan debate someone from the CATO Institute I really admire how Nathan Robinson is so good at first dismantling the facts that the other side's arguments are resting on, but then not stopping there but going on to state solidly why it's absolutely moral and necessary to hold the position that he is asserting. He says he was hesitant at first since he isn't experienced in formal debate despite being an attorney but he's now written a good piece about debating the right and why it is a good tactic.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:42 PM on October 26, 2018 [19 favorites]


He effectively argues against Carlson's views. He doesn't actually answer the question, though. He plays the morality card, and at the same time says these issues are complicated, and at the same time says he isn't advocating for open borders. So what policy is he arguing FOR?
posted by PhineasGage at 9:47 PM on October 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


So what policy is he arguing FOR?

Is it okay for him to just be asking questions and stimulating thought?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:54 PM on October 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Some dipshit on some left leaning podcast was saying that we don't want "open borders" because that's crazy and I had to turn it off because I was yelling too loud.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:10 PM on October 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure how you make open borders work while maintaining robust social safety nets and public healthcare. Has any country had both?
posted by zymil at 10:30 PM on October 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


from the piece: "government policy needs to actually follow elementary humane principles"

i mean, ok. i would very much like that too. but being in majoritarian democracy is often not compatible with that theory, and elementary humane principles, unlike majoritarian democracy, is not a theory of governance. let alone, god help us, the pseudo-apartheid nightmare the repubs are about to inflict on us shortly.

so while the moral argument of this piece is compelling, the political component is nonexistent, which is a big flaw.
posted by wibari at 10:44 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Without open borders, we wouldn't have all these white people in America centuries later telling the rest of the world they have helped to ruin just how important it is for America to have closed borders.

I really want to understand where all these white Americans think they originally came from.
posted by Ouverture at 11:03 PM on October 26, 2018 [40 favorites]


I agree with Donald Trump: "If you don’t have Borders, you don’t have a Country!" except like 👍😎👍. These days we got the container ship, the jetliner, the submarine communications cable, and the offshore corporation.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:08 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Who's allowing all these straw men to enter our country?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:09 AM on October 27, 2018 [27 favorites]


Does a home have the right to decide who comes in?
posted by fairmettle at 12:34 AM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


The analogy of private property is a pretty good one. I have the right to maintain the borders of my actual home against violent or illegal entry. If I have ten houses, and a massive amount of other wealth, I still have the right to preserve all that wealth from illegal or violent taking. If I enter someone else’s empty home without their permission, it is illegal for me to be there.

But the “illegal” in these sentences is hugely nuanced and does a massive amount of work in actually permitting some takings and some transfers of wealth. I do have duties to my neighbours that shape the uses I can make of my home; the state can compel me, in the public interest, to surrender a part of my wealth for their benefit; if I allow a stranger to occupy my home for ten or twelve or thirty years, many jurisdictions will say his occupation is now legal. Only libertarians who think taxation is theft argue that “no illegal invasion of property” is a simple proposition.

The same is true for “no illegal immigration”. Applying immigration law—not just the letter of the law but the overarching principles of eg human rights and refugee law that shape immigration law—is a complicated exercise, as the article’s author points out. You can’t really know if someone is a legal asylum-seeker or illegally migrating without, at minimum, interviewing them. The question whether they have been settled in a country for decades has a bearing—for human rights reasons—on whether it’s legal for them to stay.

So. Yes. A homeowner has a legal right to decide who comes in. The application of that rule is really case-by-case, though. The same is true for immigration.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:57 AM on October 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


I really want to understand where all these white Americans think they originally came from.

If I follow correctly, they believe that even if there were the strictest of immigration controls in place at the time, their shiny white ancestors would have been allowed in, anyway.
posted by rokusan at 3:11 AM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Well, if Trump has his way, they’d be 100% correct.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:40 AM on October 27, 2018


Personally I would support fully open borders in the US. I mean, that's approximately how they seem to roll in the EU and it seems like it's worked out great for the people there. I believe that travel and cultural exchange are some of the most powerful drivers of peace and prosperity. I believe that people who come to this country seeking a better life will generally work hard and become positive members of society. I believe that people are people everywhere, and deserve all the same good things as me—so if they want the good things that the US has to offer, they should be able to have them. And I firmly believe that national borders are arbitrary, figmented, unnatural, and in many cases exist for unjust reasons in the first place. We are a global species, and this fragmentation into jostling, contending nation states is doing us no good and much harm.

I know that the Overton window on immigration has moved way to the right in the last two years, but let's remember that this is a recent thing, and that it's not the natural order of things. The natural order of things is to have no borders at all.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:37 AM on October 27, 2018 [29 favorites]


It strikes me that if capital can easily cross borders that labor ought to be able to as well.
posted by postel's law at 5:41 AM on October 27, 2018 [69 favorites]


Culture and tribe matters to human beings. Ignore that fundamental principle and the debate becomes intractable.

Some immigration is good: it brings new ideas, concepts, foods, genetic diversity, etc. Unrestricted immigration is not so good for similar reasons - but you must layer into that the reality that humans are tribal, and too much change too fast is going to upset the apple cart in bad ways.

Rule of law is important. Follow the laws to immigrate and I suspect that the complaints from the 'build the wall' types drop significantly.
posted by tgrundke at 5:47 AM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


It strikes me that if capital can easily cross borders that labor ought to be able to as well.


Ah, this reminds me of a saying in the technology world: "everything would be so much easier if we just removed people from the equation..."

Economists and financial types are really bad when it comes to understanding human behavior. Dollars are very different from humans.
posted by tgrundke at 5:49 AM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


If I have ten houses, and a massive amount of other wealth, I still have the right to preserve all that wealth from illegal or violent taking.

Do you really? I feel quite strongly that in a world where so many people don't have enough to satisfy their most basic needs, it is actually evil for one person to have that much wealth. To put it very simplistically, someone who owns ten houses is keeping nine other people homeless. Excess wealth is in itself a form of violence.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:51 AM on October 27, 2018 [28 favorites]


Follow the laws to immigrate and I suspect that the complaints from the 'build the wall' types drop significantly.

This is such a shaky straw man, and one that's been so comprehensibly dismantled so many, many times that I just do not have the energy to tear it down again. Suffice to say that if you think this is true, you have some learning to do.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:54 AM on October 27, 2018 [28 favorites]


I'm not sure how you make open borders work while maintaining robust social safety nets and public healthcare.

It's incredibly simple. Share your massive wealth with the world so that people don't feel compelled to migrate to seek a decent life. All our Western arguments against open borders rest on the notion that it's ok for white people to hoard the privileges they have stolen from others, and even that there's a moral duty to do so.

If the world were the place we have a moral duty to make it, open borders would be entirely noncontroversial. It is only that we have deluded ourselves into thinking that it's acceptable to live on the suffering of others that makes this question appear even remotely morally challenging.
posted by howfar at 5:59 AM on October 27, 2018 [40 favorites]


Much of your thinking as articulated in this thread, Anticipation (if I may be so familiar) has also been forcefully argued by philosopher Peter Singer in his book The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically. Your one point that I have not seen supported elsewhere is the notion that national borders are a new thing.
posted by PhineasGage at 6:03 AM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I only meant that the idea that "open borders are a crazy idea" is a new thing. For most of human history and indeed American history as well, open borders have been the default. The idea that open borders as an idea are totally beyond the pale of reasonable discourse only became mainstream about two years ago. Let's remember that.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:13 AM on October 27, 2018 [16 favorites]


I'm not sure how you make open borders work while maintaining robust social safety nets and public healthcare. Has any country had both?

Personally I would support fully open borders in the US. I mean, that's approximately how they seem to roll in the EU and it seems like it's worked out great for the people there.

Europe's a very good example of how you can have open borders - even open borders between countries with very different levels of economic development - and still have Nice Things (social safety nets, healthcare, etc.). But it's worth remembering that the open borders are within Europe, there are still border controls between European nations and the rest of the world. So I'd point to them as a useful experiment, but not a global model.

I only meant that the idea that "open borders are a crazy idea" is a new thing. For most of human history and indeed American history as well, open borders have been the default.

Not really? For most of American history it was "open borders" in America for anyone from Western Europe, but there was still plenty of hostility towards immigrants from elsewhere (East Asia, for example). Many of the tools we use today to enforce border controls didn't exist then, true. But you can see a lot of the same rhetoric and violence in the 1800s against, say, Irish or Italian immigrants, Jewish immigrants, Chinese on the West Coast, etc. Nativist panic has a very long history here, as have explicit limitations on immigration from some regions co-existing with unlimited immigration from others.
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:27 AM on October 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


Do you really? I feel quite strongly that in a world where so many people don't have enough to satisfy their most basic needs, it is actually evil for one person to have that much wealth. To put it very simplistically, someone who owns ten houses is keeping nine other people homeless. Excess wealth is in itself a form of violence.

Why is it a zero sum game? Who gets to define what too much wealth is?
posted by tgrundke at 6:48 AM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is such a shaky straw man, and one that's been so comprehensibly dismantled so many, many times that I just do not have the energy to tear it down again. Suffice to say that if you think this is true, you have some learning to do.

Every society has a certain percentage of idiots and morons. I'm less concerned about those, more about the majority who want law and order followed. The number of people who are cartoon racists is likely a lot smaller than you think.

Maybe I am naive, but I do believe a large majority of Americans have little issue with immigrants who follow the laws and procedures for immigration.
posted by tgrundke at 6:55 AM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Anyone who claims that ... American culture in general is inherently superior is selling something that no one should be buying.

This makes more sense as a criticism of conservative people if you reverse it: people who are conservative about immigration because they're worried about cultural identity think that American culture is weak. They think that it's so self-evidently better to be Mexican or Vietnamese or whatever that anyone whose life lets them experience a choice about being American or something else would of course choose not to be American.

They think this because they are cowards who don't believe in America.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:56 AM on October 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


Maybe I am naive, but I do believe a large majority of Americans have little issue with immigrants who follow the laws and procedures for immigration.

You are naive. "Follow the law" means "Is white." The number of Americans who will assume that anyone whose appearance is mestizo or east Asian or south Asian must have immigrated illegally, and who will be utterly immune to any factual correction on these matters such as "Puerto Ricans are already American," is absolutely vast and I would be shocked if it was not a majority of anglo Americans.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:01 AM on October 27, 2018 [34 favorites]


Why is it a zero sum game? Who gets to define what too much wealth is?

Why not ask the people as a whole? Studies have been done in which people are asked how wealth should be distributed among the poor, the middle-class and the wealthy. Once they've answered, they're shown how wealth is actually distributed, and they're typically shocked to see the disparity. So let's move the wealth around so it matches how people think it should be, rather than how it is right now.

And if the wealthy don't like that proposal, we'll counter-offer with guillotines.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:05 AM on October 27, 2018 [22 favorites]


If you’re American, the food you eat has probably been harvested by ‚illegal‘ immigrants. At a restaurant, it‘s been cooked by ‚illegal‘ immigrants, too. The house around you has likely been built by ‚illegal‘ immigrants or at least with their participation. Not to talk about the countless other jobs they do that make the country run smoothly.

You know what would really ‚upset the apple cart‘? Keeping all those people out of the country.

I always find it highly hypocritical to look at the current situation - where ‚illegals‘ are indispensable to the lifestyle we lead in the US, and then blame them for coming here. Or maybe people are looking at a straw man situation where people come here and depend on a welfare system...yeah, that‘s not the case. They pick your fucking lettuce!
posted by The Toad at 7:17 AM on October 27, 2018 [23 favorites]


(And to reiterate what I‘ve said elsewhere, ‚legality‘ in immigration is a red herring. I‘m a legal immigrant, but if authorities looked at me long enough, they could find something illegal, because it‘s fucking complicated to immigrate, let alone naturalize.
Do not divide people up by ‚legality‘. If you do that, you‘re already playing the inhumane game of sorting people into deserving and undeserving.)
posted by The Toad at 7:22 AM on October 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


Well, it used to be that the thin veneer that made Right positions on immigration look justifiable was "well as along at they do it legally," but now that they're cheering on the Trump admin's work to make even legal immigration (already a difficult undertaking) virtually impossible unless you're madly wealthy, it kind of tears the veil off of the protestations that their only opposition to immigrants is their legal status and reveals that yes, they do indeed oppose legal immigration as well.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:38 AM on October 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


This makes more sense as a criticism of conservative people if you reverse it: people who are conservative about immigration because they're worried about cultural identity think that American culture is weak.

"To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies."

"However, the followers must be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak."

Umberto Eco, "Ur-Fascism"
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:42 AM on October 27, 2018 [13 favorites]



Europe's a very good example of how you can have open borders - even open borders between countries with very different levels of economic development - and still have Nice Things (social safety nets, healthcare, etc.).


Is it?

I mean, the EU gives Greeks access to Nice Things but only if they leave Greece to go elsewhere and learn a new language.

In the USA, obviously there are no legal barriers preventing internal migration, (yet), but that's not to say that "Californication" is universally celebrated.

In Polynesia, the islanders are moving around with effectively open borders, but that's mostly because the borders were always fictitious, and drawn partly so that the tiny nation states could fund a serious chunk of their budgets selling postage stamps to kids like young ocschwar.
posted by ocschwar at 7:48 AM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Why is it a zero sum game?

I mean, we could delve into the reasons, but it seems like what you actually mean to ask is "Is it really a zero sum game?" and given the abject failure of supply-side economics to do anything to help the poor over the last several decades, it seems like at this point we can pretty definitively say YES is the answer to that question.
posted by solotoro at 7:53 AM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


You speak as if supply-side economics was DESIGNED or INTENDED to do anything to help the poor. Quite the opposite.
posted by delfin at 7:57 AM on October 27, 2018


or most of American history it was "open borders" in America for anyone from Western Europe, but there was still plenty of hostility towards immigrants from elsewhere (East Asia, for example)

This may help:
1787: Founding documents of the US provide for a naturalization process precisely because the founders wanted the nation to grow in power and population. Their list of complaints against King George included the fact that he had restricted immigration to "prevent the population of these states".

1787-1882: America officially has totally open borders. There are no restrictions on who can enter or how.

1882: Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act, the very first restriction on immigration of any kind. Along with that come restrictions on people with infectious disease or obvious mental health issues. Borders open for everyone else.

1903: Congress passes the Anarchist Exclusion Act, which excluded "anarchists, people with epilepsy, beggars, and importers of prostitutes." Borders open for everyone else.

1917: Congress passes the Immigration Act of 1917 (partly because the 1903 act was ineffective), a massively expanded set of barriers including a literacy requirement, a list banning alcoholics, criminals, "paupers" and vagrants, people who were deemed "mentally or physically defective", political radicals, and polygamists; and a complete and total bar on anyone coming from the Asia-Pacific zone which was defined to include the Arabian peninsula, Central Asia, India, and Afghanistan. Borders open for everyone who passes the various tests and doesn't come from the A-P zone.

1924: The Johnson-Reed Act formalizes the first comprehensive quota-based system, affecting European nationalities as a class for the first time by instituting racialized quotas based on eugenic understandings that veiwed Northern and Western Europeans as superior white races and Southern and Eastern Europeans as inferior white races, and for the first time funds deportation programs federally.

1952: The Immigration and Nationality Act updates former restrictions, maintaining a quota system but removing racial markers from it. It institutes a new application system that considers immigrants as workers contributing labor skills. Whom We Shall Welcome is a report on which much of the reasoning in this act is based and is an interesting read very pertinent to the FPP, especially the "other aspects" section beginning at page 175.

1965: The Hart-Celler Act ended the national origins system and replaced it with a system allowing immigration from all countries within strict numerical limits. For the first time, numerical limits applied to Western-hemisphere countries. It placed higher priorities on desirable work skills and on family reunification, making it possible to migrate here without reference to the national quotas if you had a relative who had already migrated here. It also created the refugee/asylum program.

There has been a lot of subsequent lawmaking that nibbles at various parts of this system and strengthens aspects of it, but apart from the DREAM Act, there has not been any successful, comprehensive, truly major immigration reform since the Hart-Celler Act.
posted by Miko at 8:28 AM on October 27, 2018 [57 favorites]


Why is it a zero sum game? Who gets to define what too much wealth is?

This is off-topic, so I'm going to respond once and then just drop it until we have another economic inequality thread.

It's very hard to draw a bright line between inappropriate and appropriate amounts of personal wealth, but that doesn't mean that those categories don't exist or that there aren't clear cases on either side. I feel like I'm on solid ground in saying that in a world where so many people have no home at all and are living in brutal, inhumane conditions with little or no hope of escape, owning ten houses all to yourself is immoral.

It's as if you were standing in front of a vast banquet of food, far more than you could ever eat. There's so much plenty that you yourself can only put a small dent in it before you are full, and even if you pack some up to take home and fill your fridge, you will be unable to use more than a small part of it and the majority will inevitably go bad.

Next to you is another person, your brother or neighbor or anyway a fellow human being, who has no food at all. They are starving, they are slowly dying because they have no food to eat. They can see you, with all your food that you can never possibly consume, and you can see them. You can choose to give them some of your feast—nourishing them while still keeping plenty for your own needs—or not.

How could it ever be moral to choose not to give it away? How can hoarding such a vast, wasteful excess of personal resources—in a world where billions of inherently equal human beings are literally suffering and dying right now at this very moment for lack of such necessities as food, water, and shelter—be considered anything but evil?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:29 AM on October 27, 2018 [29 favorites]


Every society has a certain percentage of idiots and morons. I'm less concerned about those, more about the majority who want law and order followed. The number of people who are cartoon racists is likely a lot smaller than you think.

Maybe I am naive, but I do believe a large majority of Americans have little issue with immigrants who follow the laws and procedures for immigration.


It's difficult to imagine someone posting this in good faith in the year of our lord 2018, but just in case you're not trolling: You really need to pay more attention to the world around you.
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:29 AM on October 27, 2018 [26 favorites]


Maybe I am naive, but I do believe a large majority of Americans have little issue with immigrants who follow the laws and procedures for immigration.

I'll go another way on that. I believe that a majority of Americans DO have no problem with immigrants who follow the laws and procedures for immigration.

But "a majority of Americans" leaves a hundred-million-plus xenophobics to contend with. I have a habit of tuning into various reactionary radio programs on my way to and from work, since asinine arguments are easier to refute if you know what your Bigoted Uncle Ralph will say before he says it, and trust me when I reinforce the idea that there are many, many, MANY Americans out there who (a) voted for Trump because he was going to Keep Everyone Who's Not Like Us Out and (b) have a furious and burning hatred for Congress in general specifically because they have not yet Built That Wall.

Decent people have no problem with welcoming those in need to America and incorporating what they have to offer into America. You know, do unto others. Give us your tired, poor and hungry. That which you do to the least among us, you do to me. Concepts like that. But do not mistake America for being an inherently decent nation; it is a nation in which many decent people live and many others live as well.

The ocean is rising day by day, the weather is increasingly wild and dangerous, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, there are upheavals around the globe, and yet their number one concern in this upcoming election -- by a wide margin -- is Fixing Immigration, aka Building The Wall and Deporting Them All and saving what they laughingly refer to as American Culture. This is why I took a shot at Tucker Carlson on the way into this thread, as he's one of the most prominent poster boys for the "America is White Culture, and anyone who comes here needs to mold themselves into that" venom-drip.

The laws and procedures that we currently have for immigration are restrictive, labyrinthine, and ridiculously overbroad. And, once again, "you may enter America," "you may visit America for some time," "you may work and live in America" and "you may become a full American citizen" are different things with very different standards applicable to them, and newcomers have to cross a variety of restrictive thresholds before they gain each stage of benefits of being here. The right doesn't believe that; hence their worries that the Honduran Caravan is going to buck the line on Election day, cross the plane of the American border for a touchdown, and then every single person in the caravan will rush to the nearest polling place and vote for Democrats. You can disprove that notion a hundred times over and they'll still use it to rally the rabble.

And I strongly suspect that there isn't a single Democrat running for Congress this season who would come out and say "yes, we do need fully open borders." Not one. Why? Because that's how you get laughed out of office, as all their opponent has to do is wave the DEY TOOK ER JERBS banner and the WE'LL ALL BE MURDERED IN OUR BEDS BY MS-AL-ISIS-QAEDA-13 banner and that will be the end of that.

I would love to live in an America where people who think The Camp of the Saints was a documentary are hooted out of the public square and openly mocked. I don't. This is why we still have a long fight ahead of us.
posted by delfin at 8:52 AM on October 27, 2018 [13 favorites]


You speak as if supply-side economics was DESIGNED or INTENDED to do anything to help the poor. Quite the opposite.

Totally agreed, but the claim that free market capitalism might or could not be zero sum, and the claim that supply side economics should/was designed or intended to help the poor, seem to me to be of a piece. Maybe I'm just tilting at windmills engaging the concept at all.

More to the article, it seems to me like the author doesn't mention another gap in Carlson's statement that "the government’s job is to represent the voters." It misses that the foundational legal document of the country of which he is speaking has been well established to apply its protections to everyone within its borders, regardless of their ability to vote or even their citizenship status. So no, the government's job is not only to represent the will of the voters, not this government's, not according to its own charter, anyway. It's also to protect the disenfranchised, even and perhaps especially FROM the will of the voters when that will is antithetical to the protection of those people's civil liberties.
posted by solotoro at 9:40 AM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


"Because that's how you get laughed out of office"

Is there anything that proves that this is merely a matter of rhetoric, or is it just plain deeply unpopular with the public?
posted by Selena777 at 9:52 AM on October 27, 2018


Does a home have the right to decide who comes in?

This is a wonderful analogy, precisely because of all the situations where the answer is no but homeowners sometimes get all in a fluff believing it's yes. Like for utility workers who need to access the lines, or firefighters, or random members of the public on a sidewalk, or stream police checking for water rustling (yeah it's a thing!) or hikers using an established right-of-way.

The analogy breaks down, like they all do, with the slightest prodding into details of course. But the broad-stroke principle is useful: owning land doesn't make anyone Generalissimo and Defender of the Border with absolute right to control all access to their precious 80 acres. Why would it become that way when scaled up to millions?
posted by traveler_ at 10:00 AM on October 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


As laid out in Miko's timeline, what I've been telling people is that “until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on”^ with all of this racist nationalist baby-caging crap, I'm content with the Founding Fathers' immigration policy... no border restrictions and naturalization after two years. (As applied to people of any race or gender, like “all men are created equal” is, of course. If they want to argue that the Founding Fathers were white supremacists I quite happily oblige them in confirming it.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:01 AM on October 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm totally for open borders. What does that mean (to me)? That means peaceful immigration is totally allowed. Borders exist as bureaucratic (to keep count of who is going where when) and law enforcement barriers (to prevent crimes that occur across the border such as smuggling), but without a good reason (open warrant in another country), a person is allowed to enter the United States and stay as long as they'd like.

I do think there should be a barrier for citizenship and benefits thereof as long as 1) it has a maximum amount of time it can last, such as 10 years, and 2) can be waived to speed up certain classes of people.

But yeah, I would say that any non-citizen wishing to stay as a non-citizen and is not wanted by another state for a crime the United States recognizes as valid should be allowed in and could not be deported. Refugees and migrant workers alike are welcome at unlimited numbers.

Don't want all those people to come to the United States? Do what you can to make the place where they're coming from stable, free, and prosperous.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:31 AM on October 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure how you make open borders work while maintaining robust social safety nets and public healthcare.

If there are people sneaking into the USA for our weak-ass social programs then they must be really misinformed, because they'd be much better off in Europe or, you know, just continuing on to Canada.
posted by rokusan at 2:42 PM on October 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


Draw a line with extreme poverty on one side and extreme wealth on the other, and you're gonna have problems. It's like fighting the drug war at the supply side with zero-tolerance. We filled up all the prisons, society is preserved! Migrants and immigrants put more into the economy than they take out, and we can't afford any social services? The wealth on the US side is generated by the labor from the Mexican side. Migrants are smuggled into America and often locked into literal slavery by Americans. That doesn't sound like a society I want to be part of.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:14 PM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


"Because that's how you get laughed out of office"

Is there anything that proves that this is merely a matter of rhetoric, or is it just plain deeply unpopular with the public?


It probably is a death-knell in the US or here but the thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be, if you outline the politics clearly to people.
When your "left" alternative holds the same views as fascists towards migrants, demonising them, valuing them only for their labour and talking about stolen jobs and tough on crime, then yeah it is going to be a death-knell.

People need to be having the political interventions in whatever their local arenas are to say, no, that's nonsense, we don't have a softer conservative line, we believe in freedom of movement and welcoming refugees, and it's good for everyone to do so.

If our "left" alternative parties actually owned left politics instead of dialling the conservative plan back 15%, then it wouldn't be a death-knell because their base would have the understanding of why refugees are not a problem.
Instead they're susceptible to the racist arguments because both sides are making them and alternatives are 'radical'.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 4:25 PM on October 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Imagine if, when the U.S. government trains death squads for Latin American governments, it was more explicitly acknowledged that people fleeing from those death squads may end up here or was straightforwardly and unrestrictedly legal. We might arrive at the crazy idea that enabling a country's ruling class to commit mass murder of their own citizens or assassinate their journalists is a bad idea.
posted by XMLicious at 4:51 PM on October 27, 2018 [13 favorites]


What would be the existing model for these ideas about immigration, without the same type of multinational agreement that the EU has?
posted by Selena777 at 5:10 PM on October 27, 2018


As has been noted above, we already have an economic system designed to be dependent on the self-importation of persons through undocumented immigrant labor. There are probably lots of other models to draw on for improvements but much of the infrastructure is already there, not aspects of a fundamentally differing model which need to be implemented; the question that's really being asked is “What will happen if these types of immigrants have rights and can't be exploited and oppressed via their precarity as easily?”
posted by XMLicious at 5:31 PM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I am asking on the basis of a mutual understanding that the current system is exploitative. Mainstream conversations on immigration reform often begin with an acknowledgment that - like U.S. healthcare - the status quo is deeply flawed, so I expected the recommendation to be a complete overhaul of some sort. Your suggestion would be something like the bracero program, except less racist?
posted by Selena777 at 5:47 PM on October 27, 2018


I do have a problem with open borders that consider asylum seekers because many of the people truly needing asylum don’t have the money/ power/ lack of family obligations/ ruthlessness necessary to escape. I would rather Nations proactively and efficiently processed people from their own countries (perhaps financed by the countries that are investing in the warfare and ecological devastation that is creating many of the asylum-seekers).

A (paranoid, but somewhat legitimate) fear of a lot Of Canadians is that the current pressure on our Border with the US will turn into a flood of migrants from the US. If 10% of Americans decided to flee to Canada, we would be outnumbered immediately, challenging our values and our social support system. Immigration has made Canada strong, but it has very much been curated immigration with limits on the number of asylum-seekers eventually accepted.
posted by saucysault at 6:36 PM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


There is zero chance that 10% of Americans will immigrate to Canada. If nothing else, have you looked at Canada's immigration requirements? If you're not French-English bilingual and a member of a profession that is on Canada's list of desired skills, good fucking luck immigrating.

Also… ten percent? That's just a fucking insanely high figure. I mean, I know that in most contexts "ten percent" isn't that much, but if we're talking refugees it's insane. That would be thirty-two million Americans. The number of Syrian refugees is only five million, and that's an international crisis the likes of which have never been seen before. There is no chance in hell that ten percent or even one percent of Americans will attempt to emigrate to Canada.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:06 PM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Your suggestion would be something like the bracero program, except less racist?

I'm saying we don't need a specific suggestion or a discussion about “a country's rights” before we stop doing the Nazi stuff.

Even beyond undocumented immigrant labor being embedded into the economy like rebar there are going to be continuous waves of climate change refugees from equatorial regions. We'll need to make moral decisions about this well before we could possibly come to an agreement about how the paperwork and filing systems will be organized.

Now that we have the initial camps built and operating in the desert on the border we might well even have to go forward with a system which is just as nonfunctional on paper as economically-integral immigrant labor with low immigration limits.
posted by XMLicious at 7:14 PM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


open borders is a canard that right wingers use to freak each other out. no country outside of a federation like the EU has this, and it wont happen anywhere until the entire world moves away from the nation state as the basis for intl law.
the far more useful and practical approach is how to demilitarize and decriminalize immigration enforcement.
posted by wibari at 9:40 PM on October 27, 2018


I would rather Nations proactively and efficiently processed people from their own countries

I don’t understand what this means in the context of asylum. For example, the Eritrean state “processes” its people by enslaving and killing them. Those who have managed to run away and seek asylum elsewhere can hardly be told to go back and have another go at persuading a dictator that actually he does care about their human rights. The same is true for a lot of asylum-seekers—the thing they are seeking asylum from is their own home government’s persecution. I don’t understand how we could expect the governments they are escaping to give their claims a fair hearing?
posted by Aravis76 at 11:57 PM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, so far as I’m aware, Canada does not have a numerical cap on the number of asylum-seekers it will accept. Canadian immigration rules are super-strict when it comes to those who aren’t asylum-seekers, but my understanding is that anyone who successfully proves that they meet the international definition of a refugee will be accepted; I’ve never heard that Canada turns people away without hearing their case for asylum because of some numerical target, and would be interested to see a source on that.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:10 AM on October 28, 2018


I've always wanted to live in a foreign country.

Now it seems like my country is becoming foreign. Cool! I'm for it!

But not all people are for it. Even liberals, if this experiment is to be believed.
After being exposed to the Spanish speakers on their metro lines for just three days, attitudes on these questions moved sharply rightward: The mostly liberal Democratic passengers had come to endorse immigration policies — including deportation of children of undocumented immigrants —similar to those endorsed by Trump in his campaign.
I have no point by posting that. It just makes me wonder what affects my politics.

I saw something else recently that said the Guatemalan caravan is actually caused by climate change. Maybe. Regardless, we've had some American caravans caused by climate change in the US. Look at exodus from New Orleans or Puerto Rico. Makes you wonder when there will be more US caravans. Will those fleeing flooded coastal areas be "othered" by politicians skilled at "othering"?
posted by surplus at 4:00 AM on October 28, 2018


Will those fleeing flooded coastal areas be "othered" by politicians skilled at "othering"?
Yes.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:00 AM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Canada does not have a limit on refugee numbers because our lack of easy access via land borders prevented many from getting to our shores to apply. This new phenomena of people showing up from the US has flummoxed a lot of Canadians who did not have empathy for Europeans struggling with the influx of refugees from Syria. Refugees are actually a very, very small part of our total immigration numbers and we could definately do much better and welcome a lot more people.

Yes, 10% sounds a lot, but Syria has 25% of their population outside of their borders now; 20% of South Sudan, 10% of Myanmar; 8% of Somalia ... if something creates a need for refugees the numbers can be huge.

Canada has always done outreach in the geographic areas of displacement to choose refugees and fly them into Canada already processed with paperwork and supports set up and in my option is a more effective way of resettling refugees instead of processing them at the border. Most areas with large numbers of displacement already have refugee camps providing (some) safety, or NGOs that work with the population being threatened. So it isn’t waiting for the Dictator to let you go, but also not having to do some horrible things to get out alive and travel all the way to Canada’s borders.
posted by saucysault at 5:06 AM on October 28, 2018


In the hypothetical event that fully 10% of Americans were to suddenly head for the Canadian border, they’d be running for their lives and whatever they’d be running from would be a bigger problem for Canada than refugees, due to physical proximity and sphere of influence.
posted by Selena777 at 6:28 AM on October 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


In the hypothetical event that fully 10% of Americans were to suddenly head for the Canadian border, they’d be running for their lives and whatever they’d be running from would be a bigger problem for Canada than refugees, due to physical proximity and sphere of influence.

In my defense, I'd only stay in Canada until the Israeli Government issues my passport.
posted by mikelieman at 7:39 AM on October 28, 2018


open borders is a canard that right wingers use to freak each other out.

I will note that The Framers had open borders, since there's nothing about immigration in the Constitution.
posted by mikelieman at 7:40 AM on October 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's as if you were standing in front of a vast banquet of food, far more than you could ever eat.

Or, if you picture the median American's wealth ($49,900) as a 4-foot table full of food, Jeff Bezos alone ($150b) has a table that stretches 2,277 miles. A table that almost spans the distance between Washington DC and Los Angeles.
posted by hexaflexagon at 8:33 AM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I will note that The Framers had open borders, since there's nothing about immigration in the Constitution.

There certainly wasn't free movement of peoples though, as Native Americans or the vast majority of black laborers would testify. And "the Framers" (ie, same people who wrote the damn thing) passed laws allowing deportation of foreigners within the first decade of the Constitution's existence.

- - -

Robinson argued that deciding where to draw the line is tough but that doesn't let us just evade the question. But he didn't try to answer the question and partly for that reason this thread isn't having anyone take a swing at it either.

FWIW I don't have an answer either, other than "More open than we have now but not totally open." My real life circle of progressive friends will generally demur too. If we ever get to the point where we are past Trump and morality and humanity is at least the nominal the goal of our laws then this will go back to a big unresolved question.
posted by mark k at 9:26 AM on October 28, 2018


So, open borders was A-OK when it was about Manifest Destiny and the government giving away land they didn't own to encourage white people to Pa-Ingalls their way around "Indian territory," but when it comes to non-white people escaping US-sponsored civil war and "regime changes", that's where we gotta prevent anarchy?
posted by basalganglia at 10:37 AM on October 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Up above I linked to Wikipedia's list of graduates of the US government's School of the Americas in which “security forces” from Latin American countries have been trained for nearly 75 years. One of those from El Salvador was Roberto D'Aubuisson, who died in 1992 before he was ever held accountable for his crimes.

On Thursday, news related to one of those crimes: a Salvadoran court finally ordered the arrest of Alvaro Rafael Saravia who in 1980 assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero (now canonized as Saint Romero) during Mass on orders from D'Aubuisson. Romero was portrayed by Raúl Juliá in the 1989 film also entitled Romero about the assassination, for anyone who remembers that.

SOA now renamed “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” or WHINSEC
posted by XMLicious at 12:16 PM on October 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


If I have ten houses, and a massive amount of other wealth, I still have the right to preserve all that wealth from illegal or violent taking.

I don't think you have that right. I think we have a right to nationalize your assets, though.
posted by maxsparber at 3:10 PM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


There is effectively a cap on refugee intake, even for Canada - worldwide refugee needs are at 1.2 mil. Canada took 19k resttlements in 2016 via the UN resettlement program, and took only 5k in 2017. The US also dropped their intake by 75% in 2017 vs prior year. This is a program where the UN matches refugees with host countries willing to take them.
posted by xdvesper at 3:16 PM on October 28, 2018


I'll keep my opinions on the literature out of this thread, but a recent sci-fi crime/political thriller series called Terra Ignota (SPOILER WARNING) by Ada Palmer that examines how the world might get along, and how it might not, if we eliminated (no spoilers) the nation state.

In this universe, people are organized into "global nations of affinity" called Hives, and they can switch membership anytime they like, underpinned by some handwavey post-scarcity and panopticon tech and a barebones global legal framework (don't torture and dismember children, don't commit genocide or war crimes, etc.) enforced by consensus, kinda like the one we have now. Religion was also banned globally after devastating wars, and nuclear family units are frowned upon and replaced with "families of affinity" as well, polyamory-or-not units consisting of 2-20 people who live in a house and raise kids together, so there's that.

If nothing else, it's good reading to see how border-less government in a connected world could play out. Having that vision of the world in my head is keeping me from outright depression lately. It doesn't have to be the way it is now.
posted by saysthis at 4:18 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


To add a perspective, I live on the island of St. Martin, which has increased in population more than five fold in the last 60 years, mostly from immigration. Some of this doesn’t technically count because half the island is part of France, so any French people are not immigrants, etc. But on a cultural level, the people who had multi-generational backgrounds on the island were overwhelmed by immigrants in a very short period of time. It has certainly caused tensions, in part because it is now the most densely-populated island in the Caribbean. But it is also not the end of the world. And proportionately, it makes a caravan of a few thousand, or even a million refugees in Germany, look like almost nothing.
posted by snofoam at 5:57 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


In the hypothetical event that fully 10% of Americans were to suddenly head for the Canadian border, they’d be running for their lives and whatever they’d be running from would be a bigger problem for Canada than refugees

I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Canada reacts against America in ways that ultimately benefit us; the US civil war united us, ConFederation was influenced by the US civil war, and we still brag about winning the war of 1812. Whatever happens in the US may not necessarily have a negative effect, especially as we have made a concentrated effort to be less integrated with the US economy. The linked article also goes into global migration/refugees, it was an interesting thought experiment.
posted by saucysault at 9:34 PM on October 28, 2018


To add a perspective, I live on the island of St. Martin, which has increased in population more than five fold in the last 60 years, mostly from immigration. Some of this doesn’t technically count because half the island is part of France, so any French people are not immigrants, etc. But on a cultural level, the people who had multi-generational backgrounds on the island were overwhelmed by immigrants in a very short period of time. It has certainly caused tensions, in part because it is now the most densely-populated island in the Caribbean. But it is also not the end of the world. And proportionately, it makes a caravan of a few thousand, or even a million refugees in Germany, look like almost nothing.
posted by snofoam at 9:57 AM on October 29 [4 favorites +] [!]

Canada reacts against America in ways that ultimately benefit us...Whatever happens in the US may not necessarily have a negative effect, especially as we have made a concentrated effort to be less integrated with the US economy.


I just...I dunno. I feel like clarifying a little more why those book was so powerful for me, and why this article evoked it so strongly.

The "Hive" concept in the book was one that subsumed the nation state. They go into some detail about the fictional history of the world, in which a moment came when...I think it was a multinational corporation declared that they were now a nation-state with citizenship open to all and would be issuing passports, but would have no territory, and regardless would require all their "citizens" to be governed by a particular code of law, and would be subconracting with particular prisons and police forces around the world to do the same. They set it all up in secret, then announced it alongside EU and Spain, who amended their citizenship programs to be the same. Immediately following that, a raft of organizations with the finances and global coordination ability did the same. They all said, "Here is a code of law, we ask that our citizens abide by it and have enforcement mechanisms set up around the globe, you can sign up if you meet [XX] qualifications and quit anytime you want, but you will pay taxes to us and be governed by our laws if you agree, and we have [XX] organizations/countries/corporations/clubs/universities that recognize us." There were some minor wars and strife, but pretty quickly everyone signed on to the concept rather than give up the internet, tourist cash, and global trade.

That sounds incredibly plausible to me. Obviously we can think of a million reasons why it wouldn't work, but if we live in a world where we have enough food, can talk to each other at any instant, and can be anywhere within 24 hours (we live in that world), WHY are we still stuck on territorial borders again? The only reason we don't shake things up is that we're afraid if we try, they'll break the threads that make it all possible. Once there's a critical mass of people who think it's wrong to hold that threat over our heads, the nation-state as we know it is doomed.

If we need/want tribes, fine, let's have tribes. We do tribes, ethnicities, and subcultures all day in the US, as do plenty of other places, all mostly without killing each other. But folks, humankind has seen a better life now. We know the possibilities. We knows the upsides of modernity, and we know the names and means of the people responsible for making it suck. That's a byproduct of instantaneous communication, I think "free speech" as we know it is just one iteration of that, and I don't think we're going back. Globally there's a pushback going on, Trump is withdrawing from treaties and stuff, but I don't think it can last. We tasted the good shit, we have the technologies to build an ecologically sustainable future, we also know that we can bomb ourselves into extinction, and when climate change actually registers with people, when the scale of the changes we're facing hits a critical mass of people, I don't think we're going back.

I think it's a matter of time until a non-territory institution gets state-level recognition, passports, and then I think it's game on.
posted by saysthis at 11:32 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Maybe I am naive, but I do believe a large majority of Americans have little issue with immigrants who follow the laws and procedures for immigration."

Not to beat a dead horse but as a person who immigrated to the US legally from South America, let me tell you that "following the laws and procedures for immigration" requires you to be upper or solid middle class in your country of origin. It's an expensive, complicated process to get any sort of visa (just a preliminary interview costs half of a month's minimum wage in my country). Even more so for immigrant visas. Most avenues are thousands of dollars and require a lot of paperwork. So pretty much anyone who is poor, illiterate, or just doesn't have the habit of attending multiple interviews and look "western" is pretty much excluded from this possibility.

As it is, the people who are the most desperate to leave their countries and start a new life are those who have the least possibility of successfully completing the very expensive and westernized process of getting a visa in the first place. Refugees and asylees tend to have it a little cheaper, but those processes are ridiculously bureaucratic and can take decades to complete.
posted by Tarumba at 7:25 AM on October 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


saysthis, I’ve ordered the first one in the series - I’m interested in this idea! It is akin to the current setup of First Nations being a different strata in society, a citizen of two or more Nations including Canada, with the diaspora not necessarily tied to a specific piece of land.
posted by saucysault at 8:01 AM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


People who say "follow the law" are usually poor in information about what immigration law requires and how the process works. I've found these infographics handy in at least dislodging the notion that it's some simple piece of paperwork.
posted by Miko at 9:44 AM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Just to clarify the slight derail I introduced with my wealth example—

I was saying that “you have a right to preserve your enormous wealth against illegal taking”, as a formal claim, is analogous to “we have a right to keep out illegal immigrants”. Both are kind of empty statements until you fill out what “illegal” means with some normative content. I wasn’t intending to express a view on whether it is or should be illegal for the state to expropriate the lot. (I think it’s fine to tax a lot of enormous wealth out of existence, but that’s not really the point I was meaning to introduce.)
posted by Aravis76 at 2:22 PM on October 29, 2018


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