More Thoughts on Open Borders

A typical response by those who advocate closed (or, at least, tightly controlled) borders is this:

“Do you leave your front door unlocked?”

There are many things wrong with this statement, and people far smarter than I have dealt with it.  But I have two main problems with it:

1) It assumes the government owns the country. I reject that as a libertarian and a moralist.

2) It’s an inapt analogy.  I do lock my door to prevent someone from stealing what little stuff I own. That is because a good person would have no cause to enter my apartment unless I invite them in. Conversely, a good person would have many reasons to cross the border from Mexico to the US (or anywhere else). I can reasonably assume that a person who crosses my threshold wishes to cause me harm because he was not invited in. One cannot reasonably make the same assumption for national borders.

3 thoughts on “More Thoughts on Open Borders

  1. Absolutely — the analogy is ridiculous and easily disproven. However, what’s more interesting to me is not that it’s the wrong analogy, but that most people actually believe it! And why do they? Actually, there’s a lot of scholarship on this subject, particularly in the field of border studies. Unsurprisingly, the reason relates to the historical development of the nation state — in particular, the idea of the state as a fixed, bounded territory coterminous with “society.” For further reading, I recommend two articles: “The Territorial Trap” by John Agnew and “The State as a container” by Peter Taylor.

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  2. ” That is because a good person would have no cause to enter my apartment unless I invite them in.”
    Eh…. Firefighters, police, other first responders, Good Samaritan. People don’t enter into unlocked homes due to both respect and fear. The criminal has no respect and overcomes his fear by weighing risk against his belief in profit for his actions.


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