EspañolMonday, March 16, 2015, marked the second annual Open Borders Day, an international event which aims to raise awareness about the prospect of open borders and the importance of better immigration laws around the world, according to the website Open Borders: The Case.
The event is held on March 16 in honor of the website’s launch in 2012. On Monday, the website released the Open Borders Manifesto, a summary of the movement’s goals.
— Open Borders (@OpenBordersInfo) March 15, 2015
The manifesto, with over 130 signatories so far, states that freedom of movement — including movement across international boundaries — is a basic liberty that governments should respect and protect, unless justified by extenuating circumstances, such as threats to public safety or order.
The document further points out that the movement aims for “legal and policy reforms that will reduce and eventually remove these bars to movement for billions of ordinary people around the world,” given that “the economic toll of the modern restrictive border regime is vast, [but] the human toll [is] incalculable.”
“To end this, we do not need a philosopher’s utopia or a world government. As citizens and human beings, we only demand accountability from our own governments for the senseless immigration laws that they enact in our name.”
Not Another Migrants Day
In only its third year in operation, Open Borders: The Case is currently the top web search on the issue, and has amassed a large collection of resources both for and against the idea of open borders, in order to encourage debate.
Despite an apparent similarity, website founder Vipul Naik explains that Open Borders Day differs greatly from the United Nation’s International Migrants Day, celebrated each year on December 18 since 2000.
“International Migrants Day can be leveraged to highlight the ‘closed borders’ nature of the status quo, and lay out the case for freer migration at large,” he writes. “[It] puts the spotlight on migrants as a separate class of people, even where arguing that these people should be given equal rights or similar treatment as natives.”
On the other hand, Open Borders Day is an occasion “to step back from the status quo and imagine a radically different world.” He says it’s time for us to think not of “the migrants in our midst, but rather, of the way our border regime shapes the world we live in, the moral argument for open borders, and how to get to a world with substantially freer migration.”
In an interview with the PanAm Post, Matthew La Corte, North American chairman for Students For Liberty, said he believes the issue of open borders deserves to be debated, and not just once a year. “We are far from having serious discussions regarding the opportunities presented by open borders policy, but general loosening of immigration restrictions is a noble and necessary goal to strive for,” he said.
In the same vein, John Lee, a regular blogger for Open Borders: The Case, told the PanAm Post that freedom of movement “cuts to the heart of what it means to be human.”
“Whether we go to another place to visit, to live, to work, or to study, we cannot help but leave our homes in the course of day-to-day life,” Lee said. “The default presumption of modern immigration law is that the burden of proof should be on the migrant to show why he or she should be allowed passage. The rule should be the exact opposite: governments should not interfere with the peaceful movement of people, unless there is a very compelling reason to stop them.”
La Corte further stated he believes human migration is essential, especially for the United States where immigration reform is badly needed. “As a [US] American citizen, whose great grandparents immigrated to the United States, I would not be here right now if the current US immigration system was in place,” he said.
“As a country supposedly proud of its ‘melting pot’ heritage, and traditions surrounding Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, we have severely curtailed the opportunities for people from around the globe to call the United States home,” the Young Voices advocate continued.
According to La Corte, these restrictions harm economic opportunity, tear migrant families apart, damage communities, “and worst of all, limit the chance for people from around the world to escape tyranny, oppression, violence, and lack of economic opportunity.”
Regarding the achievements of Open Borders: The Case since it was first launched, Lee explained that they have succeeded in documenting and developing the intellectual foundation for a sustainable open borders movement.
“Three years ago, the open borders movement was disparate, spread across various branches of academia and different political camps,” Lee said. “Today, whether you are a philosopher or an economist … a libertarian, a liberal, a centrist, a conservative, or a socialist, if you are interested in open borders, you have an intellectual home at Open Borders: The Case.”
La Corte added that freedom of movement is a topic that all people should pay attention to, since “so many of us can trace our roots back” to somewhere other than where we currently live. “Where someone is born should not determine where they must stay forever.”
Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.