Quotable quotes

Pro Open Borders

  • The efficient, egalitarian, libertarian, utilitarian way to double world GDP — Bryan Caplan, title of a blog post
  • If research energy were proportional to the inefficiency of the status quo, virtually every economist would study immigration. And if outrage were proportional to harm, virtually every protest on earth would be in favor of open borders. — Bryan Caplan, the same blog post
  • In effect all I’m proposing is that immigration should be brought under the same international legal framework as emigration. Immigration controls would become the exception rather than the rule, and would need to meet stringent tests in terms of evidence of national catastrophe that threatens the life of the nation, and so would be subject to international standards of fairness and legality. This is far from a picture of borderless, lawless anarchy. — Phillip Cole
  • We can’t exclude anybody from the scope of our moral principles unless there’s a morally relevant difference that justifies us in doing so… And yet we don’t seem to consider that the determination of life prospects by the randomness of birth to be rare and exceptional at all – we just accept it as morally legitimate. But how bizarre is that? — Phillip Cole
  • I find it bizarre that so many people focus on the plight of the least well-off in rich societies, and yet ignore the issue of immigration. From my point of view, if you do not advocate open immigration, any claim to be concerned about social justice or the well being of the poor is mere pretense. When economists estimate the welfare losses from immigration restrictions, they tend to conclude that eliminating immigration restrictions would double world GDP. The poorest immigrants would see the largest gains. The families and friends they leave behind would see large gains. Immigration restrictions expose the worlds’ poor to exploitation. If you have an economic system where everything can be globalised, except poor labour, then you make the world’s poor sitting ducks for exploitation. They can’t go where labour is scarce to get a good deal. They are forced to wait for capital to come find them and give them a bad deal. It’s not just that these restrictions are inefficient. Immigration restrictions impose poverty, suffering, pain, and death on some of the most vulnerable people in the world. — Jason Brennan
  • [T]he problem with immigration restrictions is not that they don’t work. The problem is that they do! — Vipul Naik, part of a blog post.

Pro Immigration

  • Why ruin the world’s best anti-poverty program? — Alex Tabarrok, title of an article on the Independent Institute website.
  • Migration, for me, is where we really encounter the God of the Bible—the God of Abraham, of Exodus, of the great journey — Padre Flor Maria Rigoni
  • Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that all men are created equal. We now practically read it, all men are created equal except negroes. When the Know-nothings [anti-immigration movement] get control, it will read, all men are created equal except negroes and foreigners and Catholics. When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be take pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic]. — Abraham Lincoln (see also the Open Borders blog post, Abe Lincoln would be a Russian now)

  • If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn’t give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn’t a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here. — Marco Rubio
  • The industrial world currently transfers something on the order of $70 billion a year in overseas development assistance… A recent World Bank study has estimated the benefits of the rich countries allowing just a 3 percent rise in their labor force through relaxing restrictions. The gains from even this modest increase to poor-country citizens are $300 billion—roughly four and a half times that magnitude of foreign aid. What does it cost the rich countries to achieve these massive gains? Actually, according to these same estimates, the current rich-country residents benefit from this relaxation on distortions to labor markets—so the net cost is in reality a net benefit of $51 billion. It would seem that the choice between spending $70 billion on foreign aid for an uncertain magnitude of gains versus a policy change with a net benefit to rich-country residents of $51 billion for gains to the world’s poor of $300 billion would, naively, be an easy one. The crude “cost-effectiveness” of gains to the poor per aggregate cost to the rich country is infinitely larger. But rather than increasing commitments to expanding labor mobility as a complement to assistance, one estimate is that the total spent by just five industrial countries on preventing these labor flows is $17 billion—a substantial fraction of what they spend to help others. — Lant Pritchett
  • Today, we are “protecting” ourselves as we were in 1924, against being flooded by immigrants from Eastern Europe. This is fantastic…We do not need to be protected against immigrants from these countries–on the contrary we want to stretch out a helping hand, to save those who have managed to flee into Western Europe, to succor those who are brave enough to escape from barbarism, to welcome and restore them against the day when their countries will, as we hope, be free again….These are only a few examples of the absurdity, the cruelty of carrying over into this year of 1952 the isolationist limitations of our 1924 law. In no other realm of our national life are we so hampered and stultified by the dead hand of the past, as we are in this field of immigration. — Harry Truman, vetoing the US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952
  • Every visa officer today lives in fear that he will let in the next Mohammad Atta. As a result, he is probably keeping out the next Bill Gates. — Fareed Zakaria
  • The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment. — George Washington
  • Resolved, That foreign immigration, which in the past has added so much to the wealth, development of resources and increase of power to the nation, the asylum of the oppressed of all nations, should be fostered and encouraged by a liberal and just policy. — Platform of the Republican Party, 1864
  •  And here I hold that a liberal and brotherly welcome to all who are likely to come to the United States, is the only wise policy which this nation can adopt….The apprehension that we shall be swamped or swallowed up by Mongolian civilization; that the Caucasian race may not be able to hold their own against that vast incoming population, does not seem entitled to much respect. Though they come as the waves come, we shall be stronger if we receive them as friends and give them a reason for loving our country and our institutions. They will find here a deeply rooted, indigenous, growing civilization, augmented by an ever increasing stream of immigration from Europe; and possession is nine points of the law in this case, as well as in others. They will come as strangers, we are at home. They will come to us, not we to them. They will come in their weakness, we shall meet them in our strength. They will come as individuals, we will meet them in multitudes, and with all the advantages of organization. Chinese children are in American schools in San Francisco, none of our children are in Chinese schools, and probably never will be, though in some things they might well teach us valuable lessons. Contact with these yellow children of The Celestial Empire would convince us that the points of human difference, great as they, upon first sight, seem, are as nothing compared with the points of human agreement. Such contact would remove mountains of prejudice.It is said that it is not good for man to be alone. This is true not only in the sense in which our woman’s rights friends so zealously and wisely teach, but it is true as to nations.
    …Not the least among the arguments whose consideration should dispose to welcome among us the peoples of all countries, nationalities and color, is the fact that all races and varieties of men are improvable. This is the grand distinguishing attribute of humanity and separates man from all other animals. If it could be shown that any particular race of men are literally incapable of improvement, we might hesitate to welcome them here. But no such men are anywhere to be found, and if there were, it is not likely that they would ever trouble us with their presence.The fact that the Chinese and other nations desire to come and do come, is a proof of their capacity for improvement and of their fitness to come….

    Let the Chinaman come; he will help to augment the national wealth. He will help to develop our boundless resources; he will help to pay off our national debt. He will help to lighten the burden of national taxation. He will give us the benefit of his skill as a manufacturer and tiller of the soil, in which he is unsurpassed. — Frederick Douglass, 1869

  • Safety and opportunity depend mostly on what country you live in, and 97 percent of humanity lives in the country they were born in. For those of us born in safe, prosperous countries, such a random lottery seems quite satisfactory. Most migrants are people who have simply decided that they will not let lottery results enforced by others determine the course of their lives. — Michael Clemens
  • Within our own countries, we know why people leave neighborhoods that are dangerous, poor, or both. These are the same reasons that people leave countries that are dangerous, poor, or both. But there are two differences. Many people in dangerous, poor countries live with risk and destitution that even the poorest people in rich countries will never face and cannot imagine. And, of course, no one stands at the exit to poor neighborhoods, coercing people to stay inside with a gun. — Michael Clemens

Immigration Law

  • That it took the Supreme Court in 2010 to tell us that non-citizens are entitled to be made aware of the full dimensions of their legal peril should be understood, I think, as a kind of wake-up call. In this nation of immigrants and their descendants, we have become so obsessed with rooting out, locking up and packing off those whom we decide should not be permitted to remain among us that we are in danger of losing a moral center of gravity. — Linda Greenhouse
  • Here we are talking about two crimes. One is a small amount of marijuana. He gets 20 days in jail. The other is a pill that I never heard of, a Xan-something, and he gets what, 10 days in jail for that. If you could just present this scenario to an intelligent person who didn’t go to law school, that you are going to not only remove him from this country, but say ‘Never, ever darken our doors again’ because of one marijuana cigarette and one Xan-something pill — it, it just seems to me that if there is a way of reading the statute that would not lead to that absurd result, you would want to read the statute …. — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Migration as a  Human Right

  • We affirm the right of the individual to the fundamental liberty accorded to him by every civilized nation to come and go and dispose of his person and his destinies as he pleases. — The International Emigration Conference, 1889
  • A right that does not exist for all is no right… Gentlemen, it is necessary for us to proceed in the same fashion that England, that free country, has already taken, and to extend to foreigners the same right that exists for Englishmen. There is no such thing as police expulsion in England; the government there does not have the right to deny someone their place of residence. — Wilhelm Liebknecht, 1867
  • it is a barbarity to make a distinction between foreigners and the indigenous in the right to hospitable residence. Not only every German, but every human being has the right to not be chased away like a dog. — Eduard Lasker, 1867
  •  I have said that the Chinese will come, and have given some reasons why we may expect them in very large numbers in no very distant future. Do you ask, if I favor such immigration, I answer I would. Would you have them naturalized, and have them invested with all the rights of American citizenship? I would. Would you allow them to vote? I would. Would you allow them to hold office? I would.But are there not reasons against all this? Is there not such a law or principle as that of self-preservation? Does not every race owe something to itself? Should it not attend to the dictates of common sense? Should not a superior race protect itself from contact with inferior ones? Are not the white people the owners of this continent? Have they not the right to say, what kind of people shall be allowed to come here and settle? Is there not such a thing as being more generous than wise? In the effort to promote civilization may we not corrupt and destroy what we have? Is it best to take on board more passengers than the ship will carry?To all of this and more I have one among many answers, together satisfactory to me, though I cannot promise that it will be so to you.I submit that this question of Chinese immigration should be settled upon higher principles than those of a cold and selfish expediency.
    There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are external, universal, and indestructible. Among these, is the right of locomotion; the right of migration; the right which belongs to no particular race, but belongs alike to all and to all alike.
    It is the right you assert by staying here, and your fathers asserted by coming here. It is this great right that I assert for the Chinese and Japanese, and for all other varieties of men equally with yourselves, now and forever. I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity, and when there is a supposed conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to go to the side of humanity. I have great respect for the blue eyed and light haired races of America. They are a mighty people. In any struggle for the good things of this world they need have no fear. They have no need to doubt that they will get their full share.But I reject the arrogant and scornful theory by which they would limit migratory rights, or any other essential human rights to themselves, and which would make them the owners of this great continent to the exclusion of all other races of men.

    I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth. If the white race may exclude all other races from this continent, it may rightfully do the same in respect to all other lands, islands, capes and continents, and thus have all the world to itself. — Frederick Douglass, 1869

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