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Open Borders Manifesto

Every year, we mark Open Borders Day on the 16th of March. We honour this day because, as Open Borders: The Case founder Vipul Naik puts it:

Open Borders Day is an occasion for us to step back from the status quo and imagine a radically different world. It’s a time for us to think not so much 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.

This year, we are publishing a manifesto summarising the aims of our movement. The moral and empirical cases for free migration rest on a variety of premises and originate from a variety of worldviews. No document could hope to do all these justice in merely a few hundred words. Our intention in publishing this is to make our objectives clear, and set forth the principles that unite all of us who seek open borders — irrespective of our national, religious, ethnic, or ideological backgrounds.

We welcome signatories; if you would like to add yourself to the signatory list, please contact us (preferably via email: openborders@googlegroups.com) and provide your name, with professional or academic affiliations if applicable. The list of signatories published in this post will only be updated through the end of Open Borders Day, 16th March 2015. For an updated list of signatories after that date, refer to our Open Borders Manifesto page.

(If you are interested in the background of the manifesto’s drafting, you may refer to the following posts in the Open Borders Action Group: Nathan Smith’s on 6 March 2015, John Lee’s on 6 March 2015, Nathan Smith’s on 9 March 2015, and John Lee’s on 14 March 2015.)

Open Borders Manifesto

Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that governments should respect and protect unless justified by extenuating circumstances. This extends to movement across international boundaries.

International law and many domestic laws already recognise the right of any individual to leave his or her country. This right may only be circumscribed in extreme circumstances, where threats to public safety or order are imminent.

We believe international and domestic law should similarly extend such protections to individuals seeking to enter another country. Although there may be times when governments should treat foreign nationals differently from domestic citizens, freedom of movement and residence are fundamental rights that should only be circumscribed when the situation absolutely warrants.

The border enforcement status quo is both morally unconscionable and economically destructive. Border controls predominantly restrict the movement of people who bear no ill intentions. Most of the people legally barred from moving across international borders today are fleeing persecution or poverty, desire a better job or home, or simply want to see the city lights.

The border status quo bars ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Billions of people are legally barred from realising their full potential and ambitions purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is both a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world, and indefensible in any order that recognises the moral worth and dignity of every human being.

We seek legal and policy reforms that will reduce and eventually remove these bars to movement for billions of ordinary people around the world. The economic toll of the modern restrictive border regime is vast, the human toll 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. Border controls should be minimised to only the extent required to protect public health and security. International borders should be open for all to cross, in both directions.

Signatories, listed in alphabetical order by surname:

  • Thorvald Aagaard, Associate Professor, Director of Theater, Pacific Union College
  • Brian C. Albrecht, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Minnesota
  • Pedro H. Albuquerque, Associate Professor, KEDGE Business School
  • Jesús Alfaro, Professor of Law, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Shanu Athiparambath
  • Ben Bachrach
  • Dave Barnes
  • David Bennion, Attorney
  • Daniel Bier
  • Niklas Blanchard, PhD candidate, Human Capital Management, Bellevue University
  • Luke Blanshard
  • Joseph Bonneau, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Computer Science, Stanford University
  • Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
  • Sam Bowman, Deputy Director, Adam Smith Institute
  • Jason Brennan, Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Georgetown University
  • Steve Buller
  • Jason Lee Byas, Fellow, Center for a Stateless Society
  • Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
  • Leonel Caraciki
  • Ryan Carey
  • Simon Cartledge
  • Richard Yetter Chappell, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of York
  • Grieve Chelwa, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Cape Town
  • Lars Christensen
  • Andrew Jason Cohen, Associate Professor, Philosophy, Georgia State University
  • Phillip Cole, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of West of England
  • Paul Crider
  • Christopher Dobrogosz
  • Bryan Joseph Dodson
  • Eli Dourado
  • Charles DuHadway
  • Robert Eckerson, Attorney
  • Margaret A. Elberson
  • Ross B. Emmett, Professor of Political Economy and Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy, James Madison College, Michigan State University
  • Mustafa Erdogan, Professor of Political and Constitutional Theory, Istanbul Commerce University
  • Bryan T. Fine
  • Nicholas Fletcher
  • Scott Freeman
  • Joshua Gans, Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Toronto
  • Giuseppe Germinario
  • Casey C. Glick, Graduate Researcher in Physics, UC Berkeley
  • Zachary Gochenour, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, Western Carolina University
  • Nathan Goodman, Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society
  • Maithreyi Gopalan, Ph.D. candidate, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
  • Manick Govinda, Visiting Artists Co-ordinator, Manifesto Club
  • Jameson Graber
  • Joe Green, Associate Professor of Political Science, Dixie State University
  • Priscila Guinovart
  • Jeff Hallman
  • Robin Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
  • Mikael Hellstrom, Instructor, Political Science, University of Alberta
  • Christopher Hendrix
  • Javier S. Hidalgo, Assistant Professor, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond
  • Fergus Hodgson, Editor-in-Chief, PanAm Post
  • Jeffrey Horn
  • Steven Horwitz, Charles A. Dana Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University
  • Michael Huemer, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado
  • Giancarlo Ibarguen, Former President, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
  • Tom Jackson
  • Peter Martin Jaworski, Assistant Teaching Professor, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
  • Scott A. Jenks, Instructor, Department of Medicine, Emory University
  • Nathan Jones
  • Emmanuelle Baya Julien
  • Valdenor M. Brito Júnior, Attorney
  • Angela Keaton
  • Rick Kelo
  • William Kiely
  • Milo King
  • Gavin A. Kitchens
  • Thomas L. Knapp, Director, William Lloyd Garrison Center
  • Anna Krupitsky
  • Chandran Kukathas, Chair of Political Theory, Department of Government, London School of Economics
  • Michelangelo Geovanny Landgrave Lara
  • Daniele Latella
  • Mark LeBar
  • John Lee
  • Daniel Lin, Professorial Lecturer, American University
  • Anthony Ling, Editor-in-Chief, Caos Planejado
  • Raffaele Lo Moro
  • Ryan P. Long
  • Roderick T. Long, Professor of Philosophy, Auburn University and President, Molinari Institute
  • Ray Lopez
  • Trent MacDonald, PhD candidate, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University
  • Pedro Magalhães, Attorney and PhD candidate, Law and Economics, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  • Akiva Malamet
  • Rafael Bortoluzzi Massaiol
  • Kevin McGartland
  • Jeremy McLellan
  • Justin Merrill
  • Jared Meyer, Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
  • Gary Miguel
  • Walter Morris, Director, Acton School of Ballet
  • Joe Munson
  • Darren Nah, PhD candidate, Politics, Yale University
  • Vipul Naik
  • Janet Neilson, Program Developer, Institute for Liberal Studies
  • Chad Nelson, Attorney and Fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society
  • Sebastian Nickel
  • Eric Nielsen
  • Joel Newman
  • Federico Oliveri, Research Fellow, Sciences for Peace Interdisciplinary Centre, University of Pisa
  • Yaël Ossowski, Programs Director, European Students for Liberty
  • George Pareja
  • Andrew Pearson
  • Alicia Perez
  • Graham Peterson, PhD candidate, Sociology, University of Chicago
  • Kaveh Pourvand, PhD candidate, Political Theory, London School of Economics
  • Shaun Raviv
  • Jose L. Ricon
  • Dylan Risenhoover
  • Fabio Rojas, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Indiana University
  • John Roccia
  • Trish Ruebottom, Assistant Professor, Goodman School of Business, Brock University
  • Antonio Saravia, Assistant Professor of Economics and Director, BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism, Mercer University
  • Paul Sas
  • Philip Saunders
  • Yaakov Schatz
  • Eric Schmidt
  • James Schumacher
  • Andrew Scobie
  • Hafiz Noor Shams, Founding Associate, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs
  • Jay Shooster
  • Joshua Shurley, PhD candidate, Politics, University of Manchester
  • Sarah Skwire, Fellow, Liberty Fund, Inc.
  • Ben Smith
  • Evelyn Smith
  • Nathan Smith, Assistant Professor of Economics and Finance at Fresno Pacific University
  • Ilya Somin, Professor of Law at the George Mason University School of Law
  • Piero Stanig, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Università Bocconi
  • Marilyn Steffen
  • Wouter Stekelenburg
  • Barry Stocker, Assistant Professor in Philosophy, Istanbul Technical University
  • Drew Stonebraker
  • Scott Sumner, Professor, Economics, Bentley University
  • Kyle Swan, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, California State University Sacramento
  • Alex Tabarrok, Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
  • Batur Talu
  • Laron Tamaye
  • Fernando R. Tesón, Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar, Florida State University
  • Bas Van der Vossen, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosopy, UNC Greensboro
  • Brian Wagers
  • Tyler Walker
  • Hansjörg Walther
  • Ladan Weheliye
  • Nicholas Weininger
  • Christoph Widenhorn
  • Michael Wiebe, PhD candidate, Economics, University of British Columbia
  • Samuel Wilson
  • Stephen Winkler
  • Barrett Young
  • Zachary Yost
  • David Zetland, Assistant Professor of Economics, Leiden University College
  • Matt Zwolinski, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of San Diego

Reminder: The above list was current as of Open Borders Day, 16 March 2015. For the current list of signatories, refer to our Open Borders Manifesto page. If you are interested in attaching your name to this declaration, please contact us (preferably via email: openborders@googlegroups.com) and provide your name, with professional or academic affiliations if applicable.

Three years of open borders

Open Borders Day is held every year on March 16, to commemorate the founding of the site on March 16, 2012. Given the global nature of the website, celebration starts at the beginning of Monday, March 16, GMT+12, and ends at the end of Monday, March 16, GMT-12. That gives us 48 hours to celebrate the day. So officially, the day has already begun!

Since the last Open Borders Day, the site has grown considerably in content as well as in engagement.

  • In the last 365 days, Google Analytics recorded about 283,000 pageviews for the site, compared to 159,000 for the previous 365-day period.
  • Our Facebook like count has increased from about 1125 just before the last Open Borders Day to 4315 at the start of this Open Borders Day.
  • The Open Borders Action Group has grown from about 200 members to over 900 members. Some of our most popular posts hae been published in the last year, and some of our older content has continued to do well and acquire canonical reference status.
  • Since at least July 2014, our site has been the top search result for open borders.

The site’s status as the hub of the open borders movement makes these metrics particularly important as gauges of the growth of the open borders movement, but success is ultimately measured by more than engagement and pageviews. It’s measured by our ability to influence public opinion and policy. In the last year, we have started planning a shift towards covering more of the migration status quo and better understanding opportunities for marginal change that are aligned with a long-term vision of open borders. We’ll do a separate blog post soon about plans for the coming year.

As site founder and blogger Vipul Naik wrote a month back, Open Borders Day differs from the ostensibly similar International Migrants Day, in that the former focuses on a long-term vision of a very different world than today: a world where migration is unremarkable and largely unfettered. We are very far from this world, but the potential gains from such a move are large enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Stay tuned for more Open Borders Day updates! In the meantime, here are some links to check out:

If you’re new to the site …

Begin with:

Tracing the site’s growth

  • Site story describes the story of how the site grew internally (including the addition of each new blogger).
  • External coverage lists main external coverage of the site, starting from launch till now.
  • We’ve done monthly reviews since November 2014. You can see all our monthly reviews using our month in review tag.

The most popular site content

This stuff has been popular in the past, so it’s a good place if you’re looking for stuff to share. The stuff is not necessarily representative of the rest of our site.

Other stuff to check out

PS: If you’re interested in writing for Open Borders: The Case, check out our potential guest blogger contact form (you might want to read this blog post for some context).

February 2015 in review

Febraury 2015 has been yet another decent month for Open Borders: The Case. It’s been a quiet month with steady traffic, despite a substantial reduction in the number of published posts.

Traffic patterns: overall summary

Controlling for length, February did almost exactly as well as January in terms of pageviews. Both months were a little lower than the unprecedently high-traffic months of November and December. Traffic is likely to grow at a slow and steady rate from this level, with occasional spikes during times when migration becomes a topical issue.

Social media successes

None of our posts published February were extraordinary successes. But some of our posts did perform well:

We had a much lower Facebook spend than usual. We only promoted the first two of the posts listed above, after it was established that they were doing quite well organically.

We also had some success with older posts, including:

Search interest

The pages we got traffic to based on search interest remained the same as in January 2015. See the January 2015 review for more information.

Open Borders Action Group highlights

Below are listed some posts in the Open Borders Action Group that generated considerable discussion. OBAG posts that led to subsequent blog posts aren’t included.

There’s a lot more discussion at the Open Borders Action Group. Do check it out and join the group if you’re interested in participating.

Site traffic: details

Pageviews for Open Border: The Case:

Month and year Pageview count (WordPress) Pageview count (Google Analytics)
February 2015 26,205 25,351
January 2015 28,149 25,702*
February 2014 14,964 15,409
January 2014 17,521 17,709

*Google Analytics was dysfunctional for a few days and a few hours on other days, causing that number to be an underestimate.

WordPress traffic by day for the past few weeks:

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.01.35 AM

Google Analytics traffic by day for the past month:

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.03.25 AM

  • Facebook likes for our Facebook page stayed fairly steady over the month, increasing from about 4180 to about 4250. We did not spend any money on page promotion. This was very similar to last month’s growth number.
  • The Open Borders Action Group expanded from 867 members to 905 members.
  • Our Twitter account @OpenBordersInfo saw its follower count increased from 1048 at the beginning of the month to 1084 at the end of the month. This was very similar to monthly growth in January.

January 2015 in review

January 2015 has been an interesting month for Open Borders: The Case, albeit a relatively laid back one.

Traffic patterns: overall summary

In November and December, we saw our highest traffic of all time. The trend began with a revival of interest in migration policy in the United States due to US President Obama’s November 2014 deferred action announcement, but continued due to interesting and timely content, and clever promotion strategies.

January, in contrast, was a relatively quiet month. A number of our posts did well, but we had no smashing hits, either on social media or on search. On days that we didn’t publish anything new, our traffic was largely search-driven. Since traffic was driven by enduring interest rather than current events, January’s traffic levels are likely a lower bound for traffic levels in the months to come.

Social media successes

No posts of ours matched the extraordinary performance of December’s social media successes. Nonetheless, we did quite well when compared year-on-year. Our top posts published this month:

We had a much lower Facebook spend than the past two months. Of the posts published this month, we only spent a small amount of money promoting Lee’s interview of Stephan Faris, Merrill’s post, and Lee’s post on drowning people.

We also had some success posting and promoting some of our older content relevant to current events. Two of our older posts that we reposted to Facebook and Twitter in light of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office:

Search interest

Our list of most visited pages that people arrive at via Google Search is fairly constant over time. Most of these are site content pages rather than blog posts. Of the blog posts, the top ones are:

Economist appreciation

John Lee’s post Krugman and Cowen on immigration; or, rallying the economic profession around open borders, published December 12, 2014, received fresh attention when economist and blogger David Henderson blogged about it. Henderson wrote:

But the spirit of his analysis is correct. Welfare in the United States is unlikely to be a huge magnet for immigrants and what is likely to be a much stronger magnet is the chance for a much higher-paying job.

I recommend reading the whole long article. I recommend it for not only the content but also the respectful tone. Were I teaching a class in rhetoric, I would use this as a reading. Indeed, two economist friends were the ones who recommended the piece and both of them highlighted the tone.

Open Borders meetup

The third Bay Area meetup was held on Sunday, January 11. You can read the proceedings of the meetup here. The list of all past meetups, along with links to proceedings where available, is here.

Site traffic: details

Pageviews for Open Border: The Case:

Month and year Pageview count (WordPress) Pageview count (Google Analytics)
January 2015 28,149 25,702*
December 2014 35,318 34,374
January 2014 17,521 17,709
December 2013 12,270 11,931

*Google Analytics was dysfunctional for a few days and a few hours on other days, causing that number to be an underestimate.

WordPress traffic by day for the past few weeks:

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.14.12 AM

Google Analytics traffic by day for January 2015 (note that Analytics wasn’t working for January 16 and parts of the previous and next day):

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.41.17 AM

WordPress traffic by month, since September 2012 (earlier months don’t fit in the picture):

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 10.25.38 AM

Google Analytics traffic (sessions and pageviews) by month, since March 2012:

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 10.54.27 AM

As we can see, there was robust year-on-year growth, but a month-on-month decline, and the year-on-year growth was weaker than that for December. This is because of the unusually high traffic in December 2014 because of the topicality of migration.

We also turned on age/gender tracking on Google Analytics. Here are the results by age/gender combinations:

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.44.49 AM

And here’s our distribution of traffic by geographical location:

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.55.36 AM

Facebook and Twitter metrics

  • Facebook likes for our Facebook page stayed fairly steady over the month, increasing from about 4120 to about 4180. We did not spend any money on page promotion, and the slow growth this month suggests diminishing returns with respect to audience outreach.
  • The Open Borders Action Group expanded quite a bit, from 713 members to 867 members. Most of the new additions were passive members, though, and about half of them appear to have been added by Eric Schmidt. Controlling for that, the number of new members was similar to the number in December 2014.
  • Our Twitter account @OpenBordersInfo saw its follower count increased from 1014 at the beginning of the month to 1048.

Here’s a graph of our Facebook reach and likes, comments, and shares:

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 12.11.08 PM

December 2014 in review

December 2014 has been a busy and interesting month for Open Borders: The Case. This post summarizes some of the most exciting developments.

Traffic patterns

As detailed in the November 2014 review, traffic to the site exploded shortly after US President Barack Obama’s deferred action announcement. We capitalized on the interest both by publishing relevant content and by promoting some of our older content and promoting ourselves on Facebook.

The greater interest in migration continued through the first week of December, and we also published posts daily during that week. We got 10,000 pageviews in the first week of December, and over 2,000 on some weekdays. Traffic then started dipping, and our posting frequency also reduced.

We expected the week of Christmas (Monday, December 22 – Sunday, December 28) to be a very slow week, and the first two days of the week were indeed slow. But we published a number of topical posts related to Christmas and migration, and actually got higher traffic on Christmas Day than the previous day. On December 25, UTC, the site got 786 views, compared with about 200 last year on the same day.

Social media successes

Of the posts published this month, two stood out as unusually successful:

Both the posts benefited from our paid Facebook promotion, but the reason we promoted them was that they were already doing well organically. It’s impressive that both our highest-performing posts on social media were published this month.

Some of our earlier posts continued to accumulate social media likes, shares and comments. John Lee’s Thanksgiving post reached 410 Facebook engagements (it had 282 at the end of November). Lee’s post on Argentina’s open borders policy reached 221 Facebook engagements.

Christmas specials

We did three posts on the occasion of Christmas:

Hacker News and Reddit

Prior to Obama’s deferred action announcement, we had received only about 500 visits from Reddit through our entire history, and none from Hacker News. December was a turning point. Many of our posts were widely shared (and panned) on our Reddit, and we received attention from people who didn’t follow the site closely.

On December 26, 2014, somebody (we don’t know who) posted a link to Hacker News to John Lee’s post How did we come to be so certain that closed borders are our salvation? from July 30, 2013. Even though the post didn’t do well on Hacker News (it stayed on the front page for only a few minutes, and it got only 26 net upvotes) it still drove over a thousand views to Lee’s post. As is the case with most Hacker News traffic, it was shallow traffic: most people bounced off the article, but a dozen or so explored the site in depth. We discussed the matter in the Open Borders Action Group.

It turned out that high-skilled migration had become topical at Hacker News because of a post by Paul Graham on freeing high-skilled migration published Friday, December 26. On Saturday, December 27, Vipul Naik mooted to the Open Borders Action Group the idea of writing a response post, and got encouragement and suggestions. On Sunday, December 28, the post was published. It did not get picked up or posted on Hacker News, but it did get posted at many places on Reddit, and got a lot of shallow traffic from Reddit.

Two other posts by Vipul Naik received a fair amount of Reddit and Hacker News attention: Why the Cuba “wet feet, dry feet” policy should continue and Visa versus authorized stay: why can you not renew your visa in the United States? Neither did well in social media terms, but both are likely to gather more search traffic over the longer term.

Search interest

In some cases, posts about a relatively less-well-covered region can get a lot of traffic when that region becomes the subject of international news. Two noteworthy examples from last month:

Other conversation-sparkers

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s guarded critique of open borders prompted two responses:

Paul Crider returned after a long hiatus to write a post arguing for a more human-centered focus in the case for open borders, following in the broad tradition of the human capabilities case for open borders. Crider’s post got 139 Facebook engagements and 8 Twitter engagements.

Nathan Smith wrote a post on why the open borders movement should (mostly) avoid emulating the gay marriage movement, a follow-up to his post on what open borders can learn from abolition of slavery. Published December 22, 2014, the post sparked a conversation in the Open Borders Action Group about the diversity of perspectives in the open borders movement and the need to include disclaimers when authors express opinions on topics not very directly related to open borders. We included a disclaimer on Smith’s post and on some older posts, linking to our general blog and comments policies page, and quoting this passage from it:

The moral and intellectual responsibility for each blog post also lies with the individual author. Other bloggers are not responsible for the views expressed by any author in any individual blog post, and the views of bloggers expressed in individual blog posts should not be construed as views of the site per se.

Other metrics

  • The number of pageviews of Open Borders: The Case was reported as 35,318 by WordPress Jetpack Stats and as 34,374 by Google Analytics. Both counts exclude views of posts by people through RSS feeds, and also exclude views by site administrators when logged in. This was the second highest among all months in our history, the highest being November 2014 (about 38,000 pageviews). The corresponding number of pageviews in December 2013 had been about 12,000.
  • Our Twitter follower count now stands at 1014, up by 44 from its value 970 at the beginning of the month. We crossed the 1000-follower mark on December 27, 2014.
  • The Open Borders Action Group increased in size by 70, from 643 to 713.
  • Likes of our Facebook page grew by about 700, from a little over 3400 to a little over 4100.