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: email@example.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.)
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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide your name, with professional or academic affiliations if applicable.