Tag Archives: right to migrate

Open Borders Would be Great for Women

This is a guest post by Victoria Ferauge. Victoria is an American expatriate currently living in France.  She thus has first hand knowledge of how immigration controls work and impact migrants. Victoria also maintains a blog here.

I am an immigrant.  In 1989 right after I graduated from university I left the United States for France.  I have lived nearly 20 years now in the Hexagon where I am a legal resident and hope to be a citizen soon.

I’m not alone. According to the International Organization for Migration, 49% of the 214 million international migrants are women.  So why do so many of the discussions about migration assume that the average migrant is a relatively young man seeking better opportunities elsewhere?  This gender bias makes it very hard to join a conversation that revolves primarily around the economics of migration and ignores all the other factors that go into every woman’s (and man’s) decision to cast him or herself onto a distant shore.

In a previous post here on Open Borders, Joel Newman talked about one advantage that women would have under Open Borders: escape from persecution and discrimination .  This is certainly true but these cases don’t represent the majority of woman migrants.  It’s incorrect to assume that “escape” is the primary reason that woman migrate.  Some of our reasons (like opportunity) are, in fact, very similar to those commonly attributed to men.  The Moroccan women I know here in France came because their language skills and degrees meant more opportunity for them in a Francophone country in the EU, and not because they felt actively persecuted at home.  Other migrants like myself had other reasons to migrate that were just as important as the chase after better opportunities.

Family is one of these.  It can be about joining family members already living outside the home country, it can be a decision to get married and start a family with a native citizen in another country, or it can mean moving the entire family to a safer place to raise children in a society that invests in children.  For the record, one of the primary reasons I’ve heard from American immigrants in Europe and elsewhere for migrating is to raise children in a less violent society with better public schools.  For this, they were more than willing to trade economic opportunity (and pay higher taxes) for a more “family friendly” environment.

The problem women migrants face when they migrate to join family (especially a spouse) is that the woman begins her migration journey as the appendage to the man.  The assumption is one of “dependent” status. This impacts the economic equality of immigrant women within their marriages to citizens or to other legal residents.  In most countries it is a fact that women make less than men.  Many skilled immigrants are under-employed compared to their education level and skill sets during the time that they assimilate and learn the language.  If you combine the two, this means that the difference between the native husband’s income and that of the foreign woman struggling to start or restart a career, can be enormous.  As a result of this inequality, she may have less power when it comes to deciding how the children are brought up, what language(s) to use in the home, and what traditions will be followed.

To be very clear all too often her right to live and work in the country of arrival is based on her relationship with her spouse (or another family member – usually a father or brother) and that gives them extraordinary power over her. This power lessens over time as the woman establishes residency but in the beginning, it is a powerful weapon that can be used to control a woman’s behaviour in the host country.

So my argument for Open Borders is simply this:  It would give us women more equality in our migration journeys.  We could enter other countries on our own terms, and our status and ability to stay, to live and work, would be completely independent of our husbands or fathers.  And finally, it would make bi-national marriages and partnerships where one is a citizen and the other is not, much more equal.

And that is why Open Borders would be good for women everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic status and country of origin.

Citizenism and open borders

This is a guest post by Michael Huemer, a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Huemer’s webpage is here. His paper Is There A Right To Immigrate? has been referenced at many places on the Open Borders site, particularly on the starving Marvin page. Huemer’s most recent book, The Problem of Political Authority, argues against political authority and for the proposition that anarcho-capitalism is a superior and feasible alternative to the status quo of nation-states. It received a rave review from fellow anarcho-capitalist and open borders advocate Bryan Caplan.


Vipul Naik invited me to contribute a post, and he suggested (among other possible topics) addressing the citizenist argument against open borders. As most readers probably know, this argument claims that the state is justified in closing its borders to foreigners because the state has special duties to promote the interests of its own current citizens, duties that it does not owe toward anyone who is not presently a citizen.

This citizenist argument has three main problems. First, it’s unclear why we should think the government has these special duties. Second, even if the government has special duties to its citizens, the citizenist argument requires arbitrarily privileging some citizens over others. Third, even if we ignore the previous two problems, the citizenist argument doesn’t work because one’s having special duties toward certain people does not make it permissible to violate the rights of other people.

I. Does the State Have a Duty to Benefit Citizens?

To begin with, then, why do citizenists believe that the government has special duties to its current citizens? Some just assert this without argument (see, e.g., Steve Sailer). Others appeal to the social contract theory (see, e.g., Sonic Charmer): maybe the social contract requires the government to serve the interests of its own citizens.

Sonic Charmer also pointed out the most obvious problem with this argument (though it doesn’t stop Sonic from embracing the argument anyway):

[A]ll Smart People think the ‘social contract’ is nonsense and couldn’t possibly imagine anyone with a brain believing in it. The whole idea that the basis and legitimacy of a government comes from anything resembling a ‘social contract’ is totally out of favor, and indeed is considered to have been long ago fully and definitively discredited by (whoever … some professor I think).

I could not have said it better. I know of no living person who works on political authority and thinks that we actually have a valid social contract. And I say that after having just written a book on political authority that contains 359 references.

Very briefly, contracts, in any other context, satisfy at least the following four principles: (i) all parties to a contract must have a reasonable way of opting out (without being forced to give up things of great value that belong to them), (ii) explicit, up front statements of non-agreement should generally be recognized as a way of not accepting a contract, (iii) an action cannot be interpreted as signaling agreement, if the terms of the contract would have been imposed on the agent regardless of whether they performed that action or not, and (iv) contracts generally require both parties to undertake enforceable obligations to each other, and if one party repudiates or simply fails to uphold its obligations under the contract, the other party is no longer bound to hold up their end either. The “social contract” violates all of these principles, and blatantly so. This is discussed at length in my recent book, The Problem of Political Authority, chapter 2. This is why I say that the “social contract” bears no resemblance to real contracts, as understood in any other context. If you took someone to court for an alleged “breach of contract”, no court in the world would recognize a claim of contractual obligation if you had nothing better than the sort of arguments that social contract theorists have relied upon.

But let’s say you don’t care what those annoying egghead intellectuals say. They’re always trying to convince us of ridiculous things, like that the Earth is round and that we came from monkeys. There’s a social contract, arguments to the contrary be damned! Okay, but what does the contract require? Here are two views: Continue reading Citizenism and open borders

Excluding versus avoiding strangers

John Derbyshire, an American writer of British origin, attracted some controversy with his article The Talk: Nonblack Version published in Taki’s Magazine. In an article for The Atlantic titled Why John Derbyshire Hasn’t Been Fired (Yet), Elspeth Reeve quotes the following passage from Derbyshire’s original column:

(9) A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming.

(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

Continue reading Excluding versus avoiding strangers