Below are some broad classes of objections to open borders:
- Harms to immigrant-receiving countries: These include political externalities, crime, terrorism, welfare state abuse, suppression of the wages of natives, skills mismatch, culture clash, IQ deficit, second-order harms, and more.
- Harms to immigrant-sending countries: These include brain drain and delay of political reform.
- Global harms: These include increased footprint, cheap labor leading to a technological slowdown, and killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
- Precautionary principle: Open borders are very from the current system, and a radical change can lead to undesired (possibly anticipated, possibly unanticipated) consequences. If borders were opened suddenly, rich countries such as the United States would get swamped, while poor countries may be abandoned.
- Objections to the libertarian arguments for open borders, specifically, objections to the right to migrate and obligations to strangers. These objections include killing versus letting die, citizenism, and collective property rights.
- Attack advocates: Questioning the intentions, motives, sanity, and legitimacy of open borders advocates.
- Twofers: A twofer combines two objections that would be substantiated by opposite empirical facts, and then argues that regardless of the empirical facts, at least one of the objections must hold.
General strategy for addressing objections
The general strategy for addressing objections borrows from the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, we focus here on only three of these five stages: denial, bargaining, and acceptance:
- Denial: Question the empirical claims of harm, or the philosophical arguments, by pointing out offsetting benefits, questioning the empirical or epistemic basis for the claims, etc.
- Bargaining: Point out the possibility of keyhole solutions that address the specific harms while avoiding blanket restrictions on migration.
- Acceptance: In cases where the harms are real and keyhole solutions are not feasible, point out that the overall case for open borders is still very strong, and the harms are not sufficient to overcome this case.