The Meaning of “Open Borders”

Guests on conservative Fox News are going nuts over what they are calling President Biden’s “open borders” policy. One recent example was Stephen Miller, a former Trump advisor, who appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show, where he lamented Biden’s supposed “open-border policies.” Another was Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, who appeared on Fox and Friends, where he complained that Biden is an advocate of “open borders.” 

Needless to say, the hosts of these Fox shows displayed no pushback on these remarkable claims. In fact, quite the opposite. As conservatives, they sympathized with the views of their guests. One of the commentators on Fox and Friends even lamented that Biden isn’t continuing the construction of the Trump Wall along the border.

Meanwhile, Noora Barakat, who works at the Vera Institute of Justice, writes, “This week, the Biden administration will officially launch accelerated deportation proceedings for asylum-seeking families in 11 cities across the country.”

Hmm. Accelerated deportations? Open borders? Something clearly does not compute here.

Let’s be clear: The only people who favor open borders, rightly understood, are libertarians. Democrats and progressives and Republicans and conservatives (and, to be fair, some conservative-oriented libertarians) favor America’s system of immigration controls. 

Oh, sure, Biden might be enforcing America’s system of immigration controls differently from the way that Trump enforced them. Biden’s way of enforcement might well mean that more immigrants are illegally entering the United States. But adopting different immigration enforcement measures does not add up to open borders. 

After all, let’s not forget that Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, a Democrat-progressive whose vice-president was none other than Joe Biden, was labeled America’s Deporter-in-Chief owing to the record number of immigrants his bureaucrats forcibly deported out of the United States.

What would a system of open borders look like? Think the domestic United States. There are state borders that mark out the political jurisdiction of each state. People are free to cross these borders without encountering any government officials. There are no state border guards, state border patrols, state visa requirements, state trade restrictions, or state entry quotas. Anyone is free to cross state borders, no questions asked.

The Potomac River forms a large part of the border between Maryland and Virginia. Every day, countless people cross this border in both directions. 

How many? No one knows because no one keeps count. 

Who are the people crossing into Maryland and Virginia? We don’t know. They could be murderers, rapists, burglars, or terrorists. They could all be infected with Covid. They could be coming to steal jobs away from Virginians. They could be coming to sell products in competition against Virginia businesses. They might be coming to live here. It doesn’t matter. Anyone and everyone are free to cross the border regardless of the reasons they are crossing it. 

That’s what the concept of open borders entails — the free movement of goods, services, and people across borders. 

Sometimes conservatives and progressives (and, yes, conservative-oriented libertarians) want to let more immigrants into the country legally. But the operative word is “let.” As soon as you see or hear that word “let,” you know that they are not talking about open borders but instead an immigration-control system, one in which government politicians and bureaucrats are deciding who is going to enter the country.

There is another important point to consider here: both progressives and conservatives (and conservative-oriented libertarians) favor the police-state measures that are designed to enforce their system of immigration controls. Oh, sure, Biden and his progressive cohorts might not favor the Berlin Immigration Wall that conservatives favor, but, like them, he favors forced deportations, violent raids on American businesses, domestic highway checkpoints, warrantless trespasses onto farms and ranches, and other police-state immigration enforcement measures.

Immediately after the Taliban took control of Kabul, it began establishing highway checkpoints around the city where they ask people for their identification papers. I can’t help but wonder whether they are modeling their highway checkpoint system on America’s immigration highway checkpoint system. But one thing is certain: Whether the highway checkpoints are being run by the Taliban or by progressives or conservatives, they reflect a tyrannical system. 

There is but one solution to America’s ongoing, never-ending, perpetual immigration crisis: open borders, just like we have here within the domestic United States. It is the only way — repeat: only way — to bring an end to the death, suffering, chaos, crisis, and police state that come with America’s Democratic-Republican, progressive-conservative system of immigration controls.