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Progressives Should Support Open Borders—With No Apology

Progressives Should Support Open Borders—With No Apology

Khury Petersen-Smith

When President Donald Trump claimed in his State of the Union Address that “wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders, while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards,” it was his latest of countless efforts to accuse Democrats and liberals of being “soft” on migration.

Like the entirety of Trump’s speech, this claim was misleading and outright false on many levels.


Yes! If capital is allowed free movement across borders, then the only way to protect workers and working conditions is to allow the free movement of labor as well. Otherwise capital will simply move to where the trapped laborers can be most exploited.


Of course, open borders would bring the “undocumented” out of the shadows, and into the struggle for worker dignity

And that’s a primary reason for its being anathema to the political duopoly, don’t you reckon?


The author nails it, our borders, north and south, should have become nothing more than a line on a map, the day NAFTA was signed.


Open border? Hey, like the one we have with Canada!

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Borders have always been a vehicle used for:

  • Controlling the “common” people
  • Taxation
  • A purpose for imperialistic wars

Gee, what is there not to like about borders?

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HI president Trump" you probably don’t know this because learning history is not a big money maker, BUT—there was this president Monroe and his doctrine, and really he was acting truly piggy about owning other continents—So this is my point-----if America hadn’t been interfering with governments in Mexico and Central and South America forever----------there probably would NOT have been this huge immigration of people from those locations since forever too. You know, when you steal a nation’s natural resources, you are stealing that nation’s soul. America, historically , has been ONE BIG soul eater-----and that’s a crime against humanity! YOU should probably read more president trump.


The almost forgotten Eugene Debs once said

Let those desert us who will because we refuse to shut the international door in the faces of their own brethren; we will be none the weaker but all the stronger for their going, for they evidently have no clear conception of the international solidarity, are wholly lacking in the revolutionary spirit, and have no proper place in the Socialist movement while they entertain such aristocratic notions of their own assumed superiority.



Count me as one progressive (by my definition anyway) who is completely opposed to open borders. And I’m even more opposed to the idea that it is a political winner.

I’m for putting resources into fairly and quickly deciding on asylum claims, getting rid of walls we have, and I might be ok with Canadian percentage levels of immigration. But I want mandatory e verify and employer sanctions for violations (we should really have a national I’d with right to work status.

I’m not for free trade either.


Eugene Debs: a worthy role model.

My fight is against the capitalist and political elites. Their particular place of birth, religion, gender, sexual preference, or personal philosophy has nothing to do with it.

It is the selfish, greedy and self-centered individualism inherent to capitalism that threatens all of mankind and our planet.

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Same here, Dara…and Bernie Sanders agrees with us:

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And that’s the gold standard?

Another source for a slightly different slant on borders, international trade, migration and refugees on IPS for those who have the time to read

However, would open borders also mean mass migrations

About one in five potential migrants — or about 147 million adults worldwide — named the USA as their desired future residence. But would the turn up if the US border controls disappeared?

3.4 million Puerto Ricans have the legal right to live in the USA. A past Pew Research Center survey found that nearly 90 percent of Puerto Ricans were dissatisfied with the way things were going on the island, a figure which we can safely say has risen in recent years. The median household income a year in Puerto Rico is $20,000 against over $60,000 on the mainland United States. In 2014 the number of Puerto Ricans leaving for mainland America was 84,000, (although there was a sharp spike after Hurricane Maria.)

Not such an influx when the “flood-gates” are wide open.

Immigration and immigration controls are both intrinsic parts of the capitalist system. As such, effective opposition to immigration controls ultimately means challenging the very foundations of capitalism itself.

The First International stated that:

“The poor have no country, in all lands they suffer from the same evils, and they therefore realise that the barriers put up by the powers that be the more thoroughly to enslave the people must fall.”

A worthy goal to achieve.


The problem, as usual, remains one of government.
In any hierarchical powers structure, such as a government, it is typically the most ruthless and sociopathic that manage to claw their way to the top, rather than the most qualified.
Therefore most governments will exploit labor to whatever extent they can get away with, and borders allow for a great deal of exploitation.
As long as we collectively allow ourselves to be ruled we will remain divided by the artificially created borders that mark the historical sphere of influence each group of rulers and their predecessors have managed to carve out for themselves.
There will never be a single world government without borders under this model of oppression as there are simply far too many psychopaths around with armies and dreams of world domination.

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Capital should not be allowed to cross borders uninhibited. Neoliberalism is horrible. The Koch brothers and their billionaire buddies love Open Borders. Open Borders is a horrible idea. Basically saying to get rid of nations. Native Americans can say open borders were a bad idea.

Wrong. We want the capitalist countries to stop invading, enslaving and robbing the resource-rich but economically-powerless countries, which is the cause of most emigration. THAT would be sensible, newbie.


“The right to freedom of movement becomes only more important as growing numbers of people become uprooted and displaced. Conflicts over control of the planet’s resources, economic policies that devastate people the world over, and climate change — which creates more disasters and makes parts of the world uninhabitable for everyday life—are all increasing.”

Well said and true. But your (above) paragraph explains why open borders will no longer happen–perhaps anywhere in the world. For an elected official to propose open borders in light of these huge crises would be more suicidal than demanding an end to our invasions and re-tooling of our defense industries for useful things. The Green New Deal may be a place to begin, but it will be long and slow.

I think the wars and resultant cultural / economic disruption are key. Tulsi Gabbard is the only politician I know of who has targeted this topic as the core of her campaign. For that, I am grateful.

It’s not vey open either…