This is a personal statement by Chris Hendrix (written by him in first person), one of the regular bloggers for the Open Borders website. For all blog posts by Chris Hendrix, see here. For the overall site story, see here.
History of attitude to open borders
I wasn’t always in favor of open borders. Indeed, through much of high school I was heavily concerned by the illegal immigration “problem” (influenced by media pundits like Lou Dobbs). My path to open borders began with my first understanding of economics when I went to college. When I learned about the advantages of free trade and
comparative advantage that began my questioning of immigration controls. It didn’t take long for me to go from believing in free trade to asking why not free immigration as well? I hadn’t yet heard of the doubling world GDP estimates, the various and asundry political arguments, or even realized the basic injustice of systems of restrictions. I just failed to see why if free trade is smart free trade in labor isn’t smart as well. Exposure to Econlog years later and the commenters for and against immigration began placing me more firmly on the side of open borders. The moral arguments of people like Bryan Caplan and Vipul Naik transformed this from a decent sounding proposal to absolute necessity (and the arguments against failed to sway me despite having a sophistication I had not previously encountered, they failed to overcome the open borders imperatives or potential keyhole solutions). Since Vipul asked me to join the site I’ve been struck by the amount of research there is on the subject and the variety of considerations to make before definitively choosing a side. Nonetheless, I still think ignorant college me got closer to the truth than ignorant high school me.
History and future plans for involvement with open borders, both the website and the cause
How borders have been shaped and what they have meant through history is a fascinating question. History can’t offer definitive answer to questions of the present but it can provide some evidence. I hope to continue to explore how immigration has been treated historically and how systems of control or freedom get established. Open borders has been proposed and implemented successfully in the past and though the present is different, I’m not convinced that it is different in ways which make free immigration non-viable.