Harms to immigrant-receiving countries

Different ways of defining “immigrant-receiving countries”

  • The citizenist approach is to measure the benefits and/or harms of immigration to the current citizens of the immigrant-receiving countries. The welfare of the immigrants themselves is not of direct importance, even though they may eventually become citizens.
  • The “analytical nationalism” approach is to compare the totals and averages of the “with immigration” scenario against the “without immigration” scenario. Here, the totals and averages do include the immigrants for some purposes. This gives rise to interesting paradoxes arising from compositional effects. For instance, a poor person may move into the country and increase his standard of living but pull the “average” income of the country down if his new income is still less than the income of the country he migrated to.

For more on the philosophical issues, see theoretical objections and in particular philosophical bases for anti-immigration arguments.

The objections are primarily discussed in a citizenist framing, because of the relative immunity of citizenist framing to statistical paradoxes.

General strategies behind counter-arguments to claims of harm

There are three general strategies:

  • Questioning the empirical claims about harms: This questioning can be both in terms of magnitude and direction of net effects. Strategies include pointing out offsetting gains to immigrant-receiving countries, using hisorical comparisons, and careful analysis of the data.
  • Suggesting cheaper ways of mitigating the harms than closing borders: This includes developing proposals for keyhole solutions to the specific problems that have been identified.
  • Reiterating the overall case for open borders: Even if the claims of harm are empirically correct and cannot be cheaply mitigated, they need to be considered in the overall context of a very strong case for open borders. The libertarian version stresses that the harms do not overcome the presumption of the right to migrate. The utilitarian version stresses that the harms are small in magnitude compared to the massive welfare gains from migration. The egalitarian version stresses that the harms are not sufficient to override the case for open borders as a way to create global equality of opportunity and improve the standard of living for the world’s poorest.