The Left Case against Open Borders

Article author: 
Angela Nagle
Article publisher: 
American Affairs
Article date: 
28 November 2018
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

... Today, by far the most visible anti-globalization movement takes the form of the anti-migrant backlash led by Donald Trump and other “populists.” The Left, meanwhile, seems to have no option but to recoil in horror at Trump’s “Muslim ban” and news stories about ICE hunting down migrant families; it can only react against whatever Trump is doing. If Trump is for immigration controls, then the Left will demand the opposite. And so today talk of “open borders” has entered mainstream liberal discourse, where once it was confined to radical free market think tanks and libertarian anarchist circles.

While no serious political party of the Left is offering concrete proposals for a truly borderless society, by embracing the moral arguments of the open-borders Left and the economic arguments of free market think tanks, the Left has painted itself into a corner. If “no human is illegal!,” as the protest chant goes, the Left is implicitly accepting the moral case for no borders or sovereign nations at all. ...
From the first law restricting immigration in 1882 to Cesar Chavez and the famously multiethnic United Farm Workers protesting against employers’ use and encouragement of illegal migration in 1969, trade unions have often opposed mass migration. They saw the deliberate importation of illegal, low-wage workers as weakening labor’s bargaining power and as a form of exploitation. There is no getting around the fact that the power of unions relies by definition on their ability to restrict and withdraw the supply of labor, which becomes impossible if an entire workforce can be easily and cheaply replaced. Open borders and mass immigration are a victory for the bosses....
Mark Zuckerberg’s think tank and lobbying organization, Forward, which advocates for liberalizing migration policies, lists among its “founders and funders” Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates, as well as CEOs and senior executives of YouTube, Dropbox, Airbnb, Netflix, Groupon, Walmart, Yahoo, Lyft, Instagram, and many others. The cumulative personal wealth represented on this list is enough to heavily influence most governing institutions and parliaments, if not buy them outright. ...
Advocates of open borders often overlook the costs of mass migration for developing countries. Indeed, globalization often creates a vicious cycle: liberalized trade policies destroy a region’s economy, which in turn leads to mass emigration from that area, further eroding the potential of the origin country while depressing wages for the lowest paid workers in the destination country. One of the major causes of labor migration from Mexico to the United States has been the economic and social devastation caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta). Nafta forced Mexican farmers to compete with U.S. agriculture, with disastrous consequences for Mexico....
... members of the open-borders Left may try to convince themselves that they are adopting a radical position. But in practice they are just replacing the pursuit of economic equality with the politics of big business, masquerading as a virtuous identitarianism. America, still one of the richest countries in the world, should be able to provide not just full employment but a living wage for all of its people, including in jobs which open borders advocates claim “Americans won’t do.” ...