We’re A Nation Of Laws

The Case For Open Borders

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

“We’re a nation of laws”

It’s a phrase heard a lot these days on both sides, usually as the “but” in an apology. “I’m sorry for what’s happening on the border, but we’re a nation of laws,” or “I’m sorry I’m not for a more open system, but we’re a nation of laws.” What it means is giving up or even an unwillingness to try in the first place, the quintessential throwing of the hands up in the air. “Our immigration system is garbage, but that’s just how it is.” And for many people that was and still is acceptable. Immigration to many including myself for awhile feels distant, a faraway concept that only materializes at border stations in the desert. It’s a complicated process and people snuck in and yes it should be humane, but also we’re a nation of laws…

The thing most people don’t get is that just because something is legal or illegal doesn’t necessarily make it right. We constantly normalize new ways of suffering, and ban criticism, concern, and mercy. What this leaves us with is intense pain in the murky middle, trapped in a cage of our own design. But we’re also holding the key, especially when it comes to immigration. We could decide one day or even tomorrow to make our immigration system more humane, and I don’t mean just a return to the status quo..

The easy answer is removing the perverse incentive to cross illegally. This would go a long way in keeping people proper immigration channels while alleviating the stress and hardship on both sides. This isn’t what the Trump Administration is doing. They are employing suffering as a stick to dissuade migrants. They turn border crossings in to chokeholds only allowing a trickle in at a time, while making every interaction with immigrants as terrible as possible. What they don’t seem to realize is that this will never dissuade people from coming nor will it magically dissuade people from crossing illegally when they do come.

What I would advocate for instead is a more open system with almost free movement across our borders. No longer could one be banned from entering the country based on country of origin, economic class, past crisis, claims of asylum. That being said, this doesn’t mean we can’t track people at the border, but all of that work would now be folded into a drug agency or a police agency like the DEA or FBI. You exchange barring entry with surveillance. Gone are the days of denying immigration for frivolous reasons.

Now I’ll be the first to admit there are secondary concerns with immigration. Drugs, crime, violence. We can still do all of that. All of those aspects that once belonged to ICE and border patrol could be folded into the FBI, local police, and the DEA. Let the them handle crime within our borders. Let the them handle drugs. Immigration under this new system needs to be about processing and data. Nothing else.

This approach would remove the many false positives that occur. It would incentivize people and immigrants to actually come through the proper ports of entry if their immigration was guaranteed. Couple this with a robust investment in immigration processing, and the whole process could become relatively smooth and easy.

And the only exceptions that would exist in my mind would be if there was a provable reason why an immigrant’s entrance could be detrimental then their admission could be denied. Hypothetically, if the FBI or DEA had already identified them as part of a plot or criminal organization, or if they are searched and have illegal contraband with them or in their luggage. The reason must be clear, concise and in response to a crime or potential crime. I would say even criminal history and family history shouldn’t be used as a factor to bar entry.

The counterweight to all of this and the only moral reason to work to prevent immigration would be the continued foreign investment in high migration countries. This would be targeted aid aimed at helping to reinforce the basic pillars of society: education, police, community empowerment, voter empowerment, rooting out corruption Most immigration is a result of less than ideal conditions at the place of origin, be it economic, social, governmental, or anything else. The happier a country’s citizens are, the less they are likely to want to leave said country. Not only that, investment in these countries buys the US influence and soft influence like this has way more staying power than any coup or military intervention. The argument could be made that USAID and similar agencies have a far better track record than the Pentagon. Why we’re not leaning into that is beyond me. Our culture is our greatest asset. It’s what makes us strong. A perfect example is the immense popularity of Bob Ross in Iran.

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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