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< Back to question Is a world without any borders a good idea? Show more Show less

Nation-states maintain borders for safety, maintaining political jurisdiction. Yet, some forms of open borders exist between nation-states: the Schengen Agreement in the European Union, borders between India and Nepal, Ireland and the U.K., and the CA4 Border Control Agreement in Central America. Most nation-states maintain strict border controls, restricting travel between countries and barring entry to migrants. Millions of people risk their lives trying to cross borders into other countries. Some are fleeing violence and war; others are looking for better economic opportunities or to be reunited with family members. Borders protect but they also actively promote death and suffering, as seen in the strategic placement of border patrol along the US-Mexico borderlands. What are the possibilities of a world without borders?

Yes, we should abolish all borders Show more Show less

Borders—and border control—cause unneeded suffering, promote discrimination, and legally motivate border control to kill people seeking safety or better economic freedom. Borders should be abolished not just for the sake of human rights but also for improving countries' economies.
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Moral Case: Borders are a form of global discrimination

Rather than acting as a form of protection for nation-states, borders create and exacerbate global inequality. Borders preserve the privileges of wealthier countries and are a form of global apartheid.
borders equality global apartheid
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The top 10 wealthiest economies contribute to 66% of the world's economy.[1] The United States, China, and Japan have top three largest economies in the world. The richest 1% of the world's population own 44% of the world's wealth, and the wealth gap between the richest and poorest continues to grow.[2] We know wealth and resources are accessible to a select few within countries, but wealth is even more inaccessible to people in poorer countries simply because they live on the other side of a border.[3]

The Argument

Immigration restrictions and border controls function are a legal form of discrimination. Open Borders writes, "Immigration restrictions are similar to apartheid and Jim Crow laws, but their main criterion of discrimination is not race but place of birth/origin."[3] We should abolish borders because discrimination based on something arbitrary categories, such as race or birth/origin, is morally wrong. While border controls exist to protect national security, national leaders often couple anti-immigrant, racist language with promoting border control.[4] Borders promote anti-immigrant discourse, xenophobia, and racism. Border controls seem necessary because of the idea that people who are different should be kept out. We should abolish borders to bring societies a step closer to understanding one another rather than hating one another based on cultural or national differences. People in countries with fewer social infrastructures live with a lower minimum wage, greater passport restrictions, less social security, and a poorer quality healthcare system than that which people in more economically developed countries enjoy. Yet, such disparities exist because of borders, as seen in the drug trafficking and corruption problems between the U.S. and Mexico.[5] Abolishing the border controls would decrease violence and allow Mexican migrants to work and earn a living in the US to better their families in Mexico. Free migration should be available to all people. Free migration complements Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."[6]

Counter arguments

Though borders maintain global inequality, countries can still maintain borders while promoting equality. Countries can allow migration and maintain borders, thus allowing people in poorer countries to gain wealth in richer countries. Borders do not necessarily cause anti-immigrant and racist discourse. Citizens can still choose to promote equality and anti-racism while still living within a bordered country.


[P1] Borders preserve the privileges of people born in richer countries. [P2] Border control and borders discourse promote xenophobia and racism.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Borders do not promote racism and xenophobia; people do. Abolishing borders will not abolish racism and xenophobia.



This page was last edited on Sunday, 12 Jul 2020 at 20:12 UTC

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