Probably the most "radical" (at least from many people's perspective) view held by much of /r/neoliberal is support for **open borders**. I can't tell y'all how many times I've seen people come into this sub, especially when we make it to /r/all, and say, "I can get behind a lot of this, except for this open borders thing."
I think part of that is a misunderstanding of what open borders is. Let's dive in, discuss what it is and why it's a good idea, so that we can transform open borders from a meme to a model.
**What is open borders** ***not?***
Open borders does *not* mean the following:
> *Leader of ISIS, Al-Baghdadi, strokes his beard evilly as he walks across a border that isn't marked in any way.*
> Border guard: "Stop right there, terrorist! We don't want you in our country!"
> Al-Baghdadi: "Aha! But it doesn't matter what you want. Right here I have a copy of your country's Wikipedia page, and it says you have 'open borders.' Therefore, I can come in and you can't do anything about it!"
> Border guard: "Oh darn, he's right! Oh well, we have to let him in."
In all seriousness, this example is obvious hyperbole. And yet, it's true that many when they hear "open borders" immediately assume it means "no borders." They imagine immigrants simply walking over the border without any process whatsoever. They conjure up images reminiscent of [this political cartoon](http://i.imgur.com/zM0bY0Q.jpg
), [this one](http://media.nj.com/hudson_voices_impact/photo/immijpg-61927f6bab1094ae.jpg
), or even [this one](https://openborders.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/byoyrv44bzybqmtgtp7h1.jpg
**So what** ***is*** **open borders?**
) defines it as "a situation in which goods and people can enter and leave a country easily," though we'll be talking specifically about movement of people in this post.
To use a more common definition, Wikipedia defines it as such:
> An open border is a border that enables free movement of people between different jurisdictions with limited or no restrictions on movement, that is to say lacking substantive border control. A border may be an open border due to a lack of legal controls or intentional legislation allowing free movement of people across the border (de jure), or a border may be an open border due to lack of adequate enforcement or adequate supervision of the border (de facto).
To help explain what open borders is, I'm going to use a hypothetical open borders dynamic between Mexico and the US as my primary example. I will be doing this both because of the border's relevance to current events, and because it is an example of a border that is not already open (like the borders between many European countries). I will refer to other examples and hypotheticals in this discussion as necessary.
So let's say the US and Mexico decide to have an open border with each other. What does this mean? All it means, at a base level, is that a typical Mexican or American citizen can expect to be able to cross the border in a timely manner no matter their skill sets or reasons for travel (moving to the other country, working in the other country, or even just vacation.) **It means no quotas, no finite number of visas, and no arbitrary requirements to cross the border, such as skill level or knowledge of a language.**
This hypothetical open border between the US and Mexico could (and likely would) have checkpoints (ideally as many as possible along the length of the border to move people through efficiently and not cause congestion issues) and might require some sort of universally acquirable documentation.
Consider, as an example, the border between France and Germany, two countries in the [Schengen Agreement](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement
). While these two countries have an open border, travelers still know that they are expected to have a passport on them that authorities can ask for at any point, especially when crossing the border. But often, you can cross this border without ever being stopped once. However, during times of heightened security, either country has decided to put up checkpoints that all travelers must go through. The border is still open, crossing it just requires that extra step.
In light of this example, return to the Mexico-US border. Again, open borders could include checkpoints, either sometimes or even always depending on security preferences. Some kind of universal documentation, like a passport or even some kind of more specific "border pass" could ensure fast travel across the border, could also be required, but for it to be an open border this type of documentation would be accessible to acquire for pretty much anyone, with obvious exceptions like known at-large criminals and known gang or cartel members. Current technology like facial recognition could streamline this even further.
The exact details are flexible, but the point is this - **open borders does not mean zero security.**
**So what are the reasons for having open borders?**
The simplest, and most important, reason for having open borders is **an extraordinary amount of economic growth**. The fact that such labor mobility would lead to enormous gains is well established, as described in [this review of some of the evidence](http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.25.3.83
). In addition, [this paper](http://www.nber.org/papers/w18307.pdf
) in particular goes into some of the technical details for why the policy is so promising, particularly for developing countries.
The reason why open borders grow the economy is essentially that **it allows people to move to where they are most productive**. The biggest part of the difference in income levels between countries isn't the savings rate or health care or even education. It's technology. And when we think about it, this makes sense. Imagine if you had to do your current job, but using only the technology that was accessible in the 1970s. For most, this would represent a drastic reduction in their productivity. And this doesn't even get into institutions - the way that things like a more fair judicial system or an easier process for [starting a business](https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-8b491e041fbb1d88a5689a771f5f7827.webp
) can affect productivity as well.
How many workers have been kept so far from their full potential simply because they were born in the wrong country? How many countries have seen a lack of democracy and progress simply because its people have never had the chance to see in person what else there is out there? How many people have had a great idea that could've changed the world - but they didn't live in a country with the institutions to support and make that idea a reality?
**But these benefits are for the people of developing countries at the expense of hard-working Americans/Germans/Italians, right?**
Nope, not really. The literature (again as seen in the review and the paper above) tells us that while the benefits for people of developing countries can be on the scale of 100% or even 1,000% increases, the costs of open borders *if implemented rapidly* is a fraction of a percent. And if it is implemented gradually, there is no evidence of costs for those living in developing countries at all.
Not only that, but such migration can actually mean benefits for the citizens of developing countries in a number of circumstances, even outside of the long term enormous economic growth.
> Clemens's research also challenges the notion that immigrants take away jobs from Americans. In agriculture, for example, he has estimated that for every three seasonal workers who are brought in, one American job is created across all sectors. Directly, workers need managers, and more often than not those managers are Americans. Indirectly, workers buy things, which means more Americans are needed to sell and produce those things. And yet, Clemens told me, "when a bus of 60 Mexicans is coming up from the border, nobody looks at it and says 'Ah, there's 20 American jobs.'"
**COMMENT CONTINUED BELOW WITH OTHER TOPICS LIKE SECURITY AND WELFARE**