This article by Nathan Smith is the best analysis of the immigration issue that I have seen to date in terms of nuance, honesty, and depth. He argues that there would be both tremendous benefits and tremendous costs if the borders of the United States were to be opened completely (where moving to the USA from another country would be no different than moving from California to Texas or from Virginia to Maryland). Smith summarizes his analysis as follows:
In short, I think the most wild-eyed predictions of the open borders optimists will come true, and to spare, but I think a lot of the forebodings of the grimmest open border pessimists will also prove more than justified.
He ultimately comes down on the side of open borders, primarily on the grounds that the Global South would be the net winners on the economic level. See a critique of Smith’s position by Robert Montenegro here.
By Nathan Smith
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called “The American Polity Can Endure and Flourish Under Open Borders.” I would not write that post today. The American polity might endure and flourish under open borders, but I wouldn’t claim that confidently. What changed my mind? A greater familiarity with the theoretical models that are the basis for “double world GDP” as a claim about the global economic impact of open borders, especially my own. It turns out that these estimates depend on billions of people migrating internationally under open borders. Previously, my vague and tentative expectations about how much migration would occur under open borders were akin to Gallup poll estimates suggesting that 150 million or so would like to migrate to the USA. Others may disagree, but I was fairly confident at the time that the US polity was robust enough to absorb 150-200 million immigrants (over, say, a couple of decades) and retain its basic political character and structure. I do not think the US polity is robust enough to absorb 1 billion immigrants (even, say, over the course of fifty years) and retain its basic political character and structure.