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Free migration


Free migration or open immigration is the position that people should be able to migrate to whatever country they choose.

Although the two are not the same issue, free migration is similar in spirit to the concept of free trade, and both are advocated by free market economists on the grounds that economics is not a zero-sum game and that free markets are, in their opinion, the best way to create a fairer and balanced economic system, thereby increasing the overall economic benefits to all concerned parties.

Notwithstanding noteworthy differences among these political ideologies, many libertarians,liberals, socialists, and anarchists advocate open immigration, as do Objectivists.

From a human-rights perspective, free migration may be seen to complement Article 13 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights:

Arguments against free immigration are usually economical, cultural or security-related. Some arguments are nationalistic or what some critics claim to be "xenophobia", or ones similar to arguments against free trade; for example, protectionism. Specifically, an influx of cheap labor could easily deflate wages for workers who are already established in a particular labor market, and have a negative impact on the standard of living for the more established workers.

Other critics of free immigration are concerned that it would be unfair to current homeowners if an influx of new residents greatly brought down the property values and attractiveness of living in that location, or alternatively, increased the demand to live in the city so much that the home owner would not be able to keep up with increased taxes from higher property values. However, free market economists believe that competition is the essence of a healthy economic system, and that any short-term negative impact on individual economic factors that is caused by free immigration is more than justified by the prospects of long-term growth for the economy as a whole.



  • Abizadeh, Arash. 2008. "Democratic Theory and Border Coercion: No Right to Unilaterally Control Your Own Borders." Political Theory 35.1: 37-65.
  • Bader, Veit. 2005. "The Ethics of Immigration." Constellations 12.3: 331-61.
  • Barry, Brian, and Robert E. Goodin, eds. 1992. Free Movement: Ethical Issues in the Transnational Migration of People and of Money. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.
  • Blake, Michael. 2003. "Immigration." In A Companion to Applied Ethics, ed. R. G. Frey and C. H. Wellman. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Bosniak, Linda. 2006. The Citizen and the Alien: Dilemmas of Contemporary Membership. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Brubaker, W. R, ed. 1989. Immigration and the Politics of Citizenship in Europe and North America. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  • Carens, Joseph H. 1987. "Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders." The Review of Politics 49.2: 251-73.
  • Chang, Howard F. 1997. "Liberalized Immigration as Free Trade: Economic Welfare and the Optimal Immigration Policy." University of Pennsylvania Law Review 145.5: 1147-244.
  • Cole, Phillip. 2000. Philosophies of Exclusion: Liberal Political Theory and Immigration. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Dauvergne, Catherine. 2008. Making People Illegal: What Globalization Means for Migration and Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dummett, Michael. 2001. On Immigration and Refugees. London: Routledge.
  • Ethics and Economics. 2006. Volume 4.1. Special issue on immigration.
  • Gibney, Mark, ed. 1988. Open Borders? Closed Societies? The Ethical and Political Issues. New York: Greenwood Press.
  • Heath, Joseph. 1997. "Immigration, Multiculturalism, and the Social Contract." Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 10.2: 343-61.
  • Miller, David, and Sohail Hashmi, eds. 2001. Boundaries and Justice: Diverse Ethical Perspectives. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Miller, David. 2005. "Immigration: The Case for Limits." In Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, ed. A. I. Cohen and C. H. Wellman. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Riley, Jason L. (2008). Let Them In: The Case for Open Border. Gotham. ISBN . 
  • Schwartz, Warren F., ed. 1995. Justice in Immigration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Swain, Carol M., ed. 2007. Debating Immigration. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Torpey, John. 2000. The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship, and the State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Velasco, Juan Carlos. 2012. “Movilidad humana y fronteras abiertas" In Claves de razon practica, 219: 28-35.
  • Walzer, Michael. 1983. Spheres of Justice: A Defence of Pluralism and Equality. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Wellman, Christopher Heath. 2008. "Immigration and Freedom of Association." Ethics 119: 109-141.
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