If America Really Cared About Human Rights it Would Open its Borders

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If the United States truly cared about human rights, it would stop oppressing them and open its borders.

On the most recent Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, President Obama made the following statement:

“The United States was founded on the idea that all people are endowed with inalienable rights, and that principle has allowed us to work to perfect our union at home while standing as a beacon of hope to the world. Today, that principle is embodied in agreements Americans helped forge — the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and treaties against torture and genocide — and it unites us with people from every country and culture.”

So, because the United States signed documents that today are regularly ignored, we are somehow a “beacon of hope”? Maybe if that beacon is shining on human rights violations. What about the torturing done by the United States a la Guantanamo Bay and the “War on Terror?” Forget the unprecidented monitoring and detainment of US citizens care of the PATRIOT Act. Hey, at least the government admits it’s unconstitutional to kill us with drones. All it took was a dude talking for 13 hours to get them to do it.

On our own soil we are hardly the portrait of human rights advocacy – globally, it’s far worse. The United States’ border restrictions don’t merely violate the rights of American citizens; it’s a violation to the migration rights of all people of the world.

More than that, even, our current immigration policy prevents America from providing relief from even worse human rights violations happening in today’s world. Allowing free movement of peoples provides a check on the policies of other countries. The leaders of sovereign nations would have an incentive to protect the rights of their citizens if people had an option to leave their home country in the face of oppression.

Opening our borders would be a check on other nations through the absence of regulation – and without violating the non-aggression principle. That’s like having your cake and eating it too.

And to add a great heaping blob of whipped cream on top, immigrants are great for our country.

Immigrants tend to come to the US during their prime working years (the average age is 28), contributing to the workforce and old-age entitlement programs like social security. They tend to fill niches in the labor market where demand is highest relative to supply, complementing instead of (directly) competing with American workers. Many immigrants arrive with extremely high skill levels, and virtually all, regardless of skill level, bring a strong desire to work. On average immigrants use less welfare than native-born citizens do.

Opening our borders isn’t going to cost Americans their  jobs or tax dollars. It will guarantee a natural right to   billions of people while at the same time benefitting America as a whole. As the president himself said,” Let us rededicate ourselves to the advancement of human rights and freedoms for all, and pledge always to live by the ideals we promote to the world.”

If you really care about advancing human rights globally, Mr. President, open our damn borders.