The world needs free and open borders
By Zan Azlee
I recently got a call from a consultant company that helps people get Green Cards (or Permanent Residencies) to live and work in the United States of America.
It would be fun to live and work in the USA. I’ve lived and gone to school there before. I have also lived and gone to school in the United Kingdom. It would be fun to live and work there too.
Although I think working and living in a foreign country would be a good experience, I have all the opportunities here at home in my home country Malaysia as well. And I love it here.
So there really isn’t a serious need to for me to want to apply for a Green Card, such as to earn a decent living or to escape persecution. I turned their services down. They wanted me to pay a fee anyway!
But this got me thinking about migration around the world, and especially with the recent humanitarian crisis with the Rohingya refugees that landed on our shores late last year.
Malaysia isn’t a signatory of the convention on refugees which means that they are all considered illegal immigrants and usually will be deported home.
One of the reasons that has been given by the government in Parliament is the fact that we currently have our hands full dealing with the ‘problems’ that are brought on by the refugees.
I have always wondered about the rights of people when it comes to migration. I seem to have the view that it is a basic human right to allow people to move freely anywhere in the world.
If we don’t believe that people should be discriminated by their race, religion and culture, then why should we discriminate them based on where they were born? And immigration law is just that – discriminatory.
First of all, let’s take a look at the reasons that governments give when they justify immigration laws. The main point is always the fact that it is to take of their country’s economy.
It is said that if a huge number of migrants come into a country, they would grab away all the jobs available for the locals. And also, the salary scale would drop due to the huge supply of employees.
But here’s the thing. Economists have shown the effects to be the opposite. According to a Freakonomics podcast episode on human migration, the decrease in salary has always been compared to zero.
And, when these migrants work, they contribute more to the economy in the form of spending and taxes than actually just leaching of the benefits from the social welfare facilities.
And not only is it advantageous of the country that they arrive in, it also improves the economy of the country they leave because they send money back to help improve the conditions of family back home.
The migrants who start working also never actually take jobs away from the locals. They complement them and actually improve the quality of the workforce by creating healthy competition.
Basically, it’s like how there are policies being put in place to encourage more women to enter the workforce. It’s because it would be better for the overall economy to have them working.
No one complains that when more women enter the workforce, it would mean that they are taking away jobs from the men. In fact, they complement each other and work side by side.
Another excuse for immigration laws is that migrants bring along negative social issues and they contaminate the the culture of the local society.
That’s just xenophobic. In fact, it doesn’t even happen that way. Take Malaysia as an example. There are fourteen states with unique and distinctive cultures and state borders are open for free migration.
The Kelantanese dialect is still as thick as ever. Anyone who goes to Sabah still can experience the ‘boleh bah kalau kau’ attitude, and the ‘adat pepatih’ is still going strong in Negeri Sembilan.
So there you have natural proof that open borders doesn’t mean that nationalism and culture will be lost just because people from outside cultures are coming in.
And to address the accusation that negative social issues will crop up, economists who study this field says that it only happens when migration is illegal and people have no other options.
Europe should also be seen as a positive example. When open borders under the Schengen agreement was implemented, they expected hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans to arrive in the West.
What really happened was that only a fraction of that actually migrated. And even then, it wasn’t for a very long term. They still wanted to maintain strong ties with their home countries.
I may be a bit of a radical when it comes to this idea of allowing open borders for human migration around the world. But I really believe that looking for better opportunities should be a basic human right.
As for me personally, I choose to stay right here in Malaysia. The opportunities are abound here in my home country and I know that this is definitely where I want to contribute what I can.
[This article originally appeared at English.AstroAwani.Com]