As I keep on banging the message that visa regimes are unjust, citizenship is a crappy thing and borders are imaginary lines, someone asked me “What would happen if we scrapped all immigration controls tomorrow?”
First of all, it's not happening overnight; second of all, I do not like these predictions and future scenarios mostly because they are almost never right; I believe it is impossible to predict the outcome of anything given that the sociopolitical world is such a complex structure and involves so many complex variables. However, in this case, I wanted to give it a go as a thought experiment.
It's essential that I state the most important point I see. It does not relate to what will happen, but what will NOT happen. No, masses will not be “flooding” in millions deserting their homelands. As Peter Larson says in his now locked article “Burning My Passport- Citizenship in the 21st Century” says Mississippi is a shithole, there are no borders between Mississippi and and New York but not many people move to NY leaving Mississippi empty. No, that doesn't happen.
I know... There will be people who disagree with me, but I am stating my opinion on the future scenario here. Feel free to state your nightmare. In the meanwhile, I'll give you the reasons of my speculation:
Your giving an example of the migration to Europe and the US is invalid to me, for the simple fact that this political climate blocks people who may want to explore and may go back, blocks the revolving door and actually contributes to the problem.
You may consider someplace a “shithole”, in fact, people living there themselves may think the place they live is a shithole. That does not necessarily mean they will leave that shithole to move somewhere else. After all, it's your shithole and people have a liking to their own things. For example, Italy, right now, is a pothole. The roads are just so crap. Okay, they still are not at the stage to compete with some parts of Africa, yet there are parts the Italian potholes can at least get a ranking. No, we are not thinking of packing up and leaving our homes for that. It takes a much bigger force to move people out of their place they call home. (People have bonds with the earth, the land they grew up on.) And when that force is there, nothing, no wall, no fence, no barrier can stand in front of it.
I believe things will change, the real dreamers are the ones who think they will not.
As I said, it's not going to be happening suddenly like the fall of the Berlin Wall, but immigration controls will be history one day. What's more, they will be seen as the thing they are: Global Apartheid. They will be seen like slavery is seen today. I can debunk all the arguments for immigration controls. As for their scrapping, I can list many reasons too. So the Case for Freedom of Movement is Clear. We should discuss not the if but the how, the how to do the transition smoothly.
The Only Logical Way
Besides, open borders is the only sane way. Defining people by the imaginary line they are born in, defining their radius of movement again by that line is nothing but madness.
Plus, open borders is the only logical way. You cannot have peace and security for yourself at the cost of the rest of humanity.
Another plus, immigration controls are too costly for whatever purpose they serve. So there's also the economical illogicality of it. According to migration researcher Hein De Haas we spend 1billion euros/year to keep “them” out, refugees and migrants spend another billion to get in. Tell me where the logic of that is, apart from making the warlords and security companies rich. Put that money on people on infrastructure, we all live in a better world.
Think of all the money we will all be saving! And of all the things we can do with that money!
People say that for open borders to be possible there should be equality, all countries should have powerful economies. After all, the countries where there are open borders are all with reasonably high and equal economic power. It seems so logical, an argument irrefutable. I suppose I look at things from the other side. To me, borders should be open to achieve justice and “equality”. If all the quotas and restrictions on imports were removed globally, there would be a new balance. Necessarily.
Yet, I also understand some people need to be kept poor for them to desire money, so that our money can make them work for us. See Veins of Wealth by Ruskin...
In short, if we scrapped immigration controls it would lead to better economics for everybody, better places to spend money on. It would mean we all live in a fairer world.
All For Walls
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for walls. I like walls, they save you trouble. What I have an issue with is the arbitrariness of the walls. The randomness upsets me. The way borders are drawn: by bloody wars or bloody politics and you, by happenchance, are born within a certain imaginary line.
People say “I get to choose who can come into my country.” Yes my dear but you cannot get to choose who is born into your country. What about those that are born in your country that you don't like? What do you do with them? Kick them out? Can you? Would you if you could? I mean if you could, of course I'm all behind you, go ahead: Pull up the wall and shoot anyone who wishes to come in.
The ubiquity of the belief in the biggest lie is what upsets me. What are nations? “What about the feelings of identity and belonging?” you may ask. Nations or tribes as they are called. Well, that's fine. I mean we all have a deeply ingrained need to belong.
But we need to understand that the concepts of nationhood is imagined. I know, it's true that the fact that something is imagined does not mean it does not exist. These concepts sure do exist in your figment of imagination. That's fine too... Trouble is, even within the same country, even within the same ethnic group, there are always divisions and different points of view.
Divided Kingdom, Divided States
United Kingdom- The name is united, but is it really united? I guess we have all seen how divided it is with the Brexit vote.
United States of America- Again, the name is united, but is it really united? No, it is divided as well, just like the UK. We all saw and still see how divided it is. The division within countries is all so visible, ever more visible with the advance of the internet.
“Not my president.” Eh but whose is it then my dear? The ones who chose him or the ones in other countries who support Trump's views? And who is your president then? If your president is not in power, what's the point? So you are without a president. But it doesn't work out that way. Whether you like it or not, you are bound and affected by the actions and decisions of whoever the president of your country is. We all are affected by these “leaders” of the world.
As every country is already divided anyway, let's divide all nations and states. Until there is only a small piece left. Yeah, that leaves your own household. Hope you get along within the core family. As that is a very debatable area too. Do you know how many people are divorced, do you know how many people divorce their parents or disown their children? Bah, it never ends.
Or is it a fight between Christians and Muslims? Do we get an all Muslim state on one hand and all Christian state on the other? There are Muslim and Christian states anyway. So do we make them all Christians and all Muslims? Where do you draw the divide? Is that the world we want to live in?
Or let Democrats form one country, Republicans form another country for example? Not a bad idea if you ask me. Apart from the fact that it's simply IMPOSSIBLE.
That kind of separation is fine and could work on the virtual world. We can group easily. Then we can leave groups just as easily. So there is no real bond there. But physical reality and proximity is a totally different matter. Sometimes we need to live with people we do not wish relationships with. So best to learn to deal with people or be a recluse.
So what do you do my dears? Why do you identify with people born within a certain imaginary line? As I said, I know, the fact that all these identities and allegiances are imagined does not make them unreal. They certainly are real and a fact of life for so many people. I also know that people mostly do not work on logic but by their feelings, feelings which are manipulated so easily by so many agents be it authorities or advertisers. But as divisions are actually impossible to make, why not identify with just your next of kin or humanity at large?
Earth is a spaceship, Tragedy of the Others is a much worse phenomenon than the tragedy of the commons.
Nigerian novelist Adieche says opening up borders is impractical. As if immigration controls are practical! More importantly, moral imperatives are not subject to weighing of practicality. When there is a will, there is a way. It's up to all of us to find the way!
Slavery was abolished through a violent war. The end of Global Apartheid in South Africa came after a long struggle and a lot of suffering. Women's suffrage was the same. Everything that needs to be fixed should not take so much effort. Wisen up humankind!
Some Serious Humor
Going back to the original question: “What would happen if there were no immigration controls?”
To end on a humorous note, we wouldn't all be needing to jump fences all the time!
Wisen up and be the smart donkey ;)