Last Updated on March 5, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
Various countries of the world follow this type of border system like the Nordic passport union between countries of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark. Another popular example is the Schengen agreement between European countries including Germany, France, and Italy, etc. Once a person gets a Schengen visa, for example, you are free to travel within the countries of its members freely with no custom checks and no passport control.
Types of Borders
1. Open Border
Conditionally open border – this type of border allows movement for certain people who meet the special condition as described by international law, like people seeking asylum in other countries under the 1951 refugee convention.
2. Controlled Border
This type of border allows movement but only specific documentation like a visa.
3. Closed Border
There is no movement between different jurisdictions with very little exception. The demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea is perhaps the most famous closed border of today.
So, let’s discuss the pros and cons of open borders.
Pros of Open Borders
1. Eliminates the Cost of Border Control
Border control is a huge financial burden for a country. 18 billion dollars was spent per year by the United States on its border control. This is spent mainly on its southern border with Mexico. Border control requires a lot of trained personnel like the army to protect their border. The machineries like vehicles, cameras, and sensors require a lot money on top of the money spent on the planning, deploying and paying the salaries in the process.
2. Improves the Country’s GDP
A 67-147% increase in GWP (gross world product) was estimated in a literature by economist Michael Clemens. The GDP of the world was also estimated to double. Some literatures have placed the probable economical benefits at 78 trillion dollars.
3. Human Rights
Open borders is in accordance to the universal human right.
Article 13 of the universal declaration on human rights states that: (1) everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
The right of free movement is the right of every person and open borders allows that.
4. Economical Boost
Immigration is usually done by people seeking a better life. It is usually found that migrated people often are desperate need for jobs and are ready to do labor jobs. This is a huge benefit for the country to have an increase in their workforce.
Similarly, skilled persons can work in their migrated country and pay taxes according to the countries jurisdiction which is again an economic boost.
5. Cultural Diversity
Having an open border allows people to exchange their culture and their lifestyle. New ideas and skills allow the country to have more ethnic diversity and new culture brings new social opportunities for the people which can boost their morale.
6. Opportunities for the Immigrants
Migration through open borders allows the migrants new opportunities for education, business and marketing their product without the long hassle of paperwork, visas and work permits. People can even produce their products in one country and sell it in their neighboring country boosting the economy of their own country.
Cons of Open Borders
1. Brain Drain
Having an open border is a huge opportunity for highly skilled personnel to look for better earning opportunities away from their own country. This is a huge loss for the country of their origin as there is a decrease in the number of skilled personnel in their own country. Services and economical earnings are lost in the country when a skilled person migrates.
There is a huge debate on the increased security risk by and of the immigrants. There may be problems like racism when people migrate easily to the host country.
On the same hand, immigrants may pose a risk to the people of their host country. Immigrants, usually in their teenage years, often are angry and hot-headed and their economical condition in a completely new environment may lead to violent methods of earning for their living.
3. Increased Cost for the Government
Government may have been providing certain services to their citizens who are entitled to it.
Having more citizens at an instance by immigration may result in a spike in the numbers of people entitled to those services like healthcare and free education. This can be a huge economic problem for a country.
The government may also be responsible for building or managing temporary shelters or houses resulting in loss of free spaces, money and their own workforce on settling the immigrants. Though NGOs and INGOs may be prepared to help in this condition, but still a lot of burden is on the government.
4. Illegal Trading
Lack of checkpoints and customs searches may be advantageous for people dealing in illegal trading but the country suffers greatly from it. Banned substances like narcotics may spread easily in the country, leading to addiction to substances to its people.
Similarly, taxes can be evaded easily when there are no customs to check for it. Rather than paying the tariff of the goods in the country, individuals can sneak-in goods from neighboring countries evading the taxes on the goods.
5. Cultural Impact
The same point of cultural impact can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the situation in hand. Cultures with negative impacts can easily enter the country when there is an open border. Teens are an easy target as they are very keen on copying habits from their peers. The sound harmony of one society can be disturbed by a new mindset and actions from a different society’s influence.
Cultures don’t match with each other. That’s the universal truth. Though new cultures may be entertaining, negative aspects of the cultures will have serious repercussions on the established norms of the society.
Open borders is a topic of great political discussion in this time of the century. The people are connected easily to all of the events of the world. Art, music, goods, architecture and everything imaginable is in access to people everywhere but the only thing dividing us is the physical borders between us.
At the same time, some countries are also suffering from war and their people are seeking refuge. So, the debate of countries opening their borders to people is ongoing in every part of the world. As discussed, open borders has an impact on the social, economic and political situation of the countries between them. So, both positive and negative effects have to be weighed in to make the right decisions for a state depending on the given conditions.