argument top image

Is a world without any borders a good idea?
Back to question

Moral Case: Borders are a form of global discrimination

Rather than acting as a form of protection for nation-states, borders create and exacerbate global inequality. Borders preserve the privileges of wealthier countries and are a form of global apartheid.
Apartheid Borders Equality


The top 10 wealthiest economies contribute to 66% of the world's economy.[1] The United States, China, and Japan have top three largest economies in the world. The richest 1% of the world's population own 44% of the world's wealth, and the wealth gap between the richest and poorest continues to grow.[2] We know wealth and resources are accessible to a select few within countries, but wealth is even more inaccessible to people in poorer countries simply because they live on the other side of a border.[3]

The Argument

Immigration restrictions and border controls function are a legal form of discrimination. Open Borders writes, "Immigration restrictions are similar to apartheid and Jim Crow laws, but their main criterion of discrimination is not race but place of birth/origin."[3] We should abolish borders because discrimination based on something arbitrary categories, such as race or birth/origin, is morally wrong. While border controls exist to protect national security, national leaders often couple anti-immigrant, racist language with promoting border control.[4] Borders promote anti-immigrant discourse, xenophobia, and racism. Border controls seem necessary because of the idea that people who are different should be kept out. We should abolish borders to bring societies a step closer to understanding one another rather than hating one another based on cultural or national differences. People in countries with fewer social infrastructures live with a lower minimum wage, greater passport restrictions, less social security, and a poorer quality healthcare system than that which people in more economically developed countries enjoy. Yet, such disparities exist because of borders, as seen in the drug trafficking and corruption problems between the U.S. and Mexico.[5] Abolishing the border controls would decrease violence and allow Mexican migrants to work and earn a living in the US to better their families in Mexico. Free migration should be available to all people. Free migration complements Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "(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."[6]

Counter arguments

Though borders maintain global inequality, countries can still maintain borders while promoting equality. Countries can allow migration and maintain borders, thus allowing people in poorer countries to gain wealth in richer countries. Borders do not necessarily cause anti-immigrant and racist discourse. Citizens can still choose to promote equality and anti-racism while still living within a bordered country.



[P1] Borders preserve the privileges of people born in richer countries. [P2] Border control and borders discourse promote xenophobia and racism.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Borders do not promote racism and xenophobia; people do. Abolishing borders will not abolish racism and xenophobia.


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 15:00 UTC

Explore related arguments