Borders have taken on substantial significance in the modern world because of the complicated geopolitical environment and escalating national safety challenges. In addition to acting as physical restrictions, borders function as economic, political, and social lines of segmentation that influence how countries collaborate. Although boundaries have existed for centuries, they now play a more significant role in determining how states interact. Rising nationalism, protectionist policies, and the emergence of populist figures are characteristics of the current global setting. It has made borders more restrictive and national interests more prominent, undermining efforts to promote global cooperation. The paper argues that borders have a detrimental effect on international cooperation efforts because they obstruct advancement in issues related to climate change, economic development, moral perspective, the flow of people in the realm of immigration, and the governance of the global environment while exacerbating political tensions in the context of closed borders, raising the question of the roles of various nations concerning border policies.
Climate change vulnerability
Conflicting policy choices across such a broadly fragmented policymaking environment present significant issues, as scholars of global environmentalism noted, which is among the main barrier to cooperation. Initially, a lack of standard regulations may jeopardize the efficacy of the initiatives chosen by various groupings of nations or at different tiers of the decision-making process. For example, suppose the United States fails to adhere to the process. In that case, the worldwide trading of carbon dioxide regime envisioned by the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 may produce negative incentives concerning climate change policy. Furthermore, strict environmental laws implemented by one set of governments can significantly impact the global trade system, among other policy fields (Biermann & Pattberg, 2008). Subsequently, it is also possible that corporate actors exploit regulatory variation to select between various levels of responsibility, igniting a fight to the bottom within and between industry sectors. This is because a fragmented design lowers the barrier to entry for players. Increasingly, many actors do not agree that immigration is promoted as a climate change mitigation approach.
According to Benveniste et al. (2020), when borders are open to travel, it is an essential driver of financial stability for developing nations through donations, especially in climatic changes that lead to disasters. Population movements alter the degree to which people are exposed to and vulnerable to the effects of climate change when there is a paucity of collaboration. By keeping people in more vulnerable places and susceptible than elsewhere, stringent border policies can enhance susceptibility and prolonged exposure (Benveniste et al., 2020). Substantial ramifications for policy, primarily the 2018 United Nations (UN) Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, encourages examination of immigration policy as a significant involvement in international climate change policy debates. Additionally, it is essential to comprehend global migration patterns about environmental consequences to consider the varying degrees of development between regions. Therefore, lowering inequality across nations would additionally reduce the necessity for and advantages of using worldwide immigration as a strategy for coping with the effects of climate change.
Economic growth and borders
Opening frontiers offers a significant source of revenue for countries of origin, frequently more vulnerable countries, which might be leveraged to lessen sensitivity to environmental impacts within these regions. It is demonstrated by depicting bilateral immigration and monetary transfers across regions. Greater openness to borders could especially help Southeast Asia, the small islands of the United States, and Central America since they would receive greater remittances. In contrast, China and those areas would suffer the most if all borders were closed. (Benveniste et al., 2020). Open borders allow public stakeholders at sub-national levels to become more significant in global regulations affecting the environment. Cities, for instance, can become more important in global environmental leadership, particularly through their cooperation in mitigating climate change. Over 800 municipal governments collaborate as part of the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign to establish policies and implement measurable initiatives to lower localized emission levels of greenhouse gases, enhance air quality, and boost the urban standard of living (Biermann & Pattberg, 2008). Notwithstanding claims made by populists, present immigration limitations accomplish their intended goal of preventing practically everyone who wants to relocate abroad despite facing dire climatic impacts, which delays their recognition and undermines intervention initiatives.
Without immigrant limitations, the number of workers in the US would quickly rise. Preceding open borders, although low-skilled workers’ earnings will undoubtedly decline, most Americans do not have these skills. Over 87 percent of Americans 25 have completed high school. Most prospective immigrants from other countries are, at best, stand-ins for American high school leavers (Caplan, 2012). According to widely accepted estimations, immigration incorporates a negligible effect on average wage rates. The majority of educated Americans are incoming immigrants’ clients rather than competition. Regardless of how they lower their earnings, immigration can still be advantageous for American employees by raising the market value of employees’ non-labor resources, such as their real estate and retirement benefits. Research indicates unexpectedly significant consequences. Since the 1990s, there has been a noticeable increase in high-skilled immigrants. This development has been correlated with innovation because immigrants tend to trademark their inventions more frequently. Intriguingly, increased immigration also encourages creativity among indigenous individuals (Orrenius, 2016). Moreover, whenever immigration increases the number of inhabitants of a city by 1%, housing costs and leases in the US increase by around 1% (Caplan, 2012). In addition, according to economists’ estimates, opening borders would ultimately lead to long-term advantages of transparency and unrestricted movement of people and products, evident through almost highly pitched global GDP, and almost completely eradicating poverty. Therefore, contrary to common belief, “protecting American workers” is a tenuous justification for immigration limits since most Americans benefit more.
Moral values and borders
According to a moral justification, maintaining open borders prevents families from being torn apart, allowing offspring to remain with their biological families (Vanderbilt University, 2015). It also encompasses social assistance and bringing people into the realm of possibility inviting immigrants to enjoy individuals’ right to a standard quality of life. Some liberals argue that because of discriminatory laws, people and businesses could not reject doing business alongside immigrants. Contrary to immigration limitations, these rules are only seldom enforceable and sparingly implemented in reality. Thus, it is challenging for liberals to cite discrimination legislation to defend immigration constraints.
Constructing a border wall poses several ethical and moral questions. Respecting private property ownership constitutes one of the fundamental ethical principles at play. An assault on people’s ownership rights, liberty, and freedom to use their land however appropriate may be observed in the Bush regime’s tactics to intimidate landowners and utilize binding domain to take the properties for constructing a border barrier without providing it fair compensation. When analyzing how a border barrier will affect nations and people, it is also important to consider the moral principles of fairness, social equity, and basic human rights. A large portion of the current border barrier is situated in states with federally controlled property, such as California, Arizona, and New Mexico, which draws attention to the future discriminatory effects of the border wall on specific areas (Bier, 2017). Due to the likelihood of disparate conduct and interference with the rights of people living in borderlands, this may establish questions of social justice which would not be in question if open borders were instated.
Immigration issues and open borders
To shield native employees against the effects of immigration, governments do not need to impose immigration restrictions and build border walls. There is a less expensive and more ethical choice. For instance, imposing additional fees or entry charges on immigrants and utilizing the additional funds to reimburse less skilled Americans (Caplan, 2012). In an illustration, they could provide residency permits to Haitians who consent to consistently pay a 50% surcharge on topping off their regular tax obligations in the U.S. Haitians who are accustomed to living on $1 per day would leap at the chance. The additional revenue could be used to pay for tax reductions for low-income locals.
According to Vanderbilt University (2015), “There’s never been any evidence that suggests that immigrants are the source of more domestic crime than the domestic population.” In this case, preventing the trafficking of humans by promoting open borders rather than restrictive legislation is more probable to reduce the view of immigrants as criminals. Opening borders renders individuals, including those thought to be criminals or holding a criminal record taking significant risks and delivering themselves effortlessly to police since the likelihood of being apprehended when entering the international boundary by authorities is quite significant considering they could access the nation officially as opposed to through the assistance of smugglers or human trafficking organizations. Ultimately, the tragic results of the trafficking of humans in Europe due to restricted immigration restrictions is an example of this aspect in play.
Global environmental governance and borders
Contemporary academic literature has emphasized the independent function of multiple global organizations in generating and circulating knowledge, constructing compelling narratives regarding environmental issues and viable remedies, exerting influence on exchanges through concepts and proficiency, and executing solutions on-site to offer scientific data on the nature of environmental predicaments and the alternatives available to policymakers (Biermann & Pattberg, 2008). The necessity for international cooperation in sustainable practices and sound policies is made possible by additional kinds of authority and participants alongside the governments of individual nations, which are traditionally core participants within international environmental policy. Since environmental problems can be global and transcend national boundaries, successful remedies depend on collaboration across borders.
Open borders promote better cooperation between nations in creating and enacting ecologically viable strategies by reducing political obstacles and barriers to information and technological interchange. For instance, to assist developing nations in making the switch to greener renewable energy sources, developed technological nations may share their experiences and resources among them. Similarly, nations with knowledge of conservation and protecting biodiversity might work together beyond international borders to safeguard critically endangered creatures and their habitats. To mitigate the adverse impacts associated with financial and environmental internationalization, open borders could potentially support the implementation of worldwide sustainability norms and laws or create new “global governance architectures” (Biermann & Pattberg, 2008). Nonetheless, greater connectedness between people worldwide and increased reliance on governmental and individual earnings result from increased mobility of assets, products, technological advances, and concepts (Capasso, 2018). To compensate for the dependency currently existing global structures on the good faith of national authorities, they frequently build and support new entities, such as multilateral agreements and conventions, innovative, more efficient international agencies, and novel kinds of financial instruments.
Closed Borders and their impact on America and the World
The United States and the rest of the world are significantly impacted by closed borders, as is evident in numerous capacities. Because closed borders impede the flow of individuals and goods along borders, they can exacerbate tensions between nations. It may breed hostility and dissonance and grow increasingly violent in extreme instances. Border restrictions can worsen humanitarian situations, particularly those fleeing conflict, threats, or natural catastrophes. As the cornerstone of global “humanitarianism,” governments must acknowledge broad ethical responsibilities to prevent individuals from suffering from hunger, being attacked, or being annihilated (Capasso, 2018). Because the so-called ‘brain drain’ issue might favor more restricted policies, immigration favors developing nations (Niño Arnaiz, 2022).
More interim and cyclical discourse has been encouraged by open borders, including whether many would-be immigrants anticipate residing in their new country permanently. Without borders, traveling back and forth becomes considerably simpler. Potential “brain drain” is addressed by the freedom to return at any moment (Zimmermann, 2015). Open borders encourage conversation on global events like politically critical and environmental issues where relevant policymakers exchange knowledge, ideas, and solutions to worldwide climate change. According to (Vezzoli, 2021), consistently open borders result in minimal and predictable migration since various socioeconomic, political, and policy-related variables impact these movements. Therefore, open borders have been a topic that lights up the discourse on significant environmental and political crises.
In conclusion, open borders are preferable to closed ones because the former hinders international collaborative attempts and heightens geopolitical concerns. Additionally, issues about climate change, economic growth, and immigration are negatively impacted by closed borders. On the other side, open borders provide fragile nations significant revenue sources, particularly through money from abroad. Open borders can result in long-term benefits of transparency and unconstrained flow of people and goods and permit subnational actors to enhance their contribution to global policies affecting the environment. Moreover, immigration can help American workers by boosting the market appreciation for non-labor resources and fostering innovation and creativity. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to adjust political upheavals as well as shifts in border regimes to guarantee the emergence of common global challenges that favor immigration laws and their progress toward enhancing the lives of people both from the destination nation and underdeveloped countries, where the majority of immigrants come from whether they are evading conflict, threats, or natural disasters.
Benveniste, H., Oppenheimer, M., & Fleurbaey, M. (2020). Effect of border policy on exposure and vulnerability to climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(43), 26692–26702. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007597117
Bier, D. J. (2017, April 10). Why the Wall Won’t Work. Cato.org. https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-wall-wont-work#related
Biermann, F., & Pattberg, P. (2008). Global Environmental Governance: Taking Stock, Moving Forward. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 33(1), 277–294. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.environ.33.050707.085733
Capasso, V. (2018). Open or Closed Borders: the redistributive role of Migration in an Unequal World. In tesi.luiss.it. http://tesi.luiss.it/26739/1/634582_CAPASSO_VERONICA.pdf
Caplan, B. (2012). Why Should We Restrict Immigration?https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/2012/1/cj32n1-2.pdf
Niño Arnaiz, B. (2022). Should we open borders? Yes, but not in the name of global justice. Ethics & Global Politics, 15(2), 55–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/16544951.2022.2081398
Orrenius, P. (2016). Benefits of Immigration Outweigh the Costs. George W. Bush Presidential Center. https://www.bushcenter.org/catalyst/north-american-century/benefits-of-Immigration-outweigh-costs
Vanderbilt University. (2015). Open borders – not giant wall – is best solution for immigration issue. Vanderbilt University. https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2015/09/16/open-borders-not-giant-wall-is-best-solution-for-immigration-issue/
Vezzoli, S. (2021). How do borders influence migration? Insights from open and closed border regimes in the three Guianas. Comparative Migration Studies, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40878-020-00213-1
Zimmermann, K. F. (2015). What if there were no national borders? Wol.iza.org. https://wol.iza.org/opinions/what-if-there-were-no-national-borders