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Javier Hidalgo’s Unjust Borders: How to Respond to Wrongful Border Policy

Summary:
As Bryan Caplan says, a policy of open borders–or something close to it–is the liberal, libertarian, utilitarian, egalitarian, humane, economically sound way to double world product. Unlike many pie in the sky proposals, open borders are feasible in the sense that they do not create or contain incentive problems which undermine the policy. But they are unrealistic in the sense that there is little willpower to implement them, because democracy makes voters ignorant and misinformed. By many orders of magnitude, voters overestimate the dangers of open borders and underestimate the benefits. So, what should individuals do in the real world? How should or may we respond to government injustice regarding border policy? Javier Hidalgo’s new book Unjust Borders: Individuals and the

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As Bryan Caplan says, a policy of open borders–or something close to it–is the liberal, libertarian, utilitarian, egalitarian, humane, economically sound way to double world product. Unlike many pie in the sky proposals, open borders are feasible in the sense that they do not create or contain incentive problems which undermine the policy. But they are unrealistic in the sense that there is little willpower to implement them, because democracy makes voters ignorant and misinformed. By many orders of magnitude, voters overestimate the dangers of open borders and underestimate the benefits.

So, what should individuals do in the real world? How should or may we respond to government injustice regarding border policy?

Javier Hidalgo’s new book Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration, provides a compelling answer.

The blurb:

States restrict immigration on a massive scale. Governments fortify their borders with walls and fences, authorize border patrols, imprison migrants in detention centers, and deport large numbers of foreigners. Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration argues that immigration restrictions are systematically unjust and examines how individual actors should respond to this injustice. Javier Hidalgo maintains that individuals can rightfully resist immigration restrictions and often have strong moral reasons to subvert these laws. This book makes the case that unauthorized migrants can permissibly evade, deceive, and use defensive force against immigration agents, that smugglers can aid migrants in crossing borders, and that citizens should disobey laws that compel them to harm immigrants. Unjust Borders is a meditation on how individuals should act in the midst of pervasive injustice.

What’s especially great about Hidalgo’s book is that it’s not just another defense of open borders. Rather, this is a book about what individual ethics, about what individuals may do in response to bad policy. It’s applied ethics as much as it is political philosophy. Hidalgo defends the permissibility of resisting the border patrol, of smuggling immigrants, of employing illegal immigrants despite laws to the contrary, and of ignoring and evading the relevant laws. This is not a book of “ideal theory”–he remains aware of all the dangers, costs, and benefits of such actions.

I highly recommend it. It’s an excellent book that can, if widely read, actually make the world a better place.

I’m honored to have Unjust Borders published as the third book in the series I edit, Political Philosophy for the Real World.

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan (Ph.D., 2007, University of Arizona) is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, and by courtesy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Georgetown University, and formerly Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Research, at Brown University. He specializes in political philosophy and applied ethics.

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