Imagine: Open Borders as They Once Were

By: Fergus Hodgson - @FergHodgson - Nov 27, 2014, 12:39 pm

Until the mid 20th century, passports were barely in use, but for wartime periods. Unfortunately, rulers across Europe and American nations such as Canada and the United States refused to relinquish power over movement once the two world wars subsided.

With those nations requiring passports for entry, officials elsewhere were under the gun to get with the program — and here we find ourselves, bogged down virtually the world over.

Yaël Ossowski — a PanAm Post columnist and Canadian who, by way of North Carolina, now bases himself in Vienna, Austria — knows what geographic restrictions are all about. As a fellow migrant, writing from New Zealand for Thanksgiving, I can also attest to their dehumanizing nature.

The humane alternative, as Ossowski explains in his latest Students for Liberty presentation, is open borders and free migration: “The ability to travel without impediment and without justification to any authority.… How it always should be.”

The notion that simply moving or traveling somewhere, without violating private property, can be a crime is a strange idea; yet that is what we face. Be it xenophobia or welfare-state paranoia, constituents now rally around nativism to uphold what has become the destructive status quo, anathema to self-determination.

Yaël Ossowski, program director for European Students for Liberty and PanAm Post columnist. (

That is why talks like Yaël’s on open borders are so necessary. He demonstrates that free movement works, and in some instances it is already practiced between nations. New Zealand and Australia, for example, allow people to work and travel visa free. This has become such an obvious win-win agreement that people now take it as a no-brainer.

The moral arguments for open borders are just as compelling. Yaël notes that foreigners are, after all, fellow humans. Widespread and vociferous outrage over discrimination on the basis of gender or skin color should hold for discrimination against foreigners. Beyond outrage, such restrictions compel civil disobedience, as so many people die trying to overcome them.

Fergus Hodgson Fergus Hodgson

Fergus Hodgson was the founding editor in chief of the PanAm Post, up until January 2016, and he now studies finance at Tulane University in Louisiana and Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. Originally from New Zealand, he has also lived in Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, and the United States. Follow @FergHodgson and his Facebook page.