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Let Anyone Take A Job Anywhere

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  • Giving Control of Labor to Employers

    Clip: Kathleen Newland and Vivek Wadhwa disagree over the role of employers in the immigration process and how international employees integrate into the culture.

  • What If the U.S. Partnered with the E.U.?

    Kathleen Newland describes how Europe has handled freedom of movement when accepting newer nations that were poorer. Bryan Caplan counters that the most gains come from open immigration with poorer countries.

  • Keep the World's Poor Out or Hurt Ordinary Americans?

    Clip: Bryan Caplan and Ron Unz dispute the effects of open borders, specifically whether or not wages would be driven down by the influx of immigrants from poorer countries.

Debate Details

If we value a free market in goods and free movement of capital, should we embrace the free movement of labor? Reciprocal treaties would allow citizens of the U.S. and other countries to work legally across borders. Would the elimination of barriers in the labor market depress wages and flood the marketplace with workers? Or would the benefits of a flexible labor supply be a boon to our economy, all while raising the standard of living for anyone willing to work?

The Debaters

For the motion

Bryan Caplan

Professor of Economics, George Mason University

Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational... Read More

Vivek Wadhwa

Vice President of Innovations and Research, Singularity University

Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Innovations and Research at Singularity University; Fellow, Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance... Read More

Against the motion

Kathleen Newland

Co-Founder, Migration Policy Institute

Kathleen Newland is the co-founder and a trustee of the Migration Policy Institute, where she directs policy programs on Migrants, Migration and Development... Read More

Ron Unz

Publisher, The Unz Review & Former Publisher, The American Conservative

Ron Unz, the publisher of The Unz Review, is the former publisher of The American Conservative, a small opinion magazine, and is the founder and chairman... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Allowing people to move as freely as goods and capital would benefit the world's economy, by some accounts, doubling the global GDP and bringing an end to poverty.
  • Freedom of movement, as well as equal access to opportunity, is a basic human right. Open borders would end the arbitrary discrimination against people based on their place of birth, allowing those trapped in third world poverty to access first world opportunity.
  • Emigrants transfer knowledge and skills back to their developing countries and, via remittances, help to alleviate poverty, develop markets, and increase trade.
  • The free movement of people strengthens global networks that spur innovation, maximize human potential, and reduce international conflicts.
Against The Motion
  • Developing countries would not only suffer a brain drain, but tenuous economic development and delayed political and social reform.
  • Remittances are only a band aid for poverty and do not develop economic infrastructure.
  • Immigrants are a net fiscal burden, overwhelming an already strained economy and draining public resources like schools, hospital care, and welfare benefits.
  • Opening our borders would create job competition for native workers, suppressing wages and putting the least-skilled Americans out of work.
  • The free movement of people could threaten the cultural identities of both sending and receiving countries.

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The Research

The Research

Free Movement – EU Nationals

December 31, 1969

Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the Treaty enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and developed by EU secondary legislation and the Case law of the Court of Justice.


George Borjas
December 31, 1969

Although it is unclear that U.S. natives benefit from immigration on net, immigration does induce a sizable redistribution of wealth—away from competing workers and toward Americans who hire or use immigrant-provided services.

Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Bills on the Sidewalk?

Michael Clemens
March 1, 2016

What is the greatest single class of distortions in the global economy? One contender for this title is the tightly binding constraints on emigration from poor countries.

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