From an article by Javier Hidalgo. I've been wanting to put these notions into words, but he does it quite well...
If you’re a libertarian, you should endorse open borders. Here’s why.
Libertarians prize individual liberty. According to libertarians, we have rights to associate with others as we see fit and engage in economic transactions with them. These rights are constraints on state action. Libertarians think it is unjust for states to infringe on individual rights even in order to bring about socially beneficial outcomes. States certainly can’t violate our rights to protect some of us from economic competition or shield our cultures from change.
These commitments should lead libertarians to oppose immigration restrictions. When states restrict immigration, they stop you from associating with foreigners and engaging in many mutually beneficial economic exchanges with them. Want to hire an unauthorized immigrant? That’s illegal. Suppose you have an uncle who wants to immigrate to your country, and you want to sponsor him. The odds are that your uncle won’t be able to immigrate.
From a libertarian perspective, it’s hard to justify this interference with the rights and liberties of individuals. And libertarianism is a cosmopolitan doctrine. It says that foreigners have rights too. Immigration restrictions seem to abridge the individual rights of both citizens and foreigners.
Some libertarians reject rights-talk. They use more utilitarian reasoning to evaluate public policy. And these libertarians also have a good reason to oppose at least actual immigration restrictions. The same arguments that justify free trade apply to immigration. More immigration increases the division of labor and immigrants help generate more wealth. If you factor in the benefits of more open borders to foreigners, it is hard to think of a public policy that has a bigger payoff than more immigration. When economists crunch the numbers, they conclude that the benefits of open borders are in the trillions of dollars.
Libertarians are okay with some kinds of exclusion. Take private property. If a homeless person wants to sleep in your house, you are within your rights to exclude him. Maybe we should understand a state’s right to exclude in similar terms. Perhaps a state’s territory is the collective property of its citizens and this is reason that states can exclude foreigners. Does this idea make sense?
No. At least, not from a libertarian point of view. It is false that the government or citizens collectively own all of the territory of the United States. Instead, individuals own a large chunk of it. Suppose you wanted to invite some foreigners to cross the border and live in your house. The government will likely say no. That looks like a violation of individual property rights. So, if individuals have rights to private property, then we should reject the view that the United States is the collective property of its government or citizens.
Maybe you’re concerned that immigration will change the national culture in bad ways. Immigrants bring new and occasionally upsetting cultural norms and customs with them. But you lack a right to freeze cultural change. Here’s something else that can cause cultural change: freedom of speech. People use their rights to freedom of speech to persuade people to adopt new cultural norms.
Sometime they succeed and these new norms can be startling and upsetting. Nonetheless, libertarians would firmly reject attempts to restrict freedom of speech to avert cultural change. The same point applies to immigration. Sure, immigration brings about cultural change. Deal with it...
...let’s suppose that expanding immigration really is politically infeasible. Here’s where another key libertarian commitment comes in.
Libertarians are skeptical about state authority. Many libertarians deny that we have duties to obey the law just because it’s the law. Libertarians say that, if it is wrong for you or I to coerce other people, then it is wrong for the state to do this too, and other people are under no duty to assist states by obeying their commands. When states restrict immigration, they don’t merely stop people at the border. States also force private citizens to refrain from hiring, transporting, and renting to unauthorized immigrants. States conscript private citizens in violating the rights of foreigners.
Here’s where libertarians have some practical advice to give: break the law. Ignore immigration laws that try to get you to help the government to achieve its unjust ends. In this way, libertarians’ critique of immigration restrictions matters practically. While open borders may be infeasible, there is something that you as an individual can do: refuse to be complicit in the injustice of immigration restrictions.
Read the whole article here...
OR, here's another excellent article...
that posits the reasonable questions and makes the following rational points, among others...
What moral theory justifies using wire, wall, and weapon to prevent people from moving to opportunity?
What moral theory justifies using tools of exclusion to prevent people from exercising their right to vote with their feet?
No standard moral framework, be it utilitarian, libertarian, egalitarian, Rawlsian, Christian, or any other well-developed perspective, regards people from foreign lands as less entitled to exercise their rights—or as inherently possessing less moral worth—than people lucky to have been born in the right place at the right time. Nationalism, of course, discounts the rights, interests, and moral value of “the Other," but this disposition is inconsistent with our fundamental moral teachings and beliefs.
Freedom of movement is a basic human right.
Amen and amen.
If anyone who thinks there is some rational and moral grounds for criminalizing immigration, please begin by answering the questions in bold.