Because of restrictive borders, human beings suffer and die. Closed borders force migrants seeking safety and dignity to journey across seas, trudge through deserts, and clamber over barbed wire. In the last five years alone, at least 60,000 people have died or gone missing while attempting to cross a border. As we deny, cast out, and crack down, we have stripped borders of their creative potential — as lines of contact, catalyst, and blend — turning our thresholds into barricades.
Brilliant and provocative, The Case for Open Borders deflates the mythology of national security through border lockdowns by revisiting their historical origins; it counters the conspiracies of immigration’s economic consequences; it urgently considers the challenges of climate change beyond the boundaries of narrow national identities.
This book grounds its argument in the experiences and thinking of those on the frontlines of the crisis, spanning the world to do so. In each chapter, through detailed reporting, journalist and translator John Washington profiles a character impacted by borders. He adds to those portraits provocative analyses of the economics and ethics of bordering, concluding that if we are to seek justice or sustainability we must fight for open borders.
In recent years, important thinkers have begun to urge a profoundly different approach to migration, but no book has made the argument as accessible or as compelling. Washington’s case shines with the multitudinous voices of people on the move, a portrait in miniature of what a world with open borders will give to our common future.
“A powerful and convincing case for human solidarity and cooperation for which Washington provides a roadmap. Unlike many commentaries and books about the fraught border, he does not leave out the Indigenous communities whose homelands have existed in the area for centuries before the border was violently imposed by the United States in 1848.” —Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Not “A Nation of Immigrants:” Settler-Colonialism , White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion
"John Washington makes a strong, eloquent and even inspiring case for the relaxation and ultimately the abolition of border controls." —JM Coetzee
"The Case for Open Borders offers an accessible and passionate case against border controls. Highlighting the complex stories and lived experiences of displaced and immobilized migrants in the crosshairs of violent bordering regimes, Washington shows how borders structure global difference across economies and ecosystems and ends with a multi-faceted and air-tight 21 arguments for open borders for people across the political spectrum." —Harsha Walia
John Washington is an award-winning investigative journalist and translator. He is currently a staff writer at Arizona Luminaria, a community-focused media outlet where he writes about the border, climate change, democracy, and more. He has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Intercept, and other outlets. His first book, The Dispossessed: A Story of Asylum at the US-Mexico Border and Beyond, was published in 2020 by Verso Books.
Austin Kocher is a geographer and Assistant Professor at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a research institute at Syracuse University that uses Freedom of Information Act requests to study the U.S. immigration enforcement apparatus. He also has a faculty appointment in Syracuse University’s Department of Geography and he is a research fellow at the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University.
José Luis Sanz is the Washington correspondent of El Faro and editor of El Faro English. He was the director of El Faro for seven years. He was also a founding member of Sala Negra, an investigative journalism team specialized in violence, gangs, and organized crime in Central America. He has been awarded with the LASA Media Award and was part of teams who received the Gabriel García Márquez Prize, the Latin American Investigative Journalism Award and the Hillman Prize. He is professor at the Master in Digital and Multiplatform Journalism of CNN Academy and the Loyola University in Sevilla (Spain).