Regarding professor Reece Jones’ Aug. 18 Project Syndicate article, “Fall of Berlin Wall wasn’t the end of barriers“: I can’t imagine that Jones would be happy if a gaggle of ruffians burst into his home, plopped down on his sofa and put their feet up on his coffee table.Yet, that is exactly what he argues for, albeit on a national scale.
Jones errs when he equates barriers designed to keep people inside a country with barriers designed to keep noncitizens outside a country. It would be illegal and immoral for a man to forbid his wife to leave the house, but it would be moral and reasonable to deny strangers entry into his home.
The debate over immigration barriers (both physical and administrative) needs to be framed in terms of property rights. Voters are the collective property owners of the nation. As property owners, they have the privilege of setting the standards for entry into areas that belong to them — just as a homeowner who answers a knock at the front door can deny entry to the outsider for good reasons, bad reasons or no reason at all.
Immigrants, even those who have good reasons, do not have an unconditional right to enter any country they please.
In an age when national governments continually expand into illegitimate territory (U.S. government ownership of major auto companies, for example), it is easy to forget that regulating immigration is one of its few core responsibilities.
I also take issue with Jones’ phrasing that implies that people in rich democracies lead “much more privileged lives.” Using the word “privileged” makes it sound like the material success of people living in those counties is unearned or ill-gotten.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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