The Case for Open Borders

Regular price $ 19.95

by John Washington

Haymarket Books

2/6/2024, paperback

SKU: 9798888900727


A beautifully-written, broadly accessible, and forthright argument for a solution to the migration crisis: open the gates.

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.


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, author of Border and Rule

"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 provides us with an essential evidence based, politically sophisticated, and ethically compelling tool to address one of the most important issues of our time." -- Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing

About the Author:

John Washington is 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 AtlanticThe Washington PostThe NationThe 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. Washington is also a translator of books by Anabel Hernandez, Sandra Rodriquez Nieto, and others. His most recent translations include The Hollywood Kid by Óscar Martínez and Juan Martínez, and Blood Barrios by Alberto Arce, which won a PEN Translates Award. Both were co-translated along with Daniela Ugaz.