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Books for changing the world
The Case for Open Borders
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.
  • “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

    "John Washington’s The Case for Open Borders is a compelling, empathetic argument, a far-reaching look into the origins of borders.  Washington is one of our most thoughtful, creative, and humane journalists, and this new work will make people think differently about what they think they already know, about what divides and unites the world in new, surprising ways.  Highly recommended." —Greg Grandin

    "Perhaps the most profound book you’ll read this year.  Washington cleaves through all the cruel obfuscations and militaristic cant that derange our border and immigration politics and offers a better human alternative.  Borders will not save us, or our rapidly broiling planet, but Washington's reportorial courage and ethical clarity just might." —Junot Díaz

Other books by John Washington