Why Not Open Borders?


Greece to Dismiss 750 Refugees to Turkey: Report

The question of open borders is complex, to say the least. I reckon most people in the United States, whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, oppose the idea of open borders. Even Bernie Sanders opposes open borders! I’ve only recently begun to give serious thought to this question. While I’m certainly in no position to make an argumentative case for open borders, I can at least point out a few of the weaker arguments against it.

Consider, for instance, the assertion that we can’t have a country without borders. What that’s really saying is that we can’t have a country without restrictive immigration laws. Such an assertion is patent nonsense. Open borders doesn’t mean no borders. It means borders across which all people can pass with relative freedom. It doesn’t mean there’s no longer such a thing as individual nations with laws, customs, and, yes, citizenship requirements that are unique to a particular land mass defined by a set of geographical boundaries. Nor does it mean we no longer have a process for scrutinizing people who cross our borders, in order to prevent terrorists or dangerous drugs from entering our country.

As for what open borders does mean, why it is a morally compelling idea, and why the current border control regime is immoral, the following article makes an interesting case:

7 reasons why we should have open borders

The poet A. E. Stallings has written evocatively and powerfully on the question of borders. Here is one of her epigrammatic poems about the refugee crisis:

Proposed epitaph for drowned refugee children

Go tell the bureaucrats, passer by, that all is ship-shape, fine.
The stuff that trickles from your eye is only a little brine.

~ A. E. Stallings




Just keep busy
the mole team leader
tells my heart, We will
carry your hope deeper.
Eat your stone without complaint.
It is the dense beam
that lights our toil.

© 2018 David A. Welch

African Child


There is in his world a sadness beyond
The comprehension of Western aid.
It condescends to embrace
Our greater poverty, confounding
Our inconsolable sympathy.

His hut is a construct
Of manure, ash, and mud.
He steps inside the door hole,
His garment is clean and blue
As the Serengeti sky.

© 2018 David A. Welch

Amy Winehouse


Bees hoarse in ferment drowned
a towering hive torn down
dawn found the river of her panther hair
and the sweep of her neck along
it thrown

© 2018 David A. Welch

Amy Winehouse


Neruda, Trump, and the Justice of Eating

Trump Tower billboard, Mumbai

By Pablo Neruda

When they were called to the table,
the tyrants came rushing
with their temporary ladies;
it was fine to watch the women pass
like wasps with big bosoms
followed by those pale
and unfortunate public tigers.

The peasant in the field ate
his poor quota of bread,
he was alone, it was late,
he was surrounded by wheat,
but he had no more bread;
he ate it with grim teeth,
looking at it with hard eyes.

In the blue hour of eating,
the infinite hour of the roast,
the poet abandons his lyre,
takes up his knife and fork,
puts his glass on the table,
and the fishermen attend
the little sea of the soup bowl.
Burning potatoes protest
among the tongues of oil.
The lamb is gold on its coals
and the onion undresses.
It is sad to eat in dinner clothes,
like eating in a coffin,
but eating in convents
is like eating underground.
Eating alone is a disappointment,
but not eating matters more,
is hollow and green, has thorns
like a chain of fish hooks
trailing from the heart,
clawing at your insides.

Hunger feels like pincers,
like the bite of crabs,
it burns, burns and has no fire:
Hunger is a cold fire.
Let us sit down soon to eat
with all those who haven’t eaten;
let us spread great tablecloths,
put salt in the lakes of the world,
set up planetary bakeries,
tables with strawberries in snow,
and a plate like the moon itself
from which we can all eat.

For now I ask no more
than the justice of eating.

Pablo Neruda



Each day your mailbox fills
With postcard offers to buy your house
Your neighbor’s trimmings
Dropped over the fence

The broken birdbath

Each morning your neighbor’s engines
Shake the side of your house

On the western side the kitchen window
Opens onto exquisite sunsets

The nicer neighbors

Your son visits a little
More often since his father died
He helps you sweep
A spider from the box of coins

© 2016 David A. Welch