What Does Free Trade Have to Do with Open-Borders?
This was a comment made in the comments section of Richard Epstein's post on free trade:
So, what does free trade have to do with open-borders?
My answer to that question, is...everything. Immigration restrictions are effectively tariffs. They restrict the trade of human capital, and trade restrictions ultimately make us poorer.
How do immigration restrictions make us poorer? Those of us who believe in free trade generally subscribe to the concept of comparative advantage. But the concept of comparative advantage, doesn't just apply to goods. It also applies to human capital.
Here's just one of many examples. Americans are typically good at jobs that require extensive use of the English language, while immigrants are not. Immigration allows Americans to specialize in language intensive jobs, while immigrants can specialize in non-language jobs. The skills of immigrants and US workers are complementary. As a result, we are all better off.
And just like imported goods are subject to inspection, we certainly have a right and responsibility to subject immigrants to criminal background and national security checks. But other than that, labor should be allowed to flow into the US without restriction, and that is the only position that is consistent with a belief in free trade.