Why does America have borders?

President Trump famously said, “I just feel strongly that you need to have a border and it has to be strong.” He has backed that up by attempting to build an ever-longer, ever-more-impenetrable wall on America’s southern border.

The question is: Why does America need “strong” borders?

America began with colonies, and they had borders, though not what anyone would call “strong.” Today’s America has thousands of formal and informal borders, and only one would be considered “strong”: The exterior border.

And even that is “strong” only at the southern border.

Who Killed The Kazakh Border Guards?
A Chicago Border?

In my childhood, I lived in the Palmer Square section of Logan Square in the 32nd ward, of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. That’s six sets of borders I crossed with impunity.

None is guarded in any way.

Palmer Square is a “neighborhood,” one of about 200 in Chicago. Neighborhoods have unofficial borders, and often are referenced by residents, but have no real functions.

Logan Square is a designated community area, one of 77 in Chicago. It has officially defined borders, though only for planning purposes.

Ward 32
I lived near that “X” on the western border of Ward 32.

My address was in Chicago’s 32nd Ward, which also has borders, but only for political purposes. Each ward is “ruled” for some purposes by an alderman.

Wards’ borders overlap designated community areas, and neighborhoods.

Chicago has a mayor, its own police and fire departments, its own finances, roads, parks, and schools, but no guarded borders.

Cook County has a president, parks, taxes, etc. but no guarded borders.

All wards, neighborhoods, designated community areas, cities, counties, and states in America, along with other areas of other designations, have borders.

They all have different socio-economic differences within and without, and many have governments, yet none of them has guarded borders.

All of these thousands of borders are open. Anyone living within the borders of the United States freely can travel across all of the borders, often without even realizing it.

America is a big nation. It includes a multitude of:

  1. Religions
  2. Languages
  3. Customs
  4. Governments
  5. Histories
  6. Levels of wealth
  7. Weather
  8. Geography
  9. Educational levels and resources
  10. Natural resources
  11. Local and national laws
  12. Local and national taxes
  13. Agriculture products
  14. Manufacturing
  15. National Guard units
  16. Police units

And with all of the above differences, America contains no internal guarded borders.

In America, privately-owned land can have guarded borders, and even some governmentally-owned land can have guarded borders, but only for economic or specialized security purposes, not for political purposes.

Today, citizens and non-citizens of America freely can travel among neighborhoods, designated community areas, wards, counties, cities, and states.

Why then does America need guarded borders on its exterior? What would be the implications of America having no borders?

America has grown to its present size by erasing borders. From December 7, 1787 through August 21, 1959, 50 states “unguarded” their borders to become part of the United States.

And by every measure, America has become stronger from this freeing of borders.

Consider, for instance, that the geographic border between Canada and the U.S. were completely unguarded. What would happen?

More Canadians would come into America and more Americans would come to Canada. No inter-nation taxes would be leveled. Each nation’s taxes still would be paid. Armies would be separate.

All of that is no different from what currently is happening already within America, among the states, counties, cities, wards, neighborhoods, and designated community areas.

The guarding of internal borders would be a non-productive exercise. It would provide nothing of benefit to Americans. So we don’t do it.

Why then, do we guard our external borders, especially when borders are one primary cause of strife?

Tensions high between India and China after deadly clash along contested border
The possibility of a broader armed conflict between India and China is unlikely, analysts said, despite an escalation in recent border clashes high in the Himalayas that led to casualties for the first time in more than four decades. India’s foreign ministry said a “violent face-off” occurred on Monday evening along the border in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, where soldiers from both sides have been locked in a standoff since last month.

On balance, guarded borders cause much more trouble than they are worth — at least that is what seems to me.

So I ask you to give me your ideas on this question: Given that America does well with thousands of internal, unguarded borders, would America benefit on balance from having unguarded external borders, especially with Canada and Mexico?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


8 thoughts on “Why does America have borders?

  1. Except for major highway crossings, our long stretch of border with Canada is pretty much unguarded. The area between Winnipeg and North Dakota, for example, is largely porous and unsecured.

    Unlike many Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and others in Latin America, there are no desperate Canadians willing to brave dangerous desert and river crossings to escape oppressive socio-economic conditions in their home countries – conditions which are, for the most part, engineered by, or a consequence of, the neoliberal policies of the US capitalist imperial regime.

    If the socio-economic conditions of Latin american countries are at par or better than that in the US, there won’t be Trumpian obsession with “beautiful walls”. Instead, it will be Mexicans who will insist to secure their border to keep those barbaric Americans out.


    1. You are correct. The primary purposes (i.e. excuses) for guarding borders are to keep out illegal drugs and non-citizens.

      The drugs can’t be stopped, because the U.S. has several, wide-open borders, called the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the sky. All the Border Control can do about drugs is to prevent just enough border crossing to increase the price of drug usage and the profits of drug distributors — not particularly worthwhile goals.

      Catching non-citizens is a wee bit easier, but that, along with deporting those who’ve made it across the border, comes at a tremendous cost. And I don’t mean the dollar cost to the government, which the government easily can afford.

      I am referring to the cost of human misery, the cost of lost productivity by guards and immigration officials, the cost of lost productivity by undocumented aliens, and the cost of American morality. The people who come here to make better lives for themselves and their families also are the people who make better lives for all Americans. By now history should have taught us that.

      America was built by immigrants, and whether or not they possessed a citizneship document does not change that. America’s anti-immigrant position has been one of the most costly realities in recent American history.

      Sadly, there is no way to measure what preventing or deporting immigrants has cost us in terms of manpower and brainpower, but the loss surely has been massive. America is much poorer for the immigrants we have prevented or deported.


      1. It is of course true that the country was built by European immigrants fleeing the oppression of their European feudal masters but that was a long time ago.

        By 1800, there were just 5.3 million people in the country, 16% of whom are black plantation slaves.

        Today, there are 329 million Americans, at least a third of whom are living at or near poverty levels stuck in wage slavery at Walmart or some such odd precarious unrewarding jobs.

        Bringing in Latino immigrants to compete in those kinds of jobs will not necessarily bring prosperity for the country. Sure, our banking and corporate masters will increase their wealth even more but I doubt that the country as a whole will benefit.

        It will only increase the number of our precariat.


        1. “Bringing in Latino immigrants to compete in those kinds of jobs” is a right-wing myth.

          1. Latino immigrants also are consumers whose spending provides jobs.
          2. “Those kinds of jobs” assumes that documented immigrants, and undocumented immigrants, and U.S. citizens:
          — all seek the same “kinds of jobs,”
          — and that those kinds of jobs are scarce.
          This has been the same, tired old mantra about immigrants for 200 years. “Immigrants take our jobs,” and “immigrants commit crimes.” And yet here we are, 330 million people, all of whom descended from immigrants, the wealthiest nation on earth.
          3. And you forgot to mention that immigrants don’t pay taxes (they do), and the local governments can’t afford them (but do collect sales taxes, property taxes, income taxes, luxury taxes, etc. from them.)

          Don’t fall for the right-wing, bullshit, bigoted talking points.


          1. College educated middle and upper class Latinos who wish to immigrate to the US do not attempt to cross the Rio Grande into Arizona or Texas.

            Those who brave border patrols in Texas desert are mostly poor desperate peasants who, if lucky, will end up working odd jobs in some shops or at Walmart. That’s not a right-wing myth. That’s the reality on the ground. Some will head north and end up begging on the streets of New Mexico. Some of the women will end up being forced into prostitution. That’s not a right-wing myth either.

            Do these situations call for humanitarian consideration and response? Absolutely.

            Will opening the southern border for these desperate souls be the solution? I don’t think so.

            I would rather that the US :

            – stop interfering in the development goals and policies of Latin American countries.

            – stop implementing the neoliberal Washington Consensus.

            – stop implementing trade/economic sanctions.

            – stop the IMF and the World Bank from issuing dollar debts that most Latin American countries can ill afford to pay back (it reduces their Monetary Sovereignty too, right?).

            If there is relative prosperity in Latin America, most of those peasants would rather prefer to stay in their home countries than brave uncertain fates in the US.

            It will also quite down racial strife and hostility coming from poor disenfranchised white Americans who oftentimes blame (wrongly) those Latinos for their disenfranchisement.

            That hostility is now amplified in this Covid era where the number of unemployed Americans shoots up to over 30 million.

            Bringing in more illegal immigrants will be a recipe for more racial and civil strife, imo.


          2. I agree with what you would rather the U.S. do. We don’t “bring in” immigrants. We allow (or prevent) immigrants.

            Your generalities about who attempts to come here and what happens to them are just that: Generalities. Actually, they are right-wing generalities that pertain to only a tiny minority. The “most work odd jobs at Walmart” or “begging in the streets,” or “forced into prostitution,” are in fact, right-wing generalities, created by bigots to excuse their bigotry.

            Interesting, how one can believe those generalities while also believing that these people steal jobs from Americans. Are they stealing Walmart, begging, and prosecution jobs?

            It reminds one of the “food stamp mama” generality. Or the blacks on street corners selling drugs generality. Or the Japanese are good students and the Jews are rich generalities. Not only are these generalities false, but they provide bigots with excuses and ammunition.

            I disagree with preventing immigrants.
            1. It hurts the U.S. economy
            2. It doesn’t help the U.S. people. (No, it doesn’t exacerbate unemployment. Being consumers, they help grow businesses.)
            3. It doesn’t help the immigrants in any way.
            4. It doesn’t help the immigrants’ native countries in any way.
            5. It causes great suffering at our border, for those who are refused.
            6. It causes great suffering for those who make it across the border, and then must fear apprehension.
            7. It exacerbates racial and national hatred

            In short, it is cruel, arbitrary, counterproductive, unnecessary, and it doesn’t work.


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