Event Detail

Fri Oct 27, 2017
Room 141, Law School, 12–2 PM
Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory
David Martin (University of Virginia Law)
What Makes Migration Control Morally Legitimate?

Over the years, a great many students have arrived in my Immigration Law class carrying a vague but durable sense that immigration control is morally dubious. Maybe these students are not ready to declare for open borders, but enforcement of the immigration laws is sufficiently suspect that as a public policy value it ranks below just about every other objective. In this paper, I want, first, to explore briefly some of the reasons for such starting-point intuitions, which are probably shared to some degree by many activists advocating for immigrants. I will look at both weak reasons and sound ones that carry significant moral weight. I will then examine three key arguments offered in defense of the moral legitimacy of immigration control, to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the conditions they imply for controls to be morally acceptable. I conclude that there is a solid case for serious immigration controls, resting primarily on the political requirements for the sound functioning of democratic institutions (but partaking to some extent of each of the three arguments).