The Philosophy of Human Migration

  • Preserves culture

This is a probably the most popular argument for a closed border, especially by nativists. Although it is hard to justify in an American context, because of our history and how diverse our culture is, philosopher David Miller explains the phenomenon well:

“The public culture of their country is something that people have an interest in controlling: they want to be able to shape the way that their nation develops, including the values that are contained in the public culture. They may not of course succeed: valued cultural features can be eroded by economic and other forces that evade political control. But they may certainly have good reason to try, and in particular to try to maintain cultural continuity over time, so that they can see themselves as the bearers of an identifiable cultural tradition that stretches backward historically.”

  • Sustains the economy

In its most straightforward application, this argument simply assumes that the domestic economy can only support a certain number of workers, which of course is again a somewhat faulty argument when considering America’s need for cheap labor. The real disadvantage is to unskilled workers who would otherwise profit from such occupations.

  • Enhances security

This is a popular argument, especially since the events of 9-11, which essentially says that limiting immigration will keep potential foreign terrorists or criminals from entering the country, assuming they try to enter legally.

  • Libertarianism

Libertarianism describes the opposition between an individual and state’s rights. To put it in a graspable scenario, it’s to say that a government shouldn’t be allowed to deny a farmer the right to hire illegal workers if this is his best economic option.

  • Democratic obligation

There’s a lot of debate about the United State’s obligation to democracy and what the term itself means. Some say its unacceptable for a state to forcibly restrict outsiders without first giving these outsiders a vote in the referendum which decided whether or not to adopt this restrictive immigration policy.

  • Cosmopolitan egalitarian

Cosmopolitan egalitarianism describes the obligation of wealthier countries to allow immigrants from poorer countries to come as an act of moral justice, as described by political philosopher Joseph Carrens:

“Citizenship in Western liberal democracies is the modern equivalent to feudal privilege—an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life chances. Like feudal birthrights privileges, restrictive citizenship is hard to justify when one thinks about it closely.”

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