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Unformatted text preview: The Rights of Irregular Migrants Joseph H. Carens* I n the contemporary politics of immigration, few issues are more contentious than the question of how democratic states should respond to the presence of people who have settled without official authorization. Too often discus- sions of this topic go nowhere because the participants adopt radically different starting points and make no effort to understand the perspectives of those with whom they are supposedly engaging. At one extreme are those who frame the is- sue entirely as a matter of enforcing the law against people who refuse to respect it. From this perspective, states are morally entitled to control the entry of for- eigners. The illegal immigrants have no standing in the community and no moral basis for making any claims that the state ought to respect. The only im- portant goal of public policy in this area should be to ensure that the states im- migration laws are obeyed. At the other extreme are those who frame the issue entirely in terms of the interests and claims of the migrants. The basic premise here is that the politico-economic system exploits and marginalizes hardworking contributors to the community who happen to lack official documentation. (Some would argue further that the migrants are denied the documentation pre- cisely to make it easier to marginalize and exploit them.) From this perspective, the only morally legitimate policy goal is to find ways to reduce the vulnerability of the undocumented and to challenge their official exclusion from the politi- cal community. Given such radically opposed starting points, it is perhaps not surprising that the two sides often wind up talking past one another. In this article I want to try a different approach. My goal is to be reflective rather than polemical, and to use an analytical approach to identify some of the key ethical issues in this area. I do not mean to suggest that I have no substantive point of view. I will argue for a position that recognizes that even people who * Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory at the University of California, Berkeley, in January 2008 , and at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. My thanks to Sam Scheffler, Eric Rakowski, and the workshop participants for their com- ments at the former occasion and to Arash Abizadeh and Christine Straehle at the latter. My thanks also to Zor- nitsa Stoyanova, John Tessitore, and four anonymous reviewers at Ethics F International Affairs for helpful comments. 163 have settled without official authorization deserve many legal rights. I will try, however, to give a fair hearing to arguments and considerations opposed to the position I defend, and I hope that the way in which I develop my analysis will be seen as a useful way of mapping out the moral issues even by those who disagree with my conclusions....
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This note was uploaded on 05/27/2010 for the course PHIL PHIL2110 taught by Professor Jeremyshearmur during the Three '10 term at Australian National University.

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pdf_Joe_Carens - The Rights of Irregular Migrants Joseph H....

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