Immigration as a Human Right
University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Science
September 1, 2013
Migration in Political Theory: The Ethics of Movement and Membership, eds. Sarah Fine and Lea Ypi, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
This article argues that people have a human right to immigrate to other states. People have essential interests in being able to make important personal decisions and engage in politics without state restrictions on the personal and political options available to them. It is these interests that other human rights, such as the human rights to internal freedom of movement, freedom of association and freedom of occupational choice, protect. The human right to immigrate is not absolute. Like the other human freedom rights upon which it is based, the human right to immigrate can be restricted in certain circumstances, when there are no acceptable alternative means to prevent severe costs. Outside these circumstances, however, immigration restrictions are unjust. The idea of a human right to immigrate is not then a demand for open borders. Rather it is a demand that basic liberties (to move, associate, speak, worship, work and marry) be awarded the same level of protection when people seek to exercise them across borders as when people seek to exercise them within borders. Immigration restrictions deserve no special exemption from the purview of human freedom rights.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Immigration, Human Rights, Freedom of Movement, Joseph Carens, David MillerAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 21, 2012 ; Last revised: December 2, 2013
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