Doing Justice on Two Fronts: The Liberal Dilemma in Immigration
30 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 24, 2009
Two hearts beat in every liberal breast. One is the heart of non-discrimination - the commitment to propounding and furthering equal chances for all. This is the heart of human rights liberalism. Such a principle, built around individuals and their free choices, ought to be applicable everywhere and to everyone. This perspective currently dominates enlightened elite discourse. It is sometimes associated with the "global left" and often with the politics of "recognition" and "fairness."
The second liberal principle is communitarian social justice, and that heart beats with almost equal vigor. Redistribution of some sort, effected primarily through the institutions of the state, is owed the poor and exploited, and it is due and can be accomplished best, in one's own society and for one's own countrymen. This vision has lost a great deal of ground, especially among elites but also among critical intellectuals. This view is sometimes associated with the "sovereignty left" and often with the politics of "redistribution" and "justice."
This paper examines how these tensions within liberalism have manifested themselves in recent U.S. immigration policy debates, in particular over the question of labor market segmentation and competition between immigrants and the domestic poor.
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