Immigration, Association, and the Family

30 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2010 Last revised: 29 Apr 2011

Date Written: July 16, 2010


In this paper I provide a philosophical analysis of family-based immigration. This type of immigration is of great importance, yet has received relatively little attention from philosophers and others doing normative work on immigration. As family-based immigration poses significant challenges for those seeking a comprehensive normative account of the limits of discretion that states should have in setting their own immigration policies, it is a topic that must be dealt with if we are to have a comprehensive account. In what follows I use the idea of freedom of association to show what is distinctive about family-based immigration and why it ought to have a privileged place in our discussion of the topic. I further show why this style of argument neither allows states to limit nearly all immigration nor requires them to have almost no limits on immigration. I conclude by showing that all states must allow some degree of family-based immigration, and that this is a duty owed not to “outsiders” seeking to enter, but rather to current citizens.

Keywords: Immigrants, Kinship group, Relatives, Law and Society, Philosophy, Public Policy, Constitutional Rights, Rawls, Membership, Global Justice

Suggested Citation

Lister, Matthew J., Immigration, Association, and the Family (July 16, 2010). Law and Philosophy, Vol. 29, pp. 717-745, 2010, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-24, Available at SSRN:

Matthew J. Lister (Contact Author)

Bond University Faculty of Law ( email )

14 University Drive
Robina, Queensland 3125

HOME PAGE: http://

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics