Detaining Immigrants and Asylum Seekers: A Normative Introduction
Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, Vol 17, Issue 5, pp. 600-617
17 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2014
Date Written: June 2014
Detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers takes place at the behest and convenience of virtually all liberal states. It is a harmful practice that impacts non-citizens as well as citizens, and has far-reaching ramifications for our understandings of the ethics of immigration and border control. Thus far, however, normative theorists engaged in the vibrant immigration admissions debate have remained mostly silent on the topic of detention. By unmasking and revealing the essential roles played by detention in enforcing immigration controls, this paper is intended to highlight the dangers for normative theory of maligning or underestimating detention. In particular, a study of detention refocuses scholarly attention on the temporal and spatial aspects of immigration enforcement, the undesirability of warehousing or containment proposals for addressing refugee or immigration crises, and the virtually irreconcilable ethical conflicts at the core of the immigration admissions debate. Normative theorists would be remiss in ignoring the ethical and practical consequences for an increasingly large number of people that are exacted by detention practices worldwide.
Keywords: normative theory, immigration policy, detention, ethics, public policy, containment, border control, deportation
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