Immigration, Rights and Democracy

in Theoria
Author: Ben Saunders
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Arash Abizadeh has recently argued that political communities have no right to close their borders unilaterally, since by doing so they subject outsiders to coercion which lacks democratic justification. His conclusion is that any legitimate regime of border controls must be justified to outsiders. David Miller has sought to defend closed borders by distinguishing between coercion and prevention and arguing that the latter does not require democratic justification. This paper explores a different route, arguing firstly that the requirements of democracy do not provide us with practical guidance unless we also consider other values, such as rights, and secondly that being subject to coercion does not entitle one to democratic justification. These arguments suggest that Abizadeh is wrong to hold closed borders in need of democratic justification.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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