Joseph Carens on illegal immigrants


in Bombs and rockets, Law, Politics

“Some people would say that “illegal immigrants” should have no legal rights at all, precisely because their very presence is “illegal.” But no one really would defend that view if they thought about it for a moment. The fact that immigrants have settled without authorization does not mean that it’s O.K. to kill them or beat them up or rob them. Even “illegals” are entitled to protection of their basic human rights, and most people acknowledge this in principle.

The problem is that some (in Arizona, for example) want to link immigration enforcement to everything else, so that those whose job it is to protect basic human rights, like local police or workers in emergency rooms, are expected to report anyone with an irregular immigration status. The result is that irregular migrants will steer clear of the authorities, and so will be vulnerable to extreme abuse. If we take human rights seriously, we should take the opposite approach. We should create a firewall between immigration enforcement and those responsible for protecting basic human rights. Irregular migrants would then know that they could go to the police or to the emergency room without worrying about getting reported. That’s what cities like New York are trying to do.”

From: “When Immigrants Lose Their Human Rights“, New York Times, 25 November 2014

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. December 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm

“I think that the way the world is organized today is fundamentally unjust. It’s like feudalism in important respects. In a world of relatively closed borders like ours, citizenship is an inherited status and a source of privilege. Being born a citizen of a rich country in North America or Europe is a lot like being born into the nobility in the Middle Ages. It greatly enhances one’s life prospects (even if there are lesser and greater nobles). And being born a citizen of a poor country in Asia or Africa is a lot like being born into the peasantry in the Middle Ages. It greatly limits one’s life chances (even if there are some rich peasants and a few gain access to the nobility). These advantages and disadvantages are intimately linked to the restrictions on mobility that are characteristic of the modern state system, although the deepest problem is the vast inequality between states that makes so many people want to move. This is not the natural order of things. It is a set of social arrangements that human beings have constructed and that they maintain.”

oleh January 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm

As one of the fortunate ones born in Canada, I often take for granted what I have.

However, I also reflect on how Canada has been enriched by immigration and the strain of the person who is prepared to abandon what they know to start again with the unknown.

I think this is sometimes forgotten by those of us who are already settled here- we think it is best to close the door behind us – a selfish and narrow perspective.

Milan January 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm

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