Edited by Alex Sager (Portland State University)
Assistant editor: Nicole Haley (Portland State University)
About this topic

Immigration began to receive attention as a major topic in applied ethics and applied social and in political philosophy in the mid-1980s. Much of the early work concentrated on questions surrounding states’ use of coercion to prevent people from immigrating, especially in a world of vast inequalities between territories. The initial debates opposed freedom of movement and freedom of opportunity against communities’ right to self-determination, shared culture, and security. Perhaps surprisingly, theorists of both open and closed-borders presented interpretations of distributive justice to support their positions. As the debate has evolved, theorists have given more attention to the obligations towards special classes of immigrants such as refugees, temporary workers, family-class immigrants, and undocumented residents. They have also turned their attention to topics such as the economics of skilled migration, human smuggling and trafficking, immigrant detention and deportation, and sustainability. Recent work has examined the implications of racism and sexism for migration as well as the moral significance of globalization and transnationalism.

Key works Joseph Carens played a major role in defining discussions of immigration in philosophy with his seminal article "Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders" (1987). Carens synthesizes many of his contributions in The Ethics of Immigration (2013) which includes subtle discussions of temporary migration, refugee policy, irregular migration, citizenship and much else. Another influential early work advocating open borders is Phillip Cole’s Philosophies of Exclusion (2000). Influential justifications for border controls include Walzer 1984 and Miller 2005. Wellman & Cole 2011 provides a useful overview of the literature on admissions, as well defense and criticism of admissions controls. Gibney 2004 is a sophisticated and comprehensive account of the ethics of refugee policy. Lenard & Straehle 2012 explores the justice of temporary labor migration programs. Brock & Blake 2015 examines the “brain drain” debate – the question of whether states can restrict the migration of skilled workers for reasons of distributive justice. Mendoza 2014 grapples with questions of race and Wilcox 2005 explores how gender affects the justice of admissions. Bauböck 1994 is an important early exploration of the implications of transnationalism for immigration and citizenship.
Introductions Carens 1987 Walzer 1984 Miller 2005 Wilcox 2009 Abizadeh 2008
Related categories

886 found
1 — 50 / 886
  1. added 2019-01-21
    Global Cities, Global Justice?Loren King & Michael Blake - forthcoming - Journal of Global Ethics:1-21.
    The global city is a contested site of economic innovation and cultural production, as well as profound inequalities of wealth and life chances. These cities, and large cities that aspire to ‘global’ status, are often the point of entry for new immigrants. Yet for political theorists (and indeed many scholars of global institutions), these critical sites of global influence and inequality have not been a significant focus of attention. This is curious. Theorists have wrestled with the nature and demands of (...)
  2. added 2018-12-22
    Beyond Humanitarianism: Normatively Approaching Immigration and Integration.Ireneusz Paweł Karolewski - forthcoming - Contemporary Political Theory:1-7.
  3. added 2018-12-22
    Making Immigrant Rights Real: Nonprofits and the Politics of Integration in San Francisco.Hsin-Yun Peng - forthcoming - Ethics and Social Welfare:1-3.
  4. added 2018-12-22
    Migration, Membership, and Republican Liberty.J. Matthew Hoye - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-27.
  5. added 2018-12-22
    The Moral and Political Philosophy of Immigration: Liberty, Security, and Equality.Tanita Jill Poeggel - 2018 - Contemporary Political Theory 17 (4):248-251.
  6. added 2018-12-22
    Bases Teóricas Para El Estudio de Familias Desplazadas.Juan José Flores Flores - 2018 - Cultura 32:261-278.
  7. added 2018-12-22
    Strangers in Our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Immigration.Jeffrey Spring - 2018 - Contemporary Political Theory 17 (S4):240-243.
  8. added 2018-12-22
    Derision and Demography: New South Wales and the Irish Orphan Girls of the Earl Grey Immigration Scheme, 1848 to 1850.Benjamin McHutchion - 2015 - Constellations 6 (2).
  9. added 2018-12-11
    The RAISE Act: Protecting First- World Privilege Via Strategic Racism.Grant Joseph Silva - 2018 - The RPA Mag.
    The new immigration legislation will not achieve its ostensible goal. The criteria it proposes for new immigrants thinly conceal its racist motivations.
  10. added 2018-12-08
    ?I Never Knew They Existed?: The Invisible Haitian Migrant Worker. [REVIEW]Tito Craige - 1985 - Agriculture and Human Values 2 (3):71-75.
  11. added 2018-12-07
    The Alien as a Soft Target for Exorcizing Violence.Raymond Coulon - 1997 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 10 (1):37-53.
  12. added 2018-12-03
    The Advocate’s Dilemma: Framing Migrant Rights in National Settings.Maria Lorena Cook - 2010 - Studies in Social Justice 4 (2):145-164.
    This article identifies and explores the dilemma of migrant advocacy in advanced industrial democracies, focusing specifically on the contemporary United States. On the one hand, universal norms such as human rights, which are theoretically well suited to advancing migrants' claims, may have little resonance within national settings. On the other hand, the debates around which immigration arguments typically turn, and the terrain on which advocates must fight, derive their values and assumptions from a nation-state framework that is self-limiting. The article (...)
  13. added 2018-12-02
    Living With Borders: Catholic Theological Ethics on the Migrations of Peoples.Elizabeth W. Collier - 2018 - Journal of Catholic Social Thought 15 (1):226-228.
  14. added 2018-12-02
    Trends in Fertility and Intermarriage Among Immigrant Populations in Western Europe as Measures of Integration.D. A. Coleman - 1994 - Journal of Biosocial Science 26 (1):107-36.
  15. added 2018-11-25
    Quebec and South Africa a Study in Cultural Adjustment.Fred Clarke - 1934 - Pub. For the Institute of Education by Oxford University Press, H. Milford.
  16. added 2018-11-23
    Is Migration Status a Determinant of Urban Nutrition Insecurity? Empirical Evidence From Mumbai City, India.Neetu Choudhary & D. Parthasarathy - 2009 - Journal of Biosocial Science 41 (5):583-605.
  17. added 2018-11-21
    Exit Polls: Refugee Assessments of North Korea's Transition.Yoonok Chang, Stephan M. Haggard & Marcus Noland - manuscript
    Results from a survey of more than 1,300 North Korean refugees in China provide insight into changing economic conditions in North Korea. There is modest evidence of slightly more positive assessments among those who exited the country following the initiation of reforms in 2002. Education breeds skepticism; higher levels of education were associated with more negative perceptions of economic conditions and reform efforts. Other demographic markers such as gender or provincial origin are not robustly correlated with attitudes. Instead, personal experiences (...)
  18. added 2018-11-12
    Reclaiming Cosmopolitanism Through Migrant Protests.Alex Sager - 2018 - In Tamara Caraus & Elena Paris (eds.), Migration, Protest Movements and the Politics of Resistance. New York and London: Routledge. pp. 171-185.
    Cosmopolitanism reemerged as a potentially radical political theory in the 1990s, only to be stripped of much of its radical potential. Many political theorists reduced cosmopolitanism to “moral cosmopolitanism” and sought to reconcile it with the current state system. To reclaim cosmopolitanism’s radical potential, I propose the migrant as the key figure in a cosmopolitan practice that promises to ground cosmopolitanism from below. Migrant voices and acts of citizenship help us overcome the cognitive bias of methodological nationalism and ground a (...)
  19. added 2018-11-12
    The Irruption of the Migrants in the 21st Century.Gioacchino Campese - 2017 - Journal of Catholic Social Thought 14 (1):9-27.
  20. added 2018-11-12
    Examination of Immigrants.Persia C. Campbell - 1925 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):290 – 294.
  21. added 2018-11-11
    The Ethics of Assimilation.Eamonn Callan - 2005 - Ethics 115 (3):471-500.
  22. added 2018-11-09
    Can the Rule of Law Apply at the Border?: A Commentary on Paul Gowder’s the Rule of Law in the Real World.Matthew J. Lister - 2018 - Saint Louis University Law Journal 62 (2):332-32.
    The border is an area where the rule of law has often found difficulty taking root, existing as law-free zones characterized by largely unbounded legal and administrative discretion. In his important new book, The Rule of Law in the Real World, Paul Gowder deftly combines historical examples, formal models, legal analysis, and philosophical theory to provide a novel and compelling account of the rule of law. In this paper I consider whether the account Gowder offers can provide the tools needed (...)
    No categories
  23. added 2018-11-07
    The Immigrant Left in the United States.Paul Buhle & Dan Georgakas - 1998 - Science and Society 62 (4):618-621.
  24. added 2018-11-02
    Ideology, Strategy & Organization.Frank H. Brooks - unknown
    The mid-1880s, like the mid-1870s, were a time of considerable turmoil for American workers. Unemployment and wage cuts were widespread and workers responded with strikes, boycotts, union organizing, local labor tickets, and a bewildering variety of reform schemes and ideologies. Perhaps the central event of the 1880s was the Haymarket incident. The bomb and subsequent trial had a broad historical impact, sparking a red scare, blunting the eight-hour movement, establishing the stereotype of anarchists as wildeyed, foreign bombthrowers, and intensifying calls (...)
  25. added 2018-11-01
    The Right to Exclude Immigrants Does Not Imply the Right to Exclude Newcomers by Birth.Thomas Carnes - 2018 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 14 (1).
    A recent challenge to statist arguments defending the right of states to exclude prospective immigrants maintains that such statist arguments prove too much. Specifically, the challenge argues that statist arguments, insofar as they are correct, entail that states may permissibily exclude current members' newcomers by birth, which seems to violate a widely held intuition that members' newcomers by birth ought automatically to be granted membership rights. The basic claim is that statist arguments cannot account for the differntial treatment between prospective (...)
  26. added 2018-10-31
    Book Review: Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude, by Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip ColeDebating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude, by WellmanChristopher HeathColePhillip. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 340 Pp. [REVIEW]Christopher Bertram - 2015 - Political Theory 43 (4):567-570.
  27. added 2018-10-31
    From Ruth to the “Global Woman”: Social and Legal Aspects.Athalya Brenner - 2010 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 64 (2):162-168.
    In this short study, the Scroll of Ruth, and especially Ruth's undisclosed motives for following her mother-in-law, are read alongside the situation of foreign, female migrant workers in contemporary Israel—and vice versa. This allows a bi-directional reading that supplies a possible context both for the biblical text and for the evaluation of today's issues.
  28. added 2018-10-28
    'Migrants in a Feverland': State Obligations Towards the Environmentally Displaced.Megan Bradley - 2012 - Journal of International Political Theory 8 (1-2):147-158.
    This paper considers whether states have a duty to accept those who cross borders to escape environmental disasters associated with climate change. It then examines how such a responsibility might be distributed, focusing on the predicament of the citizens of small island states expected to be inundated by rising sea levels. In assessing states’ responsibility to admit these individuals, I draw on Walzer's theory of mutual aid, demonstrating that even under this narrow conception of states’ obligations, a duty to accept (...)
  29. added 2018-10-28
    Immigrant Rights and Regional Inclusion: Democratic Experimentalism in the European Union.Jonathan Bowman - 2009 - Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 56 (121):32-56.
    Although justification and implementation of human rights are typically dealt with as separate issues, the lines between them become particularly opaque when dealing with contested rights claims, particularly those made by immigrant groups. The relevant lessons from Europe seem to indicate that in these sorts of cases, questions of justification can become embedded in deliberative practices that lead to their greater institutional entrenchment. The heterogeneity of deliberative practices out of diverse Member State administrative contexts can be turned into an epistemic (...)
  30. added 2018-10-25
    Towards an Arendtian Politics of In/Visibility.Marieke Borren - 2008 - Ethical Perspectives 15 (2):213-237.
    This article first aims to reconstruct an Arendtian ‘politics of in/visibility.’ Section one interprets Arendt’s reflections on stateless aliens in inter-war Europe, and the next section provides a conceptual background by situating the politics of visibility within Arendt’s more theoretical-philosophical writings on politics. By juxtaposing her account with current Dutch policies and practices concerning aliens in the last section, this article next aims to investigate the relevance and currency of the Arendtian politics of in/visibility. Arguing for the continuing relevance of (...)
  31. added 2018-10-21
    Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.Maxim Bolt - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for ways to make ends meet. Maxim Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependants, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Focusing on one farm, this book investigates the role of a hub of wage labour in a place of crisis. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting (...)
  32. added 2018-10-21
    European Policies of Social Control Post-9/11.Sophie Body-Gendrot - 2010 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 77 (1):181-204.
    After describing the three European strategies focused on social control, this essay will first demonstrate that the first two strategies try less to protect societies than to enforce efficient tools of governance. Additionally, they reinforce stereotypes harming Muslim immigrants. I show that diverse approaches in policing can make a difference in the communities where police forces operate. The third strategy, that of prevention requiring the cooperation of the citizens, may be more sustainable in the long term as it facilitates communication (...)
  33. added 2018-10-21
    Immigrants From Turkey in Germany.Gisela Blomberg - 1997 - Nature, Society, and Thought 10 (4):539-550.
  34. added 2018-10-20
    Positive and Negative Rights of Migration: A Reply to My Critics.Blake Michael - 2016 - Ethics and Global Politics 9 (1):33553.
  35. added 2018-10-18
    Book Review: Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude, by Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 340 Pp. [REVIEW]Christopher Bertram - 2015 - Political Theory 43 (4):567-570.
  36. added 2018-10-14
    Book Review: Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude, by Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 340 Pp. [REVIEW]Christopher Bertram - 2015 - Political Theory 43 (4):567-570.
  37. added 2018-10-14
    Dark Strangers: A Social Study of the Absorption of a Recent West Indian Migrant Group in Brixton, South London.G. C. L. Bertram - 1963 - The Eugenics Review 55 (3):175.
  38. added 2018-10-08
    Reclaiming Cosmopolitanism Through Migrant Protests.Alex Sager - 2018 - In Tamara Caraus & Elena Paris (eds.), Migration, Protest Movements and the Politics of Resistance: A Radical Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism. New York: Routledge. pp. 171-185.
    Cosmopolitanism re-emerged as a potentially radical political theory in the 1990s, only to be stripped of much of its radical potential. Many political theorists reduced cosmopolitanism to “moral cosmopolitanism” and sought to reconcile it with the current state system. To reclaim cosmopolitanism’s radical potential, I propose the migrant as the key figure in a cosmopolitan practice that promises to ground cosmopolitanism from below. Migrant voices and acts of citizenship help us overcome the cognitive bias of methodological nationalism and ground a (...)
  39. added 2018-10-08
    Ethics and Migration Crises.Alex Sager - 2018 - In Cecilia Menjívar, Marie Ruiz & Immanuel Ness (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Migration Crises. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 589-602.
    The topic of ethics and migration crises has two dimensions. First, there are questions in the ethics of representation. Media, pundits, and researchers frequently describe large-scale migration as a crisis with insufficient attention to the cogency of the crisis label or the ethical issues it raises. Second, migration crises give rise to duties not to deprive people of their rights to seek safety and asylum, to protect people deprived of their rights, and to aid migrants in crisis situations. There are (...)
  40. added 2018-10-07
    Cosmopolitan Ideals and National Sentiment.Charles R. Beitz - 1983 - Journal of Philosophy 80 (10):591-600.
  41. added 2018-10-05
    Morally Evaluating Human Smuggling: The Case of Migration to Europe.Eamon Aloyo & Eugenio Cusumano - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-24.
  42. added 2018-09-20
    Economic Prerogative and Its Political Consequences: The Migrant Labor and Border Industrial Regimes.Kathleen Arnold - 2011 - Constellations 18 (3):455-473.
  43. added 2018-09-20
    Political Organization and Resources Among Ethiopian Immigrants.M. Ashkenazi - 1988 - Social Science Information 27 (3):371-389.
  44. added 2018-09-18
    Response to Kathleen Arnold, Review of Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America About Democracy.Paul Apostolidis - 2011 - Theory and Event 14 (2).
  45. added 2018-09-13
    Quality of Government and the Treatment of Immigrants.Marcus Agnafors - unknown
  46. added 2018-08-24
    Introduction: Education and Migration.Julian Culp & Danielle Zwarthoed - 2018 - Journal of Global Ethics 14 (1):5-10.
    This introduction expounds educational problems that arise from transnational migration. It argues that it is high time to critically analyze normative issues of and in education under conditions of globalization because dominant approaches in normative philosophy of education tend to suffer from both a nationalist bias and a sedentary bias. The contributions to this special issue address normative problems pertaining to migration-related education from a variety of ethical and philosophical perspectives, including analytic applied ethics, continental philosophy, care ethics, Hegelian philosophy, (...)
  47. added 2018-08-22
    A Tax-Credit Approach to Addressing Brain Drain.Matthew J. Lister - 2017 - Saint Louis University Law Journal 62 (1):73-84.
    This paper proposes a novel use of tax policy to address one of the most pressing issues arising from economic globalization and international migration, that of “brain drain” – in particular, the migration of certain skilled and highly trained or educated professionals from less and least developed countries to wealthy “western” countries. This problem is perhaps most pressing in relation to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, but exists also for teachers, lawyers, economists, engineers, and other highly skilled or trained (...)
  48. added 2018-08-06
    Justifying Resistance to Immigration Law: The Case of Mere Noncompliance.Caleb Yong - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 2 (31):459-481.
    Constitutional democracies unilaterally enact the laws that regulate immigration to their territories. When are would-be migrants to a constitutional democracy morally justified in breaching such laws? Receiving states also typically enact laws that require their existing citizens to participate in the implementation of immigration restrictions. When are the individual citizens of a constitutional democracy morally justified in breaching such laws? In this article, I take up these questions concerning the justifiability of noncompliance with immigration law, focusing on the case of (...)
  49. added 2018-07-29
    Measuring Common Standards and Equal Responsibility Sharing in EU Asylum Outcome Data.Luc Bovens, Chlump Chatkupt & Laura Smead - 2012 - European Union Politics 13 (1):70-93.
    We construct novel measures to assess (i) the extent to which European Union member states are using common standards in recognizing asylum seekers and (ii) the extent to which the responsibilities for asylum applications, acceptances and refugee populations are equally shared among the member states, taking into account population size, gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP expressed in purchasing power parity (GDP-PPP). We track the progression of these measures since the implementation of the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999). These measures display (...)
  50. added 2018-07-18
    Gibt es ein Recht auf Einwanderung?Michael Huemer - 2015 - In Thomas Leske (ed.), Wider Die Anmaßung der Politik. Gäufelden, Germany: Thomas Leske. pp. 103–147.
    Einwanderungsbeschränkungen verletzen das Anscheinsrecht (engl. prima facie right) Einwanderungswilliger, keinem schädlichem Zwang ausgesetzt zu werden. Dieses Anscheinsrecht wird nicht durch die wirtschaftlichen, fiskalischen und kulturellen Folgen der Einwanderung entkräftet oder verdrängt – und auch nicht durch die besondere Pflicht, welche der Staat gegenüber seinen eigenen Bürgern und speziell den Ärmsten unter ihnen hat. Er hat gleichfalls kein Recht, Bedingungen für die Staatsbürgerschaft in gleicher Weise aufzustellen, wie dies private Clubs als Voraussetzung für die Mitgliedschaft tun. -/- [This is a German (...)
1 — 50 / 886