What’s Unique About Immigrant Protest?

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (3):315-332 (2010)
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Increasingly, western democratic countries are bearing witness to immigrant protest, that is, protest by immigrants who are dissatisfied with their status in the host community. In protesting, the immigrants object to the ways in which various laws and practices have proved to be obstacles to their full integration. Because immigrants, upon entering, have consented to abide by the rules and regulations of the host state, it might be thought that these forms of civil disobedience are, effectively, contract violations. Immigrants might therefore be thought to have a particularly stringent duty to abide by the laws of their host state. This paper evaluates whether immigrants are indeed under a special duty to abide by the laws of their host state. First, it suggests that it is useful — although incomplete — to apply the device of the ‘contract’ to understanding the relationship between new immigrants and the host community. Second, it argues that there are limits to what can be demanded of and by immigrants as well as of and by host communities. It then turns to offering principles that help to evaluate the motivations of immigrant protestors, as well as that help guide their actions, when they believe that the community they have joined is treating them unjustly. These principles suggest that immigrant protest actions are subject to the restriction that they do not undermine the possibility of an inclusive democratic community.



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Patti Tamara Lenard
University of Ottawa

Citations of this work

Clarifying our duties to resist.Chong-Ming Lim - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
On Nationality.David Miller - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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