Enforcing immigration law

Philosophy Compass 15 (3):e12653 (2020)
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Over the last few years, an increasingly sophisticated literature devoted to normative questions arising out of the enforcement of immigration law had developed. In this essay, I consider what sorts of constraints considerations of justice and legitimacy may place on the enforcement of immigration law, even if we assume that states have significant discretion in setting their own immigration policies, and that open borders are not required by justice. I consider constraints placed on state or national governments, constraints on enforcement by substate governments, and constraints on the actions of individuals. I show that there are significant limits on what states may do and what they may require substate governments and individuals to do, in enforcing their immigration laws, but that these constraints are not clearly incompatible with significant state discretion in setting immigration policy. Nonetheless, consideration of justice in enforcement is necessary for any complete normative account of immigration.



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Matthew J. Lister
Bond University

Citations of this work

Saving Migrants’ Basic Human Rights from Sovereign Rule.Lukas Schmid - 2022 - American Political Science Review:1-14.
Immigration enforcement and justifications for causing harm.Kevin K. W. Ip - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Democratic Theory and Border Coercion.Arash Abizadeh - 2008 - Political Theory 36 (1):37-65.
Immigration, Jurisdiction, and Exclusion.Michael Blake - 2013 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 41 (2):103-130.
Resistance to Unjust Immigration Restrictions.Javier Hidalgo - 2015 - Journal of Political Philosophy 23 (4):450-470.
Who are Refugees?Matthew Lister* - 2013 - Law and Philosophy 32 (5):645-671.

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