Undocumented Immigrants, Healthcare, and the Language of Desert

International Journal of Applied Philosophy 34 (1):19-30 (2020)
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Abstract

Arguments both in favor and against including undocumented immigrants in healthcare reform abound. However, many of these arguments, including ones that are favorable towards immigrants, are ethically problematic, and for the same reason; namely, that they either support or deny the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in healthcare reform based on their perceived level of desert, due to their alleged contribution to our social utility, or lack thereof. This encourages gauging the lives and worth of undocumented immigrants in terms of their productivity or output, rather than viewing them as intrinsically valuable human beings. This, in turn, contributes to the instrumentalization of undocumented immigrants’ welfare; for even arguments in favor of including them in healthcare reform encourage viewing them as, in Kantian language, mere means instead of ends in themselves. In this paper, I will be critical of arguments that either seek to exclude or include undocumented immigrants from healthcare reform or access based on social utility and will, instead, champion arguments in favor of inclusion that rely on fostering a sense of solidarity and identification amongst citizens and migrants.

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