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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 36, 2020

Home: Sanctuary, Shelter, and Justice

José Jorge MendozaOrcid-ID
Pages 49-68

Crimmigration and the Ethics of Migration

David Miller’s defense of a state’s presumptive right to exclude non-refugee immigrants rests on two key distinctions. The first is that immigration controls are “preventative” and not “coercive.” In other words, when a state enforces its immigration policy it does not coerce noncitizens into doing something as much as it prevents them from doing a very specific thing (e.g., not entering or remaining within the state), while leaving other options open. Second, he makes a distinction between “denying” people their human rights and “deterring” people from exercising their human rights. On this view, when those assigned to protect or fulfil human rights are also tasked with performing immigration enforcement duties, undocumented immigrants are not being denied their human rights, even when this deters them from exercising those rights. In this article, I argue that Miller’s two distinctions have an implication that he might not have foreseen. Specifically, I argue that these distinctions provide ideological cover for what has come to be known as “crimmigration” and that we have strong reasons for wanting our theory of immigration justice to reject this, even when doing so leaves open the possibility for an indirect open-borders argument.

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