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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 42, Issue 1, January 2016

Douglas MacKay
Pages 123-154
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract20164216

Are Skill-Selective Immigration Policies Just?

Many high-income countries have skill-selective immigration policies, favoring prospective immigrants who are highly skilled. I investigate whether it is permissible for high-income countries to adopt such policies. Adopting what Joseph Carens calls a “realistic approach” to the ethics of immigration, I argue first that it is in principle permissible for high-income countries to take skill as a consideration in favor of selecting one prospective immigrant rather than another. I argue second that high-income countries must ensure that their skill-selective immigration policies do not contribute to the nonfulfillment of their duty to aid residents of low- and middle-income countries.