David Bennion: July 2013 Archives

The public conversation about immigration reform in the U.S. relies on several flawed policy assumptions, for instance, that criminalization of employment and imprisonment for immigration violations are necessary elements of a system of restrictions on entry for noncitizens. I believe that a workable system of immigration controls could be created without those two policies.

These and other consensus policies are predicated on the idea that restrictions on entry and residence are rightfully imposed on noncitizens by sovereign states. That is, that a government has the right--and arguably the obligation--to regulate the entry of noncitizens into otherwise public spaces within its territory.

Contributors to the libertarian-leaning site Open Borders have been deconstructing the assumption that border restrictions are necessary or morally permissible. The site is a great resource, and I agree with many of the arguments made there.

But I want to make a stronger argument: that defining membership in a sovereign polity by accident of birth is not consistent with basic principles of justice. This means that, not only are closed border policies unjust, but the current international citizenship regime is unjust. There can be no "just and humane immigration reform" within this fundamentally unjust system.