Decolonizing Immigration Justice

Mendoza, José Jorge. "Decolonizing Immigration Justice" in Latin American Immigration Ethics, edited by Amy Reed-Sandoval and Luis Rubén Díaz Cepeda, 44-70. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2021.

In recent years, radical philosophers have tried to carve out a space for themselves in the immigration debate by deploying the critical frameworks of various prestigious European political theorists. The efforts of these radicals has succeeded in exposing the shortcomings of liberal reformist approaches to immigration justice. For example, they have shown that the current debate fails to get beyond traditional and idealized conceptions of civic belonging (e.g., citizenship) and political community (e.g., nation-states). It also fails to seriously address or ignores important issues, such as the construction of “illegal” subjectivities and the violence and disciplinary nature of immigration enforcement. Lastly, it also fails to appreciate the role that social movements play in the struggle for immigration justice or the role that global capitalism plays in displacing migrants. In summary, even though they are not currently influencing much of the public policy debate, radical philosophers have done an excellent job—even if only in the academy—of articulating the need for a different approach to immigration justice. The radical approach, however, is not without its own shortcomings. In its quest to find suitable theoretical frameworks, few radicals have dared to venture beyond the European continent. This failure to look beyond Europe implicitly reaffirms the belief that there is nothing of theoretical importance taking place outside of Europe. This belief is not only mistaken but it stifles the creativity of non-European organic intellectuals. In short, even though a radical approach to immigration justice is necessary, most of its current manifestations have been hampered by the fact that they continue to perpetuate an unhealthy relationship to European thought. This essay therefore attempts to make a case for a decolonial approach to immigration justice and offers an outline of what such an approach might look like.

Status of Research