Discrimination and the Presumptive Rights of Immigrants

Mendoza, José Jorge.“Discrimination and the Presumptive Rights of Immigrants.” Critical Philosophy of Race 2, no.1 (2014): 68-83.

Philosophers have assumed that as long as discriminatory admission and exclusion policies are off the table, it is possible for one to adopt a restrictionist position on the issue of immigration without having to worry that this position might entail discriminatory outcomes. The problem with this assumption emerges, however, when two important points are taken into consideration. First, immigration controls are not simply discriminatory because they are based on racist or ethnocentric attitudes and beliefs, but can themselves also be the source of social and civic ostracism. Second, by focusing so much on questions of admission and exclusion, philosophers have tended to overlook the discriminatory potential of immigration enforcement mechanisms. In this essay, I make the case that philosophers who deal with the issue of immigration cannot dispense with the potential for discrimination in a state's enforcement mechanism as easily as they have with the potential for discrimination in a state's admission and exclusions criteria. In addition, I put forth the positive claim that the way to combat this potential for discrimination (e.g., xenophobia) must begin with a defense of, and advocacy for, immigrant rights.

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