Immigration Enforcement and Justifications for Causing harm

Kevin K. W. Ip*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

States are not only claiming the right to grant or deny entry to their territories but also enforcing this right against non-citizens in ways that cause significant harm to these individuals. In this article, I argue that endorsing the presumptive right to restrict immigration does not settle the question of when or how it may permissibly inflict harm on individuals to enforce this right. I examine three distinct justifications for causing harm to individuals. First, the justification of defensive harm holds that harming individuals is morally permissible when they pose an unjustified threat to others. Second, the justification of protecting property states that harming individuals is morally permissible when they pose an unjustified threat to others’ property interests. Third, I consider the state punishment justification, which maintains that harming individuals is morally permissible when punishment is an appropriate response to their previous conduct. I conclude that any immigration enforcement measure that involves lethal force or the infliction of severe bodily harm is morally impermissible, whether it is used to defend the state or its property. Moreover, criminal sanctions for immigration violations are difficult to justify.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (CRISPP)
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • Immigration
  • global justice
  • criminal law
  • self-defense
  • property right

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