The "Generic" Unauthorized

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How to respond to unauthorized migration and migrants is one of the most difficult questions in relation to migration theory and policy. In this commentary on Gillian Brock’s discussion of “irregular” migration, I do not attempt to give a fully satisfactory account of how to respond to unauthorized migration, but rather, using Brock’s discussion, try to highlight what I see as the most important difficulties in crafting an acceptable account, and raise some problems with the approach that Brock takes. Many factors come together in the case of unauthorized migration, each of which is on its own difficult. Examples of relevant considerations include whether migrants have any moral obligation to obey the
immigration laws of states that would exclude them, whether citizens of a state have obligations to obey less than fully just but otherwise legitimately enacted laws, how we can conform immigration policies to principles of domestic and international justice, and how far our policies may deviate from these principles before they lose their legitimacy, and how principles of international relations effect the justice of immigration policies. The correct response to any one of these considerations is not, I claim, obvious, but all – and no doubt more – must be considered before we can have a fully satisfying account of a just policy in relation to unauthorized migration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-110
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophy and Public Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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