Strangers in Our Midst
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Strangers in Our Midst

The Political Philosophy of Immigration

David Miller

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eBook - ePub

Strangers in Our Midst

The Political Philosophy of Immigration

David Miller

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About This Book

How should Western democracies respond to the many millions of people who want to settle in their societies? Economists and human rights advocates tend to downplay the considerable cultural and demographic impact of immigration on host societies. Seeking to balance the rights of immigrants with the legitimate concerns of citizens, Strangers in Our Midst brings a bracing dose of realism to this debate. David Miller defends the right of democratic states to control their borders and decide upon the future size, shape, and cultural make-up of their populations."A cool dissection of some of the main moral issues surrounding immigration and worth reading for its introductory chapter alone. Moreover, unlike many progressive intellectuals, Miller gives due weight to the rights and preferences of existing citizens and does not believe an immigrant has an automatic right to enter a country…Full of balanced judgments and tragic dilemmas."
—David Goodhart, Evening Standard "A lean and judicious defense of national interest…In Miller's view, controlling immigration is one way for a country to control its public expenditures, and such control is essential to democracy."
—Kelefa Sanneh, New Yorker

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Year
2016
ISBN
9780674969803

Notes

1. INTRODUCTION

2. See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/09/swiss-referendum-immigration-quotas. For the widespread preference among Europeans generally for greater restrictions on immigration, see E. Iversflaten, “Threatened by Diversity: Why Restrictive Asylum and Immigration Policies Appeal to Western Europeans,” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 15 (2005): 21–45.
3. See http://www.gallup.com/poll/163457/americans-pro-immigration-past.aspx. These figures may reflect the contrast between “immigration” and “nonimmigration” societies; see note 38 below.
4. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, International Migration Report 2013, available at http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/migration/migrationreport2013/Full_Document_final.pdf#zoom=100. See also K. Khoser, International Migration: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), chap. 1.
6. P. Collier, Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century (London: Allen Lane, 2013), chap. 2.
7. N. Esipova, J. Ray, and R. Srinivasan, The World’s Potential Migrants: Who They Are, Where They Want to Go, and Why It Matters (Gallup, 2010–2011). Overall, 40% of those living in the poorest quartile of countries have expressed a wish to migrate; see Collier, Exodus, 167.
8. See D. Reimers, Unwelcome Strangers: American Identity and the Turn against Immigration (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 11–12.
9. See R. Winder, Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain (London: Little, Brown, 2004), chap. 16.
10. Cited in Winder, Bloody Foreigners, 118.
11. Cf. the U.S. Supreme Court in 1892: “It is an accepted maxim of international law, that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent in sovereignty, and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe”; cited in P. Schuck, Citizens, Strangers, and In-Betweens: Essays on Immigration and Citizenship (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), 24.
12. H. Sidgwick, The Elements of Politics, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1897), 248. Sidgwick does, however, go on to say that the state must refrain from injuring the aliens it has admitted, or allowing them to be injured by private individuals—in other words it has a duty of care toward them.
13. Sidgwick, Elements, 308.
14. Sidgwick thought, however, that the issue would look entirely different if one adopted a cosmopolitan moral perspective, which would mean allowing all human beings access to the natural advantages of any particular territory. This, he said, “is perhaps the ideal of the future.” Yet he concluded that “it would not really be in the interest of humanity at large to impose upon civilised states generally, as an absolute international duty, the free admission of immigrants”; Sidgwick, Elements, 308–309.
15. To cite some British evidence, asylum seekers and recent immigrants were the two groups most likely to be picked out as getting “unfair priority over you when it comes to public services and state benefits” in a MORI poll, reported in B. Duffy, “Free Rider Phobia,” Prospect (February 2004): 16–17. The more general theme emerges in an informal study of popular attitudes by the Labour member of Parliament (MP) John Denham. He found that his constituents were strongly wedded to a “fairness code” that is “concerned with what rights you have earned, not just what your needs are today. The assessment of someone’s needs should take into account the effort and contribution he or she has made in the past and will make in the future. Public services should be for people who are entitled to them, need them, and use them responsibly”; see J. Denham, “The Fairness Code,” Prospect (June 2004): 29. It is also possible, however, that perceptions that the welfare state is operating unfairly are driven in part by racial prejudice. On this topic, see R. Ford, “Prejudice and White Majority Welfare Attitudes in the UK,” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 16 (2006): 141–156. For evidence that Americans hold similar beliefs—that people who make no effort to contribute shouldn’t receive welfare, with blacks picked out as the prime undeserving group—see M. Gilens, Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), chap. 3.
16. For evidence of the negative impact of ethnic diversity on social trust, see, e.g., A. Alesina and E. La Ferrara, “Who Trusts Others?,” Journal of Public Economics 85 (2002): 207–234; J. Delhey and K. Newton, “Predicting Cross-National Levels of Social Trust: Global Pattern or Nordic Exceptionalism?,” European Sociological Review 21 (2005): 311–327; R. Putnam, “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century,” Scandinavian Political Studies 30 (2007): 137–174. There are, however, some dissenting voices, including M. Crepaz, Trust beyond Borders: Immigration, the Welfare State, and Identity in Modern Societies (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008), chap. 3; N. Letki, “Does Diversity Erode Social Cohesion? Social Capital and Race in British Neighbourhoods,” Political Studies 56 (2008): 99–126.
17. For discussion of the relationship between ethnic diversity and support for the welfare state, see S. Soroka, R. Johnston, and K. Banting, “Ethnicity, Trust and the Welfare State,” in Cultural Diversity versus Economic Solidarity, ed. P. Van Parijs (Brussels: De Boeck, 2004).
18. S. Soroka, K. Banting, and R. Johnston, “Immigration and Redistribution in a Global Era,” in Globalization and Egalitarian Redistribution, ed. P. Bardhan, S. Bowles, and M. Wallerstein (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press / New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006), 278.
19. For analysis of the United States, see G. Borjas, Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), esp. chap. 5; for an opposing view, see D. Card, “Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?,” Economic Journal 115 (2005): 300–323. For analysis of the United Kingdom, see S. Nickell and J. Saleheen, “The Impact of Immigration on Occupational Wages: Evidence from Britain,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Working Papers, No. 08-6 (Boston, 2008); C. Dustmann, T. Frattini, and I. Preston, “The Effect of Immigration along the Distribution of Wages,” Review of Economic Studies 80 (2013), 145–173.
20. See F. Docquier, C. Ozden, and G. Peri, “The Labour Market Effects of Immigration and Emigration in OECD Countries,” Economic Journal 124 (2014): 1106–1145.
21. See, e.g., Collier, Exodus, 60–61.
24. See Iversflaten, “Threatened by Diversity,” for evidence about the role played by concerns over language, religion, and traditions in accounting for opposition to high levels of immigration.
25. I. Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, in Kant’s Political Writings, ed. H. Reiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971).
26. See S. Benhabib, The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents and Citizens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), esp. chap. 1; I. Valdez, “Perpetual What? Injury, Sovereignty, and a Cosmopolitan View of Immigration,” Political Studies 60 (2012): 95–114.
27. Kant, Perpetual Peace, 105–106.
28. In Chapter 3 I will examine whether this idea can be developed to justify a universal right to move across state borders.
29. J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971), esp. sec. 2.
30. J. Rawls, “Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory,” in J. Rawls, Collected Papers, ed. S. Freeman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 323.
31. J. Rawls, The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 9.
32. Rawls, Theory of Justice, 4.
33. J. Carens, The Ethics of Immigration (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). Carens’s version of cosmopolitanism is not extreme, inasmuch as it allows states to give some priority to the interests of their own citizens over those of foreigners. Nevertheless, Carens believes that basic liberal principles of free movement and equal opportunity must be applied on a global scale, which directly entails unimpeded migration across state borders. I discuss these arguments in Chapter 3.
34. I have discussed this problem of inconsistency in relation to Carens in D. Miller, “Das Carensproblem,” Political Theory 43 (2015): 387–393.
35. I put “distributively just” in scare quotes because this is not how I understand global justice myself. I am gesturing toward a cosmopolitan view of immigration that asks how we would think about it if global justice, here understood in egalitarian terms, prevailed.
36. I am assuming here a view about the purpose of political philosophy that I have defended elsewhere; see D. Miller, “Political Philosophy for Earthlings,” in Political Theory: Methods and Approaches, ed. D. Leopold and M. Stears (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), repr., D. Miller, Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
37. I take it from an old article by my doctoral supervisor, John Plamenatz; J. Plamenatz, “Strangers in Our Midst,” Race 7 (1965): 1–16. These are the reflections of a sensitive liberal philosopher on an earlier mom...

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