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Libertarianism and Immigration

 Author: Diana Virginia Todea  Date Published: 2010  File Size: 240.3 KB  Download

Immigration is a contemporary issue that is debated across many disciplines. The fervent discussions in the past twenty years have linked immigration with attacks on the national culture, citizens losing their jobs to alien workers, threats on national security, terrorism and racism. A rich literature exists on immigration in political theory, which focuses on different aspects of this process.

My aim in this paper is to offer a closer look at philosophical arguments on immigration, in essence libertarian arguments. I proceed by showing the relation between self-ownership and immigration and analyze the arguments for and against immigration, pointing out the inconsistency of sustaining closed borders within the libertarian framework.

Going through the recent libertarian literature on immigration I decided to focus on the classical libertarian cases presented in the works of Robert Nozick, Hillel Steiner and Michael Otsuka. In the light of recent studies on immigration, I depart from Robert Nozick’s case of protective associations and Hillel Steiner’s cottage analogy in order to bring more clarity of how a libertarian should argue in the case of immigration.

Therefore, in this paper I investigate the libertarian account of immigration. In the first section I distinguish between right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism. In the second section I analyze the arguments focused on immigration from the perspective of self-ownership focused on Nozick’s case and Steiner’s analogy. In the third section I discuss the conflict between the collective consent on the issue of immigration and the individuals’ decision. The conclusion sets the libertarian framework as being flawed in its argumentation on the issue of immigration because it fails to provide strong arguments about the fact that the individuals are free to choose to open or close the borders.

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