Immigration: of life are considered, these moral
Immigration: Considering the MoralConsiderationsTanvi VermaPhilosophy 201Professor Alwood13 December 2017 In this paper, I will refute the argumentagainst violating an immigrant’s primafacie right by showing that there are in fact moral explanations convincingenough to support the restriction of immigration. In “Is There a Right toImmigrate?” Michael Huemer presents his argument as follows:(P1):Every individual has a prima facie rightnot to be harmfully coerced (P2):There are no moral considerations that could outweigh/override/justify theviolation of this prima facie right(C):Therefore, in cases of economic immigration, it is wrong to restrictimmigration as it is a violation of one’s primafacie right.To understand the argument, it isimportant to understand the definition of primafacie. Prima facie pertains to aright that an individual is given in a situation unless evidence proves for itto be taken away (Source).
For example, in the saying “innocent until provenguilty”, innocence would be the primafacie right given to the person on trial. Huemer claims that restrictingimmigration is violating one’s primafacie right; in this case it is the right to not be harmfully coerced intosomething by force or threats (Source).Premise 1 follows from this definition of prima facie. This is a true statementthat no individual should be purposefully harmed. Turning away refugees who arein dire need of shelter can be considered a harmful coercion as they may sufferdue to this action.
However, there is a difference between a need to enter thecountry and a want to enter the country. In the case of economic immigrants,turning them away is not considered harmful rather, it is just not providingthem any benefit. Premise 2 claims that no moralconsiderations can outweigh this given primafacie right, and that is where I must disagree. David Miller states in hisarticle, “Immigration: The Case for Limits” ‘that choosing where to live ismore of a privilege than a basic right’. Miller is suggesting that there is noright to choose where to live.
Thus, it can be said that it is not the responsibilityof a country to take anyone in especially without considering the possiblepitfalls. Reasons such as cultural preservation, sustaining the economy, andestablishing security are major considerations for the interest of a nation.For someone who adopts a more egalitarian attitude, these considerations areultimately trivial in the grand scheme of a basic right to freedom. However,when long term effects and quality of life are considered, these moralexplanations can justify restricting an economic immigrant’s want to enter a country.
Huemer’s argument is certainly valid sincethe premises, regardless of whether they are true or false, lead to a trueconclusion. Though for an argument to be sound, the premises must be true. I donot believe the argument is sound due to the flaw in premise 2. A proponent ofthe argument could argue that restricting immigration hints at right-wingpolitics or is the result of Nationalist bias in that it ignores the rights offoreigners. But with moral considerations weighing down on a nation, I believeit is important to think of what is best for its citizens before supportingnonnatives who do not require immediate attention.Cultural preservation is a moralconsideration strong enough to override the primafacie violation because of the idea of maintaining a cultural continuitythat took a long time to create.
Essentially, it is about preserving theculture than makes us unique such as our dialect, cuisine, and traditions. Itcan be argued that the United States culture as we know it today was founded onseveral different cultures and immigrants would only enhance an existing culture.However, if we keep adding new culture to it, it might alter the cultural imagethe nation has worked so hard to produce.
Miller claims that “the publicculture of their country is something that people have an interest incontrolling” (656), and it should be something that we control because ifimmigration is not restricted due to an individual’s prima facie right, there could be an influx of people large enoughto alter it entirely. This is a concern especially to natives who would not beable to connect to their roots and pass something down for future generationsif the population increases. Huemer mentions the idea that we overestimate thenumber of people who would want to enter, but we cannot presume that the numberof immigrants will slowly decrease. For example, if one family travels to anation that can support them, other families could follow knowing that they canlive better lives as well. Although it would be gratifying to offer betterliving conditions and opportunities, it just cannot be offered to all. Giventhis, it is critical to consider preserving a nation’s culture.
Since it ispossible for culture to change rapidly when combined with many immigrants, itshould justify restricting immigration.Where do you draw the line for who canenter the country and who cannot? This moral consideration is known assustaining the economy and is derived from two standpoints: employment andenvironmental. An influx of immigrants could surely change disrupt thestabilization of a nation’s economy.
It can be argued that a person should geta job based on their skill set, but allowing open borders means creating anavoidable conflict in the job market. With a population size that large, thereis bound to be competition for even the most menial jobs. Eventually it wouldget to the point where there would not be enough job positions to go around andoverall, it should not be considered fair for native workers to face anincreased competition for their careers. From an environmental view, a countrywill probably run out of resources at some point to fairly accommodate everyoneliving there. Going back to Huemer’s claim that we overestimate the number ofpeople who want to enter the country: where is the guarantee that a nation willnot eventually reach its carrying capacity? This is a big moral considerationbecause if resources are low, how is it determined who gets what? It would bedifficult to divide up government money services for all.
More importantly, thereis only so much physical land to accommodate a certain amount of people in onearea. With an increase in job competition and limited resources, this moralconsideration certainly outweighs the want to immigrate.Establishing security in a nation isimportant to prevent running the risk of foreign terrorism like 9/11 or thespread of diseases we thought were once eradicated. Miller refers to theanalogy of a private club restricting membership the same way a nation doesimmigration.
This would surely upset some people. Also, there are sure to be atleast some immigrants that are a threat to a nation’s safety. If everyindividual is extended the prima facie right,then how do we prevent foreign terrorism from happening? It can be argued thatdomestic terrorism is as unavoidable as foreign terrorism, but to that I mustsay that foreign terrorism can be avoided if we prevent them from entering thecountry in the first place. We cannot screen immigrants for their politicalviews or future plans.
Therefore, restriction laws are set in place so that thesafety of a nation’s citizens is not compromised. This view should not beconsidered far right because every person should enjoy equal status, but it isimportant to abide by the laws established. In terms of disease, there could bea threat to a nation’ public health with immigrants. This can be analogous tofalling ill on a college campus. With a high population in one area, it is verylikely that someone in the vicinity will fall ill. In the same way, if we allowthousands of new people from foreign areas in, it could bring about diseasesthat scientists are not familiar with or ones we thought were dormant oreradicated. Since there is no such thing as scanning a person for illnessbefore they enter a country, we could have a major epidemic on our hands likethat of Ebola in West Africa.
Overall, security of a nation’s citizens refutesthe idea that immigration should not be restricted because it makes existingcitizens feel unsafe in their own homeland. Overall, Huemer makes the claim that nomoral considerations justify restricting immigration and violating one’s prima facie rights. As