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date: 20 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the persistence of national sovereignty as the organizing principle in migration. All modern states are defined by territories and rules defining membership. And as long as people migrate (and seek permanent residence abroad), every modern state confronts questions about when and how to extend membership to newcomers and how to exclude those denied legal access. The article approaches this question from the perspectives of freedom of movement and distributive social justice. First, do states have a moral right to restrict free movement, or does the individual's right to free movement supersede state interests in controlling borders? The answer depends on whether the individual's right to travel is intrinsic, or merely instrumental, in which case states may prioritize openness based on the secondary value would-be travelers derive from free access, for example, by admitting those with a well-founded fear of persecution. Second, from a distributive justice perspective, the right of states to exclude noncitizens depends on the normative theory of global distribution and on the likely redistributive effects of an open migration regime. The article concludes by drawing an important distinction between immigration policies and rules governing democratic membership. It makes the case that long-term stakeholders accrue greater rights to membership over time, an argument with resonance across most of the developed world as countries grapple with large and, in most cases growing, populations of unauthorized immigrants.

Keywords: states, immigration policy, freedom of movement, citizenship, national sovereignty

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