The rights and duties of immigrants in liberal societies

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History and Philosophy

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Philosophy Compass


What legal rights and duties immigrants should have is among the most ferociously debated topics in the politics of liberal societies today. However, as this article will show, there is remarkably little disagreement of great magnitude among political theorists and philosophers of immigration on the rights and duties of resident immigrants (even in contrast to the closely related philosophical discussion of justice in immigrant admissions). Specifically, this article will survey philosophical positions both on what legal rights immigrants (documented permanent residents, guest workers, and undocumented immigrants) ought to have (including to citizenship and against deportation) and on what liberal societies may justly do to require immigrants to integrate. This article will reveal that there is a substantial, growing gap between contemporary politics worldwide and what the moral norms of liberalism seem to entail concerning the rights and duties of immigrants.

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