Migration and Democracy: A Response to Song on the State’s Right to Border Control
Colin Patrick

April 19, 2024, 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Philosophy Department, Lewis & Clark College

John R. Howard Hall 202
615 S Palatine Hill Rd
Portland 97219
United States


April 19th, 2024 3:30 - 5:00p PST

In a recent paper, “Why Does the State Have the Right to Control Immigration?”, Sarah Song provides a defense of the right of liberal democratic states to control movement, especially in-bound movement, of people across their borders. Against arguments for border control that are based a) in the need to preserve cultural/national identity, b) on an analogy to the freedom of association inherent to personal relationships, and c) on an analogy to the right of exclusion inherent to property rights—all three of which she rightly finds insufficient in justifying the state’s power over its points of entry—Song presents a defense of border control centered in the “democratic self-determination of a people.” I contend that Song likewise falls short of justifying this particular state power, chiefly because such justification would require an account of how this power is to be “weighed against the migrant’s claim to enter”—a claim that lies, by definition, outside the scope of her conception of democratic self-determination, and which Song therefore sees, incorrectly I argue, as outside the scope of her argument.

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