Immigrants Essay

Furthermore, definition of the category constituting “the others” has been expanded by the conflation of the notions of legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, foreigners, foreign-born nationals, asylees and refugees.

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From the standpoint of time, then, it follows that calls to “build the wall” should also be heard as temporal desires expressed in spatial terms.

On the left, pro-immigration advocates frequently, and uncritically, valorize the indispensability of immigrant labor.

From their perspective, immigrants pose a socioeconomic and an ethno-cultural threat to Western societies.

They are perceived as stealing native workers’ jobs, reducing their wages, and vastly consuming social benefits.

Such right-wing rallying cries articulate a broader desire for protection against a future of empowered minority groups who are simultaneously perceived as advancing too fast and whose respective differences are stigmatized as being backward, less evolved or behind the times.

The problem is only accelerated by queue-jumping foreigners who refuse to either wait their turn for citizenship or accept indefinite banishment—the latter being the stated preference among those who frequently invoke the epidemiological rhetoric of an “infestation” or military invasion.Such a belief is used to legitimize “extraordinary measures” such as the reestablishment of border controls within the Schengen area in the aftermath of the 2015 refugee crisis; the erection of fences in Central and Eastern Europe; the violation of the Dublin regulation in Europe and of the Geneva Convention elsewhere; and the stationing of military troops at the US-Mexican border.Consistent with those scholars “bringing the state back in,” I argue that immigration policy remains one of the few bastions of state sovereignty.The second reason that I suggest these debates are sterile relates to the tendency to use simplistic dichotomies in discussing the issues raised by immigration—such as bad or good immigrants, closed or open borders, pull or push factors, and nationalistic realism (justified by the ethics of responsibility to protect the nation) in contrast to idealist cosmopolitanism (based on the ethics of conviction and the need to protect human rights).Such a binary approach ignores the “grey zones” that characterize many aspects of the decision-making process in the fields of border controls, socio-economic policies, and integration policies.Yet, how should people born in their country of residence be defined when they do not have access to citizenship?Or how should nationals who are perceived as immigrants on the basis on their foreign origin be defined when they are citizens?This large scale terminological confusion and statistical uncertainty fuels, and is fueled by, the politicization of debates over immigration issues.It allows restrictionists to claim that Western societies are “invaded” by immigrants, which in turn leads public opinion (and often media coverage) to overestimate the size of migrant communities—and by extension the level of threat they allegedly pose in their country of residence.The ethics of responsibility requires prioritizing the interests of the state and its citizens; yet, it does not require the infringement of the human rights and civil liberties of “others”—notably in the current context of a “permanent state of emergency” in which native citizens are also targeted by discriminatory security measures. Instead of asking whether immigration is good or bad for democracy, I thus advocate analyzing what kind of immigration policies are democratic and which are not.Conversely, proponents of the ethic of conviction tend to underestimate the issues raised by the minority integration process, taking for granted the idea that “diversity” will produce more tolerance. Addressing this question requires defining the contours and substance of a democratic governance of immigration.


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