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A Liberal Theory of International Justice$
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Andrew Altman and Christopher Heath Wellman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564415

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564415.001.0001

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Immigration and Membership 1

Immigration and Membership 1

(p.158) 7 Immigration and Membership1
A Liberal Theory of International Justice

Andrew Altman (Contributor Webpage)

Christopher Heath Wellman

Oxford University Press

Appealing to the moral value of freedom of association, this chapter defends a state's right to control immigration over its territorial borders. Just as an individual has a right to determine whom (if anyone) he or she would like to marry, a group of fellow‐citizens has a right to determine whom (if anyone) it would like to invite into its political community; and just as an individual's freedom of association entitles one to remain single, a state's freedom of association entitles it to exclude all foreigners from its political community. This chapter does not deny either the egalitarian claim that those of us in wealthy societies have stringent duties of global distributive justice or the libertarian contention that individuals have rights both to freedom of movement and to control their private property. Yet, the chapter concludes that every legitimate state has the right to close its doors to all potential immigrants, even to refugees seeking asylum from incompetent or corrupt political regimes that are either unable or unwilling to protect their citizens' basic moral rights. This is not to say that legitimate states have no duties whatsoever to such refugees. States do have a duty to aid them, but it is a duty that can be discharged in a number of different ways.

Keywords:   immigration, refugees, freedom of association, moral value, corruption

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