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The Immigration Issue From Justice Theory Perspective

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  1. Introduction of current statutes of the immigration issue in Europe
  2. Different perspectives of justice on the immigration problem
  3. Conclusion with personal review and opinion on the immigration issue

The immigration issue is a recent issue that brings complicated situations to European countries. Although the EU and European countries are committed to improving European the immigration issue, the future situation is still not clear and guided. With both economic immigration and the arriving asylum immigrants, different European countries face their various problems and are seeking for their solutions. For example, since the Italian new government took office in June of 2018, it has continued to tighten the refugee policy, ordering major ports to refuse to dock refugees, and the attitude toward refugees has become increasingly tough. In the meanwhile, German Chancellor Merkel, who used to advocate open the immigration policy, recently has proposed to set up “reception centers” instead of accepting large quantities of refugees to Germany. The rest of European countries The solution to the problem of European immigration is urgently needed by countries to strengthen cooperation in political, economic, diplomatic, and security aspects, and to provide various types of assistance to countries of origin. On the immigration issue, different justice theories hold different arguments, which will help us better understand practice this issue from various angles.

As for utilitarianism, a normative ethical theory that places the correct and wrong trajectory on the outcome of selecting an action or policy rather than other choices. On the issue of immigration, utilitarian commitment on maximizing the benefits of the whole society. For instance, if immigration will make more competitive for the local labor market, which threatens local citizens’ opportunities for work. In the meanwhile, if the immigration can bring cheaper force and efficient profits for the companies, it is economically convenient for both immigrants and the local company that hired the foreign force. From the utilitarian angle, we should also take into consideration of the benefits of immigrants and the impact on the country’s people, it is necessary to chase for maximization of the whole economy benefits in all sectors, which in utilitarian’s point of view, might be the best policy. Although the ultimate answer to utilitarian’s restrictions or non-the immigration is a restrictionpractical question, we should consider also that millions of poor people can earn huge incomes to immigrate to rich countries, it’s difficult to believe that utilitarians take into consideration of the benefits of immigrants would make limits on immigrants justified.

In addition, from the perspective of libertarianism and cosmopolitanism, they both advocate opening the borders for immigration but holding different arguments. A libertarian might say: “it’s our country and we can admit or exclude whomever we want,” The government should not interfere if an immigrant seeks to engage in peaceful, voluntary transactions that do not threaten the freedom or security of the native-born. A good representative of libertarianism is Nozick. According to Nozick: the state has no right to do anything other than enforce the rights which individuals already enjoy in the state of nature. In meanwhile cosmopolitans by emphasizing transnational bonds, they affirm the equality of human beings and the universality of human dignity. Like Peter Singer, he argues the “global village”. A cosmopolitan might allow that the immigration restriction remains a practical necessity for now, but he thinks our long-term aim should be to eliminate borders and allow for the free migration of all people. For the cosmopolitan, they regard the human community as a whole, with which they hold their moral standing. In a word, both cosmopolitanism and libertarianism are in favor of opening the border for the immigrants, but from different standpoints.

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Nevertheless, the communitarian sees nation and states as crucial, as for them the solitary for the state is important. The communitarian identifies an obligation to guarantee our own societies as stable and well-governed. That means political communities must regulate their borders. Michael Walzer in his book Sphere of Justice, chapter Membership, demonstrated his theory of justice: “States are simply free to take a stranger in (or not)”. For Michael Walzer, exclusion is justified by the right of communities of self-determination. However, he is contradictory when he says constrained by the principle of justice, as in his opinion citizenship should be given to those aliens and should guarantee them the rights and benefits as local citizen. For communitarianism, solidarity is paramount. Immigrants will always have different economic impacts on citizens of a country. People who own factories often benefit from immigration because it increases labor supply and lowers wages. However, this is not conducive to those who cannot find a job because of immigration. In the eyes of communitarianism, this will affect the solidarity and stability of society. To draw a conclusion, the communitarian would imitates on their borders for foreigners, as in their point of view, the solidarity of community is crucial.

From the author’s point of view, there are two aspects that we have to consider for the immigration issue. Firstly, like the economist, Paul Collier said, “moderate the immigration is liable to confer overall social benefits, whereas sustained rapid the immigration would risk substantial costs.” As recent years, numerous refugees arrived on the Europe land, especially for Italy, as the first landing countries for most refugees, receive the liability from the refugees. In the megacities like Rome, Milan, refugee camps are settled. With no job and losing families, refugees are weak group, along with several criminal commitments, there’s the possibility to threaten safety. This can be regard of the social costs. In the meanwhile, immigrants work in European countries make local labor market more competitive, which will make local citizens hard for finding a job opportunities. Hence, the immigration speed should be controlled, in order to give more react time for the host countries, which can guarantee a stable social environment for their foreign guest workers, as well for the local people, who are supposed to realize the tendency of globalization is not evitable and take their own reactions to this challenge and improve their professional skills. Secondly, Specific analysis of specific issues, the immigration issues are not just a challenge for European countries. It is an inevitable international wave throughout Europe and the entire international community. For example, this requires each country to tailor its immigration policies to suit their own political and social conditions. For example, countries with stable social-economic stability can accept more immigrants with open policy, to face the globalization challenges flexibly. While countries with high economic and social pressures should start from booming their own economies and expand more employment opportunities for local citizens, some migrants only leave their mother country only because of economic reason. From the perspective of immigrants themselves, this is their own freedom to choose their own future path, but also based on rational choices, which needs to consider the social and political situation of the country to be immigrated to. Immigration is the inevitable tendency, hence it needs all levels of cooperation and participation, not only the countries and global society but also for the individuals themselves.

It has been three years since the humanitarian crisis in Europe, and the tide of immigrant refugees has always touched the nerves of the world. When the problems come one after another, the concepts and principles of freedom and equality are doubtful. This challenge to the social order, everyone is groping for progress, requires sufficient political wisdom to resolve, or cannot really solve. The people, and even many believers, were panicked and even rejected outsiders, but others showed love and tolerance. Helping immigrant refugees is a universal value that transcends race, religious disputes and political differences. The kindness and “tolerance” based on human nature is the first step in listening to the suffering of others and reaching out to help.


  1. Mark R. Amtsutz (2015, December). Two Theories of The immigration, First Things immigration
  2. Tim L. (2018, July). Europe’s Migration Policies Are Not So Different From Trump’s, CNN
  3. Michael Walzer, (1983) Spheres of Justice

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