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Immigration and democracy



This panel aims to bring together theorists and philosophers working on immigration and democracy. In international politics, issues like the zero-tolerance policies at the border, family separation, refugees, and the integration of immigrants dominate the news headlines in recent years. Along with rational deliberations on the topic, we also observe the rise of anti-immigrant sentiments across many democracies in the West, leading to the electoral successes of some right-wing political parties and politicians. As immigration issues are likely to persist in the near future, more academic discussions on the topic hopefully help steer public discourse towards a more rational direction.

One’s understanding of democracy and democratic values affects one’s position on immigration issues, including the right to border control and the selection criteria of immigrants. Democratic defense and states’ right to self-determination are common philosophical justifications of the right to exclude in democratic states. Associations among citizens, which are often strong in deliberative democracies with a robust civil society, may create associative obligations among citizens to justify them prioritizing their interests over immigrants. However, it is unclear whether states actually have a right to self-determination, whether citizens actually have associative obligations towards one another, and whether these are sufficient to justify a right to close borders. The proper scope of democratic justification is also questionable, particularly, whether democratic justification is owed to both citizens and potential immigrants.

Theoretical reflections on the impact of immigration on democracy, and the scope of rights new immigrants should enjoy, are also lacking. Does immigration on an increased scale and rate have any implications on democracy theories? Does immigration promote or undermine democracy? What political and social rights should immigrants enjoy after they arrive? Should immigrants enjoy the same set of rights, including the right to vote and run in elections, as citizens?

We welcome submissions on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Do immigration policies require democratic justification?
  • Do citizens have an associative obligation to their fellow citizens?
  • If yes, can this justify a closed border policy?
  • Does the state have a right or duty to promote the welfare of its citizens by adopting a closed border policy?
  • How does immigration affect national solidarity?
  • What is the impact of migration flows on liberal democratic countries and democratic values?
  • Is political attitude a legitimate selection criterion of immigrants?
  • Should we impose conditions other than the length of residence before allowing immigrants to acquire citizenship in their host states?
  • If yes, what are the conditions?
  • What rights should immigrants have in the host states? Should multiple citizenships be allowed?

Abstracts should be around 500 words and sent to by 31 May 2019 for blind review. Results will be announced by 8 June 2019. Note that graduate students and retirees who have been accepted may apply directly to the organisers for a bursary on or before 14 June 2019.