The Duty to Disobey Immigration Law

Moral Philosophy and Politics 3 (2) (2016)
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Abstract

Many political theorists argue that immigration restrictions are unjust and defend broadly open borders. In this paper, I examine the implications of this view for individual conduct. In particular, I argue that the citizens of states that enforce unjust immigration restrictions have duties to disobey certain immigration laws. States conscript their citizens to help enforce immigration law by imposing legal duties on these citizens to monitor, report, and refrain from interacting with unauthorized migrants. If an ideal of open borders is true, these laws are unjust. Furthermore, if citizens comply with their legal duties, they contribute to violating the rights of migrants. We are obligated to refrain from contributing to rights-violations. So, citizens are obligated to disobey immigration laws. I defend the moral requirement to disobey immigration laws against the objection that disobedience to the law is excessively risky and the objection that citizens have political obligations to obey the law.

Author's Profile

Javier Hidalgo
University of Richmond

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