Latino/a Immigration: A Refutation of the Social Trust Argument

In Harald Bauder & Christian Matheis (eds.), Migration Policy and Practice: Interventions and Solutions. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 37-57 (2015)
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The social trust argument asserts that a political community cannot survive without social trust, and that social trust cannot be achieved or maintained without a political community having discretionary control over immigration. Various objections have already been raised against this argument, but because those objections all assume various liberal commitments they leave the heart of the social trust argument untouched. This chapter argues that by looking at the socio-historical circumstances of Latino/as in the United States, an inherent weakness of the social trust argument gets exposed. Giving a political community discretionary control over immigration not only fails to deliver on the promise of social trust, but it actually seems to promote its opposite, social mistrust. This suggests that a far better way of promoting the goal of social trust, and at the same time abating social mistrust, is to actually circumvent a political community’s ability to control immigration by giving priority both to socio-historical circumstances and immigrant rights (at least in a minimalist sense) in determining immigration policy.

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José Jorge Mendoza
University of Washington


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