Political Theory

Immigration Control as Self-Defense

Mollie Gerver University of Essex


This article defends the claim that citizens are justified in supporting immigration restrictions which are necessary to protect access to resources which (a) they have a claim right to and which (b) they and not migrants require to sustain their lives. Moreover, citizens are justified in supporting such restrictions even when it means blocking migrants’ access to life-sustaining resources so long as (a) migrants lack a claim right to these resources and (b) the number of migrants seeking entrance is below a given threshold. Though citizens act permissibly in supporting restrictions in such cases, and act permissibly in voting for policymakers supporting such restrictions, policymakers themselves often act impermissibly in implementing such restrictions. This is because the actions which citizens are justified in pursuing to defend their own lives are distinct from the actions which policymakers are justified in pursuing to defend the lives of citizens.


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