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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Immigration Ethics

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics explores ethical issues in immigration.

What Is Immigration Ethics?

by Jonathan Kwan, Inclusive Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow in Immigration Ethics with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Immigration ethics refers broadly to the normative issues that arise from the movement of individuals across borders. One of the central questions in immigration ethics concerns whether states should restrict immigration or open their borders and what should be the values on the basis of which this determination is made. Although much of the public discourse on immigration is framed in binary terms (one is either for or against immigration), immigration ethics encompasses many issues beyond, though also including, the question of whether states should limit immigrant admissions. For instance, once immigrants have entered a state, what rights and privileges should they have? Should unauthorized immigrations have access to a path to citizenship?

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One Column

Ethically speaking, immigrants who have credible fears of persecution or torture should have a right to a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge and should not be indefinitely detained.

Navigating the controversial debates in immigration ethics through the three lenses: nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and democracy.

Immigration protest signs saying

The labels we use to refer to different classes of individuals are not merely neutral descriptors but often implicitly come with various associations or value judgments, which can, in turn, frame and influence political debates.

    Two Column

    Ethics Spotlight: The Ethics of Immigration

    A collection of articles addressing key ethical immigration dilemmas.

    Consider Perspectives

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    Immigration Articles

    Articles on the ethical issues in immigration such as citizenship, migration, borders, ICE, and other related topics.


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    Case Studies

    Case studies pertaining to immigration ethics issues.