Migrants’ Rights Network: Progressive thinktank sets out reasons why immigration is needed to create “the Good Society”

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Migrants’ Rights Network

Compass, a thinktank that describes itself as “building a Good Society; one that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic than the society we are living in now” has published a ‘thinkpiece’ which sets out arguments why a positive attitude to immigration has to be a part of this process.

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Written by Katherine Tonkiss, the author of Migration and Identity in a Post-National World, sets out an argument that asks how we can “conceive of a fair and more just migration policy which is more in tune with a world in which ‘people just move’ than with anti-immigration sentiment and xenophobia, specifically by considering what a Good Society….  means for immigration control.”

Tonkiss looks at the core ideas which are commonly believed to underpin the notion of a Good Society – equality, democracy and sustainability – and considers what they imply for immigration in a world in which immigration is a normal, everyday event.

She argues that a Good Society would require policies which worked to “equal out as many life chances as possible, tackling inequalities based on a range of criteria like wealth, opportunity, gender, sexual orientation, class, race/ ethnicity, age and disability.”  From this standpoint it a matter of injustice that  the prevailing forms of immigration management require that people are treated differently based on their place of birth – a characteristic completely beyond their control. She points out how on the basis of this fact, “They are prevented from moving from one place to another, across a national border, because of their place of birth – an arbitrary characteristic which undermines the recognition of individual moral equality.”

Addressing this injustice means, she argues, that we have to recognise a basic right to migration.

It is not beyond comprehension to imagine a migration policy based on a core right to migrate. We already recognise movement as a human right in the international right to asylum (notwithstanding attempts to undermine the basic dignity and humanity of those claiming asylum through detention, a subject beyond the scope of this paper). […] We also recognise emigration as a basic migratory right (other than in totalitarian regimes), once again owed to each person simply because they are human and not defined by their place of birth, meaning that the right to exit a territory is thought of as a basic freedom that all human beings should have. My relatively simple argument here is that, in a Good Society, we should use these same kinds of principles to underpin far more liberal immigration policies which do not perpetuate inequalities based on place of birth and which can support a more expansive approach to achieving social justice.

Read the full piece (pdf).

Read original posting here.

This piece was reprinted by Migrant Tales with permission.

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