11/09/2018 Tocqueville Lecture Series - Chandran Kukathas: “Immigration and Freedom”
Immigration is frequently identified as a danger to western liberal democracies because it threatens to undermine fundamental values, most notably freedom and self-determination. Yet the greater danger is not immigration but immigration control. In reality, immigration control is not merely about controlling outsiders moving across borders. Immigration control is about controlling what outsiders do within a society. It is about controlling their freedom to work, reside, study, set up businesses, or participate in the life of domestic society. Controlling outsiders—immigrants or would-be immigrants—necessarily requires regulating, monitoring, and sanctioning insiders—citizens and residents—who would otherwise hire, house, enroll, trade with, or generally associate with outsiders. The more seriously immigration control is pursued, the more closely do citizens and residents come to be controlled and the more is freedom diminished. The search for compliance threatens freedom directly, but also weakens the values upon which it relies, notably equality and the rule of law. The alleged gains from efforts of control are illusory since they bring neither economic benefit nor social solidarity. Nor does immigration control mean self-determination since the apparatus of control is an international institutional regime that increases the power of states and their agencies at the expense of citizens. That power includes the power to determine who is and is not an insider—to define identity itself.