Immigration | laws and ethics

Laws and ethics

UNHCR tents at a refugee camp following episodes of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, 2008
Entry stamp
Exit stamp
Entry (top) and Exit (bottom) passport stamps issued to a citizen of Germany by Indian immigration authorities at New Delhi airport.

Treatment of migrants in host countries, both by governments, employers, and original population, is a topic of continual debate and criticism, and the violation of migrant human rights is an ongoing crisis.[54] The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, has been ratified by 48 states, most of which are heavy exporters of cheap labor. Major migrant-receiving countries and regions – including Western Europe, North America, Pacific Asia, Australia, and the Gulf States – have not ratified the Convention, even though they are host to the majority of international migrant workers.[55][56] Although freedom of movement is often recognized as a civil right in many documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the freedom only applies to movement within national borders and the ability to return to one's home state.[57][58]

Some proponents of immigration argue that the freedom of movement both within and between countries is a basic human right, and that the restrictive immigration policies, typical of nation-states, violate this human right of freedom of movement.[59] Such arguments are common among ideologies like anarchism and libertarianism.[60] As philosopher and Open borders activist Jacob Appel has written, "Treating human beings differently, simply because they were born on the opposite side of a national boundary, is hard to justify under any mainstream philosophical, religious or ethical theory."[61]

Where immigration is permitted, it is typically selective. As of 2003, family reunification accounted for approximately two-thirds of legal immigration to the US every year.[62] Ethnic selection, such as the White Australia policy, has generally disappeared, but priority is usually given to the educated, skilled, and wealthy. Less privileged individuals, including the mass of poor people in low-income countries, cannot avail themselves of the legal and protected immigration opportunities offered by wealthy states. This inequality has also been criticized as conflicting with the principle of equal opportunities. The fact that the door is closed for the unskilled, while at the same time many developed countries have a huge demand for unskilled labor, is a major factor in illegal immigration. The contradictory nature of this policy—which specifically disadvantages the unskilled immigrants while exploiting their labor—has also been criticized on ethical grounds.[citation needed]

Immigration policies which selectively grant freedom of movement to targeted individuals are intended to produce a net economic gain for the host country. They can also mean net loss for a poor donor country through the loss of the educated minority—a "brain drain". This can exacerbate the global inequality in standards of living that provided the motivation for the individual to migrate in the first place. One example of competition for skilled labour is active recruitment of health workers from developing countries by developed countries.[63][64] There may however also be a "brain gain" to emigration, as migration opportunities lead to greater investments in education in developing countries.[65][66][67][68] Overall, research suggests that migration is beneficial both to the receiving and sending countries.[4]