Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-jbqgn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-24T19:08:56.304Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The case for the international governance of immigration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2015

Javier Hidalgo*
Jepson School of Leadership Studies, Richmond, VA, USA


States have rights to unilaterally determine their own immigration policies under international law and few international institutions regulate states’ decision-making about immigration. As a result, states have extensive discretion over immigration policy. In this paper, I argue that states should join international migration institutions that would constrain their discretion over immigration. Immigration restrictions are morally risky. When states restrict immigration, they risk unjustly harming foreigners and restricting their freedom. Furthermore, biases and epistemic defects pervasively influence states’ decision-making about immigration policy. States should transfer some of their decision-making authority over immigration to more reliable institutions in order to mitigate the risks that they will unjustly restrict immigration. International institutions that include the interests of potential immigrants would be more reliable with respect to immigration policy than unilateral state decision-making. Thus, states should subject their immigration policies to international control.

Original Papers
© Cambridge University Press 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Abizadeh, Arash. 2008. “Democratic Theory and Border Coercion.” Political Theory 36(1):3765.Google Scholar
Adams, Richard, and Page, John. 2005. “Do International Migration and Remittances Reduce Poverty in Developing Countries?World Development 33(10):16451669.Google Scholar
Allee, Todd, and Huth, Paul. 2006. “Legitimizing Dispute Settlement: International Legal Rulings as Domestic Political Cover.” American Political Science Review 100(2):219234.Google Scholar
Alter, Karen. 2014. The New Terrain of International Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Anderson, Elizabeth. 2006. “The Epistemology of Democracy.” Episteme 3(1):822.Google Scholar
Arcarazo, Diego, and Geddes, Andrew. 2014. “The Transfusion of Different Models? Regional Approaches to Migration Governance in the European Union and Mercosur.” European Journal of Migration and Law 16:1944.Google Scholar
Betts, Alexander. 2011. “Introduction: Global Migration Governance.” In Global Migration Governance, edited by Alexander Betts, 133. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Bhagwati, Jagdish. 2003. “Borders Beyond Control.” Foreign Affairs 82(1):98104.Google Scholar
Blake, Michael. 2013. “Immigration, Jurisdiction, and Exclusion.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 41(2):103130.Google Scholar
Buchanan, Allan, and Powell, Russell. 2008. “Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of International Law: Are They Compatible?Journal of Political Philosophy 16(3):326349.Google Scholar
Cabrera, Luis. 2010. The Practice of Global Citizenship. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Caplan, Bryan. 2007. The Myth of the Rational Voter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Carens, Joseph. 2013. The Ethics of Immigration. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Carrera, Sergio. 2005. “What Does Free Movement Mean in Theory and Practice in an Enlarged EU?European Law Journal 11(6):699721.Google Scholar
Clark, Tom. 2010. The Limits of Judicial Independence. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Clemens, Michael. 2010. “To Help Haiti’s Earthquake Victims, Change U.S. Immigration Laws.” Washington Post, January 24, B2. Scholar
Clemens, Michael 2011. “Economics and Emigration.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 25(3):83106.Google Scholar
Clemens, Michael, Montenegro, Claudio, and Pritchett, Lant. 2008. “The Place Premium: Wage Differences for Identical Workers Across the U.S. Border.” Center for Global Development, Washington, DC, Working Paper No. 148.Google Scholar
Clemens, Michael, and Pritchett, Lant. 2008. “Income Per Natural.” Population and Development Review 34(3):395434.Google Scholar
Davis, Christina. 2012. Why Adjudicate? Enforcing Trade Rules in the WTO. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Dothan, Shai. 2011. “Judicial Tactics in the European Court of Human Rights.” Chicago Journal of International Law 12(1):116142.Google Scholar
Drezner, Daniel. 2007. All Politics is Local: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Dustmann, Christian, and Preston, Ian. 2007. “The Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration.” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 7(1):141.Google Scholar
Dustmann, Christian, Frattini, Tomasso, and Halls, Caroline. 2010. “Assessing the Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK.” Fiscal Studies 31(1):141.Google Scholar
Epistein, Lee, and Knight, Jack. 1998. The Choices Justices Make. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc.Google Scholar
Facchini, Giovanni, and Mayda, Anna. 2008. “From Individual Attitudes Toward Migrants to Migration Policy Outcomes: Theory and Evidence.” Economic Policy 23(56):651713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Facchini, Giovanni, Mayda, Anna, and Mishra, Prachi. 2011. “Do Interest Groups Affect US Immigration Policy?Journal of International Economics 85(1):114128.Google Scholar
Fitzgerald, Jennifer, Curtis, Amber, and Corlis, Catherine. 2011. “Anxious Publics: Worries About Crime and Immigration.” Comparative Political Studies 45(4):130.Google Scholar
Freeman, Gary, Hansen, Randall, and Leal, David. 2013. “Introduction: Immigration and Public Opinion.” In Immigration and Public Opinion in Liberal Democracies, edited by Gary Freeman, Randall Hansen, and David Leal, 120. New York: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
Friedberg, Rachel. 2001. “The Impact of Mass Migration on the Israeli Labor Market.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 116(4):13731408.Google Scholar
Fromentin, Vincent. 2013. “The Relationship Between Immigration and Unemployment: The Case of France.” Economic Policy & Analysis 43(1):5166.Google Scholar
Goldstein, Judith. 2012. “Trade Liberalization and Domestic Politics.” In The Oxford Handbook of the World Trade Organization, edited by Amrita Narlikar, Martin Daunton, and Robert Stern, 6482. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Goldstein, Judith, Rivers, Douglas, and Tomz, Michael. 2007. “Institutions in International Relations.” International Organization 61:3767.Google Scholar
Goodin, Robert. 2007. “Enfranchising all Affected Interests, and its Alternatives.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 35(1):4068.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goodin, Robert 2010. “Global Democracy: In the Beginning.” International Theory 2(2):175209.Google Scholar
Hainmueller, Jen, and Hangartner, Dominik. 2013. “Who Gets a Swiss Passport? A Natural Experiment in Immigrant Discrimination.” American Political Science Review 107(1):159187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hartman, Todd, Newman, Benjamin, and Bell, Scott. 2014. “Decoding Prejudice Toward Hispanics: Group Cues and Public Reactions to Threatening Immigrant Behavior.” Political Behavior 36(1):143163.Google Scholar
Harvey, Anna, and Friedman, Barry. 2006. “Pulling Punches: Congressional Constraints on the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Rulings, 1987–2000.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 31(4):533561.Google Scholar
Hatton, Timothy. 2006. “Should There be a WTO for International Migration?Economic Policy 22(50):341383.Google Scholar
Hidalgo, Javier. 2013. “Associative Duties and Immigration.” Journal of Moral Philosophy 10(3):697722.Google Scholar
Hidalgo, Javier 2014. “Freedom, Immigration, and Adequate Options.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17(2):212234.Google Scholar
Huemer, Michael. 2010. “Is There a Right to Immigrate?Social Theory and Practice 36(3):429461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huemer, Michael 2013. “A Probabilistic Proof of Moral Realism.” Social Philosophy & Policy 30(1–2):259279.Google Scholar
Huth, Paul, Croco, Sarah, and Appel, Benjamin. 2011. “Does International Law Promote the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes? Evidence from the Study of Territorial Conflicts Since 1945.” American Political Science Review 105(2):415436.Google Scholar
Ipsos. 2011. “Global Views on Immigration.” Accessed May 15. Scholar
Keohane, Robert, Macedo, Stephen, and Moravcsik, Andrew. 2009. “Democracy-Enhancing Multilateralism.” International Organization 63:131.Google Scholar
Kinder, Donald, and Kam, Cindy. 2009. Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Landemore, Helene. 2012. Democratic Reason. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Macedo, Stephen. 2007. “The Moral Dilemma of U.S. Immigration Policy: Open Borders Versus Social Justice?.” In Debating Immigration, edited by Carol M. Swain, 6381. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martin, David. 1989. “Effects of International Law on Migration Policy and Practice.” International Migration Review 23(3):547578.Google Scholar
Mayda, Anna, and Rodrik, Dani. 2005. “Why are Some People (and Countries) More Protectionist Than Others?European Economic Review 49:13931430.Google Scholar
Mayerfield, Jamie. 2012. “No Peace Without Justice: Hobbes and Locke on the Ethics of Peacemaking.” International Theory 4(2):269299.Google Scholar
Mill, John Stuart. 1998. On Liberty and Other Essays, edited by John Gray. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Miller, David. 2005. “Immigration: The Case for Limits.” In Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, edited by Andrew Cohen, and Christopher Wellman, 193206. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Miller, David 2007. National Responsibility and Global Justice. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Miller, David 2010. “Why Immigration Controls are Not Coercive: A Reply to Arash Abizadeh.” Political Theory 38(1):111120.Google Scholar
Miller, Stephen. 2009. “Economic Bias and Ideology.” Journal of Private Enterprise 25(1):3149.Google Scholar
Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. 2013. International Migration Outlook 2013. Paris, France: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
Opeskin, Brian. 2012. “Managing International Migration in Australia: Human Rights and the ‘Last Major Redoubt of Unfettered National Sovereignty’.” International Migration Review 46(3):551585.Google Scholar
Peri, Giovanni. 2014. “Do Immigrant Workers Depress the Wages of Native Workers?IZA World of Labor 42:110.Google Scholar
Peri, Giovanni, and Sparber, Chad. 2009. “Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 1(3):135169.Google Scholar
Pevnick, Ryan. 2011. Immigration and the Constraints of Justice. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Pogge, Thomas. 2006. World Poverty and Human Rights. Malden, MA: Polity Press.Google Scholar
Posner, Eric, and Figueiredo, Miguel. 2005. “Is the International Court of Justice Biased?Journal of Legal Studies 34:599630.Google Scholar
Pratto, Felicia, and Glasford, Demis. 2008. “Ethnocentrism and the Value of Human Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 95(6):14111428.Google Scholar
Rodin, David. 2004. “Terrorism Without Intention.” Ethics 114(4):752771.Google Scholar
Rodrik, Dani. 2015. “Is the Nation-State the Enemy of Global Equality?” Presented at the 8th International Conference on Migration and Development. Accessed November 8. Scholar
Rosen, Gideon. 2004. “Skepticism About Moral Responsibility.” Philosophical Perspectives 18:295313.Google Scholar
Rowthorn, Robert. 2008. “The Fiscal Costs of Immigration on the Advanced Economies.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 24(3):560580.Google Scholar
Simmon, Beth, and Danner, Allison. 2010. “Credible Commitments and the International Criminal Court.” International Organization 64:225256.Google Scholar
Sniderman, Paul, Peri, Pierangelo, De Figueriredo, Rui, and Piazza, Thomas. 2002. The Outsider: Prejudice and Politics in Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
UNICEF and World Health Organization. 2014. Progress On Drinking and Sanitation. Geneva: The WHO Press.Google Scholar
Voeten, Erick. 2008. “The Impartiality of International Judges: Evidence from the European Court of Human Rights.” American Political Science Review 102(4):417433.Google Scholar
Walzer, Michael. 1983. Spheres of Justice. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Waters, Mary, and Simes, Jessica. 2013. “The Politics of Immigration and Crime.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ethnicity, Crime, and Immigration, edited by Sandra Bucerius, and Michael Tonry, 457483. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Wellman, Christopher, and Cole, Phillip. 2011. Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude?. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2014. Investing in People to Fight Poverty in Haiti. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar