Here’s a very short piece I published almost exactly three years ago, and with the anti-immigrant rhetoric of a certain presidential nominee, I worry more than ever about the fate of those fleeing danger, severe want, and persecution. So many people in dire circumstances do not have the time or the money to wait around until they can emigrate legally. So it’s a matter of stay, suffer, and perhaps die, or go. The Smithsonian featured another article after I had originally posted this piece, about the U.S.’ history of hardline policies against refugees in the interest of national security: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/us-government-turned-away-thousands-jewish-refugees-fearing-they-were-nazi-spies-180957324/. But the larger question is this: if we are committed to protecting human rights in general, are we ever justified in preventing people from picking up and moving anywhere they wish to seek a happier and safer life? Last year, I shared an excellent podcast episode by Freakonomics which explored that very question: https://ordinaryphilosophy.com/2015/12/27/o-p-recommends-freakonomics-is-migration-a-basic-human-right/
M.S. St. Louis, 1939, which carried 930 Jewish refugees who were turned away from the U.S, Canada, and Cuba
To those hard-liners against amnesty for people who immigrated here illegally:
Remember that many, perhaps most, have done so because they’re rescuing themselves and their children from dire poverty, from murderous drug cartels, or from other dangers. They aren’t able to immigrate legally, even if they wanted to, due to the long wait times, high cost, and stringent requirements.
Do you think that all people, morally, should always place a higher value on obeying immigration laws than on the lives and well-being of themselves and their children?
This brings to my mind a famous example of people denied entrance to this country who were fleeing danger and oppression, and were forced to return to Nazi-terrorized Europe. Untold numbers of people died as a result.
Think of your own children, family…
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