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Denying Asylum ≠ Justifying Deportation; Open Borders ≠ Universal Asylum

Summary:
A Facebook exchange today illustrated how some people conflate A) open borders with B) granting asylum to everyone. Or, perhaps, they conflate A) denying asylum to asylum seekers with B) permissibly deporting those asylum seekers. For instance, you may have seen the video of the Swedish woman who refused to sit down in an airplane in order to delay someone from being deported. Fox News now reports the man in question was denied asylum because he had committed assault. Two comments: 1. Rejecting a person’s request for asylum is one thing; deporting them is another. Asylum seekers often ask for and require financial assistance of certain kinds. There are limited resources for providing such assistance, and governments can legitimately prioritize certain people over others. But open

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A Facebook exchange today illustrated how some people conflate A) open borders with B) granting asylum to everyone. Or, perhaps, they conflate A) denying asylum to asylum seekers with B) permissibly deporting those asylum seekers.

For instance, you may have seen the video of the Swedish woman who refused to sit down in an airplane in order to delay someone from being deported. Fox News now reports the man in question was denied asylum because he had committed assault.

Two comments:

1. Rejecting a person’s request for asylum is one thing; deporting them is another.

Asylum seekers often ask for and require financial assistance of certain kinds. There are limited resources for providing such assistance, and governments can legitimately prioritize certain people over others.

But open borders isn’t about giving everyone asylum. It’s about letting your own citizens rent their houses to and offer jobs to foreigners, free of government interference. A government can say, “We’re turning down your request for special financial and other forms of assistance in light of your criminal record,” but then still allow the citizen to live and work in that country. Just because the Swedish government doesn’t want to give you welfare doesn’t mean it should forbid Volvo from hiring you to sweep floors or Old Lady Lussa from renting you a studio apartment.

2. New Hampshire doesn’t forbid Vermonters with assault records from moving across the river or taking jobs in NH. It doesn’t forcibly expel Massholes back to Massachusetts for committing crimes. New York City doesn’t expel people with criminal records back to their hometowns.

Most people think it’s permissible for nations to deport non-citizens with criminal records, even though they think it’s impermissible for cities, counties, and states/provinces inside a nation to do the same thing for the same reason. So, they need some plausible account of why that would be so. Of course, there are lots of theories out there trying to justify that difference, though I think we can show none of those theories succeed.

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan (Ph.D., 2007, University of Arizona) is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, and by courtesy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Georgetown University, and formerly Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Research, at Brown University. He specializes in political philosophy and applied ethics.

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