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From Closed Borders to No Borders: “The Problem” of Irregular Migration

Thu, August 31, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Union Square, Imperial A


This paper reflects on the justice claims that sit behind contending perspectives on “the problem” of irregular migration. I examine the implicit justice claims that attach to each of three archetypal perspectives (closed borders, no borders, and a defense of thresholds) and why they tend to lead to policy impasses. I then argue for a more ambitious debate that pushes contending justice claims to their logical extensions. Debate of this kind requires a more coherent defence of justice claims, whether they are based in communitarian, cosmopolitan, anti-captialist or hybrid values with respect to citizenship and political community. The paper concludes with an illustration of how this approach can generate momentum for less circular, more sustainable and politically achievable policy responses. The argument is made with reference to illustrative examples from Australia and Europe but holds for a variety of contexts where “the problem” is framed in similar ways.