Irregular Migrants and the Demands of Relational Equality

Tapia Riquelme, Diego, Government - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Klosko, George, AS-Politics (POLI), University of Virginia

What should states do with irregular migrants who permanently reside in their
territory? Scholars such as Carens and Rubio-Marín have defended their
naturalization by drawing on a theory of social membership. More Recently,
however, Brock has challenged the idea of social membership as a justification
for the naturalization of irregular migrants. Nonetheless, as she drops the idea
of social membership, she can only defend irregular migrants’ right not to be
deported, in line with authors such as Ochoa Espejo and Blake. I argue that
relational equality can provide a defense for granting irregular migrants
citizenship rights—their complete naturalization. Irregular migrants are
permanently subjected to the laws of the state they reside in without having
any power or influence over them, which results in an objectionable social
inequality. I argue that such concerns about inequality of status override the
right of the demos to determine its membership and concerns about irregular
migrants’ original breaking of the law. Finally, I hold that even if my proposal
for naturalization cannot gain political support, it can highlight the usefulness
of policies that aim to help irregular migrants and also explain why other
policies that deal with them seem morally troubling to us.

MA (Master of Arts)
Irregular migrants, Relational Equality, Naturalization, Political Rights, Citizenship
Issued Date: