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How a Concept of Membership Informed by Human Rights Language and National Sovereignty Provides Insight into a State’s Duty to Undocumented Immigrants

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Title: How a Concept of Membership Informed by Human Rights Language and National Sovereignty Provides Insight into a State’s Duty to Undocumented Immigrants
Author: Satten-Lopez, Elena
Advisor: Stauffer, Jill; Salkever, Steven
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Political Science
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Philosophy
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: This paper focuses on the question of whether a liberal democratic state possesses certain obligations to nonmembers who reside illegally within its borders, especially in a modern world that prioritizes both the principles of national sovereignty and human rights. Embedded within this question are three key concepts: membership, human rights, and national sovereignty. It is my contention that human rights and national sovereignty speak to different aspects of membership and both offer important values for a political community’s discussion of membership. As a result, it is possible for conflicts to emerge between these two principles. However, rather than resolve this conflict through determining whether human rights or national sovereignty should be the dominant principle shaping membership, political communities should consider both national sovereignty and human rights language when thinking about issues of membership. Therefore, neither principle is universally prioritized over the other. This is because the conflict between human rights language and national sovereignty can provide a fruitful tension in which to frame political discussions about membership. The tension can prove productive for political discourse, because it highlights several political concerns, like the human right to dignity and the state’s right to control its borders, that political actors should consider when addressing questions of membership. I then apply this view of how human rights language and national sovereignty inform membership to the critical political issue of illegal immigration. Specifically, whether in a liberal democratic state this tension between national sovereignty and human rights language in regards to membership brings to light certain state obligations to nonmembers who reside illegally within its borders. Ultimately, while there is no one way for a liberal democratic state to handle illegal immigration, every state must, and the complexity of this problem needs to be confronted. As such, I do not propose a single solution. Rather, I present several ways a state may conceptualize membership in relationship to immigration that respects national sovereignty and also places limits on national sovereignty. Therefore, while each political community’s solution should balance the preservation of the state with the recognition of certain obligations to nonmembers, each state interprets this balance for itself in a way that is aligned with its own professed values.
Subject: Illegal aliens -- Civil rights
Subject: Illegal aliens -- Government policy
Subject: Sovereignty
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/9079

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Citation

Satten-Lopez, Elena. "How a Concept of Membership Informed by Human Rights Language and National Sovereignty Provides Insight into a State’s Duty to Undocumented Immigrants". 2012. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/9079.

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/ Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/

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