Morality of violating restrictive immigration laws

This page lists resources on various opinions that people have expressed regarding the morality of violating restrictive immigration laws. It is related to the legal versus illegal distinction. There is a spectrum of positions on the issue:

  • Restrictive immigration laws are just, whether or not they are wise, and it is morally obligatory to comply with them simply because they are laws.
  • Restrictive immigration laws are not just, but they are not unjust enough to make it morally permissible to violate them. Rather, if these laws are created and enforced democratically, efforts should be made to change the laws rather than circumvent them.
  • Restrictive immigration laws are sufficiently unjust that it is morally permissible to violate them, but not morally praiseworthy or morally obligatory to violate the laws.
  • Restrictive immigration laws are sufficiently unjust that it is morally permissible and morally praiseworthy to violate them, and morally desirable to not try to stop others from violating them.

Here are some writings on this issue:

Quote from Smith’s book:

The general liberty to use the streets therefore has a basis in natural rights, applies equally to citizens and non-citizens of a state, and cannot be justly restricted by a government except when the streets are used in ways that constitute an objective danger to its citizens’ safety (e.g., drunk-driving, gang-warfare, or the transportation of hostile armies). Illegal immigrants are (at least in some cases) conducting a form of civil disobedience against an unjust law. It is the law, not the immigrant, which is in the wrong, and the law should be changed, rather than the immigrant removed.

Smith, Nathanael. Principles of a Free Society (Kindle Locations 2689-2693). The Locke Institute. Kindle Edition.

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