Migration and Self-Determination
- Author(s): Ilya Somin
- Posted: 6-2021
- Legal Studies #: LS 21-08
- Availability: Full text (most recent) on SSRN
Free international migration has enormous benefits. But many argue that governments can legitimately restrict migration in order to protect the supposed “self-determination” of natives. Some claims of this type are based on group rights theories, which hold that members of a particular racial, ethnic, or cultural group are the “true” owners of a particular territory. Others are based on notions of individual freedom of association, which analogize the rights of national governments to those of private property owners or members of a private club. This article criticizes both collective and individual rights theories that purport to justify a power to exclude migrants. It also critiques claims that the governments of migrants’ countries of origin can curtail emigration by forcing them to stay. I address these issues in much greater detail in my book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom, on which this article is in part based.