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We all have the right

Updated on May 3, 2017

Everyone Has The Right

In this paper, I will be talking about Huemer’s argument for an open immigration but also, I will be providing some criticism that people would say against Huemer’s argument for open immigration. Huemer’s main point throughout this paper is that every person has prima facie right of not being harmfully coerced. Prima facie is a default right you have but Huemer’s opponents do not think so, yet it will be a burden on them to stop you from having this right. I will also bring up Hardin, in opposition of Huemer, who is opposed to having open immigration due to limited resources in the country.

Huemer has the argument that is for open immigration but people may not agree with his point of view. Open immigration means that anyone who is not born in the United States can come in and immigrate to whatever county they choose. Huemer’s argument is that individual has prima facie right not to be harmfully coerced. If there was not open immigration, then it would be violating the prima facie right of the immigrants. The example that Huemer is providing for the readers to use as a visual would be: “Marvin is in desperate need of food… Marvin is in danger of starvation. Fortunately, he has the plan to remedy the problem: he will walk to the local marketplace, where he will buy bread… Another individual, Sam, is aware of all this and is watching Marvin. For some reason, Sam decides to detain Marvin on his way to the marketplace, forcibly preventing him from reaching it. Thus, Marvin returns home empty-handed where he dies of starvation” (page 632). He is trying to make people think about the questions: is Sam harming Marvin, and did Sam murder, Marvin? Humer would answer “yes” because Sam did violate Marvin’s prima facie right of not being harmfully coerced and is harming Marvin by detaining him from getting to the marketplace.

Huemer explains his answer on why he said yes on the two questions, that Sam’s act was an act murder. Sam would be violating Marvin’s right to go buy food to survive. Marvin has the right to go to any store and buy whatever he needs to survive. Huemer is trying to say that Sam was at fault for harming and murdering Marvin because he knew if Marvin did not get to the food then he will die. Sam, knowing it will cause Marvin to die, has accountability of murdering; Marvin would not have died if Sam did not detain him. By detaining him he murders him which is a violation to Marvin’s prima facie of not being harmfully coerced.

To have a better understanding of people how his first example correlates with an open immigration, Huemer changes the case by saying that Marvin is now a potential immigrant, Sam is the U.S. government, and finally, that the marketplace is the U.S territory. Since the U.S. government is detaining and restricting immigrants from coming to the territory of the U.S, preventing immigrants from coming in is a violation of their prima facie rights. By the U.S government restricting immigrants the U.S. is being harmful because these immigrants are suffering from poverty, which could be solved when they come to the United States. However, the U.S. is violating the prima facie right of not being harmfully coerced by not allowing them to enter the U.S. The reasons that the U.S. is not violating the prima facie right of a potential immigrant are: The U.S. does not have any kind of responsibility to the immigrants what happens to them in their own country and the U.S. only has an obligation to take care of its own citizen.

People who are opposed to open immigration have their reasoning and Huemer does consider them on why those people would say an immigrant does not deserve prima facie right of not being harmfully coerced. Huemer also considers the thoughts that the readers or the audience would bring up going against his argument for open immigration. He brings up that immigration would hurt the American workers and that the U.S government has a special obligation to its citizen. An analogy for how American workers would be hurt if there is open immigration is: “I am being considered for a particular job, for which I know that bob is the only other candidate, I also know that Bob is willing to work for a lower salary… On the day Bob is scheduled to have his job interview, I accost him and physically restrain him from going to the interview” (635). First off, Americans would say that letting immigrates come to the U.S. will lower wages and will hurt those who are not willing to work for that low wage. Huemer would say that “I” would be hurting and harming Bob from going to his interview because “I” accost him and physically restrain him, also Bob’s prima facie right of not being harmfully coerced was violated. Now Huemer would change the scenario from Bob being the immigrant and the “I” as an American. By change who the people represent does not change the fact that the immigrant’s prima facie was violated because he was harmfully coerced from not going to his interview. It is not the immigrant’s fault that the employer is willing to hire someone who is willing to do the job description and do the whole work worth at a lower wage. For the potential immigrant trying to get to his interview for the job is not the same level as the American restricting him from going to the interview. Huemer is trying to say when someone is trying to prove his argument wrong will not be as important as not violating someone’s prima facie.

The next restriction from Huemer’s argument, people would say is, the government has a special obligation to its citizens. The analogy that would be used for this is the “Sam’s Daughter case”. This case begins by considering the starving Marvin case, “Sam coercively prevented Marvin from reaching the local marketplace, on the grounds that doing so as necessary to prevent his daughter from having to pay a higher than normal price for her bread” (637). Sam still does not have the right to stop Marvin from buying the cheapest bread just because his daughter chooses not to buy the expensive bread which she has the money for. Huemer would say that Sam’s obligation towards his daughter to buy the cheap bread does not have the same level as Marvin trying to buy the bread. For Sam trying to prevent Marvin from buying the cheap bread is violating Marvin’s right of not being harmed coerced. Now taking this case and turning things how it has a relation of the immigrants; Sam would be the father and Marvin would be a potential immigrant. Yes, it is important for the parent to take action and be doing good for their children, but what about immigrants who are also looking the interest good for their family? When people think like that and do not take others into consideration, such as the fact that immigrants, since they are willing to do work for a lower wage so they can get hired in order to provide for their family, they do not have enough to feed and provide for them. When American parents do and take away the access from immigrants that cannot afford the same things Americans can be a violation of their right of not being harmed.

There is a percentage of people that would not agree with Huemer’s argument towards open immigration. People would say that the United States capacity is being in danger due to the fact of overpopulation when the immigrants are already here. If the United States did have and open immigration, then there would be a scarcity of resources. I would say that if immigrates would come to the United States it would take away the resources that United State citizen was born with. The United States has an obligation to take care of her citizens than worrying if these potential immigrants are needing. Hardin uses an analogy of a lifeboat, “Here we sit, say 50 people in a lifeboat. To be generous, let us assume our boat has a capacity of 10 more, making 60… The 50 of us in the lifeboat see 100 other swimming in the water outside, asking for admission to the boat” (page 617). The question that Hardin would present to this scenario is what would you do? I would say let ten people on and that would be it because we would be reaching the capacity of the boat. Hardin would now present the same scenario to the boat would be the United States and the 100 swimmers would be potential immigrates. He is not in favor of open immigration because taking the case that he has presented to us will show the issues of open immigration. We cannot let everyone on the boat because then it will reach its capacity and they will make it sink. We are not considering already the reproduction on the boat, which will cut the resources given and will make us reach the capacity of the boat. Now putting it towards letting potentially immigrates in the United States will be the same thing, it will make the United States reach its capacity of people allowed in. People that are citizens of the U.S are already reproducing and then adding that immigrates come in and also reproduction will be doubling. The increase of reproduction and the open entrance of immigrants will take away the responsibility of the U.S taking care of the citizens. All kinds of services and aid would then be taken away from the citizens, and that would be violating the citizens’ prime facie right of not being harmed because the United States should be looking out for its citizens first then any other person. When the population of the United States increases due to the fact of letting immigrants come in, it will decrease the availability of resources such as land, water, and programs such as welfare. The increase of this demands it will increase competition for the sources and will cause more peoples prima facie right to be violated.

On Huemer’s defense on saying that capacity will be such an issue for an open immigration would be that government does not have any kind of obligation to its citizen to be taken care of. He believes that the government to take any kind of obligation for its citizen is not at the same of level of every human being’s right of prima facie of not being harmed coerced. Huemer would disagree with those saying that the capacity is such an issue and they should not let any immigrants come in, and it would just show how it will hurt the economy, and also reproduction should not be an issue because no matter what there was going to be an increase of reproduction within the citizens. One thing to make Hardin’s argument weak would be there is no exact number of the capacity of people allowed to be in the United States. Huemer would argue that immigrates would be a benefit for the economy of the United States because the increase of the population would mean an increase of jobs. If there is an increase of jobs it would be very beneficial for the economy of the United States. Not only more jobs would be done and more people would have money, but also there would be jobs done that Americans are too lazy to do.

Prima facie right is available for immigrants, and by not having open immigration will be a violation of this right. Huemer has brought every great analogy for people to understand, and when taking the analogy before it changes the characters to immigrants and the U.S. government, people would agree that Sam did violate Marvin getting to the marketplace or “I” attacking Bob from getting to the job interview. But after those characters are changed to immigrants and the U.S. government people feel that what he is saying is wrong and have tried proving him wrong. Huemer has also considered that people would say immigration will hurt American workers and that the government has some kind of special obligation to its citizen. But Huemer has proven them wrong to bring those points up; he believes that nothing will be compared and reach the level of every immigrant’s right of prima facie of not being harmfully coerced. The lifeboat scenario would have almost been compared to the level of the prima facie right of not being harmfully coerced, but failed because it was still tied together to the point Huemer already proved wrong which was that the government does not have a special obligation only to its citizens. Huemer would have said that everyone’s life is important and should be treated like every other person; no person’s prima facie of not being harmfully coerced should not be violated. I do agree with Humer that every person has the right to not being harmfully coerced and that immigrants do not have a negative effect on the United States but has a positive outcome for the economy.

Work Cited

Hardin, Garrett. "Living on a Lifeboat" Today's Moral Issues: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives. By Daniel A. Bonevac. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Pub., 1992. 617-20. Print.

Huemer, Michael. "Is There a Right to Immigrate?" Today's Moral Issues: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives. By Daniel A. Bonevac. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Pub., 1992. 631-39. Print.


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