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Michael Walzer 's Membership And The Case For Open Borders Essay

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Michael Walzer’s Membership and Joseph Carens’s Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders present two strikingly different views on the justifiability of restrictions on immigration. In essence, Walzer argues that restrictions are generally justifiable, and Carens argues that they are not. In this essay, I will argue that Carens’s view is the more compelling one due to the following central reason: it promotes freedom of the individual. I will then apply Carens’s and Brown’s arguments to Donald Trump’s immigration policy, specifically his proposal to build a wall in order to keep immigrants from unlawfully entering the country. I will argue that this proposal is a marked move towards injustice and xenophobia disguised as an attempt to reclaim state sovereignty. Walzer’s central claim is that “states are simply free to take in strangers (or not)” (362). He argues that because states are completely sovereign entities, the decision to admit new immigrants lies solely with the state itself. This argument relies completely on the assumption that states are free to do as they wish in order to promote their own self-advancement. If this sovereignty is disproven — as Carens attempts to do — Walzer’s entire argument is disproven. Walzer compares the political community of any given state to three social communities: a neighborhood, a club, and a family. Here, I will focus on the first two, the neighborhood and the club because they are the two communities Carens mentions in
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