Social justice is not only limited to humanitarianism. Social justice
provides basic principles of equity, equality, rights to each and every
individual living in a society irrespective of any form of discrimination. It
focuses on equitable distribution of resources independent on the status of a
person. It refers to equal protection and improvement of the rich as well as the
downtrodden sections of society. All living beings share the same planet without
any discrimination and the borders are created by the people for their
convenience which however cannot take away the basic rights of the individual.
Migration is the movement of people from one place to another in search of work
or for better living conditions. Some people are of the opinion that migration
has led to the end of globalisation whereas some believe it as a new beginning
for the migrants to setup their new life.
Migration can be practiced in four kinds:
first is when a migrant moves from one state to another voluntarily, second is
when the migrants are forced to move from one state to another, thirdly when a
migrant voluntarily moves within the state and fourthly when the migrants are
forced to move within the state. It has been observed that once a person becomes
migrant he generally prefers to be a migrant.
The term ‘migrant worker’ has been defined in the International Convention on
the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers act which means a person
who is or who has or has to be engaged in an activity remunerated by the state
and the person is not a national of that state. Migrants move from one place to
another majorly to live with their families, to do a job for their livelihood,
sometimes migration also takes place due to the abuse of the rights of the
migrants or due to the hostile environment which has been recently witnessed
when India amended its Citizenship Act to protect the immigrants whose rights
have been abused in their native states.
Another recent example which we have witnessed is during this pandemic which the
world is facing where thousands of labours who had left home and migrated to
earn their livelihood were seen migrating back to their native place due to the
lockdown, lack of work and resources.
Pursuant to the existing circumstances States do have rights to keep away the
migrants from entering to their state but for the states to restrict the
migrants they need to have reasonable and justifiable reasons as also mentioned
in the Universal Declaration of human rights that all the human beings are
born free with equal rights and duties to live with dignity having harmony and
brotherhood towards each other.
Every individual of any State irrespective of nationality possess basic rights
which includes right to life, liberty, freedom from inhuman behaviour, freedom
against all forms of discrimination and exploitation, freedom from slavery,
arbitrary arrest and detention. Though States have right to keep away the
migrants from entering but it is required by the state to follow the
international human rights obligation to protect the rights of migrants.
In a situation where the State does not allow immigrants from entering their
state they will become forced stateless persons having no recognition, no
family, no money and no religion which will definitely hamper the fundamental
rights of these individuals. In ancient times emigration was a tough task than
immigration, immigration was unhampered but today as the time changed emigration
has turned out to be facile than immigration. Immigration is beneficial for both
immigrants and the people of the native state and for national as well as
international societies. Confining an individual and not letting it explore will
limit the opportunities of that individual.
States do have the right to restrict the migrants entering on to their state but
the reasons then needs to be just, like when the states find that the population
of the migrants will outpace the land and the resources which is available and
required for the defined number of population. The states try to keep away the
migrants where it seems that it will adversely affect the culture of the
inhabitants of that place or for the purpose of social security.
It can refrain migration of any citizen in its state. The states have a right to
exclude the irregular migrants who perform arbitrary actions or ill-treatments
like trafficking or smuggling. It is therefore suggested that each individual
case of a minor must be seen individually in determining its status to improve
the fate of the underprivileged.
One of the reasons as expressed by jurist Immanuel Kant and Hugo Grotius is that
the prosperous countries are obliged to support the migrants for the proper
distribution of justice so that the people in a state where resources are not
adequate could avail the resources from the states where the resources are
available in surplus. Some states consider the problem of immigration as more
threat than the problems of poverty, climate change, hostile environment which
are some major reasons because of which immigration occurs.
Immigration brings people from different cultures together through which new
talent, technology, economic prosperity, diverse culture could be perceived
which leads to better international cooperation where people of different states
help the other state people to reside and to perform their activities with
reasonable restrictions. The International covenant of civil and political
rights mentions that every individual has a right of self-determination where
the people can determine their political, social, economic rights and cultural
The international labour standards on migrant labour provides for fundamental
principles for the protection of the migrant labours in employment
internationally. The (UNCLOS) Laws of the sea assist the person who is lost or
found in the sea to be rescued by a state even if the person is from other
Social security of the people internationally depends on the treaties ratified
between the states. Immigration justice betwixt the global pandemic. has been
another rampant crisis of the immigrants visible in the US whereby the
immigrants were refrained from entering the US borders on the basis of decade
old statute which states that for the concern of public health entry in the
state could be restricted. Some of the other countries like Canada, European
countries have also suspended the asylum applications.
Open border migration is the migration where the borders of the states are open
and a person can conveniently migrate from one state to another whereas in close
border migrations the states limit the migration of its people with some or no
Open border justice:
Open border migration promotes cosmopolitan utilitarianism where states contract
with each other and where the movements between the states are not restricted.
Open border help the states to increase its economic prosperity through the
contract of service between the states. For example when a labour contracts for
service in another state he earns his money in that state and also pay a part of
his earning as tax in the same state.
Open borders lead to utilitarianism which states about the greatest good of the
greatest number of people. The restriction imposed on freedom of an individual
to move freely creates disorganisation. It will become burdensome to the state
to restrict the people in their boundaries.
The states like India, China where the population of the people living is more
than the resources required for the living and in these circumstances if an
obstacle is created in the migration of the individuals it would generate
trouble for these states to fulfil even the basic requirements of its citizens.
Through open borders as some population of the state gets migrated it becomes
easier for the states to govern the reduced population.
For example when a labour of one state is hired in another state the labour has
a right to move to the hired state and the state cannot control the individual’s
right. Theorist Roathboard has stated that people will have rights of
immigration where the migrants can enter the property of the native people if
the private owners of the property are willing to accept them. It basically
gives freedom to people to have consensual activities between the people of
different states which lead to rise in the economy of the state.
When the borders of the states are open there exist a need of equality not only
within the people of a state but equality even for the migrants. Equality is a
right which every individual who is a citizen or not possess. It is through this
principle that the migrants have confidence in the working of a state. Equality
amongst people will help in the overall development of the economy.
Living in a democracy we have the people’s right. In a democratic state the will
of the people is respected. In open borders a state cannot go against any
migrant with states free will. A state cannot impose any random law on the
migrants. In democracy we can observe how the rights of individuals are
interlink in open borders.
Closed border justice:
In closed borders the states restrict migration of people. Miller expressed that
close borders are appreciated if it provides for sufficient decent life to its
people. The states in immigration fails to distinguish between the private
rights of the people and the territorial rights of the state. The justifiability
behind close border is that some states do not want to form association
sometimes to preserve their culture. It has been many times seen that when large
number of people migrate from one state to another there is a risk that the
state in which they migrate may lose its own culture due to the large population
of migrants. Safeguarding the traditional culture is one of the major reasons
that people choose close borders.
Close borders are also supported due to the reason that the economy of the
immigrating state might suffer economic losses as more people immigrate in a
state the competition in working will increase also the labour will become cheap
due to increase in the population with unchanged working opportunities. These
measures could further lead to downfall of the morals of the native state and
the economy. It also leads to distribution of the state benefits amongst the
The states should allow the immigrant state to make certain policies for the
immigrants otherwise the prosperous states might soon lose its prosperity if
large groups of people migrate to that state. States provide welfare schemes,
insurance schemes to its citizens and so for proper and adequate distribution of
resources to all the individual’s restrictions are necessary and so the state
need to make policies in respect of payment of taxes by the immigrants and
procedure to be followed by them. This can be said as one of the justification
for close borders.
Close borders is also considered where there is political functioning as the
citizen of a state elect those whom they have their confidence. Immigrants are
the people who are newcomers to the state who doesn’t know the governing of the
state and so there is no confidence or trust from either of the sides in initial
period. Hence the liberal nationalist opines that the borders should be closed.
One of the vital reasons for having close border is the security of the state.
There has been instance in the past like 9/11. In open border people are free to
enter the states but it also raises the risk of security of the state. It is
difficult to examine an illegal migrant as many people visit the states with
different objects. The chances of terrorist attacks cannot be completely stopped
but can be eradicated by controlling the number of immigrants in the state.
Migrants also possess the same human right like the citizens of a state, just
because the migrants don’t have a specified residence they cannot be excluded by
a state other than on a reasonable ground. They share the same land with the
other people on this planet and any discrimination on the basis of race, caste,
creed, sex, gender is strictly prohibited. Most of the migrants all their life
contribute to the society by performing their work without violating any laws of
States should try to accept the stateless legal migrants and protect their basic
rights, being a migrant cannot become a punishment for an individual as
sometimes it is not a choice but necessity to move from one place to another to
earn a living. John Kennedy has also said that:
Everywhere immigrants have strengthened and enriched the fabric of American
A state provides individuals to safeguard the interest of its citizens in the
same manner there are other universal rights which are applicable to all the
individuals irrespective of their nationality like the convention of United
Nations which are signed by various states to promote and propagate justice,
fairness, equality, harmony amongst all the people living in a state.
- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
Workers and Members of Their Families
- Universal Declaration of human rights
- International covenant of civil and political rights
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Mitisha Santosh Kotecha
Authentication No: FB32775604765-02-0221