44 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 1 JANUARY 2021
refused to respond to the needs of the Jews fleeing the Nazis. The whole
world recognized that failure and vowed “never again”. So countries
accepted Jewish refugees and set up the Geneva Convention refugee system.
Using that example, Carens argues that if someone fleeing the Congo
makes it to our shores, they ought not to be sent home. Some might say, “We
did not cause the problem in the Congo, so why do we have to deal with it?”
The answer is the same as it was for the Jews fleeing Nazi Germany: all
states have responsibilities to admit people because of extreme dangers
they face, even if they had no hand in creating those dangers.
Carens does provide one example in response to those who say that open
borders is a fantasy. He points to the experiment with open borders in
Europe, where citizens are free to move from one country to another. There
are still independent states. They have governments and their own policies.
Yet, Europe is not overwhelmed, even though there are big differences
between average incomes—for example, in Germany and in Portugal.
Ultimately, Carens argues that as rich Western states, we have an obligation
to make the world more equal—to lower the disparity. A rising tide lifts
all boats. There are many ways to do that, and immigration is one of them.
The Case for a Middle Ground
Professor Sarah Song of the School of Law and Department of Political Science
at the University of California, Berkeley wrote an article reviewing
many works on the ethics of immigration.25 In her paper, she examines the
conventional view, open borders and the critiques of open borders.
Song concludes that if there is any compelling argument for a state’s right
to control immigration, it rests on the right of collective self-determination.
She defines “collective self-determination” as a moral claim of a collective
right to self rule. She cites the Charter of the United Nations and art. 1 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which reads: “All peoples
have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine
their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural
Song argues that collective self-determination has an internal dimension
and an external dimension. The internal dimension is the idea that people
are the source of political authority. The external dimension is based on
international law: people have a right to control their collective life without
interference from those outside the collective. In other words, the power to
regulate immigration flows from the right of the people to govern themselves.
Song appreciates that the concept of collective self-determination has
flaws and that it would have to be attenuated by accepting that even under