Wednesday, May 31, 2017

James R. Rogers: "What Gun Control And Refugee Admissions Policies Have In Common"

   The point is not that refugees must always be admitted regardless of the risk they pose. Far from it. But magnitudes and probabilities matter. As with gun rights, conservatives are willing to accept a level of social harm because the corresponding right is so important and the difficulty of identifying individuals who will commit the harm is too high.
   To be sure, the first response of many will be, “But nations do not admit refugees as a matter of right, therefore the initial premise of your argument is wrong.” I agree as a matter of positive law that nations need not admit as a matter of right refugees who, out of necessity, must leave their home country. But that’s tautologically true. There is no positive law right if there is no positive law right.
   But the question is not quite as easily answered for people, or for nations, who, or which, affirm commitments to natural rights, such as those articulated in the Declaration of Independence.... [Grotius] argues as a matter of natural right that refugees created by “necessity,” such as escaping violence in their home country, have a right to immigrate to other nations, a right that stems from the original collective ownership of the earth.
   But even the natural right to take refuge, under necessity, in other countries is not, for Grotius, an absolute right. Grotius writes:
Nor ought a permanent residence to be refused to foreigners, who, driven from their own country, seek a place or refuge. But then it is only upon condition that they submit to the established laws of the place, and avoid every occasion of exciting tumult and sedition. . . . To drive away refugees, says Strabo, from Eratosthenes, is acting like barbarians; and a conduct like this in the Spartans was also condemned. St. Ambrose passes the same sentence of condemnation upon those powers, who refuse all admission to strangers.


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